Coaches Salaries Continue To Rise

FAYETTEVILLE — Back in the days of Frank Broyles and his longtime nemesis Darrell Royal, football coaches didn't get rich.

Sure, they didn't starve or anything. Broyles' salary of $40,000 his last season of coaching in 1976 was nothing to scoff at. But their wages were peanuts compared to the monstrous salaries brought in by today's coaches.

"We were born way too early," Broyles recalled Royal telling him three years ago. "Way to early."

Throughout the time since Broyles stopped patrolling the sidelines, salaries for college football coaches have steadily climbed. In recent years, the climb has accelerated. In 1995, Florida made headlines by turning Steve Spurrier into the country's first million-dollar coach.

Eight years later, 23 coaches took in salaries of at least $1 million. By last season, that number had nearly doubled. Forty-four college football coaches jotted down a seven-digit figure on their tax returns.

The culmination of this compensation explosion occurred this past offseason, when Arkansas' opponent Saturday night inked Nick Saban to an eight-year, $32 million deal.

Alabama didn't care that no coach at the time earned more than the $3.5 million Oklahoma's Bob Stoops made in 2006. Alabama didn't listen to the people who said the school couldn't cough up enough cash to lure Saban away from the Miami Dolphins. Crimson Tide athletic director Mel Moore issued an offer to Saban he couldn't refuse.

Another former Arkansas coach, Ken Hatfield, said the size of these substantial contracts would continue to spiral out of control unless the presidents of the NCAA's universities joined forces.

"That's what makes America, America," Hatfield said. "It's a matter of supply and demand. And pretty much, a school can pay whatever it wants to if that's what the school thinks it will take."

Broyles doesn't see an end in sight, either. As of the start of this season, the coaches of the Southeastern Conference collectively commanded more money than any other league in the country. The average SEC coaching salary is $1.83 million. Arkansas coach Houston Nutt now ranks eighth in the SEC on the salary scale.

He received a raise after last season, which increased his yearly income to $1.2 million. Nutt bluntly stated he never imagined he'd bring in that kind of money, especially when he started as a graduate assistant making less than $2 per hour.

"I can remember when my wife was making $40,000, and I brought in barely $500 a month," Nutt said.

Every coach seems to have a similar story. And they often find themselves having to recollect them. Reporters love to pepper them with questions.

Saban often has to defend the contract that has angered many people outside of the Yellowhammer State. He doesn't mind. The queries never faze him. He talks about growing up poor in West Virginia, pumping gas at a local filling station.

And he unequivocally explains that he coaches the same now as he did when he made $8,000 at his first coaching gig.

How much more pressure do you feel because of the money you make? How do you justify that contract? Why are you making the most money of any public employee in your state?

"It's a competitive market out there with salaries," Saban said on this week's SEC teleconference. "Sure, we make a lot of money. But I don't think anybody when they go about their work worries about what kind of money they're making. They're worrying about what kind of job they're doing."

Considering the size of these coaches' contracts, their job performances come under increasing scrutiny. Nutt said the extent of his salary "heightens the pressure I'm under." Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer said he has two options since he won a national title in 1998 and "created expectations that are really difficult in this world to keep."

"You can worry about it and let it drive you nuts," Fulmer said. "Or you can adjust to it, know what's there and deal with it and go on. I try not to drive myself crazy over that."

Some athletic directors, like Broyles, surely have gone insane over these deals, though. When Arkansas went to hire a basketball coach to replace Stan Heath, Broyles reportedly offered more than $2 million to a handful of candidates.

The Razorbacks ended up landing South Alabama's John Pelphrey, for a seemingly discount price of $750,000 a year.

"It's like the arms race with Russia," Broyles said. "That's what we're in, an arms race. Everyone keeps spending more and more, because that's what it takes.

"I feel kind of lucky it wasn't like that back in my time. If I made the kind of money these coaches make, I wouldn't have become an AD. I would've retired."

Salaries For Southeastern Conference Coaches

School Coach Salary

Alabama Nick Saban $4 million

Florida Urban Meyer $3.3 million

Auburn Tommy Tuberville $2.2 million

Tennessee Phillip Fulmer $2.1 million

Georgia Mark Richt $2 million

LSU Les Miles $1.8 million

South Carolina Steve Spurrier $1.8 million

Arkansas Houston Nutt $1.2 million

Kentucky Rich Brooks $1 million

Mississippi State Sylvester Croom $940,000

Ole Miss Ed Orgeron $905,000

Vanderbilt Bobby Johnson $750,000

Top Five Coaching Salaries Nationally

School Coach Salary

Alabama Nick Saban $4 million

Oklahoma Bob Stoops $3.5 million

Florida Urban Meyer $3.3 million

USC Pete Carroll $3 million

Texas Mack Brown $2.9 million

Hawgs Daily Top Stories