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Football Staff Salaries: Penn State Joins Arms Race

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Football Staff Salaries: Penn State Joins Arms Race

Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports

Recently, USA Today published a table of Division 1 football coaching salaries, for head coaches and assistant coaches for our viewing enjoyment.  We borrowed that data, and with the help of fellow innnernets site CoachesHotSeat.com, we filled in some estimates for the private institutions (and quasi-state-related PA schools) that USA Today omitted.

Only ten coaches are included for each school, sans benefits.  Notre Dame, if we included them (we didn't because no one has cared about the Domers since 1995), would only count Brian Kelly and his 9 assistants.  The fact that the Irish are still paying off Bob Davie, Ty Willingham, and Charlie Weis NOT to coach their team isn't reflected in the figures.  Let's take a look at the results.

By Conference

The average "Power 5" school spends in excess of $5.9 million per year for a 10-man coaching staff. That's about $4 million more per year than your average "Other 5" school (average: $1.8M).  To no one's surprise, the SEC pays better than everyone else - 20% better than the P5 average, and 275% better than the "Other 5" average.  MACtion is bringing up the rear, trailing even the Sun Belt, spending just 22% of a Power 5 school, and one-third less than its Other 5 peers.

Conf Average Spend vs. P5 Avg Spend vs. O5 Avg
SEC $7,089,911 20% 275%
Big12 $6,275,471 6% 232%
Big Ten $5,679,041 -4% 201%
Pac12 $5,515,831 -6% 192%
ACC $4,967,576 -16% 163%
American $3,103,553 -47% 64%
MTWest $2,200,874 -63% 17%
CUSA $1,637,409 -72% -13%
Sun Belt $1,340,339 -77% -29%
MAC $1,269,443 -78% -33%

Big Ten

Natl. Pay Rank School Staff Head Coach Total Comp.
5 (est.) Penn State $4,658,333 $4,300,000 $8,958,333
7 Michigan State $3,205,702 $5,636,145 $8,841,847
10 Ohio State $3,592,025 $4,536,640 $8,128,665
17 Iowa $2,772,186 $4,075,000 $6,847,186
21 Michigan $3,504,323 $2,856,000 $6,360,323
31 Nebraska $2,709,538 $3,077,646 $5,787,184
38 (est.) Northwestern $2,687,714 $2,480,967 $5,168,681
42 Minnesota $2,757,000 $2,100,000 $4,857,000
46 Wisconsin $2,368,600 $2,285,000 $4,653,600
47 Maryland $2,588,460 $2,033,880 $4,622,340
54 Purdue $2,095,000 $2,090,000 $4,185,000
55 Illinois $2,187,825 $1,950,250 $4,138,075
64 Indiana $2,224,500 $1,301,644 $3,526,144
65 Rutgers $2,445,200 $987,000 $3,432,200

After two decades of sitting on the sidelines, Penn State entered the college football arms race by taking James Franklin and his staff from Vanderbilt.  At least, that's how we've estimated it.  Dear Old State, as a quasi-private institution, doesn't release individual salaries.  But agents do.  And thanks to those agents, we know that Coach Franklin's pulling down about $4.3M per in blue and white.

With that figure as a "known", we next calculated the average percent of a Big Ten coach's salary as part of the total staff compensation, and applied it to Penn State (and Northwestern).  In the Big Ten (exclusive of PSU and jNW), the head coach's pay is 48% of the total coaching staff budget.  Assuming that holds true for PSU, then Franklin's nine assistants are pulling down approximately $4.6M between them.  And that would just edge out Michigan State for the top spot in the conference.

Science'd?  Hardly.  But it's a fun exercise.  Let's continue.

SEC

Natl. Pay Rank School Staff Head Coach Total Comp.
1 Alabama $5,213,400 $7,160,187 $12,373,587
2 LSU $5,499,269 $4,369,582 $9,868,851
8 Texas A&M $3,484,050 $5,006,000 $8,490,050
9 Auburn $4,370,000 $3,854,500 $8,224,500
13 South Carolina $3,333,800 $4,016,900 $7,350,700
18 Georgia $3,327,800 $3,314,000 $6,641,800
19 Missouri $3,169,000 $3,400,000 $6,569,000
20 Arkansas $3,218,800 $3,214,000 $6,432,800
24 Tennessee $3,265,000 $2,960,000 $6,225,000
27 Florida $3,225,900 $2,731,000 $5,956,900
33 Mississippi St $2,682,500 $3,000,000 $5,682,500
34 Ole Miss $2,596,000 $3,018,000 $5,614,000
35 Kentucky $2,715,700 $2,701,600 $5,417,300
52 (est.) Vanderbilt $2,161,765 $2,250,000 $4,411,765

Four of the Top 10, and eight of the Top 20.  Sounds like we're discussing the AP poll.  Nah - it's probably just a coincidence.

With Hugh Freeze getting a nice bump to stay away from Gainesville, and Butch Jones, Dan Mullen, and Mark Stoops likely to see similar action by the conclusion of the December coaching carousel, you should expect to see a few more SEC schools jockey for a Top 20 spot in 2015.

Kentucky, at $5.4 per, would fall just behind Nebraska in the Big Ten - six spots better than where it sits in the SEC.

Big 12

Natl. Pay Rank School Staff Head Coach Total Comp.
3 Oklahoma $4,077,900 $5,058,333 $9,136,233
6 Texas $3,841,640 $5,000,270 $8,841,910
12 (est.) TCU $3,554,397 $4,008,150 $7,562,547
22 Oklahoma State $2,837,000 $3,500,000 $6,337,000
26 West Virginia $2,884,000 $3,080,000 $5,964,000
28 (est.) Baylor $2,780,224 $3,135,146 $5,915,370
32 Kansas State $2,813,325 $2,900,000 $5,713,325
44 Texas Tech $2,155,100 $2,605,300 $4,760,400
50 Kansas $2,105,000 $2,500,000 $4,605,000
58 Iowa State $2,110,900 $1,808,025 $3,918,925

The bottom three are lonely, like driving from Fort Worth to El Paso.  But the Cyclones save $3M/year and still beat the Hawkeyes.  So, there's that.  Which is nice.

Pac 12

Natl. Pay Rank School Staff Head Coach Total Comp.
4 (est.) USC $4,792,553 $4,250,000 $9,042,553
14 UCLA $3,762,500 $3,250,000 $7,012,500
16 Washington $3,250,032 $3,681,720 $6,931,752
29 Arizona State $3,111,620 $2,702,960 $5,814,580
30 Arizona $2,498,650 $3,298,500 $5,797,150
36 Oregon $3,277,584 $2,000,000 $5,277,584
39 Washington St $2,309,124 $2,750,000 $5,059,124
48 Utah $2,420,000 $2,200,000 $4,620,000
49 Colorado $2,595,500 $2,010,150 $4,605,650
53 (est.) Stanford $2,269,602 $2,012,666 $4,282,268

Oregon and Arizona employ opposite compensation models - the Ducks pay their (mostly) long-time assistants, while getting their Head Coach on the cheap by promoting an assistant.  'Zona lured a big fish, and skimped on the rest assistants.  Since both squads won their respective divisions, apparently both models can work.

ACC

Natl. Pay Rank School Staff Head Coach Total Comp.
11 Clemson $4,448,225 $3,175,100 $7,623,325
15 Florida State $3,386,000 $3,591,667 $6,977,667
23 VaTech $3,583,250 $2,660,913 $6,244,163
25 Louisville $3,225,000 $3,000,000 $6,225,000
37 Virginia $2,908,670 $2,303,599 $5,212,269
40 (est.) Miami (FL) $2,642,411 $2,250,943 $4,893,354
41 (est.) Wake Forest $2,641,304 $2,250,000 $4,891,304
43 Georgia Tech $2,233,600 $2,590,500 $4,824,100
51 NC State $2,692,560 $1,800,000 $4,492,560
57 (est.) Duke $2,160,400 $1,840,341 $4,000,741
60 UNC $2,051,667 $1,830,000 $3,881,667
62 (est.) Boston College $2,054,348 $1,750,000 $3,804,348
66 (est.) Pitt $1,853,323 $1,578,757 $3,432,080
71 (est.) Syracuse $1,643,478 $1,400,000 $3,043,478

Hello, ACC - the only Power 5 conference without a single school paying Top 10 money.   The ACC also owns the worst set of television contracts, while simultaneously being locked into the longest term (thru 2027 - ouch).

American (artist formerly known as Big East)

Natl. Pay Rank School Staff Head Coach Total Comp.
45 (est.) SMU $2,677,301 $2,019,718 $4,697,019
56 Cincinnati $1,837,179 $2,200,000 $4,037,179
63 UCF $1,831,614 $1,800,000 $3,631,614
67 UCONN $1,858,000 $1,500,000 $3,358,000
70 Memphis $2,043,178 $1,006,779 $3,049,957
72 South Florida $1,860,400 $1,182,000 $3,042,400
73 (est.) Temple $1,723,256 $1,300,000 $3,023,256
74 Houston $1,820,000 $1,025,300 $2,845,300
76 East Carolina $1,419,450 $1,252,500 $2,671,950
84 (est.) Tulane $1,149,279 $867,000 $2,016,279
87 (est.) Tulsa $1,006,694 $759,436 $1,766,130

Math is hard.  SMU probably isn't the top payer here, especially if they voided June Jones' contract for walking out the door in Week 3.

Mountain West

Natl. Pay Rank School Staff Head Coach Total Comp.
68 Colorado St $1,627,493 $1,500,000 $3,127,493
69 Boise State $2,052,650 $1,000,004 $3,052,654
75 Fresno St $1,277,508 $1,435,000 $2,712,508
77 Air Force $1,467,500 $892,750 $2,360,250
78 San Diego St $1,428,414 $802,000 $2,230,414
80 Wyoming $1,320,726 $832,000 $2,152,726
81 New Mexico $1,363,775 $783,690 $2,147,465
83 UNLV $1,197,392 $850,000 $2,047,392
89 Nevada $1,145,484 $575,000 $1,720,484
92 Utah State $1,092,647 $576,434 $1,669,081
95 San Jose St $1,073,992 $525,000 $1,598,992
96 (est.) Hawaii $970,526 $620,500 $1,591,026

Colorado State won't  lead the league next year, after Jim McIlwain headed for Gainesville.

Conference USA

Natl. Pay Rank School Staff Head Coach Total Comp.
79 (est.) Rice $1,387,099 $780,243 $2,167,342
85 MTSU $1,131,886 $803,129 $1,935,015
86 North Texas $1,148,300 $711,600 $1,859,900
88 Southern Miss $1,025,000 $700,000 $1,725,000
91 UTEP $1,167,375 $508,364 $1,675,739
93 Marshall $1,056,938 $609,820 $1,666,758
94 FIU $1,065,400 $551,000 $1,616,400
97 Western Kentucky $978,480 $600,000 $1,578,480
98 La Tech $999,700 $510,000 $1,509,700
102 Old Dominion $919,640 $486,010 $1,405,650
106 FAU $820,600 $500,000 $1,320,600
116 UTSA $786,175 $402,150 $1,188,325

As you can tell, compensation has more or less fallen off a cliff.  Middle Tennessee State would fall in the bottom third of the Mountain West.

Sun Belt

Natl. Pay Rank School Staff Head Coach Total Comp.
82 La-Lafayette $1,064,500 $1,003,156 $2,067,656
90 Arkansas St $1,011,800 $700,000 $1,711,800
100 Georgia State $922,800 $510,000 $1,432,800
101 Troy $908,985 $518,788 $1,427,773
104 South Alabama $873,230 $471,000 $1,344,230
114 Texas State $807,988 $401,200 $1,209,188
117 Georgia Southern $786,500 $400,000 $1,186,500
119 New Mexico St $757,090 $377,044 $1,134,134
120 Idaho $699,088 $400,011 $1,099,099
122 La-Monroe $724,300 $358,250 $1,082,550
123 Appalachian St $823,000 $225,000 $1,048,000


MAC

Natl. Pay Rank School Staff Head Coach Total Comp.
99 Ohio $898,974 $554,500 $1,453,474
103 Ball State $883,900 $503,500 $1,387,400
105 Toledo $848,210 $482,537 $1,330,747
107 Akron $910,520 $406,000 $1,316,520
108 Northern Illinois $915,018 $401,500 $1,316,518
109 UMASS $829,933 $450,000 $1,279,933
110 Miami (OH) $810,000 $450,000 $1,260,000
111 Eastern Michigan $825,000 $425,000 $1,250,000
112 Buffalo $841,896 $380,210 $1,222,106
113 Bowling Green $815,000 $405,000 $1,220,000
115 Western Michigan $804,500 $392,500 $1,197,000
118 Central Michigan $818,015 $360,000 $1,178,015
121 Kent State $707,345 $383,700 $1,091,045

Frank Solich and the Ohio Bobcats are the lone MAC squad to break the top 100 barrier, coming in at #99.

Sharing The Wealth

Here are the five head coaches making the least, relative to total staff compensation.

Natl. Pay Rank School Conf Staff Head Coach Total Comp.
123 Appalachian St Sun Belt $823,000 $225,000 $1,048,000
65 Rutgers Big Ten $2,445,200 $987,000 $3,432,200
91 UTEP CUSA $1,167,375 $508,364 $1,675,739
108 Northern Illinois MAC $915,018 $401,500 $1,316,518
118 Central Michigan MAC $818,015 $360,000 $1,178,015

This Pie Is Mine

And here are the five rock star head coaches keeping the largest percentage of the cash.  Yup - Kirk Ferentz is a rock star.  Just like Neil Diamond.

Natl. Pay Rank School Conf Staff Head Coach Total Comp.
7 Michigan State Big Ten $3,205,702 $5,636,145 $8,841,847
17 Iowa Big Ten $2,772,186 $4,075,000 $6,847,186
8 Texas A&M SEC $3,484,050 $5,006,000 $8,490,050
1 Alabama SEC $5,213,400 $7,160,187 $12,373,587
30 Arizona Pac12 $2,498,650 $3,298,500 $5,797,150