2011 WTF College Football Coaching Salaries

Turner Gill
You know that old saying “you get what you pay for?” Well, the Kansas athletic department would like to have a word with that wise sage.

The Jayhawks have won two football games this year and are headed for their second straight bowl-less season. According to USA Today’s new analysis of college football coaching salaries, the man overseeing all that futility, Turner Gill, is being paid $2.1 million this season. His incentives — few of which will likely be triggered — could add more than $400,000 more to his compensation package. Then again, KU breaking the bank to hire Gill totally makes sense, seeing as the Jayhawks had to lure him away from Buffalo. (Jeff Quinn, Gill’s successor at Buffalo, is making $325,000 this year.)

Kansas isn’t the only major football program paying head-scratching money to its head coach for little return on investment. The truth is that looking at the salaries these guys are drawing, colleges make the deals being handed out by NBA owners look downright prudent. (Mr. Gill, I’d like to introduce you to Mr. Arenas.)

Gill’s deal tops the inaugural Crystal Ball Run WTF Coaching Salaries rankings for 2011. Rankings are based on the salaries that elicited the loudest “WTF?!” exclamations when I saw them. (And not in a good way.

1. Turner Gill, Kansas: $2.10 million (Incetives: $419,158)

Gill’s salary is almost right at the national average of $2.15 million. Unfortunately for KU, he’s producing results well below average.

Charles Barkley’s coach of choice hasn’t quite lifted the Jayhawks out of the doldrums left by serial asshole Mark Mangino. Gill inherited a rough situation, but there’s little evidence he’s making it any better.

mack-brown-headset-300x3002. Mack Brown, Texas: $5.19 million (Incentives: $850,000)

Yes, I know — Mack has a national championship to his credit along with a string of something like 37 consecutive seasons with 10 wins or more. He also is a fundraising dynamo who has helped build the Texas brand into the most powerful in all of college sports. In that respect, there’s a strong argument he’s actually underpaid.

That’s nice, but let’s try a little exercise. Pretend Mack has been declared a free agent and is holding an auction for his services. What’s the winning bid?


3. Frank Spaziani, Boston College: $1.08 million (Incentives: N/A)

No need to worry about that mystery bonus here.

The heat is on Spaziani, and justifiably so. The Eagles are so bad, you’d think Glenn Frey was coaching them.

And give me a break about the cost of living in Boston. I get the feeling Spaziani would still be showing up if he was making a tenth of what he’s getting paid now.

4. David Cutcliffe, Duke: $1.76 million (Incentives: N/A)

Don’t get me wrong – I actually think Cutcliffe is a pretty good coach. It’s tough to do a better job at Duke than what he has done.

But there’s the rub. It’s Duke football. Spending that much money on a head coach is like asking Dick Vitale to tone down the Coach K slurpfest. Don’t waste your time, ba-by!

5. Joker Phillips, Kentucky: $1.70 million (Incentives: $1.11 million)

See above.

6. Charlie Strong, Louisville: $2.31 million (Incentives: $500,000)

When the hell did the Cardinals get that kind of money to start throwing around on football coaches?

Does Rick Pitino know about this?

7. Kirk Ferentz, Iowa: $3.79 million (Incentives: $1.75 million)

That’s pretty good money for an offensive line coach.

8. Jeff Tedford, California: $2.3 million (Incentives: $255,000)

Remember back when Tedford was the rising star on the college football coaching circuit? When was that? 1995?

Cal’s program got a little juice when Tedford was hired, but if you can think of a team that better fits the phrase “plateau of mediocrity,” I’m all ears. That’s a healthy chunk of change for a guy who you can pencil in for the Emerald Bowl without fail.

9.  Paul Pasquoloni, Connecticut: $1.50 million (Incentives: $114,583)

I can see why Pasquoloni would command a seven-figure deal. It’s not every day that a guy who got fired at powerhouse Syracuse and hasn’t coached in 28 years comes available on the market.

I guess Art Shell wasn’t available.

Pasquoloni should probably be higher. This gets more WTF the more I think about it.

10. Greg Schiano, Rutgers: $2.35 million (Incentives: $530,000)

Schiano’s representation should be up for some kind of award at the next sports agent convention. That deal smacks of maximizing your client’s leverage when his name comes up for another job.

Schiano could be in line for another bump should Penn State come calling after the season.

He clearly needs it.

Honorable Mention: Houston Nutt, Ole Miss

The Right Reverend Nutt raked in nearly $3 million this year. Now, he’s getting paid approximately $6 million over the next five years to stop showing up to work at the end of the season.

Good gig if you can get it.