The University of Texas will spend $9 million on its new football coach in 2014. That amount is more than the $7 million being paid to Alabama's Nick Saban, but it does not make Coach Charlie Strong the highest paid coach in college football. Some of the cash will go to the school Strong is leaving in order to move to Austin.
As a landscaping crew cleared away old ground cover that had grown up along the U.T. athletic complex, another renovation project was also underway Monday morning. It involved a backroom teleconference with the University Of Texas Board Of Regents. With everyone on line, the Board went into a closed door Executive Session. About an hour later, the Board opened the meeting and voted on a contract for new football coach Charlie Strong. University President Bill Bowers called it an exciting day.
"I'll just say we have the right coach on the right terms to move forward," said President Powers.
On paper, the 5 year contract is one of the largest of its kind in college football. The base pay totals $25.4 million when you factor in an annual 100-grand pay raise after the first year. Along with that Strong gets an academic bonus up to $150,000 if his players do well in class. A Conference Championship and a major bowl are worth just over a half million dollars. There's cash for getting awards for coaching. And also bonuses for finishing the season ranked in the Top 10 or better in the Polls.
Strong has the potential of making up to $30 million over the life of the 5 year deal.
The contract does not include a traditional buyout clause, but there is one linked to assistant coaches who may leave if the coach is lured away.
"We get compensated for any liability that we have on those and that could be several, several million dollars," said Powers.
Coach Strong already has a buyout with the school he is leaving. That's why the University of Texas is paying the University of Louisville $4.3 million. All of the money will be generated by revenue from the Athletic Department, which is why it's important that people continue to fill the stands when the season kickoff.
"I honestly think that if coaches make that much, players should be paid too," said UT Senior Meagan Bluestein.
Other students, like Freshman Sam Wicoff, say the amount of the contract is the price for winning.
"I think a college football coach should make that much money, if they are good," said Wicoff.
Juan Cortez, a Senior, hopes all the money will mean an improved record and focus at the Athletic Department.
"If he can change it, we'll see in the future if he was really worth it," said Cortez.
The hiring of Strong initially didn't sit well for at least one top booster. Red McCombs, who has his name on part of DKR Stadium and on the business school, has apologized for his comments. McCombs called a San Antonio sports talk radio show after Strong was hired and said he'd make a good assistant coach, or maybe a coordinator, but not a head coach.
"I think that's behind us, and there's always going to be comments one way or the other, Red is a great supporter UT and we'll move forward," said President Powers.
With the spring semester getting underway Strong will start the New Year like many on campus with a clean slate and high expectations.