Top Ten: Head Coaches That Will Get Paid Soon
It's beginning to be that time of year. As speculation levels rise and teams begin to put the finishing touches on the 2013 regular season, we're looking ahead to 10 head coaches coaches - five BCS, five non-BCS - that have played their ways into new contracts in the very near future.
Allow my friend Teddy KGB to put it in more eloquent terms:
1. Art Briles - In Baylor's last 34 games, Baylor has won 26 of them. You'd have to go back eight seasons in the pre-Briles era to count 26 wins. Baylor has won 15 Big 12 games over the last three seasons, four more than the school's entire Big 12 history before Briles' hiring. Perhaps even more impossible, Briles has made Baylor football cool. With the uncertainty at Texas, Briles' agent will have a face-to-face with Baylor athletics director Ian McCaw and super booster Drayton McLane in the near future if he hasn't done so already.
2. Nick Saban - Alabama's president called him the best investment in the history of the school. His team is the odds on favorite to win an unprecedented fourth national title in five seasons. Some folks in Austin have already expressed their desire to change his zip code after this season. Few things in life are guaranteed, but this is certain: college football's highest-paid man will be coaching under a new contract next season.
3. Jimbo Fisher - Many doubted Florida State's ability to play with the elite this season after losing a senior quarterback and a plethora of top draft picks. All Jimbo has done is field what many have called Florida State's best team since the 1990's. Outside of possibly the team in Tuscaloosa, this is the most talented team in college football and should stay that way for the foreseeable future. USA Today lists Fisher as the 21st-highest paid coach in college football. He won't stay that low for much longer.
4. Gus Malzahn - The team Malzahn inherited that was last seen served as Thanksgiving leftovers to Alabama, on the wrong end of a 49-0 blanking to close a pitiful 3-9 (0-8 SEC) season. The team Malzahn has put on the field is one win away from hosting the most significant Iron Bowl since at least 1994. Malzahn is the eighth-highest paid coach in the SEC at $2.44 million per year. For now.
5. David Cutcliffe - Look at it this way, the gap between what Duke pays Mike Krzyzewski and David Cutcliffe could fund Nick Saban's entire salary. After taking the Blue Devils to their first bowl game in 17 seasons, Cutcliffe's team has gotten better this season. Duke is 7-2 and still retains control of its own destiny to play for the ACC title. In some years you couldn't even say that on September 13, yet Cutcliffe has turned that into a reality on November 13.
1. Pete Lembo - With those trusty glasses he wears on the sidelines, Lembo could double as a professor for Program Building 101. He did it at Lehigh and Elon, and now he's doing it at Ball State. Taking over a 4-8 team, the Cardinals went 6-6 in Lembo's first season, 9-4 last year and stand at 9-1 heading into a game tonight that's been called the biggest MAC regular season game in a decade. Some BCS school is going to ask Lembo to teach is program building course on their campus after this season.
2. Tim DeRuyter - Over the life of the Bowl Championship System, Fresno State has been the most successful non-AQ program not to play in a BCS game. With three more wins, that's going to change. The Bulldogs are 9-0 and will be heavy favorites against New Mexico and San Jose State, and then host likely either Utah State or Boise State in the Mountain West title game. With a $17 million Fiesta Bowl payout, Fresno State will be able to afford to pay 28 Tim DeRuyters at his current $600,000 salary.
3. Mark Hudspeth - The Ragin' Cajuns opened the season with losses at Arkansas and at Kansas State; but have ripped off 7 straight wins since. With visits to Georgia State (0-9) and South Alabama (3-5) sandwiched around a home game vs UL Monroe (5-5), Hud's team has a chance to win 10 games for the first time in school history.
4. Dave Clawson - "Either a coach wins big and gets offered a million dollars from a BCS school or a coach loses and gets fired," former Northern Illinois coach Joe Novack said. "That's MAC football. There's no in-between." After losing seasons in 2010 and 2011, Clawson has led Bowling Green to a 15-5 mark over the past two seasons. The Falcons will play for the MAC championship with two more wins. Clawson currently makes $400,000 a year. The formula says that's about to change.
5. Rod Carey - There's no coach in college football that offers a better value than Carey. At $375,000 a year, a win tonight means Carey will have been paid $37,500 per victory. In his first year as a head coach and just four seasons removed from working as an FCS position coach, it's unlikely Carey would bolt for another job after this season. But after employing three head coaches over four seasons, we expect Northern Illinois to ensure Carey sticks around (although there are no indications he has any other desires).
That's ten; but we're feeling generous today, so let's do 11.
11. Dan McCarney - McCarney led Iowa State to seven or more wins five times from 2000-05, but the Cyclones dumped him for Gene Chizik after the 2006 season. In the seven seasons since, Iowa State has won seven games one time and is well on its way to a third season of three wins or fewer. McCarney has already clinched North Texas' first bowl game since 2004 and, with wins over UTSA and Tulsa, the Mean Green will play for the Conference USA title in their first year in the league.