Best/worst spent green in the Big East

March, 17, 2009
3/17/09
3:00
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Brian Bennett

As we wrap up our St. Patrick's Day green theme today, it's time to talk about the green that's most important to us all: money.

Cash is king, and though the Big East hasn't gotten quite as caught up in the astronomical arms race as leagues such as the SEC, how you spend often correlates to how much you win.

Here's a look at the best/worst spent green in the Big East, from top to bottom.

Best

Brian Kelly's salary: Kelly got a raise after the 2007 season that guaranteed him between $1.2 million and $1.35 million for five years. He's about to sign a new one-year extension that will likely increase his pay more. So far, he's been worth every penny to Cincinnati.

West Virginia's assistants: The Mountaineers saved money on the switch from Rich Rodriguez ($1.7 million annual salary) to Bill Stewart ($800,000). Much of the savings went to increasing the pay of the assistants, including a $400,000 per-year deal for associate head coach/recruiting coordinator Doc Holliday and a big raise for defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel. Holliday led a recruiting effort that landed one of West Virginia's highest-rated classes ever on signing day, while Casteel continues to command one of the league's best defenses.

Randy Edsall's contract: Connecticut was in a tizzy recently over basketball coach Jim Calhoun's response to an activist's question about his salary. Edsall is paid handsomely, too, earning more than $1.3 million annually. But as the architect of the Huskies' program and one of the best pure coaches in the Big East or anywhere else, Edsall need not give a dime back.

Questionable

Jim Leavitt's deal: Before the 2008 season, South Florida gave Leavitt a seven-year, $12.6 million contract that made him the Big East's highest-paid coach. There's no doubt that Leavitt earned his keep by elevating this program from scratch. But given the coach's sometimes erratic behavior, the Bulls' mediocre conference finishes and the school's lack of easily available cash, this contract has the potential to become an albatross down the line.

Louisville's stadium expansion: Adding on to Papa John's Cardinal Stadium seemed like a great idea during Louisville's Orange Bowl run. And eventually, the extra seats will only help the athletic department's bottom line. But given the apathy that has taken over the fan base, it's hard to imagine how the team will fill the extra space when the $70 million project is finished for the 2010 season.

Worst

Greg Robinson's buyout: Robinson still had a year left on his deal and was owed $1.1 million when he was fired by Syracuse. Because Syracuse is a private school and not subject to open records laws, exact details of his settlement are unknown. But whatever he got for his disastrous tenure with the Orange was too much.

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