Slow Money: Do B1G Coaches Earn Their Keep?

By Johnny Ginter on October 18, 2013 at 2:30p
It's the B1G Cash Money Millionaires

There isn't a whole heck of a lot that I enjoy more than knocking Kirk Ferentz down a peg. It's not really a peg that hasn't been knocked down repeatedly before, but the sheer ridiculousness of his salary combined with the fact that his contract extends through 2020 is a special kind of Dr. Seussian absurdity that can only really exist in the chaos hole that is college football.

But with that said, the Hawkeyes are now 4-2, matching their win total from last season. Kirk Ferentz now has a semi-functional offense, and a decent defense to match. Though this Saturday will go a long way towards verifying whether or not there's any teeth to the squad Ferentz has somehow cobbled together in 2013, it's still important to note when coaches are earning their salary and when they are not.

That's why today we're going to take a long, hard look at various Big Ten coaches to see if they're truly earning their salary, or if they're still just ducking the alumni and hoping that people don't notice or get fed up with a never ending stream of mediocrity and disappointment. And since that criteria varies from coach to coach, it's take a look at the select few in the Big Ten and how they stack up against Top Dog Urban Meyer.

Mark Dantonio, Michigan State ($1.934 million in 2012)

Two million dollars is nothing to sneeze at, but it's also roughly half of what Meyer earns. If the question is "Does Mark Dantonio earn that sweet ass cash?" then you've gotta look at some metrics.

For example, last season Michigan State won seven games. It was a disappointing season for a team projected to be one of the leading contenders for the Big Ten championship, and Mark Dantonio responded to this crisis by going out and hiring Jim Bollman to be his offensive coordinator. So, problem obviously solved as Sparty is now averaging 374 yards of total offense per game rather than the 360ish they were averaging last year.

Anyway, if we break down Dantonio's salary per win, the dude was paid a hair over $276,285 after every victory last season. Since that's not how salaries work, it was actually significantly less than that per game, but it does go to the value of a coach and it's kinda fun to think about.

Earning that paper?

Yeah, kind of. I mean, it's Sparty.

Brady Hoke, Michigan ($3.046 Million in 2012)

No. Coach School Compensation
01 Urban Meyer Ohio State $4.3 million
02 Kirk Ferentz Iowa $3.835 million
03 Brady Hoke Michigan $3.046 million
04 Bo Pelini Nebraska $2.875 million
05 Bill O'Brien Penn State $2.3 million
06 Darrell Hazell Purdue $2.0 million
07 Mark Dantonio Michigan State $1.934 million
08 Gary Andersen Wisconsin $1.8 million
09 Tim Beckman Illinois $1.6 million
10 Kevin Wilson Indiana $1.26 million
10 Pat Fitzgerald Northwestern $1.26 million
12 Jerry Kill Minnesota $1.2 million

Hoke didn't win a ton of games last season, but since 8-5 isn't a crime against humanity either, we'll have to look at other ways to quantify his worth to the Michigan Wolverines football program.

This year Brady Hoke signed 19 (!!!) four and five star recruits to his 2013 class, which comes out to $160,315 per prospect. Money well spent on the part of Michigan, and yes that is a sly implication that they paid for recruits (which, no, I don't actually think they did) (probably).

But frankly, I think it's more helpful to take a look at the HORRIBLE TRAITOROUS INFIDELS that Hoke conned away from their home state of Ohio, and how much he earned per disgusting human being. 12 terrible jerks fled the beautiful hills and valleys of the Buckeye state for whatever pain and dreariness awaits them in Ann Arbor. Hoke was compensated $253,833 for each little Quisling he ferreted out of our fine state.

Earning that paper?

Only if you accept the fact that he's Michigan's Earle Bruce.

Tim Beckman, Illinois ($1.6 million in 2012) and Pat Fitzgerald, Northwestern ($1.26 million in 2012)

Look at those numbers! LOOK AT THEM.

Tim Beckman is not a very good coach. He has yet to win a B1G conference game, and as long as we're taking salaries and dividing them by things, I like to imagine that Beckman smiled and nodded sagely after each of Nathan Scheelhaase's 22 sacks last season because he knew that meant another $72,727 dollars in his pocket.

Fitz, on the other hand, has a hilariously low salary commensurate with what he's been able to accomplish at Northwestern. Winning a bowl game by itself not only justifies his salary, it also justifies him getting paid the combined salaries of all the other Northwestern head coaches who failed to win one since the Paleolithic. Add in his adorable smile and he's got to be making at least $23,943 dollars for each time a Northwestern alumnus worries about him jumping ship for an academically important but more nationally significant football school. Like, uhhhh... Stanford? Nah. Or, aw crap, Michigan?? Probably not.

 Nah, Fitzgerald is staying put and will continue to be the most anachronistic coach in America salary wise.

Earning that paper?

Beckman, yes. There is no such thing as an easy swindle. Fitz, of course.

Urban Meyer, Ohio State ($4.3 Million in 2012)

Our Dear Leader still hasn't lost a game as the Ohio State head coach, which of course means that he never will. But let's assume that in some parallel universe Ohio State loses a game under his watch, and the city of Columbus doesn't burn down the WHAC in a blind rage at missing a chance to lose to an SEC team in the BCS championship game.

In this scenario, I assume that reporters and fans will make approximately 450,000 faux-concerned statements about his health, half implying that we'd rather see him have a cardiac episode while ensuring that another loss never happens than taking it easy Bob Stoops style and only usually beating our biggest rival. We want blood, coach. The opponents' or yours, your choice.

Earning that paper?

Yes, the dude is undefeated. But if he ever loses we're definitely dividing both his salary and children in half.

Kirk Ferentz, Iowa ($3.85 million in 2012)

Iowa totaled 3725 yards of total offense last season, good for 116th in the country. Since Ferentz is paid by the yard, that meant each tiny piece of real estate got him a whopping $1033 dollars. That's a better deal for Ferentz than what Seward got wen he bought Alaska from the Russians.

Think about that this weekend, as Mark Weisman repeatedly slams against the interior of the Ohio State defensive line for little to no gain, and know that each two yard dive brings Ferentz a little closer to that new fishing cabin in Minnesota.

Seriously though, Ferentz is one of the best-compensated coaches in college football. He has seven Big Ten wins in the last three years.

Earning that paper?

Hell no.

Overall, coaches salaries are interesting because each brings with them certain dynamics and back stories to the conversation. If you remember that coaches are literally millionaires exhorting uncompensated (depending on how you want to define it) young adults to greatness as a way to justify their salary, college football becomes even more exciting than it already is. This Saturday we're going to see more than one drama play out on the field, and one of them will be in the pockets of a dude who lines them with running back tears.


Comments Show All Comments

Zimmy09's picture

That picture is awesome

Knarcisi's picture

Urbs being the coolest, of course.

RedsBuckeyeBoy's picture

I know that Northwestern doesn't have a huge athletic program (of course, who does compared to THE Ohio State University, am I right?), and there is no way of knowing if he could have this level of success elsewhere (although "all signs point to yes" according to my magic 8-ball), but...
Fitzgerald's contract is a absolute joke.
I know, I know. We would all love to make 1.26 mil/year, and he clearly loves his alma mater, but this embodies what is wrong with the B1G these days. For all of the advanced concepts (BTN, expansion, a seeming willingness to compensate players) that have come out of the conference over the past few years, it still lags behind other marquee conferences in many key areas. The Big Ten used to be a destination conference, but a guy like Fitzgerald making that kind of money when he could be making 2-3 times as much elsewhere gives the Big Ten a stepping stone feel.
I'm actually starting to believe that the B1G is a second tier football conference myself. Steel sharpens steel, so how in the hell are we supposed to get better when we are surrounded by second rate (or worse) teams? I guess it's up to OSU and UFM to save this whole damned conference. We should start by kicking Iowa around for 4 quarters so they know how much they need to improve!

FitzBuck's picture

Couldn't agree more about Fitz.  Great coach they couldn't keep if he didn't have his whole life involved in that area and school.  They should put his wife on the payroll as well as she has as much to do with keeping him there as anything else.  

Fitzbuck | Toledo - Ohio's right armpit | "A troll by any other name is still a troll".

cinserious's picture

If his wife was as influential as you think, Fitzgerald would have left for greener pastures (and more $$$) years ago!

One day I will valiantly become a political prisoner of 11W jail.

Earle's picture

I would like to know how much Bo Pelini makes per "#$&@".

Have you tried Not Your Father's Root Beer?  It tastes just like the real thing, but it packs a punch (5.9%ABV).  It's a little sweet for me though.  Two is my limit.

Earle's picture

I dunno, that's a pretty big &%#$ing denominator.

Have you tried Not Your Father's Root Beer?  It tastes just like the real thing, but it packs a punch (5.9%ABV).  It's a little sweet for me though.  Two is my limit.

tennbuckeye19's picture

On an unrelated note: Take a look at Bo's &%@#in championship cat.


Earle's picture

He looks so happy!  Maybe he should keep it with him on the sideline.

Have you tried Not Your Father's Root Beer?  It tastes just like the real thing, but it packs a punch (5.9%ABV).  It's a little sweet for me though.  Two is my limit.

tennbuckeye19's picture

Here's Bo driving around Lincoln. He's probably listening to local sports radio talking #$%& about him.

rdubs's picture

The B1G coaches I would say are earning their salaries for sure are Urban, Dantonio, Fitz, and BOB.  I might and Andersen after his sample size increases, but so far it looks like he is.  Dantonio is probably the most borderline of that group, but I think what he has done at the second tier school in a state that doesn't produce a huge amount of talent is pretty outstanding.  He had an off year last year and if that trend continues then maybe he would get bumped down, but right now that is my list.

Ethos's picture

Fitzgerald is not just earning his salary, he is exceeding it by at least 2x as much.  That athletic director should be fired.  That school announced during the game (along with their 50000 student-athlete-introduction-by-standing-on-the-field-every-5-god-damn-minutes-interupting-the-game) that they just brought in a alumni gift drive of 50 million, and apparently they do this with such regularity that they named it the FALL drive...
They have the money, they are just hoarding it like little bastards.

"I spent 90 percent of my money on women and drink. The rest I wasted." - George Best

rdubs's picture

Hoarding by giving it to their academic departments to have one of the best schools in the country.  If they get their facilities in order they could be the Stanford of the midwest. 

Jason Priestas's picture

Absolutely. It's a conscious choice at NU and Fitz is okay with it.

45has2's picture

Now, compare them to the current AP to 10.
Bama/Saban  5.4M
Oregon/Helfrich  1.8M
Clemson/Swinney  1.9M
TOSU/Meyer  4.3M
FSU/Fisher  2.75M
LSU/Hatter  4.3M
T A&M/Summlin  3.1M
Louisville/Strong  3.7M
UCLA/Mora  2.5M
Miami/Golden  A private university not req'd to publish salaries.
Oregon and Clemson are getting a bargain while Iowa is paying way too much for way too little.

"I don't like nice people. I like tough, honest people." -W.W. Hayes

1MechEng's picture

Johnny ... Fun article, but why did you stop without talking about Bo?! You could have gone on about how he made $5.75 Million over the last 2 seasons culminating in a loss in the Outback Bowl each time ... or $145K for each point Nebraska lost to UCLA by after blowing an 18 point lead this year.

Riggins's picture

I just want to know what Earle thinks about being compared to Hokey.

Earle's picture

Are you serious?

Have you tried Not Your Father's Root Beer?  It tastes just like the real thing, but it packs a punch (5.9%ABV).  It's a little sweet for me though.  Two is my limit.

cinserious's picture

One day I will valiantly become a political prisoner of 11W jail.

lamplighter's picture

Only if you accept the fact that he's Michigan's Earle Bruce.
Undeserved slam on Earle, who had a winning record against ttun.  You think Hokum will have a winning record against Urban and Company when all is said and done?

ScarletNGrey01's picture

I'm old enough to remember the year he took the bucks to the NC game against USC I think, bucks had the lead if I remember but the last few minutes of the game Chuck White bowled over everyone and scored a touchdown, beat the bucks by one point I think?  Hold on, let me Google.  Yep, we lost 17 - 16, was in 1980, the season Earl took over for Woody.

The will to win is not as important as the will to prepare to win. -- Woody Hayes

raki's picture

" Our Dear Leader"    Now that's  Funny......

steveoz49's picture

Northwestern is getting a deal!!!!!
Pay Sir Urban whatever he wants, please keep that man around.
The rest of the coaches... I could care less

Chief B1G Dump's picture

I think every coach is earning their keep based on what their football team brings in to the school via dollars, attention, television viewers, students and recruits.
However, relative to other coaching salaries, it is a different story.  I would say the list is close to what I would guess ranking-wise.  
My only real notes would be that BOB should be earning way more than he does for the job he has done and somehow keeping PSU from sinking into oblivion.  And we all know Kirk Ferentz is probably way overpaid relative to other coaching salaries, but its gotta be hard to get ballers to come to Iowa.  He's a safe mid-west bet for them and they paid for tenure/comfort/stability...or he's got a wicked good agent.

WC Buckeye's picture

Or pictures of the provost with a goat.

The only thing that's new in the world is the history that we have forgotten.

ScarletNGrey01's picture

Good read.  An interesting follow up to this article might be salaries of assistant coaches / support staff.  I've read that one of the reasons other conferences have problems competing against the SEC is they pay their coordinators and assistant coaches better than the other conferences.  My understanding is the buckeyes now pay SEC salaries to their assistants, and think I also read TSUN does too?  I'd be kind of curious how we stack up to the rest of the B1G.

The will to win is not as important as the will to prepare to win. -- Woody Hayes

buckeyepastor's picture

It is a CRIME that Hazell and Beckman make more than Fitzgerald.  

"Woody would have wanted it that way" 

Doc's picture

Johnny you are the greatest, and that's not the IPA talking.  I love,your articles and sense of humor.  I'm hoping the Bucks roll Iowa so badly the payoff to Ferentz looks cheap. 

CJDPHoS Member

The Official DDS of 11W

Mirror Lake Jump's picture

Johnny, Do you have any idea what Maryland and Rutgers coaches are making?

cinserious's picture

Head coaching salaries are a moot point. While some B1G coaches are over/under paid, the real reason the B1G sucks and will keep slouching farther away from the conference big-boy table is assistant coaches. Real conferences pay their asst coaches hefty saleries and draw from the best in the country. The B1G schools have the cash to do that but want to be cheap and not make the payouts.
An analogy: if all the casinos in the Midwest are tight with their slot machines, while the casinos in the South actually give gamblers some 'luck' here and there, eventually all the gamblers will take their $$$ down south.

One day I will valiantly become a political prisoner of 11W jail.