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NCF Nation: Others green day 090317

Posted by ESPN.com's Graham Watson

Everyone's worried about money these days, and since St. Patrick's Day emphasizes the color green, we thought we'd explore the best and worst ways some teams have spent their green over the years.

Which coaches were worth the money and which teams haven't gotten a return on their investment?

BEST GREEN SPENT

• TCU extended coach Gary Patterson's contract through 2014 after several schools courted him this offseason. Although his salary is undisclosed, Patterson likely makes more than any other non-AQ coach. But with 73 wins in his first 100 games, it's money well spent.

• Florida International coach Mario Cristobal is on the low side in terms of coaching salaries, which makes him a steal for FIU. In just two years, he's taken a Golden Panthers team from 0-12 to 5-7. And now he's getting some top-name recruits.

• Buffalo was close to losing coach Turner Gill this offseason, but gave him a contract extension and a raise to keep him with the school until 2013. Gill is 15-23 in his three seasons with the Bulls, but he led them to an 8-6 record in 2008, which included the school's first conference championship and the first-ever bowl game.

WORST GREEN SPENT

• No one knows exactly what Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis makes, but his results on the field haven't been worth the chunk of change he's owed. He's 29-21 in four seasons, but the Irish have lost 15 games the past two years, the most by Notre Dame in a two-year span.

• San Diego State is paying former coach Chuck Long $700,000 a year for "projects" and "analysis" until his contract ends on Dec. 31, 2010. That means SDSU will have paid Long about $1.4 million since he was fired. According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, Long's contract stated that if he was fired, he'd be reassigned within the school.

• UNLV gave coach Mike Sanford a three-year contract extension after the Rebels finished 5-7, their best season since 2003. But Sanford has an 11-36 record with the Rebels, and prior to this season he had won only two games per season since 2005.

Posted by ESPN.com's Graham Watson

Next, I'm going to look at what a few conferences from the Independents and Others envy about other FBS conferences from around the country.

  • The Mountain West (and every other non-AQ conference) is envious (and even slightly annoyed) of the six automatic qualifying conferences that earn automatic bids to BCS games despite being ranked lower and having fewer wins that some of the teams in their conference. Last season, the Mountain West had two teams finish higher in the rankings than the Big East and ACC's highest-ranked teams and just one made a BCS game. Also, the Mountain West boasted the only undefeated team in Utah and the Utes weren't considered for the national title.

  • The Mid-American Conference is envious of the Mountain West and WAC because their teams seem to carry more clout with the BCS. Ball State was 12-0 in the regular season and was never really being considered for a BCS game because the MAC was perceived as a weak conference. Both Utah and Boise State, which also were undefeated during the regular season (neither plays a championship game), were in the hunt for a BCS game until the final standings were released.

  • The Sun Belt is envious of pretty much every other conference because it is the only conference with just one guaranteed bowl. The Sun Belt champion plays in the New Orleans Bowl. The conference also has secondary tie-ins with the St. Petersburg Bowl, the Papajohns.com Bowl and the Independence Bowl, but those tie-ins fell through last year because the conference didn't have any 7-5 teams other than conference champion Troy. Florida Atlantic earned a bowl berth as a 6-6 team and won, but so far that's done little to help the conference's guaranteed postseason opportunities.
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