Cash is greener in college football

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 29, 2005

It does pay to be a college head football coach.

It was once thought that a college head coach would have aspirations of becoming a coach in the National Football League. But that doesn't seem to be the case anymore.

Sure you have those like former LSU coach Nick Saban leaving the Bayou to become the Miami Dolphins head coach, but that move is becoming the exception instead of the rule.

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Many coaches have found that the grass and the money is greener on the college side of the football field than on the professional side now.

Ask Southern California coach Pete Carroll if he wants to return to the NFL after leading the Trojans to back-to-back national titles with a chance of winning three straight this season.

Bobby Petrino left the Jacksonville Jaguars as an offensive coordinator to become the offensive coordinator at Auburn University. Now he is among the hottest college coaches in the nation as the head coach at Louisville.

Just 10 years ago it didn't pay for an NFL coach to return to the college ranks. Now a college coach's pay is almost on par with any NFL coach.

Just this last week, the University of Oklahoma Board of Regents agreed to an amendment to head coach Bob Stoops' contract where he would receive a $3 million bonus if he remains the Sooners' coach through 2008.

So far Stoops is among the highest paid coaches in the country earning $2.4 million a year. Joining Stoops in the $2 million club is Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville, new Florida coach Urban Meyer and Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer.

Stoops has been courted by a number of NFL teams to take over their franchise, but he has stayed put.

He's probably learned that he is in a good place right where he is by learning from the examples made by former college coaches who couldn't cut it in the pro ranks.

Steve Spurrier is a perfect example.

Spurrier was a mediocre coach when he was head coach of the defunct USFL Tampa Bay team. Then he resurrected his college coaching career and the Duke University program before coming back to his alma mater to win a national championship.

Then the dollar signs and Dick Snyder, owner of the Washington Redskins, came calling.

Spurrier's fun and gun wreaked havoc in the college ranks, but Spurrier proved he couldn't cut it in the NFL.

So after spending a year away from football, Spurrier returned to the college ranks.

Another example of a college coach jumping the gun would have to be Butch Davis. The former Miami University coach took a leap at the cash that the Cleveland Browns threw at him and he's now comfortably unemployed.

Don't be surprised if he returns to the college game and makes almost as much as he did in Cleveland.

It just goes to show, that the grass and the cash are greener on the other side of the goalpost.

Kevin Taylor is sports editor of The Greenville Advocate. You can reach him by e-mailing or call (334) 383-9302 ext. 122.