$20 Million Coaching Buyouts are Everything Wrong With the College System
By now if you follow College Football you know about not the first, but the second coach to get fired before the end of the 2019 season, Willie Taggart--now formerly of Florida State.
Taggart was brought in to "Grow" the Seminoles after one season at Oregon and time at both South Florida and Western Kentucky and called the FSU job his "Dream Job".
That dream turned into a nightmare quickly as he didn't last 2-seasons. Taggart will leave Tallahassee with 9 wins, 12 losses and a cool $20 or some million dollars to go away.
Yes, that's right. $20 mil.....that was the buyout and FSU despite claiming "Financial Issues" ....managed to find donors willing to pony up to take care of this.
And that folks is a problem. A big problem and one of the biggest and continually growing problems that will blanket College Football--a Sport that loves to flaunt its "Amateurism" only to find schools forking over contracts and buyouts even the NFL would balk at.
Don't get me wrong--NFL Coaches are not poorly paid. Jon Gruden is making $10 mil a year to Coach the Raiders, Sean Payton, $9 million in New Orleans. That's a lot of money. But we're talking about guys leading NFL Teams---not College Teams.
In College, Clemson's Dabo Swinney is pulling in $9.255 million a year, slightly ahead of the great Saban at $8.757. By contrast---the lowest paid coaches in the FBS are Jamey Chadwell of Coastal Carolina and Matt Viator at Louisiana-Monroe who both make less than $400K a season. That's the issue here.
Yes, I get it, College Football at the Power 5 level is raking in hundreds of millions of dollars a year.
And those teams don't seem shy about spending it. Dabo, well, he got a 10-year $93 million extension after winning the National Title this past season. The Tigers--well, along with their relatively small by comparison $30 million of TV money last year brought in nearly $14 million in licensing and royalties, nearly $6 million from Nike and some $25 million in ticket revenue and that doesn't count the $40 million or so in donations from boosters (info courtesy: FORBES)
Mind you, this is all money for the athletic program, the University itself doesn't see any of this. Clemson like many comparable programs seems to be trying find reasons to spend the money just because they have it. A $55 million "Athletic Complex" another $100 million to upgrade the football stadium, the Tigers are tossing around money like a drunken sailor and can afford to do it with barely a second thought.
They didn't even top College Football in 2018 revenue, that title went to Texas A&M. Yes, Texas A&M brought in nearly $147 million in revenue. Yikes!
The biggest benefactors for this have been coaches. Coaches in the FBS are seeing salaries increase exponentially and since contracts don't mean a whole lot in their line of work--buyouts seem to be increasing as well. Though it only seems to apply at the Power 5 level. The AAC's, Conference USA's and MAC's of the world can't afford to play even close to this stratosphere.
You want to know how much it would cost Clemson to buy out Dabo? Try $50 million. Jimbo Fisher at Texas A&M, yeah, $60 million would make him go away.
College Football at its most elite level has become somewhat of a microcosm of society. The rich are getting richer at an ever increasingly fast rate. The poor--they just kind of sit where they are, play through the season and hope they get a bone from ESPN in the name of a mid-December bowl game.
The Coastal Carolina's and Louisiana Monroe's of the world paying their coaches a fraction of what the "Big Program" coaches make means they NEVER will have a chance to compete at the same level and they shouldn't have to.
But that's what College Football is these days---which unfortunately if you look at it this way---is kind of depressing.....
Oh, and by the way, don't feel too bad for Willie Taggart. Getting nearly $20 million to do nothing while Florida State grasps at straws to reclaim their former luster....makes everything else only minority important to him.