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It's the Hiring, Firing, Buy-out Show Starring Most Elite College Football Programs in America

Updated on October 29, 2017
kenneth avery profile image

Kenneth is a natural-born southerner and grew up his entire life in the south where he has resided now for 63 years in Hamilton, Al.,

The Truth:

I do not like writing about sports. I never did when I worked in the local weekly newspaper industry. Too many statistics, passing percentages and things that clutter-up the sports pages of not so long ago. Today's narrative is first-person. I don't apologize for that. The people involved with this story are all fine men. Even the now-ex-Florida Gators head coach, Jim Mcelwain who was fired today, Sunday, Oct. 29. But he is going to be fine. He will enjoy $13 million bucks to help him take away some time to find out who wants to hire him for next fall's head football coach. It's a perpetual circus of hiring, winning, losing, firing and being bought out. (Kenneth).

Paul Bear Bryant statue to join Nick Saban statue outside Bryant Denny Stadium, Tuscaloosa, Al.
Paul Bear Bryant statue to join Nick Saban statue outside Bryant Denny Stadium, Tuscaloosa, Al. | Source

If you were considered talking to your wife and two kids about leaving your insurance selling job to apply for an upcoming college football head coach vacancy . . .just read the below study in monies paid to successful college football coaches:

A report in the Birmingham News on May 24, 1982, that Paul "Bear" Bryant, University of Alabama Crimson Tide head football coach received a base salary and benefits totaling $450,000 yearly. A lot in his day. But in Bryant's time, he recruited his new talents mostly by a one-on-one visit to the recruit's home where he could sit down and learn all about the recruit's family. Some recruits made official visits to the colleges that the player had chosen to see which fit him the best.

Recruiting, I might as well say, is more than a cottage industry. It's a big business without being an illegal big business as laid out by the NCAA who governs this needed-action by college coaches coaches and their assistants.

I could not find out just how much that Paul Bryant's rival coach, Ralph "Shug" Jordan, Auburn's University's head football coach made before he retired. But I did uncover a fact that in Jordan's early Auburn football coaching days, he made a laughable, poultry sum of $12,000 to start--and this was in the late 1960s. Shoot! This small amount of scratch would be sufficient for a successful college head coach today and his assistants to head to the college's favorite shrimp and steak restaurant for a "buddy, buddy" summit meeting to compare which recruit is the hottest on the market and which of their college rivals are faring in the current recruiting wars.

Ralph Shug Jordan famous Auburn (Ala.) University head coach.
Ralph Shug Jordan famous Auburn (Ala.) University head coach. | Source

You've now read these two Giants (above) of the Southeastern Conference: Bryant and Jordan, now read about current University of Alabama head coach, Nick Saban. As of May 2, 2017, Nick Saban to be paid $11.125 million this season after Alabama contract extension. Alabama football coach Nick Saban will be paid $11.125 million this season under a three-year contract extension that includes a $4 million signing bonus approved Tuesday by the university board of trustees' compensation committee.

Sure. I could take the time and trouble to find exhaustive searches about the wealthy college coaches (more than I have already mentioned), or professional athletes: (e.g. Michael Jordan, player, Chicago Bulls; part owner, Charlotte Hornets), but I simply do not want to go that far.

As far as money is being handed out by the NFL, MLB, to name the two main Professional Sports Businesses, but I want to concentrate solely upon the coaching "carousel" as it is named for the SEC and what is going even now before two coaches are in talks with their college Athletic Directors and College Presidents about a thing called a "Buy Out," which simply means when a coach has been hired, the university has made certain promises (via contract) in hopes that said coach is able to turn (a) college football around from mediocre to stellar or he just goes busts and then, just like the sun rising in the East, that college's rich alumni, booster, and rich fans begin to "circle the wagons," meet for cocktails at their respective country clubs and give the college president and AD "their" notes on which coach (they) think needs to be hired to take the place of the departing coach who is still happy as a clam for he is going to his bank with $13 million bucks--such as in the case of Jim Mcelwain, head coach, Florida Gators. Note: on October 29, the University of Florida (Gators) fired Mcelwain giving him the hefty buy-out he agreed on and then opening the wide door to see which coach will take his seat and fill his wallet.

Hey, I am not being flip. Nor smart. Just honest as the huge, powerful college presidents, trustees, athletic directors, and boosters can be. All do it. The bottom line if you are asking, what is the bottom line? Let me answer in a clear manner: Winning! That's it. Winning. Sometimes at the expense of a young coach and his family who have just dug in short roots in the town where he works, and then (like Mcelwain and more college coaches) in comes the Mayflower van, the employees start loading up the furniture that the coach and his family brought and stand asking them: say, coach? Where's your next job? We need to move.

Now. Just north up from Alabama, University of Tennessee, football head coach, Butch Jones was expected to be let go on Sunday, Oct. 29, maybe later, because a non-football school, Kentucky, beat him and his team on Saturday. This is a no, no. Jones' assistants go at the end of the calendar year would add up to about $13.89 million, according to a reliable source.

Alabama head coach Nick Saban, who is chasing Paul Bear Byant's number of National Championships.
Alabama head coach Nick Saban, who is chasing Paul Bear Byant's number of National Championships. | Source

Are you even reading my numbers? $13.89 million. Dollars! Can you, an average, working American with a steady job with benefits, fathom in clarity just how much this really is? I use one stat: if you were to let a reliable investment corporation invest most of this moola into Blue Chip stocks with dividends, you and your family could be set for life. It's the best game in town if you are a college head football coach that is nearing or has been fired. Even in the case of Alabama's sequence of hiring's and firing's after Bear Bryant resigned, Ray Perkins; Bill Curry; Mike Price; Mike Dubose; Mike Shula were all hired, fired, and all receive hefty buy-out's that I would love to dance down to my bank tomorrow and say: I'm here to put this money into a T-Bill or whatever steak is cooking. Then came Saban, Nick Saban. Here is here and I shudder to think what type of pension plan he has agreed upon when he retires and what I shudder more about is dreading the poor college coach who literally thinks somewhere in his mind of minds that he can somehow outlast or out-endure Saban when the going gets tough. And he might as well get a great contract that has a Psychiatric Policy for things for him WILL get rough once he begins to see that ugly monster, Losing, just waiting the the manicured shrubs just outside of Denny Stadium, Tuscaloosa, Al.

So if you have been a newcomer to my neck of the woods where I live in the moment--while looking at my past and wondering if there be a future for me. It will not take all day for you to discern the little that you have read that SEC coaches--the hiring, firing, buying-out (and agreeing on) contracts and spending more bucks to recruit the best coach that, really, money can pay the best coach available. This is not a business for the feint of heart. It's a tough man and woman's job who both need to have a sharp wit and a thick skin as standard equipment.

Some elite sports reporters can be down right nasty, (pardon my back woods slang), when a noted coach blows a big lead--having his rival team down for the count and then loses his butt at the last minute--not a time for shaking hands and signing autographs. Enough of this kind of thing and those same rich alumni, boosters, and wealthy donors to the school begin to sing a beautiful song in harmony entitled "The Buy-Out Blues." It's always a college football favorite. But not if the college football team has "winning" stamped on its letterhead that is mailed to potential high-gauge recruits.

Butch Jones exiting a plane when he came to Tennessee five years ago.
Butch Jones exiting a plane when he came to Tennessee five years ago. | Source

And that's the end of my collegiate football coaches tale about being courted, applauded, rewarded, then let go faster than the National Debt can reach another trillion bucks. I hope that you grasp the under current of this narrative. It's always been about winning. And winning often and with much frequency. So much winning that the richest and most-powerful alumni and boosters are now bored with their numbers National Championships. Boring. Yes, that word still fits in Webster's Dictionary.

Winning. I like winning. Don't lie. You also like winning. But with (some) "winners," we can all take a breath at knowing that our favorite college football coach is returning for another year while another is being let go, but with a comfortable buy-out.

I can remember the day when those of Bear Bryant, Jordan, and others who had caliber like these men. They coached, they recruited, they won, and lost. And when winning became more of a matter of economics, they either resigned for younger blood to take the reigns, or just get fired with no suffrage packages or money enough to buy Brazil.

Fired. Just fired. Maybe those coaches who were just fired might be made the tougher and coach harder at the next juncture not having a cushion of the buy-out waiting for them at the end of the line.

 Jim McElwain during Gator Walk, September 2016. Mcelwain as of Sunday, Oct. 29, was let go as head coach and will receive $13 million in his buy-out.
Jim McElwain during Gator Walk, September 2016. Mcelwain as of Sunday, Oct. 29, was let go as head coach and will receive $13 million in his buy-out. | Source

My Final Word About

this piece that you have hopefully read, I want to go on record and give you what I think is Today's Everyone Wins Formula for college football fans who are probably perplexed at why such talented head football coaches, (e.g. Jim Mcelwain, Florida Gators and probably Tennessee Vols head coach, Butch Jones) are let-go when a season does not go their way.

In Mcelwain's case, he had been the head coach of the Florida Gators over five years and when the program had not grown in the latter years of Steve Spurrier, the Florida administration let Mcelwain go and get his buy-out package. With the case of Tennessee head coach, Butch Jones, his job is still shaky, and at this time I do not know the end result of his term at Tennessee.

What is going on is simple. A lot more simple than monetary. You see? When a college hires a Jones or Saban and in two years, puts that ailing program back on winning track, the coach gets a raise from the college administration and his team gets even better. They produce a perfect season. Then go to a conference championship and if everything falls just right, his team is included in the Big Dance: The National Championship Game and if his team wins, this means the school gets a huge amount of the TV money for being broadcast in the conference and National Championship Game as well as if the school has a TV contract to be paid by a TV business/network that broadcasts their regular season games.

So round and around it goes. You win. Your school gets huge pay. The more a coach and his team wins, the more is expected, the more they play and so on and so on.

But in the end, coaches, bad or good as well as the teams are flesh and blood and not Clark Kent or Bruce Wayne. They are human. And humans get frail in time and have to be replaced by a younger player or coach. It's really sad.

And a sad fact of our Collegiate Football System.

© 2017 Kenneth Avery

Comments

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    • kenneth avery profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenneth Avery 

      10 months ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      Hi, Joanie,

      It is so nice to see you.

      Thanks for your poignant comment.

      And what you said about the way college coaches are hired, fired just like a carousel, you can bet that at the end of this season, 2017, more coaches will ride that carousel.

      Can't wait.

      Write me anytime.

    • kenneth avery profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenneth Avery 

      10 months ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      Hi, RoadMonkey,

      You are right. I cannot argue with facts.

      Either one, pop or show business is rough. But I can share with you that the newspaper where I worked can be pretty doggoned (pardon the pun) tough at times.

      Thank you for your comments.

    • RoadMonkey profile image

      RoadMonkey 

      10 months ago

      Dog eat dog. It sounds like the pop business or show business!

    • JoanieMRuppel54 profile image

      Joanie Ruppel 

      10 months ago from Keller, Texas

      A sad fact indeed and all so very true.

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