Dick Harmon: Football coaches' salaries may not pay off on the field

Published: Thursday, Dec. 9 2010 1:09 a.m. MST

So, what are we paying college football coaches these days.

And why? USA Today came up with its annual report on the salaries of the nation's major college football coaches. The newspaper obtained tax records and other information to decipher base salaries, outside university income and maximum bonuses paid. There were private schools, including BYU, Boston College and Notre Dame, where no information was available.

You might be interested in a few of these paychecks and who is paying for what.

For instance, New Mexico's coach Mike Locksley has had a heck of a time getting things rolling since he took over for Rocky Long, posting one of the worst win/loss records among 120 Division I programs, and his stay in Albuquerque has been steeped in controversy. Yet Locksley's $750,00 salary is equal to Troy Calhoun at Air Force and more than bowl-bound San Diego State coach Brady Hoke ($675,000), whose standard of living costs are significantly higher.

The highest-paid Mountain West coach is Big East-bound TCU coach Gary Patterson, who makes $1.6 million, somewhat more than Utah's Kyle Whittingham at $1.1 million. But if the numbers are correct, it takes about that much to hire Dave Christensen to work at Wyoming ($861,000), and the Cowboys/Christensen were Locksley's only win this year at UNM.

Chris Peterson at Boise State, bound to meet Utah in the Las Vegas Bowl, makes $1.4 million, yet in one of the most thrilling games of the season, the Broncos lost to Nevada and Hall of Fame coach Chris Ault, who is paid $443,093. And that's less than UNLV's Bobby Hauk ($500,000), who finished his first year for the Rebels at 2-11.

Oklahoma's Bob Stoops, who lost to Bronco Mendenhall and BYU last year in Dallas, makes $4.2 million, one of the highest salaries in the country, but it is not as much as Texas coach Mack Brown ($5.1 million), who couldn't get the Longhorns in a bowl game this fall.

Some perspective: Ohio State president Gordon Gee, a former University of Utah student and BYU law professor, is the highest-paid public university president in the U.S. with a base salary of $802,125 and total compensation package of $1.6 million. But his football coach, Jim Tressel, makes twice as much ($3.5 million) in the land of bow ties and vests.

BYU plays UTEP in the New Mexico Bowl a week from Saturday, and one of the Miners' best wins this year came over SMU, whose coach, June Jones, makes $2.1 million in Conference USA. Price, the victor in that game, makes $383,346.

When Utah defeated Alabama in the 2008 Sugar Bowl, Whittingham took down one of the highest-paid football coaches in the country, Nick Saban ($5.1 million), who makes a few shekels more than recently resigned Urban Meyer at Florida ($4.1 million).

When Oregon's Chip Kelly ($2.4 million) takes on Auburn's Gene Chizik ($2.1 million) in the BCS national championship game, it'll be about an even match of bank accounts. But does Auburn hold the edge in alleged paid-players over Nike University? Mendenhall's salary at BYU is not available, but it is surely competitive in the MWC. As an independent, Navy's Ken Niumatalolo makes $926,434. But how big was it for Utah State's Gary Anderson ($352,400) to defeat the Cougars in Logan? At Temple University, Al Golden ($513,000) defeated Fiesta Bowl-bound UConn coach Randy Edsall ($1.5 million) and has an 8-4 record but is not going to a bowl.

In the Pac-10, teams were stumbling over one another to become bowl eligible and failed. Those include Cal's Jeff Telford ($2.3 million), who finished with a 5-7 record, and UCLA's Rick Neuheisel ($1.2 million), who wound up 4-8. Washington's Steve Sarkisian ($1.8 million) barely made it in at 6-6 with a season-opening loss to two-headed QB BYU.

The Bruins, Bears and Huskies might be well to look at Nevada's Chris Ault and save more than a million bucks.

But that's looking at things as strictly money, of course, as I wonder how Locksley is making off like a bandit.

e-mail: dharmon@desnews.com

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