|Good time to be a college coach, where the money keeps flowing to the sidelines|
|Written by Admin|
|Saturday, 15 December 2007 12:51|
At least that was the job description posted by the university, which after going 6-45 under former coach Ted Roof saw no need to burden the new coach with any unrealistic expectations- like winning games.
The posting drew a few chuckles and a few applicants, proving perhaps that even the lowliest job in major college football can be attractive to the right candidate. As for Cutcliffe, it's nice to be wanted, and even nicer that he will get a contract that doesn't pay him by the win.
A little further south, another contract tells a far different story. It calls for being paid by the win, and if anyone besides the athletic administration at Duke is still clinging to the notion that college football is a sport and not a business, Les Miles is disproving it.
His LSU football team squeezed its way into the BCS national championship game despite two losses, pleasing the people in Baton Rouge so much they offered Miles a contract extension. Helping his cause was the fact that Michigan desperately wanted him to become their football coach.
So what's at stake besides a national championship when LSU plays Ohio State in the BCS title game in New Orleans? Bragging rights, sure, but also millions of dollars for the coach.
Now there's little doubt that football is big business at LSU, which took in $48 million on its program last year. And since the university doesn't have to pay its players, there's a bunch of cash left over at the end of the year and the people in charge probably thought it would be nice to give even more of it to the head coach.
They thought it would be even nicer to win a national championship. So they gave Miles a contract extension with a performance clause that might cause the coach to be sweating more than usual on the sidelines Jan. 7.
Depending on a few variables, an LSU win could mean a bonus of $3.5 million for Miles - or even more. Miles, who already makes $2.8 million a season, could make more in one night than the average American who doesn't cash lottery tickets makes in a lifetime.
The players who do it for him won't be as lucky. They might get a nice ring and a few pats on the back, but their meal money won't increase and they'll still have to rely on some discrete exchanges of cash from the ubiquitous boosters to put gas in their cars or pay for a night out on the town.
The NCAA wrings its hands about such things, because its mission is to sell the public the fallacy that college sports are still somehow pure and that college players are nothing more than talented amateurs who want nothing more than to get an education that will better them for life.
``We have to start asking some hard questions at this point,'' NCAA president Myles Brand said earlier this year. ``Is it appropriate for institutions of higher learning to invest this much in a football coach?''
It's a crock, of course, because both basketball and football are huge cash cows for many colleges and universities. Schools in the five BCS games are getting payouts of $100 million this year alone, and universities everywhere are spending like madmen in an ever-escalating arms race for coaching talent.
A recent analysis by USA Today showed four coaches - Oklahoma's Bob Stoops, Alabama's Nick Saban, Florida's Urban Meyer and Iowa's Kirk Ferentz, make more than $3 million a year. Nearly 50 others make at least $1 million a year, and the average salary of the 120 major college coaches is now in seven figures.
The money is so lucrative that Arkansas was able to steal an NFL coach in the middle of the night. Bobby Petrino didn't make many friends during his brief stint with the Atlanta Falcons, but his 3-10 record didn't stop the Razorbacks from giving him $2.8 million a year plus the usual country club memberships and other fringe benefits most coaches receive.
That money could have been used for more mundane things like cancer research or cheaper books for the real students. It could have gone to students who can't afford the costs of school that go up every year.
The NCAA could make that happen by limiting what schools can pay their coaches to, say, $500,000 a year. Joe Paterno makes that now, and says it's plenty enough for him.
The NCAA won't because it's run by the same college presidents who must answer to football boosters if their coach has a bad season. The organization controls big-time college athletics in name only, surfacing infrequently to try and maintain the charade that somehow college sports answer to a more noble cause.
In a way, maybe they do.
There's nothing more noble, after all, that the players on the LSU football team can do Jan. 7 than make another $3.5 million for their coach.
Tim Dahlberg is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at tdahlbergap.org