Are Pac-10 coaches getting left behind?

April, 2, 2009
4/02/09
8:17
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

Tony Barnhart marvels at the money being tossed at SEC coaches here, and it got me to thinking: How do things stand in the Pac-10 with a new incoming commissioner being charged with raising the conference's profile and revenue?

Short answer: Not good.

I suspect, in this economy, few will break out in tears about Pac-10 coaching salaries -- raise your hand if you'd settle for 600K annually? -- but I also suspect it may become an issue over the next decade or so because the conference is getting left behind.

USC's Pete Carroll is the nation's highest paid coach with an annual salary of $4.4 million. California's Jeff Tedford ranks second in the Pac-10 at $1.85 million (Tedford did receive a $1 million retention bonus this past season that boosts his rank considerably.)

Tedford's base guaranteed salary, however, ranks 26th in the nation.

In between Carroll and Tedford are eight SEC coaches. Five of the top 11 coaching salaries are in the SEC, topped by LSU's Les Miles and Alabama's Nick Saban at $3.75 million (Miles' contract guarantees he'll be the SEC's highest paid coach by $1,000).

In between Carroll and Tedford also are five ACC coaches, five Big 12 coaches and three Big Ten coaches.

Of the BCS conferences, only the Big East has fewer top-shelf salaries.

Moreover, the Pac-10 has the highest cost of living in the nation. By far.

For example, Ohio State's Jim Tressel, the nation's sixth-highest paid coach, makes $3.5 million. Adjust that take for the cost of living in Los Angeles and he'd need to make $6.3 million.

To break even in cost of living terms, Carroll would only need to make $2.5 million if he moved to Baton Rouge, La.

So the approximately $1.85 million new Washington coach Steve Sarkisian is getting, is actually less than the $1.2 million new Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen is getting, and Mullen's salary is third-lowest in the SEC.

Washington State's Paul Wulff makes $600,000 annually. He ranks last in the Pac-10 and last among BCS conference coaches.

This information is available, by the way, at Coacheshotseat.com, but it's a pay site.

The BCS split college football into haves and have-nots. And it's nothing new that within conferences some programs have more money -- and inclination -- to enrich their coaches.

What is new is the growing disparity between even the so-called haves.

It's really only within the last decade that programs like Alabama, Iowa, LSU and even Texas started playing their coaches way more than the national average.

What does it mean for college football when Tennessee is paying Lane Kiffin and his coaching staff more than $5.3 million?

Hard to say for sure, but it's hard to imagine it means something good for the Pac-10.

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