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Coaching contracts: Brewster compared to other coaches

I was reading about Joe Paterno’s contract extension last night when I came across some interesting facts in regards to NCAA coaching contracts. 

 It’s interesting to me that Paterno, who will be on Penn State’s sideline for the 60th year in 2009 and serving as the Nittany Lions head coach since 1966, is only making $500,000 a year (that’s only what the folks at Happy Valley are paying him).  Remember Tim Brewster, who is only in his third year as a head coach, is making just over $400,000. 


Now $100,000 difference is a lot, but both are very close in comparison to Nick Saban, the highest paid NCAA football coach at $4 million a year.  Now here’s my breakdown of coaching clout and arguments for their salaries:


1. Saban


 The Alabama head coach is the only one in the group with NFL head coaching experience (even though it came with Miami and his last season with the Dolphins was his only year with a losing record).  He also is the only coach among the three to win a national title in this century (2003 with LSU).  Saban also coaches in the SEC, where athletics and football specifically are held in higher regard that in the Big 10 – Paterno and Brewster’s conference.  Saban knows something about the Big 10 though – he served as head coach for Michigan State for five years before fleeing to the SEC. 


Argument for salary: Alabama needed to turn its program around (which it obviously is doing since Saban took over) and the Crimson Tide needed to throw big money at Saban to draw him away from the NFL.  He’s also by far the most successful among the three coaches in his short career.


2. Paterno


The almost 82-year old can literally walk into the home of any recruit in the nation and command respect.  His latest recruits most common question isn’t “How long before I’ll play?” it’s “How long will you be around to coach?” Paterno’s 383 career wins (all with PSU) are the most among active Division I coaches, and he’s just 17 wins away from becoming just the third coach in all of college football to win 400 games. He’s also got two NCAA championships to Saban’s one and Brewster’s zero, but he’s also been coaching longer that Saban and Brewster combined.


Argument for salary: By his own admission, JoePa doesn’t like dealing with contracts.  Plus he’s pretty far up there in age –what does he need money like Saban’s for?  He’s been head coach at Penn State since 1966, but head coaches didn’t make the kind of money Paterno is making now 20 years ago let alone 40 years ago.  He’s won two Big 10 titles since the new millennium including one this year, but in terms of national competition he hasn’t done much lately. His two national championships came in the 80’s.


3. Brewster

Plain and simple, Brewster needs to be making less than Saban and Paterno. This is only his second year as a head coach (although he does bring in clout from working in the NFL).  He has proven himself by turning around the Gophers from last year, but I’ll give him a few more seasons before I give him an endorsement for a raise.



Argument for salary: Again inexperience. His surrounding is also limiting his income. Not knocking Penn State or Alabama, but Minnesota is much more of an academically focused school (although some people would likely argue that fact). And frankly, Brewster’s biggest asset is his ability to recruit.  But send Brewster, JoePa and Saban to a recruit’s home at the same time and see where he signs.  

Update – I don’t think we’re allowed to do this, but I don’t really care. Since I finally had someone comment on my blog, I’m going to start a dialogue here. When I said “Minnesota is more of an academically focused school”, I meant that the institution is less willing to pour money into athletics than Penn State or Alabama. Maybe not less willing, but more of an outcry or contrasting voice against doing so (look at differentials in fan bases and attendance). And yes, as far as “annonymous” (yeah, I would have tipped my cap to you had you left a name) comment goes…yes, I definitely wish it was so.

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