One of the constant debates that continues to follow college football is whether or not student-athletes should be paid for contributing to the lucrative business they have helped build over the decades. The big salaries pulled in by head coaches across the country on an annual basis is an illustration of the magnitude of the business side of college football and there is a legitimate argument to be made that the athletes deserve a piece of that pie. Meanwhile, the debate rages on about which coaches actually deserve the contracts they landed and which simply do not. Here is a look at the four most overpaid coaches in college football right now.
Kevin Sumlin, Texas A&M Aggies
Four years ago, Sumlin led the Aggies in to the SEC with a bang as Texas A&M won at Alabama and finished ranked No. 5 in the nation. Johnny Manziel won the Heisman trophy and followed that year up with a 9-4 record in 2013. Sumlin was rewarded with a massive contract extension that pushed his annual pay to $5 million annually but since Manziel’s exit the Aggies have come crashing back down in the SEC and Sumlin doesn’t seem nearly worth the price that A&M continues to pay him. The Aggies are just 4-9 against Top-25 teams over the past two seasons and after last year’s 8-5 finish, quarterback Kyle Allen and Kyler Murray both opted to transfer out in a largely unprecedented move. Many thought Sumlin could get the axe following last year’s disappointment but A&M will give him at least one more season to prove he can get the job done and if it doesn’t happen he could be fired in the near future.
Charlie Strong, Texas Longhorns
Strong earned $5.1 million as the Longhorns’ head coach last season, which is the sixth-largest annual salary of any head coach in college football. He didn’t exactly deliver though as Texas followed up a 6-7 record in 2014 with a 5-7 record last season. The Longhorns are just 9-9 in Big 12 play and failed to make the postseason a year ago. The patience seems to be starting to wear thin for the program and its fans and with Strong set to earn just over $5 million again this season something has to give.
Bobby Petrino, Louisville Cardinals
Petrino earned the right to a raise after he led Louisville to a 17-9 record in his first two seasons with the program including a 10-6 mark in ACC play. However, that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a surprise when it was announced the Cardinals agreed to an extension that would pay him $30.6 million over seven years beginning in 2017. That is a significant raise from the $3 million that he earned in 2015 and it will make Petrino the third-highest paid coach in the ACC behind only Florida State’s Jimbo Fisher and Clemson’s Dabo Swinney. There is no doubt that Petrino is a solid option for Louisville but at this point the price tag lands him on this list of the most overpaid coaches in college football.
Chris Petersen, Washington Huskies
The Huskies hired Petersen three years ago in hopes that he’d be a significant upgrade. Remember, the Huskies coaching decisions had been disastrous since the Rick Neuheisel days (that ended in 2002). They lived through Keith Gilbertson, who went 7-16, Tyrone Willingham, who went 11-37 and Steve Sarkisian, who went 34-29. Peterson was a big score after he won big in eight seasons at Boise State. However, his results at Washington haven’t been nearly as impressive as the Huskies have posted a 15-12 record over the last two seasons including an 8-10 mark in Pac-12 play. Washington will enter this season with a talented roster led by quarterback Jake Browning and that will give Petersen another opportunity to prove what he can do with the right pieces. However, with Petersen’s annual salary set at $3.4 million, he will enter this season as one of the most overpaid coaches in the game based on the results from his first couple of years with the Huskies. It’s time for him to start paying out those dividends.
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