Last week when both Alabama and Kentucky made a statement by giving substantial raises to their marquee coaches, Auburn joined the fray by giving raises across the board to its head football coach and his assistants. Gus Malzahn got a $1.55 million raise to $3.85 million and his contract will raise yearly until it reaches $5.1 million in 2019 and there are bonuses built in which could add hundreds of thousands per year. The assistant coaches were already among the best paid in the SEC but now all nine make at least $325,000 and five assistants make at least $475,000.
Big salaries for head coaches are nothing new in the SEC, but with Nick Saban elevated to $7 million to coach football at Alabama and John Calipari making more than $7 million to coach basketball at Kentucky, other schools in the league will feel the pressure to up the ante considerably at a time when the league is seeing substantial money invested into facilities. Both Les Miles (LSU) and Steve Spurrier (South Carolina) have won national championships in football. Miles makes $4.3 million and Spurrier $4 million, a lot of money for sure, but it's not Saban money. Billy Donovan makes $3.7 million to coach basketball at Florida and anyone who thinks John Calipari is worth twice as much is missing some connective tissue in the cranium. Now that Cal makes more than $7 million, Florida definitely needs up the ante to ensure Donovan stays in Gainesville long into the future.
Figure there will be a round of renegotiation on several SEC fronts in the summer. The bar has been raised substantially.
You can also figure that the conference athletic directors are going to have to take a look at assistant coach salaries. Can Florida, for example, continue to lag behind Alabama, Auburn and LSU when it comes to paying its assistants? Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart will make $1.385 million and linebackers coach Kevin Steele will make $700,000 this year. First year offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin will make only $680,000 but he's not sweating since Southern Cal had to pay him $8 million to leave. LSU pays both its offensive (Cam Cameron) and defensive (John Chavis) coordinators more than $1 million.
The SEC is easily college football's best league but with Alabama, Auburn and LSU raising the stakes to maintain continuity on their coaching staffs, the rest of the league is going to have to keep up or else risk losing the guys who do most of the actual coaching.
Rashad McCants, who was a vital part of North Carolina's 2004 run to the NCAA championship, has made the most serious allegation yet in the academic scandal that continues to unfold in Chapel Hill. Speaking to ESPN's "Outside the Lines" McCants charges that he took phantom classes, hardly ever went to real classes and had tutors to write his term papers. For the past year there have been reports that athletes at UNC were active participants in these activities, but McCants went one step further by declaring that head basketball coach Roy Williams and the entire athletic department "knew 100%" what was going on.
As you might expect, Roy Williams has denied the allegations and 11 former Carolina players backed him up. That does go contrary to what whistleblower Mary Willingham showed the Raleigh News and Observer Saturday – evidence that at least five members of the 2005 UNC national championship team relied heavily on African Studies classes that didn't meet.
If you would believe the University of North Carolina, then there is the possibility that Mary Willingham is lying – certainly taken every opportunity possible has been taken to discredit her – but this isn't just about basketball. The football team, which is coming off an NCAA probation for a whole host of allegations during the Butch Davis era, is up to its wazzoo in allegations that its players benefitted from these sham classes.
There is always that possibility that Roy Williams was kept in the dark (the mushroom theory) and didn't know a thing. There is also the possibility that this is a scandal that goes far deeper than anyone can imagine. There was a time when the University of North Carolina was considered a bastion of integrity in college sports. The Tar Heels produced championship teams in so many sports, but basketball was the shiny example of how to do things the right way. At least that's the way it was when Dean Smith was the coach. Back in his day, players actually went to class and graduated with real degrees. It only takes one look at the list of doctors, lawyers and other professionals who played for Dean to verify that.
But obviously things have changed. The football scandal that cost Davis his job and put the football program on probation combined with this ongoing investigation into widespread academic fraud involving the athletic program has the makings of something far worse.
What is truly frightening is that if this could happen at North Carolina, where else?
10. Lomas Brown, offensive tackle (1981-84): Lomas simply buried people. He did it four years at Florida and continued doing it in the pros. Other than John Hannah (Alabama) and Dwight Stephenson (Alabama), he might be the best offensive lineman ever produced in the SEC. He won the Jacobs Blocking Trophy in 1984 when he was a consensus All-America selection.
9. Percy Harvin, receiver/running back (2006-08): As good as he was – 1,852 rushing yards (9.5 per carry) and 19 touchdowns; 133 catches for 1,929 yards and 13 scores – you have to wonder what he could have done if he had gotten the ball 15-20 times a game (averaged 11.6 touches for his career) and if he had stayed healthy. Percy was a two-time All-American who caught nine passes in the 2006 national championship win over Ohio State and ran for 122 yards and caught passes for 49 in the national championship win over Oklahoma in 2008.
8. Carlos Alvarez, wide receiver (1969-71): The "Cuban Comet" was the state sprint champion (9.6 100 yards) when he came to Florida as a running back in the 1968 recruiting class. Switched to wide receiver, Carlos made an indelible mark on Florida football history on the third play of his collegiate career as a sophomore (freshmen were ineligible then) when he caught a 70-yard touchdown pass from John Reaves on the third play of the game against Houston in the 1969 season opener. Carlos caught 88 passes for 1,329 yards and 12 touchdowns that season, which stood as the greatest season in Florida history until 1991 when UF won the SEC. For his career he caught 176 passes for 2,563 yards and 18 touchdowns. He is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame and the Academic All-America Hall of Fame.
7. Wes Chandler, receiver (1974-77): In terms of sheer athletic ability, Wes Chandler is probably the most gifted football player in UF history. Had he played in the Steve Spurrier era when the ball was thrown all over the place, Wes might have set records that would have never been broken. Instead he played wide receiver on a wishbone team and everyone in the stadium knew that if the Gators were going to throw he was going to get the ball. Still, he caught 92 passes for 1,963 yards and 22 touchdowns. As a senior he also played running back, running for 353 yards and six touchdowns. He was a two-time All-American and a 1977 first team academic All-America selection.
6. Jack Youngblood, defensive end (1968-70): Youngblood came to Florida as a 195-pound fullback but added 50 pounds and became the most feared pass rusher in the SEC. As a sophomore he kicked the game-winning field goal against Air Force in the season opener. As a junior he sacked Bill Cappleman five times to lead Florida to an upset win over Florida State. As a senior in 1970 he forced a fumble at the goal line to lead the Gators to a 24-17 upset of Georgia. He made first team All-America in 1970 and finished his Florida career with 29 sacks.
BYU wants to join the Big 12. Good luck there. BYU refuses to play athletic events on Sundays which is one of the reasons the Pac-12 didn't want the Cougars back when it expanded to 12 teams ... Pete Carroll told the Los Angeles Times that if he had known the NCAA was going to impose harsh penalties on Southern Cal, he wouldn't have bolted for the NFL. Are you buying that? ... The Ed O'Bannon lawsuit vs. the NCAA begins today. The NCAA is going to lose big. It could have avoided all this trouble years ago if it had simply agreed that it had screwed up and paid O'Bannon and a few athletes. Now it might have to pay thousands of athletes multiple millions of dollars ... The presidents of the Pac-12 are calling for NCAA reform. The problems they talk about today were there 10 years ago. Where were these visionaries 10 years ago? ... Next year's NFL Draft won't be held in New York next year due to scheduling difficulties at Radio City Music Hall, Madison Square Garden and the Barclay's Center. Either Chicago or Los Angeles seems to be the likely destination.
As prices for tickets and travel to Gainesville continue to rise are you more inclined to stay at home and watch Florida football on your 60-inch high def television or are you as excited as ever to watch games in person?
The Pimps of Joytime originated in New Orleans but they've since moved their base to Brooklyn. They broke onto the national music scene with this interesting combination of New Orleans funk, latin fusion, rhythm and blues and rock and roll back in 2005 when they released their first album, "High Steppin." They are an excellent live band that wowed the crowd at the Bear Creek Music and Arts Festival at the Spirit of Suwannee Music Park last November. This is "Blues Wit You" from their 2012 album "Janxta Funk."