There are four second-year head coaches in the SEC.
Arkansas’ Bret Bielema is the only one who hasn’t already negotiated a pay raise. But that could change.
Talk about your low bar for success:
Tennessee recently announced Butch Jones received an extension to 2020 and raise that boosts his annual salary from $2.95 to $3.6 million, according to numerous reports. Kentucky’s Mark Stoops also received a raise in late October and will earn an average of $3.575 million annually through 2019, according to the Louisville Courier-Journal. Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze also received a raise that will pay him $4.3 million next season after rumblings he was courted by Florida.
Bielema, Jones and Stoops are all in their second seasons as SEC coaches along with Auburn’s Gus Malzahn, who received a pay raise after leading the Tigers to the national title game last season. Jones is 11-13 overall, 5-11 in SEC games, while Stoops is 7-17 and 2-14. Bielema is 9-15 overall and 2-14 in conference games.
You may think this is friggin’ nuts and I wouldn’t blame you. But it’s today’s reality in the Southeastern Conference. Even somebody like Jeff Long knows it.
“To be candid: It’s challenging to know that the market is shifting that quickly,” Long said Thursday. “Those are large numbers obviously. But it is an athletic director’s reality when you’re at a power five conference school, particularly in the SEC, which is the strongest conference and the most lucrative conference in the country. So it’s a challenge to keep those things in perspective. We all have different revenue streams and amounts and different sizes of stadiums and all those things.
“But we’re always going to compete. We want to compete. I know our fans and our administration want us to compete so we’ll continue to do that.”
Meanwhile, in Athens, Georgia… or somewhere in this great land of ours…
I spoke to a Power Five athletic director at the IMG Intercollegiate Athletics Forum last week. He said, at some point soon, a number of ADs will simply refuse to keep escalating the pay scale for coaches and start bargain shopping. (Alvarez may have already done this and is simply ahead of the curve.) The AD argued that market forces aren’t totally to blame for the salary surge, as even the recent TV windfall in most leagues isn’t enough to explain how quickly salaries have jumped.
Consider this: When Ed Orgeron was fired as the Ole Miss head coach in 2007, he made $900,000 a year. Seven years later current Rebels head coach Hugh Freeze just agreed to a new deal that will pay him $4.3 million in ’15.
The somewhat frugal AD, who has had the same football coach for a while and pays that coach and his assistants fairly competitive salaries, isn’t sure that even Power Five schools will want to keep competing in this market, and believes they could start trying to lower the salary scale by hiring younger, up-and-coming coaches. Basically, this AD is suggesting schools will start buying fully loaded Chevy Tahoes instead of Range Rovers.
It’s good to have dreams.