10 Most Overpaid College Football Coaches
College football has become a multimillion dollar business that is driven by television contracts and bowl revenues. One group that reaps the rewards of the modern business model that drives football is the coaches.
Over the past few decades college football coaching has become one of the more lucrative careers in sports. With the increase of revenue has come a group of overpaid coaches. This is a look at the 10 guys that should feel bad for taking home the cheddar that they do.
It is a widespread epidemic across the game where teams are under the assumption that they must pay top dollar for unproven coaching talent. Others overpay coaches past their prime. This is an evaluation of coaches that need their contract reviewed this summer.
***Salary information from USA Today
Mack Brown: Texas Longhorns, $5.3 M
Before you get irritable and begin to shake your head in disbelief, hear me out about Mack Brown being in the overpaid column.
Brown has been at Texas since 1998 and has the Texas Longhorns among the top teams in the Big 12 conference. He has won a national title, and two Big 12 titles.
That’s nice, but it is a bit underachieving. Brown is the second highest paid coach in college football. He is second only to Nick Saban, and leads Urban Meyer and Les Miles. All three coaches have done more in five years than Brown has done in his career at Texas.
The Longhorns have a bottomless budget and an endless pool of talent, yet they have failed to challenge for national titles consistently. It is pretty obvious that Brown is overpaid.
Todd Graham: Arizona State Sun Devils, $3 M
Todd Graham has only been at Arizona State for one season, but his large salary is a bit much considering his pedigree.
Graham has a 57-34 overall record as a college head coach and he has turned around a lot of programs in the past few years. Even still, he has become known as a job jumper, and has yet to prove that he is worthy of a seven figured salary.
If the Sun Devils challenge for the Pac-12 this year, then I may re-evaluate his placement on this list, but so far, Graham is one of the most overpaid head coaches in the game. He has earned his pay before he has proven his worth.
Gary Pinkel: Missouri Tigers, $2.7 M
Gary Pinkel has been at Missouri for 12 years and has stepped into a Top 25 salary with his turnaround of the Tigers program over the past decade.
When Pinkel took over, the Tigers were a doormat in the Big 12. Now they are an SEC Eastern Division team that almost made bowl eligibility in their first season in the country’s toughest conference.
This is a quality program with proven success since Pinkel’s arrival, but his lofty salary may be a bit much. He is one of the school's best coaches, but he is making a chunk of dough for a 5-7 program with no change in sight.
You have to appreciate what he has done for the program so far, but at this point he is taking more than his fair share as the Tigers struggle to find a grip in the SEC.
Charlie Weis: Kansas Jayhawks, $2.5 M
Did anyone else see the disaster that occurred at Notre Dame under the leadership of Charlie Weis?
Maybe Kansas asked for a highlight tape instead of looking at Weis’ record with the Irish, but to pay this guy $2.5 million is absolutely absurd. Weis was able to recruit moderately well at Notre Dame, but his coaching was atrocious.
As a head coach Weis is 36-37. His first year with Kansas the Jayhawks went 1-11. Maybe I am missing something, but it looks to me like Weis is the best salesmen in the college coaching game.
Lane Kiffin: Southern Cal Trojans, $2.4 M
Lane Kiffin brings a lot of baggage to wherever he lands. Right now he is in USC underachieving beyond anyone’s imagination. He is doing it while walking home with a ton of ducats in his pocket.
Kiffin is a million-dollar man but his team is falling apart. The Trojans were once considered to be the top team in the country, but instead they finished as a 7-6 squad and a Sun Bowl loser.
The wheels are falling off in L.A. and Kiffin was the one that changed the tires. Unless he makes a dramatic shift occur for the men of Troy, his salary may become a buyout before long.
The Trojans faithful are used to success, not mediocrity.
Jim Grobe: Wake Forest Demon Deacons, $2.2 M
Jim Grobe has been able to win a lot more than people are used to at Wake Forest, but his $2.2 million annually is a bit high for five bowl games in 12 seasons.
The Demon Deacons are not used to winning football games regularly, so reaching bowl games on occasion and finishing with winning records is something new for this fanbase.
Still, there is no reason to be dumping that large chunk of change at Grobe.
I like what Grobe has done at Wake Forest and respect the success that has been attained in a difficult football environment, but his salary puts him in the overpaid column. He may be leading the pack.
Randy Edsall: Maryland Terrapins, $1.6 M
Maryland, I get it—you guys were looking for an up and coming coach that could bring fresh blood to the Terrapins program, and help continue to usher in the success that Ralph Friedgen had sparked at Maryland.
Unfortunately for the administrators in College Park, Md., the opposite has occurred.
Edsall was hired away from UConn after he guided the Huskies to a BCS bowl and a nine win season. He was a hot name on the coaching circuit, and appeared to be a coach that could launch Maryland to the top of the ACC.
Instead Edsall has lost 18 games and only won six since arriving at Maryland. If there isn’t a major turnaround soon he may be out of a job.
Tim Beckman: Illinois Fighting Illini, $1.6 M
Tim Beckman is 23-26 as a head coach, and has four years of experience under his belt as a head man. He took over Toledo in 2009 and led the Rockets to consecutive winning seasons in 2010 and 2011.
He is an innovative offensive mind and was hired at Illinois in 2012 with the hope that he would bring a new wave of success to the program.
Instead, the millionaire coach guided the team to a 2-10 record, and a 0-8 mark in the Big Ten. The Illini were absolutely terrible.
While it was only his first season with the program, a 2-10 record doesn’t tend to sit well with folks writing checks with seven zeros based on performance.
Dan Mullen: Mississippi State Bulldogs, $2.6 M
Dan Mullen has done some really good things for the Bulldogs program in his four years as head coach, but this year’s season ending meltdown was embarrassing.
Mullen had his Bulldogs at 7-0, but then his team lost five of its last six games. That losing streak included a 41-24 throttling at the hands of rival Ole Miss.
The Bulldogs have been steadily climbing up the SEC West over the past few years, but the 2012 season put the brakes on and screeched the Mississippi State momentum to a halt.
At this point Mullen is way overpaid. After a few years of growing pains 2012 was supposed to be his best team yet. Instead they lost a lot of football to close the year, and most games weren’t even close.
If he has another year or two like this one, Mullen will be looking for a new gig.
Jim McElwain: Colorado State Rams, $1.35 M
Jim McElwain may prove to be worth his weight in gold before his tenure at Colorado State concludes, but a week 2 loss to FCS program North Dakota State immediately dumped him into the overpaid column in 2012.
There is a trend brewing where new head coaches that were star assistants are handed piles of cash to take jobs at small schools. The hope is that they can be the next big name in the coaching ranks and the small school can steal the talent for a few years of quality football.
The Rams finished with a modest 4-8 record, and there was some growth that was apparent by years end. Still, at this point, McElwain is overpaid.
Young assistants are great minds, but they aren’t worth seven figures as newly appointed head coaches. McElwain is proving it.
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