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Contract Talk: Evaluating KU football's salary structure and how we got there

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There's been a lot of message board chatter lately about KU football coach Charlie Weis' contract — how much money he makes, how much he's worth and how much KU would owe him if the two sides chose to part ways before reaching the end of his contract, which runs through 2016.

Before I go any further, let me say that moving forward without Weis, in my opinion, is a bad idea for the program. Beyond that, I can't see it happening. He hasn't even made it through two seasons yet and, although the offense has left something to be desired, progress has been made in many areas — defense, special teams, off the field, etc. Moving forward without Weis starts the process all over again and keeps Kansas from building any kind of upward momentum. Give the guy a chance to tweak things this coming offseason, whether that means installing a new system, hiring an offensive coordinator, bringing in some new faces or all of the above, and see if Year 3 (the year many inside the program have been pointing to all along anyway) can be the year when things start to turn around.

OK. Now back the salary talk.

Weis came to Kansas with a $2.5 million price tag for three reasons: 1. His NFL pedigree and strong reputation. 2. Some savvy negotiating. 3. The debacle that was Lew Perkins' hire of Turner Gill.

Think about it. If Perkins had merely doubled Gill's Buffalo salary ($450,000), KU could have gotten away with paying Gill right around $1 million per year. He still would've come, because the opportunity to coach in the Big 12 is not offered up every day, and more than doubling his salary to the six-figure range surely would've sounded plenty sweet.

Had that happened, not only would KU have saved a boat load of money — Gill would've earned $2 million instead of $4.2 and been bought out for $3 million more instead of hauling in a final sum of $6 million to go away — but the bar also would have been substantially lower for the next coach, be it Weis or whomever.

At that point, the negotiation could have started with a much smaller number, say with KU athletic director Sheahon Zenger offering Weis in the $1.3-$1.5 million a year range and perhaps the two sides would've settled at or just under $2 million a year instead of $2.5 million.

For a program desperately wanting to move forward with plans to upgrade and renovate its football stadium, any kind of savings would be gold, especially when such a domino effect would've (or at least could've) saved Kansas close to $7.5 million during that time.

(This might be a good spot to set the record straight and remind you that neither Gill nor Mark Mangino are still being paid by Kansas)

This is not intended to be a knock on Zenger or Weis or Gill or even Perkins. Each man did what he thought he had to do and, beyond that, what's done is done.

One of the more interesting things about the whole situation, though, is that even those who believe Weis makes too much dough for what he's done at Kansas so far (personally, I think the man deserves the full five years to prove his worth) might be surprised to learn that he still ranks just seventh in the Big 12. Given his incredible season and recent contract extension dished out to Baylor coach Art Briles, along with the strong first-year showing from Texas Tech's Kliff Kingsbury, Weis may soon fall to ninth.

Call me crazy, but I don't think paying your head football coach the ninth highest salary in a 10-team league is unreasonable.

Remember, we now live in the age of football-driven conference realignment and, if anything, I would think that athletic directors everywhere would darn sure want their football coaches to be paid in the top half of their leagues.

Just last week, USA Today released its collection of the salary numbers for college football coaches across the country, and it revealed that Weis' $2.5 million annual haul ranks 31st nationally.

The whole thing is relative and each university faces its own unique set of circumstances that determine how — and even why — coaches are paid what they're paid.

Perkins paid Gill what he wanted the job to be worth instead of paying Gill what he deserved, and that one move forever changed the KU football salary structure.

Regardless of how things wind up with Weis, whether he wins and goes on to make more money or loses and is eventually replaced, KU is going to have to spend money to get better and spend even more to stay there.

That's a given. And, in many ways, it makes the actual figures irrelevant. The only real question is how long will it all take?

BIG 12 COACHING SALARIES:
1.Mack Brown, Texas --- $5.45 million per year (2nd nationally)
2.Bob Stoops, Oklahoma --- $4.77 million per year (5th)
3.Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State --- $3.45 million per year (11th)
4.Gary Patterson, TCU --- $3.12 million per year (16th)
5.Bill Snyder, Kansas State --- $2.80 million per year (19th)
6.Dana Holgorsen, West Virginia --- $2.63 million per year (24th)
7.Charlie Weis, Kansas --- $2.50 million per year (31st)
8.Art Briles, Baylor --- $2.43 million per year (34th)***
9.Kliff Kingsbury, Texas Tech --- $1.86 million per year (53rd)
10.Paul Rhoads, Iowa State --- $1.71 million per year (59th)

*** Briles' extension, which was announced Wednesday and will run through 2023, will vault him into third place on this list, at right around $4 million per season.

Comments

Waylon Cook 8 years, 10 months ago

Somehow 3.5 for Gus Malzahn seems like a steal................

he may have bolted for an SEC school after a year but I bet we would have won more than 1 game last year......

Alex Berger 8 years, 10 months ago

Yes he would have bolted but no we probably wouldn't have won more than one game. We are the least talented team in the Big XII. Football isn't chess where both sides have equal pieces. Weis needs to increase his talent base (especially at oline and WR) before beating any team except ISU is anything more than an upset. Increasing talent base without wins is only possible with consistency in our coaching staff.

Waylon Cook 8 years, 10 months ago

You think as close as we were in some games last year AT home and couldn't win doesn't have anything to do with coaching?

David A. Smith 8 years, 10 months ago

It does, but for the exact opposite reason that you think. The fact that he could keep them that close with that talent level in the first year is proof that he is capable of winning here.

Matt Glassman 8 years, 10 months ago

The fact that this (well done) article needed to be written already signals a problem. There has been little appreciable improvement on the field from last year to this year.

James Kiernan 8 years, 10 months ago

The thing that should resonate the loudest from this article

"Remember, we now live in the age of football-driven conference realignment"

Kansas needs football to be minimally respectable when re-alignment inevitably begins again. If you take the wait and see approach with Weis and re-evaluate after 5 years it will be too late. The state of the program needs to be addressed after next season. If Kansas is still in the 1-3 wins range it will be that much harder for Zenger to sell facility upgrades to donors, which are needed to give KU the appeal to potential conference suitors.

Daniel Kennamore 8 years, 10 months ago

I disagree.

Our basketball program is too big of a prize for us to be left completely out of the power conferences. If the Big 12 had completely collapsed a few years ago the B1G would've taken us (remember that was before they added Rutgers and Maryland). The only way it would collapse now is if the other AQ conferences decide to jump to 16 teams. That's 8 spots that'd need filling...you really think TCU, Iowa State or K-State would be taken over us?

James Kiernan 8 years, 10 months ago

No they wouldn't be taken over us, I agree with you there. My point was that KU can't just rely on basketball as the safety net. Football needs to be competitive to the point where it's consistently .500 or better, bowl eligible, full attendance, and a stadium that isn't one of the worst in the country. I'm not convinced that re-alignment is over and KU needs to cover all the bases. You have to be prepared to be proactive next time and not reactive like the last.

Chuck Woodling 8 years, 10 months ago

Anyone who believes Kansas does not need to come up with an amicable exit strategy for Weis is simply not seeing the forest for the trees. Weis is NOT the long-term answer to KU's football woes. He wasn't meant to be. It's time to move on.

Jack Jones 8 years, 10 months ago

"He wasn't meant to be." ~ a pretty existential concept ~ although it fits quite nicely with someone who essentially is almost always negative.

Steve Corder 8 years, 10 months ago

There already exists an exit strategy. To think otherwise is naïve.

Chuck Woodling 8 years, 10 months ago

That's why they called you a crafty left-hander.

Ludwig Supraphonic 8 years, 10 months ago

Just last week, USA Today released its collection of the salary numbers for college football coaches across the country, and it revealed that Weis' $2.5 million annual haul ranks 31st nationally.

Are we 31st in any other category?

W Keith Swinehart II 8 years, 10 months ago

Near the bottom of the Big 12. Apples to apples.

Jack Jones 8 years, 10 months ago

Well written, objective (and realistic) analysis of the salary and tenure issues. It's always helpful to know the 'facts', as opposed to speculation and opinion. I agree that HC Weis ~ or any other D-1 head coach ~ deserves at a minimum of 5 years to develop a program ~ and in particular, a program like KU, who has to come back from the bottom in one of the strongest football conferences ~ many of whose member schools have made significant improvement in the quality and prestige of their programs in the very recent past. Weis has the football credentials to know what and how to turn the football program around ~ BUT, this is not a 'quick fix' situation; even though we all would like for it to be so. A coaching revolving door approach to the situation has failure built in from day one. A far more rational approach, with a realistic understanding of the time frame required, seems to me to give us the best, and soundest opportunity to accomplish the job at hand.. And, obviously ~ an absolutely key, and critical component of this rebuilding 'project' is for "we" Jayhawk fans, who care deeply about our football programs future, to continue to provide support by our attendance at every home game ~ and our patience with the process. This does not mean we can't be critical of some aspects of the "plan" ~ after all, we are sports fans ~ criticism and second-guessing are part of our DNA ~ a big part. That shouldn't preclude our support of the ultimate objective.

Steve Corder 8 years, 10 months ago

I agree with you, but I don't think HC Weis makes it five years without significant improvement in the W-L column. I'm sure Zenger knows what he wants to see in regards to "significant" improvement. I just don't see Zenger making a change any earlier than after season #3. We will see.

Mike Barnhart 8 years, 10 months ago

Matt provides us some good information throughout the year but he's more loyal than a rescue dog living in a butcher shop. Matt thinks, "The offense leaves a little to be desired." WHAT? Some more accurate analysis would include: It's moving in the wrong direction, it's gawd awful or it's a raging dumpster fire! All of which leave "a little" to be desired!

BTW Matt, no coach anywhere, at any program, needs five years to build a winner!

Matt Tait 8 years, 10 months ago

Never said he needed five years to build a winner or that he should even get five years to build a winner. That should happen throughout the process. What I meant was that, if you're going to judge his value, it might be best to wait until the end of his time here to do it. If that's 3 years, so be it. If that's the full 5, then judge away after that.

To each his own, though. Just my opinion on the situation.

kellerman411 8 years, 10 months ago

Has anyone even considered the health and age of Charlie Weis? Look, I know this is not an easy thing to talk about but people his size don't live real long... and he's no spring chicken. I'm just not sure he has the energy to get this thing going.

Brandon Mahon 8 years, 10 months ago

Next year is Weis's "show us" year. He has Bolton, Short, Hyman, Jenkins-Moore, Spencer, Thomas, HARWELL, Fafili, Cox, Millweard all redshirting. Coleman, Johnson, Johnson, Sendish, McDonald, Shepard, Pierson, Miller, Heaps, Cozart, Heeney, Love, McCay and most of the OL are all coming back. Some will have more than a year, others with a little bit more than a year. Our defense is only getting stronger with so many returners and the JUCO guys who would have started but got hurt coming in. If we do not win at least 4-7 games next year is when we know we have an issue.

Weis needs to bring in an OC to take care of the offensive scheme and help these players out. I do see some assistant coaching changes possibly happening since most of them are on 2 year contracts most of the time. Mitchell, Campo have both done great with their jobs, Wyatt and Bowen havent done to bad. But we need that OC. Weis has next year too but with whoever we get in this years recruiting class and the guys from last year can not make it to at least .500 then we may see something happen, and something should happen. We need a guy like Briles that is not worried about taking a challenge, look at Baylor now.

Brandon Mahon 8 years, 10 months ago

Brett, I agree with you 100%. We had teams that were competitive last year so i thought minimum this year was 3-5. I want to be realistic, if there are not some assistant coaching changes I dont know if we get above 7. I still think 5-7 is where we need to be otherwise, I think Weis should do the right thing and step down because he failed and we shouldn't have to pay him for failure, and it will also help us with these renovations and finding a new coach. The players are still playing hard for him so I have not given up on him just yet. Love my jayhawks tho

John Fitzgerald 8 years, 10 months ago

Tait, don't you dare ever leave us like Jesse is doing. I'm sure he found an awesome opportunity some where that he just couldn't pass up, and judging by how good he is he deserves it. But you can't leave. Your articles are Gold and all written like master pieces. Having said that, another great article and it goes to show that firing Weis just wouldn't make much sense financially or even logically. Great work Tait!

Matt Tait 8 years, 10 months ago

Not to worry. Very happy here. But thanks for the kind words. I think you guys are going to love Benton and what he brings to the site!

John Fitzgerald 8 years, 10 months ago

He seems like a fun and intelligent guy so I'm sure we're all looking forward to it!

Glen Grunz 8 years, 10 months ago

No AD is going to fire the head football coach after two years. This is especially true following having fired the previous coach after two years. Any coach you would care to put forth as a viable candidate would probably be uninterested in the KU job. Coaches are very career aware. They would look at KU and simply say hey you guys don't give your head coach a fair chance and they would be right. Two years is not a fair chance. Especially considering the total debacle that Coach Weis inherited at KU. We quite simply did not have a football program when Coach Weis was hired. It was a shambles and laughable compared to any other Big 12 program. Likelihood that coach Weis will get less than 4 years 40%.

Chris Bailey 8 years, 10 months ago

I've reached the point I'm tired of reading these warm fuzzy articles. Oh lalala everything is fine or it's gonna get better and if we can only get a couple wins to finish out the season. What does that prove? We play the 3 worst teams in the Big12 to finish the season. I still don't think we'll win more than 1 and will be surprised if we do that. Yeah I'm looking to next season just like I have the past 4 seasons. I'm getting tired of saying wait till next year. I know it's a process and we have no choice but to wait it's just so frustrating that we've fallen so far so fast. Hopefully this off season we haul in a great call and hire an offensive coordinator. I support the team and watch every game. Wish I could go to more games but it's no fun going alone. I think we will improve dramatically this off season. Weis needs to hire a big time OC and make all the coaches and players accountable. Yes they are students first but they are going to school at Kansas and should do their best both on and off the field. Heck maybe one of these players knows where the problem lies. And if Weis has all these friends in the NFL ask some of them for ideas. Just fix the mess.

Chris Bailey 8 years, 10 months ago

And if I made spelling or grammatical errors above sorry. Not gonna proof read today. I'm done typing.

Jason Leib 8 years, 10 months ago

"...athletic directors everywhere would darn sure want their football coaches to be paid in the top half of their leagues"

Uh, by definition this is not possible.

Matt Tait 8 years, 10 months ago

Wanting it is absolutely possible. Making it happen, however, is not.

Robert Brown 8 years, 10 months ago

First off, it is always interesting that many of those who say we need to give Weis time to build the program also demanded Turner Gill's ouster after less than two years.

Let's look at this another way? Why should Weis be the 31st highest paid coach? It sounds like Weis wanted the job and did a high pressure sales job on Zenger to get it. No one else was offering Weis a job, so there was no reason to offer $2.5M guaranteed for five years.

Why not have an incentive laden contract? Why not negotiate a buy-out? Perkins and Zenger are both guilty of trying to make a media splash at the expense of making sound decisions for the athletic department.

To Matt's point, Gill would have come to KU for much less, but Perkins, I assumed, wanted the world to know that we will pay top dollar for our coach. I'm guessing if he would have been able to convince Jim Harbaugh to come to KU, he would have been offered and would have accepted a similar package to what Gill was given. That does not make sense from a football standpoint, but Perkins liked to brag about money.

Zenger was also guilty of trying to make a media splash. Everyone has heard of Charlie Weis, so the football world will be talking about how Kansas hired Charlie Weis. Unfortunately, most people thought is was a terrible decision and then the salary was again unbelievable.

KU is not going to fire Weis because it would be a huge negative to Zenger.

Jack Jones 8 years, 10 months ago

Mr. Brown ~ First, let me commend you on your outstanding memory in having the ability to remember exactly who it was demanding Turner Gill's ouster after two years ~ and being able to recognize those same people as now wanting to "give Weis time......". "Unfortunately, most people thought is(it) {Weis' hiring} was a terrible decision." Chances are ~"most people" hadn't a clue about whether it was a great or a terrible decision ~ uninformed opinions, yes ~ but, then everyone has one of those. Hyperbole aside............

Andy Tweedy 8 years, 10 months ago

Am I the only one who doesn't understand why Matt keeps saying the special teams are better? Granted, we have this one dude who can really boom the ball, both punting and kicking off. But we rarely even return punts, we've had kicks blocked and returned for points, we've had multiple misses on chip shot field goals. Maybe the special teams have improved, but I'd say it's in a matter of small degrees. Even with the defense, they appear to be better, and you could certainly argue they are better when given the eye test, but even there we're talking about a group that is 99th in the nation in points allowed. While it would be easy to say the offense keeps leaving them on the field, last week the offense had a huge advantage in time of possession. I'm getting tired of having to manufacture feel good ideas about this team. We're not good in any way, shape or form, and I certainly hope we show some improvement in the win column soon...maybe this week!

Chris Gilbertson 8 years, 10 months ago

I have to agree with Matt in the special teams getting better, take the La Tech game, last year there is no way Weis would even think about the 50 some odd yard field goal at the end to win. Yeah they have missed some chip shots, but the kicker is a walk on who never really played much in high school, if I remember right he was more of a soccer player but was on his high school football team but only attempted one field goal if I remember right. As far as the defense, I think they are also better as a whole as well, yeah they may have given up a lot of points but take away the Texas Tech game (where the 2nd half was a freaking nightmare) and the Baylor game (honestly who has stopped them, technically KU did do a good job against them for points allowed) and the defense is what has been keeping KU in games. Also the offense was constantly going 3 and out so the defense has been on the field a whole lot this year. One more thing about the KU defense, they pretty much almost won the TCU game for us, so I'd say the defense is pretty good, Just my opinion though.

Robert Brock 8 years, 10 months ago

KU doesn't put big resources into its football program - and it shows!

Bryan Mohr 8 years, 10 months ago

If it was just about money then KU should've beat Rice last year and this year, and not won the Orange Bowl under Mangino.

Marc Frey 8 years, 10 months ago

I am a broken record on this, but we need better talent to compete against the 4 and 5 star lineups we face week to week. I watch too many other games and go "Why can't our players do that"? I agree HCCW needs more that 2 seasons, (23 months) to turn around a football program. It is easier for a hoops team as one player can change a team. Not so with football. Rock Chalk!

Bryan Mohr 8 years, 10 months ago

Does your Big-12 analysis only include conference games or also non-conference? KU didn't have Notre Dame, BYU, Ole Miss, or LSU on their schedule as other Big-12 teams did.

Mike Barnhart 8 years, 10 months ago

Reminds me of the 1992 presidential debates on SNL:

Bill Clinton (Phil Hartman): I'm tired of the Bush campaign trying to portray my home state as some sort of primitive Third World country. The fact is, Arkansas did have a long way to go, but we've made progress. When I started as governor, we were 50th in adult literacy, and last year, I'm proud to say, we shot ahead of Mississippi. We're #49, and we're closing fast on Alabama. Watch out, Alabama - we got your number!

Paul Rupp 8 years, 10 months ago

Excellent analysis and a good point to continue the discussion in a meaningful context, Keith---and thank you vey much for the laugh Mike!

It seems to me that approaching last year, we needed vast improvement on all everything--Defense, Special Teams and Offense. I see various increments of improvement on the first two, as it sounds like most here do. With the loss of some pretty decent o-liner's last year without a similar level/chemistry to backfill, it's been painful, unfortunate, but not all that surprising as to the struggles on that side of the ball.

I hope to see, and expect, the balance of focus for recruting to be on the O-line for next year, just as it was on the defense last year. I'm also voting for an OC, for those keeping score at home.

Just my 2 cents. Rock Chalk.

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