Coach pay debate (again)

The Wall Street Journal (the best newspaper in the United States with the Hartford Courant and the New London Day following close behind in the CR’s ranking of national newspapers) took on the compensation of college football coaches. The fiscal message from the Journal was that two programs have a “saner approach” to college football—Utah and BYU.

That’s right. The rest of the world is supposed to take lessons from Utah. Does that include polygamy?

The two major football programs in Utah, Brigham Young University and the University of Utah, won a combined 20 games last season. BYU’s Bronco Mendenhall, whose team finished 11-2 and earned a No. 14 ranking, earned no more than $1 million, while Utah coach Kyle Whittingham (9-4) earned about $680,000. Their combined pay is less than at least two dozen of their major college coaching peers earn by themselves.

Their secret is a philosophy that revolves around building up-to-date facilities, finding up-and-coming coaches and holding the line on compensation. “We know we’re not going to be able to compete for the highest-paid coaches,” says Tom Holmoe, BYU’s athletic director. “But I’m not convinced that they’re the best.”

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Let’s be blunt, does BYU or Utah face the kind of coaches who stalk the sidelines in the Big 10, Big 12, ACC or SEC? Of course not. You can get away with gambling on younger coaches in a leagues with a greater margin of error. It is analogous to minor league sports—what works in Utah may not work everywhere else.

Just because Utah is immune from the workings of the free market doesn’t mean the rest of college football can ignore it. Coaches are just as egocentric as an office worker who would quit his job for more pay. You can’t change human nature.

These minor programs out West face a dilemma due to limited resources—hire more expensive coaches or build better facilities.

But is being poor necessarily “saner?”

Why should Alabama or Ohio State be insane for paying coaches what the market will bear?

If I didn’t know better, I’d have thought I was reading something from the New York Times instead of the journal of capitalism.