You maybe, just maybe have noticed a few things as a college football fan: Texans love themselves some college football, there's a lot of money involved in college football, and there's a lot of money in Texas. Charlie Strong has tiger cubs in his opulent offices at Texas, Kevin Sumlin probably bathes in $100 bills every night at A&M (that can't smell good), and Kliff Kingsbury could probably buy out the Lubbock Journal-Avalanche if he wanted to, which honestly might not be a bad thing.
But what about the "little guys" in Texas, the Group of Five schools that don't have the money to renovate their football stadiums to look like a giant spaceship? Let's take a look at the moolah forked over towards the people that run that incredibly alluring insane asylum we call college football.
All figures were taken from the USA Today and Texas Tribune head coach contracts databases unless otherwise noted.
|Team||Name||Annual Guaranteed Compensation||Maximum Bonus||Guaranteed Salary + Total Incentives|
|Texas State||Dennis Franchione||$425,000||$175,000||$575,000|
*Per Houston Chronicle **Per Dallas Morning-News
One thing's for certain: SMU has loads of that private school money and will fork out the GDP of a tiny island nation to get Chad Morris to resurrect their program.
Houston is also thinking big and trying to act like a Big 12 school so they can position themselves for a P5 invite, and the money they're shelling out for Tom Herman is a shining example of their ambitions. Although Tommy Tuberville at Cincinnati and, amazingly enough, fake rivalry enthusiast Bob Diaco at UCONN have higher base salaries, there's definitely room for Herman to make more than them if he's successful.
Sean Kugler at UTEP is also receiving a base salary that's on the low end, but his contract is loaded with incentives that could give him the means to significantly increase his income if he keeps the Miners on a positive track.
UNT, meanwhile, got stuck with a Kirk Ferentz-like anchor of a contract for Dan McCarney with a hefty buyout of $725,000 until 2017, and after that they'd still have to eat $400,000 until 2019. This is why you don't let enthusiasm get the best of you if you're an athletic director.
Texas State and UTSA are getting bargains as coaches Franchione and Coker are trying to build their respective FBS programs from the ground up and then coast into retirement. Their buyouts would be fairly painful for either school to eat if things went downhill for either coach. Coker has a flat buyout of $200,000, but Coach Fran's arrangement is a little more complicated.
Let's entertain the highly unlikely wishes of some Bobcat fans that Texas State would actually consider letting Fran go if he didn't get over the 7-5/6-6 hump. His buyout stipulates that Texas State will pay the number of months left on his contract by $12,000, so if the Bobcats fired him in December 2015, they'd have to pay $288,000. That's more than basketball coach Danny Kaspar makes in a season. If they waited until 2016, the buyout would go down to a more manageable $144,000.
Coordinators and Assistants
Head coaching salaries are important, but assistants' salaries can make or break a program. If you pay a head coach a decent salary but skimp on assistants, it'll be difficult to attract a higher caliber coaching staff, and those coordinators that do manage to make a name for themselves will be out of your school faster than you can say "we're switching to a 4-2-5 defense."
Rice and SMU don't have data readily available on coordinators' salaries, so we'll stick with the public school data. Houston is bringing in new coordinators next season as well and their salary data wasn't available, so I used salary data from last season provided by USA Today. Take it with a grain of salt considering the latest batch of assistants will likely have their salaries go way up by comparison.
Salary data are per the Texas Tribune governmental employees database unless otherwise noted.
|Team||Name||Annual Salary||Name||Annual Salary|
|Texas State||Mike Schultz||$131,520||Jeff Conway||$106,040|
*Per Denton Record-Chronicle
|Texas State||John Thompson||$132,000|
*Per Denton Record-Chronicle **Has been replaced by Chris Cosh
Next Highest Paid Assistant Coach
|Houston||Jamie Christian (Special Teams/Receivers/Tight Ends)||$220,000|
|Texas State||Brad Bedell (OL Coach)||$97,000|
|UNT||Nick Quartaro*+ (TE Coach)||$155,000|
|UTEP||Spencer Leftwich+ (OL Coach)||$170,000|
|UTSA||Perry Eliano (Special Teams)||$76,650|
*Per Denton Record-Chronicle +Assistant Head Coach
Houston already led the way on assistants' salaries with the slight exception of young former offensive coordinator Travis Bush, whose salary was more in line with his counterparts from UNT and UTEP.
As for the rest of the assistants, a pretty clear pattern can be seen: UNT and UTEP are about the same and hover around the $150-$200k range. Then there's a big dropoff to Texas State's assistants' salaries, and UTSA brings up the rear with some bargain bin compensation for Coker's assistants.
The athletic director is an almost equally important position as the football head coach, since it's that man or woman's job to increase the success and prestige of their school's athletics program while keeping things above board when it comes to academics and the NCAA. A competent athletic director is often seen but not heard, a truly great athletic director garners praise from fans, coaches, and athletes alike, and bad ones...well, they're seen and heard, but for all the wrong reasons.
|Texas State||Larry Teis||$275,000|
*Per Houston Chronicle **Recently left for Missouri ***Per USA Today circa 2013
Once again, Houston has more money than anyone, as evidenced by them paying their dynamic and aggressive former athletic director Mack Rhoades over half a million.
When it comes to the other P5 directors, everyone else's salaries are pretty similar. One oddity stands out, however.
Even though she's the second highest paid employee in the UTSA athletic department, Lynn Hickey makes significantly less than Teis, Villarreal, or Stull. How that is possible is one of life's great mysteries right up there with the Bermuda Triangle and Dan McCarney's contract extension.
Stull is a competent presence, but Villarreal and Teis are dealing with restless fans questioning their perceived passive leadership qualities. By contrast, Hickey is a Rhoades-caliber athletic director who has done an amazing job vaulting UTSA to prominence and galvanizing the San Antonio community, and she's consistently hitting the pavement promoting the Roadrunners.
The Overall Pattern
One thing is certainly clear when looking over these numbers: Houston and SMU have more money than they know what to do with, and are spending at levels normally seen at Power Five conference schools. Rice seems less opulent, but they're likely in good shape.
On the other end of the spectrum you have UTSA, who is getting their bang for their buck (especially off the field), and Texas State, who could probably stand to borrow a few bucks and perhaps spend them on a more inspiring athletic director.
Then stuck in the middle you have UTEP, who is slowly on an upward climb in C-USA and appear to have made a solid, incentive-based investment in Sean Kugler. Finally, there's UNT, who squandered all their goodwill from the Apogee Stadium with some very questionable financial moves.
Unless Dan McCarney makes some serious moves towards a lasting rebuild, and soon, the Mean Green program could suffer from Iowa-esque levels of helplessness and apathy. And that's not a pretty sight.