Deadspin had a great graphic presentation showing who is the highest-paid employee for each state, and unsurprisingly, most of the top earners were college coaches.
Or, more specifically, most were college coaches.
Of the 50 states, the football coach is the highest-paid state employee in 26.5 of them (in Minnesota, there was a tie between football coach and men's basketball coach) according to Deadspin. Perhaps the only surprise is that there were 23 states in which the football coach wasn't the highest paid.
Right or wrong, most of us realize that's the world we live in. Mack Brown ($5,353,750 salary in 2012, according to USA Today) and Kirk Ferentz ($3,835,000 in 2012) are going to have much higher salaries than anyone who works in a classroom. The Dakotas, which each pay the medical school dean more than any other state employee, are anomalies. And that probably wouldn't be true if they had big-time FBS teams.
Deadspin's fantastic graphic showed that only 10 of 50 states had a highest-paid employee outside of the athletic realm. Most were college presidents or heads of the medical school. There were 11 states in which a men's basketball coach was highest paid, including a few surprises like California, Wisconsin, Florida and Michigan (we know Tom Izzo and Billy Donovan have won national titles, but still). New Hampshire's highest-paid employee is a hockey coach and Connecticut's is a women's basketball coach, which makes sense if you understand how big those sports are there.
Perhaps we should congratulate the states that pay educators more than coaches, but it's probably a waste of time. Should more money go to English departments than to college coaches? Probably. Don't hold your breath for that to happen.