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Auburn May Have One of College Football’s Highest-Paid Staffs Again in 2012: A Fan’s Take
It would seem that Auburn's football program is moving in the right direction financially if one views it in light of the present economy, though that direction does not necessarily reflect the current trend among the nation's colleges. As reported at al.com, defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder has become the team's highest-paid assistant coach with an annual salary of $850,000 and a bonus of $25,000 for each year completed during the three-year contract. Offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler is reported to have signed a three-year contract for $500,000 per year with the same $25,000 bonus for each year completed, putting him in second place in terms of salaries for Auburn's assistant coaches.
This sounds like a great deal of money to a mere mortal and football fan like myself, but the salaries sound a lot more reasonable than the $1.3 million annual salary offered to former offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn. Malzahn's comparatively high salary was similar to the national average for head coaches according to 2011 stats from USA Today, and helped make Auburn the highest-paying college football program in 2011 with a total cost of $4.2 million. That sounds like quite a high investment during a year of only mediocre results. To be fair to Malzahn, however, those results were largely due to the loss of so many seniors from the offensive line and the lack of a clear replacement for Cam Newton.
To illustrate just how seriously we take football here in the south, VanGorder's salary is tied for first place with that of Alabama's Kirby Smart. My opinion is biased, but the SEC's dominance in NCAA football seems to reflect the idea that you get what you pay for. I do not personally feel that Gus Malzahn was worth a salary that would be nearly competitive with that of an assistant coach in the NFL, but my gut feeling is that Scot Loeffler and Brian VanGorder will prove to be worth every penny of their more down-to-earth contracts.
As the al.com article stated, Auburn will still remain among the highest-paying colleges in the nation, but I personally find it comforting and appropriate that the salaries are at least coming closer to mirroring the present economic situation. I love college football, and will not join those who argue that the coaches are grossly overpaid, but I believe there is certainly a point at which the cost of an effective coaching staff does not befit its value. Some would point out that football is just a sport, after all, but my argument does not even stem from that philosophy. I believe athletic programs bring a lot of value and income to a school beyond the benefits offered to the players themselves, and I agree with the philosophy of paying for top-notch coaches to help ensure success.
Having said all that, and despite the fact that I am legitimately concerned by the amount sometimes spent on college football programs, my chief interests are still in the results. In that regard, as I have stated in previous articles, I believe Auburn will prove once again in 2012 that the SEC is where you go for serious football. Yes, that is provocative statement and a claim made through a great deal of bias, but Auburn's 2012 roster and the history of those who now make up its coaching staff suggest that I will not be proven incorrect.
Christopher Brown is an avid, almost rabid college football fan. More importantly, he is a fan of the Auburn Tigers, a team that always seems to provide its fans with an unpredictable and even frustrating roller-coaster ride.
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