Here's something to get your brain going today: in the last 24 years, the salaries of college football head coach have more than septupled. For those of you whose morning coffee has yet to kick in, that means the salaries of college football coaches have grown to seven-and-a-half times their figures from a quarter century ago according to Duke economics professor Charles Clotfelter.
In light of the escalating paychecks of college football coaches, the Yakima (Wash.) Herald took a look at its own state's major college coaches, Washington's Steve Sarkisian and Washington State's Mike Leach, in advance of their annual Apple Cup tussle Friday in Seattle.
Neither coach was made available for comment, but each athletics director spoke and they were in agreement - salaries have grown to mind-blowing levels.
“Yes, it’s insane,” Washington State AD Bill Moos said. “But if you’re going to get in the race and be competitive in the sport of college football, you’re going to have to invest that kind of money anymore.”
Sarkisian earns a salary of $2.425 million according to the USA Today Coaching Salary database, nearly double the $1.4 million made by his predecessor, Tyrone Willingham. Leach commands a $2.25 million salary - plus a $25,000 bonus for beating Washington - nearly four times the $600,000 previous WSU head coach Paul Wulff earned.
“If we lived in a pure egalitarian society, heck no, it’s not justified,” Washington AD Scott Woodward added. “But it’s the market.”
It's no secret what's driving that market - the 12-year, $3 billion television contract the Pac-12 recently inked with ESPN and Fox.
And I would argue that same market is what drove each athletics director's salary to the $500,000 range. Woodard makes $553,000 according to USA Today, and Moos earned $455,000.
Woodard, strangely, argues that the media boom funding college football's boom has an expiration date coming.
“It can’t (continue),” Woodard said. “ ... We’re in a very, very nice situation where broadcasters are paying an enormous premium for live content that people will watch. Now, how long will that continue? I don’t know.”