May 27, 2009
All things considered, Charlie Weis is doing pretty well. Maybe not quite as well as some of his peers -- Weis' rival at the only other elite, private football factory, Southern Cal's Pete Carroll, is not only the highest-paid college football coach, but the highest-paid private university employee in America, period, raking in $4.4 million in 2006-07 -- but when you add up all the endorsements, appearances and sundry extras, Weis is in the ballpark.
Still, though, according to a little tax-return math in the Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette, there has to be one aspect of Weis' deal that still irks him, at least a little bit -- namely, that, more than four years after firing Tyrone Willingham, Notre Dame is technically paying Weis less to coach football this fall than it's paying Willingham to not coach football:
The school paid Willingham $650,000 from July 1, 2007 to June 30, 2008, the third straight year they've paid him that sum since his firing.
It also left the former coach, who has since been fired by the University of Washington, as the second-highest paid employee on Notre Dame's payroll who is not an officer, director or trustee. The numbers came from the school's latest Form 990 federal tax form, which was obtained by The Journal Gazette on Wednesday.
And, for the third straight year, Willingham's compensation is higher than the base salary of current head coach Charlie Weis.
Which only makes sense, since the 10-15 record the last two years is really on Willingham's shoulders, right?
The Journal-Gazette lists Weis' base salary in 2006-07 as $521,750, included in a "combined package" that fiscal year of $716,277. There are no exact figures for 2007-08, but they were reportedly smaller than the previous year. And while it's been reported before, and we're not saying that it's not a ridiculous lot of money in terms of normal humans, we're still a little stupefied by that number. As far as major head-coaching salaries go these days, that's Mountain West money.
Of course, Weis' infamous and still mysterious buyout assures that he's getting paid whether he stays for the long haul or gets run out of town with another mediocre record this winter. (Recall that at the height of the anti-Weis backlash following back-to-back losses to Syracuse and USC last November, the guesses on the university's obligation if it fired Weis went as high as $20 million, although that was almost certainly a gross exaggeration). It's notoriously difficult to discern what other lucrative incentives might be built into a contract that don't show up on the bottom line, but in context, a "combined package" below a million is certainly curious.
Then again, if this is really the year Weis' recruits finally hit their stride and his rebuilding job settles onto some solid footing, that just means there's plenty of room to negotiate. That, we're pretty sure he can handle.