Wednesday, September 23, 2009


Are college football coaches paid too much money? That was a hot topic during the off season. Nothing drastically changed about their salaries, however, most coaches are employees of schools funded largely by state governments. As we all know, the countrywide economic recession has caused tax revenues to drop significantly and caused budget crises that led to detailed examinations of all government spending. The outcry grew louder when it was discovered that most of these coaches were earning more than the university presidents. Nick Saban, Alabama, Urban Meyer, Florida, and Pete Carroll, USC, are the most popular targets. They are all paid approximately $4 million a year. Yes, that seems like way too much money for someone who teaches 18 to 23 year old young men how to play a game, especially when you consider that the job comes with several all expenses paid trips around the country. As much as we might complain about it, there is nothing we can do about the coaches’ salaries. The salaries are a product of simple economics.
  1. A good coach that wins lots of games increases the revenues for the school. Game attendance, team apparel sales, team sponsors, donor contributions all go up. Attendance at USC home games has increase by 17,000 since Pete Carroll became the coach. This produces an extra $10 million per year for USC. In attendance at home football games alone, Pete Carroll has justified his big pay check (in reality he justifies being paid at least 2.5 times more). Now throw in all the other increased revenue streams, and a couple million dollars a year is a steal. Studies also show that applications for admissions to universities spike up when sports programs are successful, so the coach is even helps on the academic side.
  2. College football has to compete with the NFL for coaches. A year after Nick Saban won a national championship with LSU, the Miami Dolphins hired him away from college to the professional ranks. After two disappointing years in the NFL, he was not willing to leave until Alabama made an offer he could not refuse—a super fat pay check. My point is, if the NFL teams are going to pay their coaches millions of dollars annually, then the best college football coaches will bolt for the NFL. College needs to compete to keep the sport interesting and the only way to do that is to comparably compensate coaches.
  3. Time is money. College football coaches don’t have to go to classes, as do the players, so most coaches work over 12 hours a day. Factor into the equation that they travel for recruiting purposes, and their salary is similar, if not below, to the pay given to top executives who put in similar hours, who are required to spend significant time traveling away from home, and who work for companies that rake in tens of millions of dollars annually.

While society may not be reflected in the best light by college football coaches becoming multi-millionaires, it is hard to expect their pay to be any different. If it really bothers us enough, then we can always boycott the sport until changes are made.


  1. Scott, I whole heartedly agree. If someone at a business increases the revenue, then they get a raise. Why should it be any different for a football coach? They aren't taking taxes from us. They're taking the money that they earn. If anything a good college football coach saves the tax payers' money.

  2. I'm right there with you on this as well. It only makes sense that those who generate more revenue deserve more income. There is nothing to complian about, it's simply good business. What do the Deans do to increase a schools revenue? Your point on job market competition is right on point as well. I also agree that if people have a problem with it, they can boycott the sport. If people would stop to think about things for a minute, then this would not be an issue.