Best Bargains and Dreadful Investments Among College Football Coaches
The Best Bargains and Most Dreadful Investments in College Coaching
As it stands in the world of college football coaching, there are plenty of men that are vastly overpaid given their level of respective success, and others, on the opposite side, that are vastly underpaid for their success. Some of these coaches-- on both ends of the spectrum-- are entrenched in their programs and won't be going anywhere anytime soon, while others are new to the scene and will see a change in "situation" sooner than later.
The hands of athletic administrators are often tied when it comes to hiring coaches. They must pay a strong enough salary to recruit the best football minds, but sometimes these high salaries turn out to be dreadful investments. At other times, coaches become first-tier bargains and far outperform the money they are paid to do their jobs.
Some programs can't compete at the highest level in terms of pay-- and that's ok-- it's often these programs that get the best value by putting in the hard work to find coaches willing, and able, to coach their team for a lesser amount. On the other end, there are coaches that are the highest paid state employees in their state and are firmly entrenched and no one can seem to understand how.
Here are what we see as some of the best bargains and the most dreadful investments in college football coaching. Enjoy!
BARGAIN: Charlie Strong- Louisville
Quite simply, Louisville Cardinals head coach Charlie Strong is the hottest name in coaching at this point in 2012. If the Cardinals finish strong-- which their relatively weak remaining schedule suggests they will-- Strong will be approached by a multitude of schools across the country looking to fill newly vacant openings. Louisville had best be prepared to up the ante and keep Strong on board in a matter of months.
DREADFUL INVESTMENT: June Jones- SMU
While it's understandable why the SMU Mustangs made a substantial, $2.3 million / year investment in June Jones, their return has been minimal at best. In his 4th season in Dallas, the former Hawaii head coach has tallied a marginal 28-33 record, and has done little to deliver on his promise of returning the once-proud Mustangs to prominence. SMU should be looking to cut ties with Jones sooner than later and save some money on a coach who is realistic about the time it will take to rebuild the SMU program.
BARGAIN: Jim Mora- UCLA
While only in his first season on campus, UCLA Bruins head coach Jim Mora is turning out to be a better bargain than any of us could have imagined. The Bruins look like world-beaters so far, and the $1.25 million salary Mora is taking home seems like a downright steal. Don't count on Jim Mora's pockets staying this "light" for too much longer.
DREADFUL INVESTMENT: Steve Sarkisian- Washington
Arriving in Seattle with a first-class pedigree, many believed Steve Sarkisian would be the answer to the confounding problem that is the Washington Huskies football program. A former Pete Carroll disciple, Sarkisian is raking in $2.5 million per year, and has only managed a 24-23 record over four seasons so far. The expectations for Sark in Seattle were MUCH greater and it's an understatement to say he is overpaid.
BARGAIN: Bronco Mendenhall- BYU
BYU Cougars head coach Bronco Mendenhall has restored some faith in Provo in a team once a national power. Over eight seasons, Mendenhall's no-nonsense approach has led to a 71-28 overall record, yet he is only earning $950 thousand a year. Given the win-loss ratio, it is arguable Mendenhall is one of the best bargains in college football. I guess it doesn't hurt he appears to be comfortable in Provo, passing up other opportunities as they have come his way.
DREADFUL INVESTMENT: Jim Grobe- Wake Forest
The Wake Forest Demon Deacons are bad at football. This is clear. Their head coach Jim Grobe gets paid $2.525 million per year and over the course of 12 seasons has led the Deacons to a tally of 68-67, just above .500. I can't quite figure out if the money he is paid is a result of a large endowment-- which Wake, as a private institution, definitely has-- or is more an element of complacency. Wake doesn't expect much and they aren't getting much as a return on their investment in Grobe.
BARGAIN: Sonny Dykes- Louisiana Tech
Sonny Dykes won't be the head football coach at Louisiana Tech much longer. Mark my words. In essence, the Bulldogs are the new Boise State, and the athletic administration in Shreveport has gotten value for every dime of the $650 thousand dollars they are paying Dykes per year. Although Derek Dooley's tenure at Tennessee has been rocky to put it mildly, plenty of eyes around the country are still firmly fixed on Dykes. His future is as bright as they come.
DREADFUL INVESTMENT: Paul Johnson- Georgia Tech
Why Paul Johnson is still the head coach at Georgia Tech, I will never know. I'll leave that one to the "pundits". Over the course of four seasons, Johnson has compiled a 34-19 record while earning $2.75 million a year-- good for the 19th highest-paid coaching slot in the country. For this type of coin, the right side of that column should be much smaller. Why it's my hunch the administration at Georgia Tech is growing less patient with Johnson, I've definitely been wrong before.
BEST BARGAIN: Frank Solich- Ohio
In our eyes, Ohio Bobcats-- and former Nebraska Cornhuskers-- head coach Frank Solich is the best bargain in college football coaching. Over eight seasons, Solich has led the Bobcats to a 50-40 record in the highly competitive MAC, while making only $650 thousand a year. Sure, the record could be better, but Solich brings both name value and pedigree to a school hardly thought of as a football power, and accordingly, has done the best job possible with the resources available.
WORST INVESTMENT: Kirk Ferentz- Iowa
Don't even get me started on Iowa Hawkeyes head coach Kirk Ferentz. This guy must have some serious pull in the state that I just cannot understand. In 14 seasons, Ferentz has compiled a 100-72 record, and is making $4 million a year accordingly. Huh? This guy is the highest paid state employee in Iowa and is making this type of coin to win around 7 games a year? Sounds like to the life to me, but regardless, a horrible investment to boot.