Market Driven?

You get what you pay for, or so the saying goes.  In order to land high quality talent in the college coaching ranks, the arms race is increasing exponentially in terms of salary, buyouts, facility upgrades etc. 

The Kansas Jayhawks are no exception.  With the hiring of Turner Gill the Jayhawks committed to paying the fifth highest dollar amount in the Big 12 conference.  Gill's contract is for 5 years and a total compensation of $10 million dollars.  That breaks down to a $229,900 in base salary and the additional 1.77 million in annual media payouts.  The contract also includes a retention bonus every year of 100k, and the standard incentive bonuses as is customary in coaching contracts today.  

Another interesting piece, a minimal buyout at just 200k.  If Gill wants to leave or another offer comes calling, it won't be difficult to put that together.  This the contract for a coach with a resume that doesn't necessarily jump off the page.  An overall record as a head coach of 20-30 in five seasons with Buffalo including one MAC title and an 0-1 record in bowls.

Now to be fair, Buffalo was the bottom of the barrel in terms of college football prior to Gill and the name Turner Gill has popped up nearly every year in connection with major college coaching jobs.  The question is, how does the contract compare.  Taking Gill's resume in account and the Kansas program, was it a wise move? 

There were 22 coaching changes in division one football following the 2009 season.  That's 22 coaches out and 22 new contracts in.  10 of those were BCS conference changes.  So what's the anatomy of the coaching change look like?  From experience to contract how does Turner Gill compare with "market value" at the time of his hire?

To start, how about a quick rundown of the changes at hand.

COACHING CHANGES FOR 2010 SEASON
TEAM
OUT
IN
Akron
J.D. Brookhart
Rob Ianello
Buffalo
Turner Gill
Jeff Quinn
Central Michigan
Butch Jones
Dan Enos
Cincinnati
Brian Kelly
Butch Jones
East Carolina
Skip Holtz
Ruffin McNeill
Florida State
Bobby Bowden
*-Jimbo Fisher
Kansas
Mark Mangino
Turner Gill
Kentucky
Rich Brooks
*-Joker Phillips
Louisiana Tech
Derek Dooley
Sonny Dykes
Louisiana-Monroe
Charlie Weatherbie
Todd Berry
Louisville
Steve Kragthorpe
Charlie Strong
Marshall
Mark Snyder
John "Doc" Holliday
Memphis
Tommy West
Larry Porter
Notre Dame
Charlie Weis
Brian Kelly
San Jose State
Dick Tomey
Mike MacIntyre
Tennessee
Lane Kiffin
Derek Dooley
Texas Tech
Mike Leach
Tommy Tuberville
UNLV
Mike Sanford
Bobby Hauck
USC
Pete Carroll
Lane Kiffin
USF
Jim Leavitt
Skip Holtz
Virginia
Al Groh
Mike London
Western Kentucky
David Elson
Willie Taggart

 

Now let's narrow that down to BCS jobs and look at the resumes and contracts of Butch Jones, Skip Holtz, Lane Kiffin, Derek Dooley, Brian Kelly, Mike London, Tommy Tubberville, Charlie Strong, Joker Phillips and Jimbo Fisher

Butch Jones

Kicking off the list is Butch Jones.  Jones takes over at Cincinnati following the departure of Brian Kelly to the golden domers.  Jones arrives after a three year stint as the head coach at Central Michigan.  Central Michigan hails from the same conference as Buffalo, but no doubt has a little more tradition and an NFL quarterback in Dan Lefevour.  Overall record for Jones was 27-13 with two MAC titles.  The only one he didn't win, was won by Turner Gill in '08. 

Contract details for Jones breakdown to 5 years at a base salary of $1 million per year with guarenteed increases of 50k per year and a potential 200k-300k in annual incentives.  The University has positioned Jones to be well compensated in the Big East and for what some would consider a more proven coach, a contract driven more on success and incentives.

My two cents on this one however is this, we didn't want to be in this category.  Being the low end of range is not a good thing and doesn't show the commitment that Kansas needed to make to football.

Skip Holtz

Holtz was another rumored candidate for the Jayhawks post due to his previous connections to Lew Perkins.  Holtz heads to South Florida to take over after a similar firing to the Mangino scenario.  Hotlz boasts an impressive resume with experience under some of the greats of college football coaching.  His resume as a head man includes a 72-50 overall record, a 1-4 bowl record and two Conference USA championships. 

Compensation for Holtz breaks down to a 5 year deal with 9.1 in guaranteed money. The compensation starts at 1.7, increasing annually to 2 million in his final year.  Buyout to get Holtz out of USF, $1 Million.   Again, on paper a strong resume and a fairly comparable contract. 

Tommy Tuberville

The last name that was connected to the Kansas job is that of Tommy Tuberville.  Tuberville openly campaigned for consideration but in the end found his way to Lubbock Texas and a fellow Big 12 program in Texas Tech.  Tuberville's 110-60 record to go along with a 6-3 bowl record, 1 SEC championship and 5 SEC divisional titles ranked among the best resumes on the market this year. 

Tuberville's contract amounts to a guarenteed compensation starting at 1.5 million and increasing annually to a 2 million by 2014.  In addition Tuberville has a variety of incentive based bonuses available to increase his compensation.  Still the Tuberville contract is a far cry from the five year  12.7 million Mike Leach was making and it's very similar to the compensation that Turner Gill will receive at Kansas.  Again though, Gill's upfront guarantee is at a higher level which is somewhat surprising when you consider the two resumes.

Derek Dooley

Another interesting comparison is Derek Dooley who left Louisiana Tech for Tennessee.  No doubt the Vols program is on the top tier in terms of spending and the expectation in Knoxville is to get it done on the football field regardless the cost.  Dooley, like Jones, has only three years of coaching experience at a lower level school.  Like Gill he doesn't boast a winning record.  Also similar to Gill however, the program at LaTech is perceived to be in a much better position for having had Dooley around.

Compensation at TENNESSEE, 6 years starting at 1.8 million per year increasing annually to a total of 2.3 million by year six.  Right on par with Gill, but arguably a stronger program and more attractive job.  Another big difference, a monstrous buyout.  It's pretty clear that UT isn't interested in becoming a stepping stone ever again with a buyout of 4 million if Dooley departs prior to the completion of the 2012 season.  At the same time UT certainly didn't do themselves any favors in that regard as they will owe 5 million should they choose to get rid of Dooley prior to the completion of the 2013 season. 

Interesting contract on more than a few fronts here.  The Vols seemed to have done some right and some wrong, but ultimately we're comparing this to the contract granted to Turner Gill.  Tough call?

Mike London

The last coach making a move to a new head post with head coaching experience is Mike London.  London comes from a subdivisional team in the Richmond Spiders.  In his time there however, London was very successful.  24-5 overall record, the 2008 National Coach of the Year in his division.  A short two year tenure, but a successful one. 

Contract for London, 1.7 million annually, 300k base, remainder in media responsibilities etc.  London's contract is said to be heavy on incentives as is customary these days.  Again, lower guarantee than Gill, same experience?  Did the Jayhawks pay too much?  And does it matter?

Jimbo Fisher, Joker Phillips, Charlie Strong

A different scenario altogether for these three as they all come from coordinator posts.  For comparisons sake though, Strong will receive 1.6 with a buyout beginning at 1 million and sliding downward over the five year span to just 200k in the final year.

Jimbo Fisher, 5 years at a total compensation of 9 million at Florida State.  That amounts to 1.8 per year, likely starting lower than that and sliding on a scale toward a higher amount.  Interestingly Florida State fans were beside themselves at this dollar amount.  Again, Gill will make 2 million, should we be concerned?

Joker Phillips contract details amount to $1.7 million per year in total compensation, right on par with the others.

Brian Kelly and Lane Kiffin

An interesting pair.  Both are going to big money schools and both are going to be paid substantially more at programs where competing for the national title is the expectation.  Brian Kelly has earned it, Lane Kiffin might be the most overrated person on the planet period.  Maybe he proves me wrong.  Either way, comparing Gill to one of these two is like apples to oranges and it's really not a fair take.

After reviewing all 10, here's a quick snapshot of to look back.  I'm leaving incentives out of the high level snapshot because everyone has them and they are all pretty similar.  The Big 12 and SEC schools do skew a little higher than the Big East, but they're comparable.

Coach Division 1 Record Guaranteed per year comp Buyout
Turner Gill 20-30 $2 Million 200K
Butch Jones 27-13 $1 Million (50K/year increase) $1.7 Mil
Skip Holtz 72-50 $1.7 Million(100K/year increase) $1 Mil
Tommy Tuberville 110-60 $1.5 Million(100K/year increase) ?
Derek Dooley 17-20 $1.8 Million(100K/year increase) $4 Mil
Mike London None $1.7 Million ?
Jimbo Fisher None $1.85 Million ?
Joker Phillips None $1.7 Million ?
Charlie Strong None $1.6 Million $1 Mil


Back to Kansas and Gill

So how do the Jayhawks compare?  It would certainly appear that the Jayhawks paid on the high end for a coach this offseason.   On the low end Butch Jones is commanding $1 million but the more appropriate range seems to be in the $1.5-$2 million dollar range.  Gill is at the top of that range, this for a coach that still has some work to do in terms of proving himself.  

On the back end of the contract the incentives are comparable, but another big concern for some is the fact that the buyout should Gill want to leave or another school come calling is extremely lax should Gill. 

To be clear, this is in no way an indictment on Gill.  Coach Gill the person appears to be a homerun.  Gill as a coach has brought a renewed energy to a group of players beaten to the ground behind the scenes.  Across the board the Jayhawks are practicing with a renewed excitement this spring and at the moment optimism is the name of the game when looking ahead.

However, it's been tossed out here at RCT before that in this time where fiscal responsibility is becoming increasingly important, did Kansas pay too much. We're fortunate at Kansas that it might never be an issue.  Under Lew Perkins the athletic budget has exploded and paying top dollar isn't necessarily a concern.  At this time Kansas isn't among the increasing number of schools being handcuffed by coaching contracts and accepting mediocrity.  That's a GREAT thing.

The question is, could Lew have accomplished the same hire closer to the market value for his resume?  Or is the $2 million the right message to send?  The message being that Kansas is serious about football.  

The other question, could Lew Perkins have made the contract more binding securing Turner Gill for the Jayhawks in the event of the success we are all hoping for?   As it stands now, there is little standing in the way of another school moving in and Turner Gill moving out. 

For what it's worth Coach Gill appears to be a very genuine person and it's possible he did an excellent job convincing Lew that Kansas was where he wanted to be minus an absolutely HUGE opportunity(Florida, USC, etc.).  If that's the case, perhaps Lew felt it a gesture of good will to grant such conditions to Coach Gill.  Show faith and confidence and you shall be rewarded?  Maybe.

It's an interesting question, an interesting comparison.  And while I again want to stress that I'm 100% in support of Coach Gill, given the history of Kansas football it's only natural to raise a bit of an eyebrow at the potential pitfalls in the contract.

The Mark Mangino situation was handled poorly, but ultimately it was necessary.  As a Jayhawk fan first and foremost regardless of who the coach is, I just hope Lew Perkins doesn't let one demoralizing public relations issue turn into a second.  Just some food for thought at the beginning of a long "off" season.

 

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