While athletes are fighting just to get a piece of the revenue pie, coaching salaries in college football are only getting higher.
The latest coach to land a raise is Oklahoma's Bob Stoops. According to Ryan Aber and Jason Kersey of The Oklahoman, university regents approved Stoops' new salary on Wednesday as part of a bigger athletic announcement that included major facility upgrades.
The exact terms of Stoops' new contract are still being published, but the important number is that Stoops will make $5 million a year.
The news comes a day after Aber reported that a raise was coming Stoops' way:
Last year, Stoops had his contract extended through the 2020 season but the financial terms of the deal remained the same.
With the raise, Stoops is likely to surpass $5 million annually, moving into an exclusive group amongst college football coaches.
The $5 million club, while still a major benchmark among college coaches, is becoming ever so diluted. Alabama coach Nick Saban recently inked his nearly $7 million deal and Texas head coach Charlie Strong is already making $5 million without having coached a down of actual football for the Longhorns.
Nevertheless, $5 million is nothing to scoff at. Kevin Sumlin at Texas A&M is the only other head coach making that kind of money. Still, only Saban is more accomplished than Stoops in the $5 million group.
Saban has won a combined four national titles at Alabama and LSU. Stoops has one with the Sooners, though his program has three more national championship appearances.
But Stoops has also won eight Big 12 championships and produced 65 NFL draftees (13 first-rounders). Last season, he moved past Barry Switzer to become the winningest coach in Oklahoma history (160-39 career record).
|Highest-Paid College Football Coaches|
|Nick Saban||Alabama||$6.9 million|
|Bob Stoops||Oklahoma||$5.25 million|
|Charlie Strong||Texas||$5 million|
|Kevin Sumlin||Texas A&M||$5 million|
|Butch Jones||Tennessee||$4.9 million|
|Urban Meyer||Ohio State||$4.6 million|
|Les Miles||LSU||$4.5 million|
|Brady Hoke||Michigan||$4.2 million|
|Kirk Ferentz||Iowa||$4 million|
|Mike Gundy||Oklahoma State||$3.5 million|
|USA Today, Various|
In all, Stoops has led the Sooners to double-digit wins in 12 of his 15 seasons in Norman. Even at a perennial power like Oklahoma, that's tough to do. Since last year's team was nowhere near Stoops' best, it's amazing he got 11 wins out of them.
The "Big Game Bob" nickname is corny, but Stoops has done what few others actually have—and all at the same school, no less. Among coaches in the five major conferences, only Iowa's Kirk Ferentz and Virginia Tech's Frank Beamer have been at the same place longer (via Jeremy Fowler of CBS Sports).
For Stoops to be hitting the $5 million mark now? Perhaps it's a bit surprising it took this long. In that sense, Stoops has quietly—if you can believe that—cemented himself as one of the all-time greats.
Fox Sports' Bruce Feldman, formerly of CBS Sports, even mentioned Stoops as an "underrated" coach in March:
Stoops revitalized the OU program, won a national title, has spawned a bunch of head coaches and has still won over 80 percent of his games. People can take shots at the "Big Game Bob" moniker, but keep in mind he's beaten arch-rival Texas 64 percent of the time; he was 7-1 in the Big 12 title game; 11-2 against in-state rival OSU and he's 50-23 all-time against ranked opponents. That's pretty strong. Not bad for a program that had gone about a decade without a double-digit win season before Stoops showed up.
Calling Stoops underrated doesn't flow off the tongue well, but it actually makes sense. As odd as it sounds, it can be easy to forget all that Stoops has accomplished because he "only" has one national title on his head coaching resume.
But at $5 million and change, Stoops won't suddenly be under more pressure to win Big 12 and national championships. The pressure already existed. And Stoops already delivered. Provided he doesn't go down a path similar to former Texas coach Mack Brown, Stoops will be fine.
The same may not apply to every coach earning the same amount of money. Stoops has been in the game a long time. He's earned every penny he's received.
Whether he wins another national championship in his coaching lifetime remains to be seen. That will not, however, reflect how he's viewed in Oklahoma and college football history when he finally decides to blow his whistle for the final time.
Ben Kercheval is a lead writer for college football at Bleacher Report.