Print and Go Back Commentary [Print without images]

Wednesday, November 28, 2012
Turns out it pays to lose in the SEC

By Sarah Spain

Gene Chizik
Why the long face? Former Auburn coach Gene Chizik has 208,334 reasons to smile each and every month.

Hey, you there. Yes, you. You said you're looking for a teaching job, right? Well, being a college professor is an admirable occupation, but have you ever considered a career coaching SEC football?

You'll learn the ins and outs of America's most popular sport, help boys become men and travel to exotic locales like College Station, Texas, Oxford, Miss., and Columbia (South Carolina and Missouri).

I know it sounds like a lot of work -- long hours spent watching game tape, schmoozing with boosters and wooing five-star recruits. Sure, you'll do that stuff for a while. But once you've got your foot in the door, the job couldn't be any easier.

That's right. Work hard for a few years, and eventually you'll make millions of dollars for not showing up to work at all!

Sound too good to be true? Take recently dismissed Auburn football coach Gene Chizik. He'll make $208,334 a month for the next three years to literally do nothing. Nothing at all!

You may recall Chizik led the Tigers to a national championship just two years ago. Well don't worry; he's not making that kind of easy money for being successful. Quite the opposite, actually. Auburn stumbled to a 3-9 record this season, failing to record a single win against an SEC opponent and losing to rival Alabama 49-0 in the Iron Bowl.

His reward for guiding the team to its worst season in more than a decade? Millions of dollars in the form of a buyout that comes with his walking papers. It's just that easy.

Chizik isn't the only one living the dream. How about Derek Dooley, fired as head football coach at Tennessee earlier this month? His three years of work earned him a four-year sabbatical.

Derek Dooley
Derek Dooleys buyout will force the Tennessee athletic department to forgo its annual $6 million gift to academics for the next three years, instead reinvesting the funds in its own department.

Dooley led the Vols to a 15-21 record during his tenure in Knoxville and is set to make roughly $104,166 a month through 2016. Name another job where falling well-below expectations is rewarded so handsomely.

I know what you're thinking: There aren't that many head-coaching jobs to go around. Don't worry. You don't have to be the top dog to have a successful career not working in SEC football. Dooley's offensive coordinator Jim Chaney, now acting as interim head coach at Tennessee, will earn up to $645,000 if he gets canned at the end of the season.

See how rewarding a career as an SEC football coach can be? Just like Dooley, Chizik and Chaney, you can make hundreds of thousands of dollars a year without ever getting out of your pajamas.

And unlike that teaching job you said you wanted, this growing industry doesn't show any signs of slowing down. While athletic departments and universities on the whole continue to struggle to make ends meet during these tough economic times, football coaches just keep getting richer.

According to USA Today, the average annual salary for head football coaches at major colleges is $1.64 million, an increase of nearly 12 percent since last season and up more than 70 percent since 2006.

Colleges are worried about losing a good coach to another program, so they're offering contracts that are too good to pass up. Once you've put in a few good years, start coasting, watch the losses pile up and wait for the free money to start rolling in. Schools can't risk suffering another bad year and more lost bowl revenue, so they'll send you on your way with a pretty take-home prize just as soon as you show signs of weakness.

So get in while the gettin's good, kid. It's almost impossible to screw up screwing up this gig! As long as you underperform, you'll guarantee yourself years of easy living and time with the family.*

* Just be sure to avoid motorcycle crashes with younger lovers whom you've hired to perform jobs for which they're terribly underqualified and whom you've paid thousands of dollars under the table for a sweet new ride. If you pull a Bobby Petrino, you won't see any of that buyout money. You'll be back in line for a new gig and have to actually work your way back to getting fired. Remember, the best part of being an SEC coach isn't workin' for a livin' -- it's takin' what they're givin'.