Is it possible to buy a championship in college football? Tennessee’s sure trying. They’re spending absurd amount of money in the only place it’s legal: the coaching staff. Besides the $2 million due new head coach Lane Kiffin (more than he made in Oakland), the Volunteers are going to drop millions more on the assistants, including $150,000 for one who doesn’t even have a job yet.
Maybe the players play for school spirit, but no sport is more mercenary when it comes to coaching than college football. AD Mike Hamilton (who makes $315,000 himself) said the budget for coaches would increase “significantly” this year, but some of the numbers are truly ludicrous (and more than a little nepotistic.) Get ready to hate Tennessee even more, after the jump.
David Reaves, formerly South Carolina’s quarterbacks coach, is set to make $150,000. Only problem is, they haven’t found a role for him yet. Yes, you read right; a coach without a specific job is making more than you ever will. Did I mention he’s Kiffin’s brother-in-law?
But blood relatives are closer than relatives by marriage, so Monte Kiffin will earn around $1 million to be defensive coordinator. While Monte is acknowledged as one of the top defensive minds in the game, couldn’t they have used that money to bribe a few top recruits?
The numbers are ridiculous outside the immediate family, too. Ed Orgeron, defensive line coach, will make $600,000. Strength and conditioning coach Mark Smith, whose primary job is spotting players in the weight room, will make $190,000.
That’s $4 million so far on the coaching staff, and they haven’t even hired an offensive coordinator yet. Or a quaterbacks coach. Or an offensive line coach. Or a running backs coach. Or a wide receivers coach. Or a safeties coach. Or a defensive ends coach. Or a linebackers coach. And yes, each of these positions have their own coach, and yes, each will likely make enough money to make you want to puke.
[UPDATE: Tennessee added Lance Thompson, a man without a specific role but with a $450,000 salary.)
Here’s the thing though. Sure, coaching contributes to a team’s success, but it still boils down to the talent on the field. Ask Lane Kiffin about the Raiders last year; I don’t think the coaching staff was the issue. But Tennessee is a program that hasn’t won its conference since 1998, and hasn’t been to a BCS Bowl since 2000. That’s far too long for those boosters. The school is doing what it can to recruit, but they’ve got to really show the donors that they’re doing something to win. And the only way to spend money is to put it into the staff.