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My dream job is fired college football coach

August 26, 2018

During my teaching career, I coached three different sports at the high school level for a total of 47 seasons. Oh, and I coached one season of junior high girls volleyball which was by far the most stressful couple of months of my life.

In fact, you see all the hairs that I no longer have? They’re gone because I was naïve enough to say yes when the AD at a small school in Wyoming where I was teaching asked me to coach seventh-grade girls.

And while I’m thinking of it, based on that experience I suggest that all of you junior high athletic directors out there go right now and double your volleyball coaches’ salaries—they deserve it! I’ll pause for a moment while you do that.

Now, my point is that I know a smidgen about what it’s like to coach a sport. That’s why I’m interested in what is currently going on with the sport of football concerning the crazy contract deals that some college football coaches are getting.

In a park near where I live there are youth football teams practicing this time of year. Yesterday one of the coaches went on a yelling spree that lasted for at least five minutes. His screaming was so loud that my dog laid down and placed her paws over her ears. Fortunately, the coach started losing his voice so the practice ended.

Anyway, it got me thinking about how these men volunteer their time to teach 5th and 6th grade kids the fundamentals of football for no salary. Granted, some of them teach more loudly than is probably necessary, but still they’re putting in hours of donated effort to develop the kids’ skills.

Once these kids move up to the junior high level, other coaches will earn a few hundred bucks a year putting in lots of hours on the field teaching fundamentals and at home planning practices for the 7th and 8th grade boys.

Next comes high school level football when new coaches take over and refine the players’ skills and spend hours guiding their strength and agility training. High school coaches around here generally earn two to three thousand dollars a season.

So by the time a small percentage of these players move on to play at the college level, much of the basic work preparing them to excel has been completed by a group of coaches who have earned a total of diddly-squat.

And who reaps the benefit of all that benevolent effort? College football coaches!

Let’s take Boise State head coach Bryan Harsin, for example. Harsin currently works under a seven-year contract for $10 million. In other words, Harsin get $10 million to coach players prepared for him by guys earning nothing or next-to-nothing. Does that seem fair? Of course not.

What I think Idaho high school coaches should do is band together and refuse to coach until Harsin agrees to split his salary with them. For example, he gets to keep $5 million while divvying up the other $5 million amongst all the head football coaches in the state. That seems like a fair start.

Nick Saban, who recruits many of the best high school senior football players for his Alabama U. program each year and, thus, wins lots of football games, earned over $11 million last season and signed a new contract that will pay him $65 million over the next eight years. Would Saban’s success and riches be possible if it wasn’t for all the high school coaches who do most of the dirty work for him? Nope.

But here’s the real kicker: Coach Saban’s contract stipulates that if he gets fired by the university for some serious violation of the university’s school policy, like losing two games in one season for example, the school then owes Saban a payout of $23,266,668.

But that’s not all. Since Saban’s Alabama contract does not include an obligation to mitigate the amount he is owed by finding another coaching job, Saban could sign with a new school and rake in a cool $10 million per year salary on top of the free $23 million!

Whew! That’s a lot of moola to teach guys how to block and tackle, skills they most likely already learned starting back in 5th grade from some volunteer coach earning zero dollars!

Such contract buyout clauses for top college football coaches are not unusual. Fired Texas A & M coach Kevin Sumlin this off season signed a contract with Arizona U. for $14.5 million. Plus, he gets a $10 million buyout from A & M for doing nothing!

Even if you do a terrible job during your tenure at a school, you still get the money. In his last season at Arkansas, Bret Bielema was paid $4 million and won four games—$1 million per win! After posting a 29-34 record in five seasons, Bielema was fired—yet received a buyout of $15 million!

So all you kids practicing how to play football from kindergarten on might want to reconsider. Instead, maybe you should be studying how to coach football and making long-range plans on various ways to get fired from your job. Oh, and it’s never too early to find a good lawyer who can draft an airtight contract too.

Mike Murphy of Pocatello is an award-winning columnist whose articles are syndicated by Senior Wire. He recently published a book titled “Tortoise Crossing — Expect Long Delays,” which is a collection of 100 of his favorite columns. It is available on Amazon.com.

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