That's why I think their contracts should feature smaller guarantees and greater incentives.
For instance, if I were the athletics director at a major Southern university in, say, Knoxville, Tennessee, I would suggest my head coach's salary be structured in this way:
$1 million base pay
$100,000 per win
$100,000 bonus for an SEC East title
$200,000 bonus for an SEC overall title
$300,000 bonus for a BCS bowl win
$500,000 bonus for a national title
One key stipulation: A coach can only collect one bonus per year. Theoretically, let's say my coach goes 9-3 during the regular season. He'd get his $1 million base pay, plus $900,000 for the nine victories. If he wins his mid-level bowl game Coach A will take home a net salary of $2 million. If he loses the bowl game, he still makes $1.9 million.
OK, now let's imagine I'm the athletics director at a major Southern university in, say, Gainesville, Fla. Just for the purpose of argument, we'll imagine that my coach goes 13-1, wins the SEC East title, the SEC overall title and the national title. He'd get $1 million base pay, another $1.3 million for the 13 victories, plus a $500,000 bonus for claiming the national title. Coach B would take home $2.8 million. That's an awful lot of money but a national title will BRING IN a lot of donor money, so he's worth it.
I'm pretty sure most athletics directors would like my plan. I'm pretty sure most coaches would hate my plan. Especially Nick Saban. The only way he could make $4 million while working for me would be if he won a national title AND hit a Power Ball jackpot in his spare time.