John E. Hoover: Salaries for OU football assistants remain static while Bob Stoops' has climbed
BY JOHN E. HOOVER World Sports Columnist
Sunday, February 17, 2013
2/17/13 at 8:22 AM
Go to John E. Hoover's blogOriginal Print Headline: OU assistant salaries can't remain static
Where does Bob Stoops go from here?
Assuming he's finished purging his staff, Stoops will have to hire three assistant coaches for 2013.
But hiring an assistant coach at the University of Oklahoma might not be as easy as it sounds.
OU assistants were paid a total of $2.906 million in 2012, an average of $322,889 per man. Of that, defensive coordinator Mike Stoops got $600,000, and co-offensive coordinators Josh Heupel and Jay Norvell got $350,000 each.
The other six OU assistants - half of whom must be replenished after James Patton, Jackie Shipp and Bruce Kittle were fired - averaged just $267,667 each.
That's certainly no small amount to normal folks. The State of Oklahoma's average per capita income in 2011 was $37,679. Nationally, it was $41,663, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce.
So Oklahomans who earn seven times the state average typically won't get much sympathy for their financial plight.
But in the national scope of major college football, Oklahoma must get with the times, open up the wallet and let some fresh air in.
And if that's not economically feasible (who, other than head football coaches, gets major raises in a recession, after all?), then maybe it's time for Bob Stoops himself to make some sacrifices.
Of the $9,264,750 paid to OU football coaches in 2012 (according to data published last November by USA Today, which was obtained from state open records requests), exactly $4.55 million of that was paid to Stoops.
That's 60.7 percent of the school's budget for paying its football coaches, all going to the head man.
Among Big 12 Conference schools, that's by far the highest percentage paid to a head coach.
Texas' Mack Brown makes 57.1 percent of his school's budget for coaching salaries. Kansas' Charlie Weis gets a 54.6 percent cut. And Mike Gundy gets 52.1 percent at Oklahoma State.
All other Big 12 head coaches in 2012 got less than 50 percent of their school's total staff allotment.
OK, so maybe on a conference scale, that's a bargain. Stoops' teams have won eight Big 12 championships in his 14 seasons. No one else has more than two in that time. Surely, Stoops deserves to dominate the Big 12 in salary like he does on the field.
But then consider the national picture.
In 2012, 13 head coaches were paid at least $3 million. In that group, only one - inexplicably, Iowa's Kirk Ferentz - got a higher percentage of total staff money than Stoops. Ferentz got $3.835 million of Iowa's $5.936 million budget for all coaches, or 64.6 percent.
(There's no way Ferentz should be paid that much. His record of mediocrity speaks for itself. Furthermore, the man gets almost twice as much as his nine assistants combined. That's obscene. Then again, Ferentz and Stoops do have the same agent, Neil Cornrich. So at least there's a singular source behind this imbalanced logic.)
Alabama's Nick Saban, coach of the most successful program in the nation, gets 57.3 percent of the till. Brown, coach of the most profitable program in the nation, gets 57.1 percent. Steve Spurrier, a Stoops mentor, gets 58.8 percent.
Among the head coaches over the $3 million mark, only Arizona State's Todd Graham - $3 million of the $5 million budget, 60 percent, which makes sense when you think about it - stands close to Stoops' percentage.
And now, Oklahoma.
In 2008, Stoops' guaranteed income was $2.77 million; now it's $4.55 million. But as Stoops' salary has skyrocketed, compensation for his assistants has remained relatively static.
OU's nine-man staff in 2008 was paid $2.091 million. Last year, it was $2.906 million.
During the same four years, Stoops' salary increased by more than 64 percent ($1.78 million), while his staff's combined salary jumped by less than 39 percent ($815,000).
If Stoops wants to - or perhaps if he's allowed to - hire the best assistant coaches available to help restore glory at Oklahoma, someone will have to come up with some more cash.
Maybe it won't be all that hard. Patton, for example, was paid $265,000 in 2012, while his replacement, Bill Bedenbaugh, was scheduled to get $300,000 at West Virginia this year (and would figure to get at least that much at OU).
And take a look at 2011, when Brent Venables, at $440,000, was Oklahoma's highest-paid assistant. After Venables left for Clemson, Bob Stoops instantly gave his own brother, Mike Stoops, a 36 percent increase over what Venables was making.
Mike Stoops' compensation is the kind of money that Bob Stoops and athletic director Joe Castiglione will need to start coming up with to stay competitive nationally.
Venables got $800,000 from Clemson, nearly twice as much as his best year at OU. Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris is the nation's richest assistant at $1.3 million per year. Four SEC defensive coordinators made more than $825,000 in 2012. Nine schools last season paid their assistants a combined total of more than $3 million, according to USA Today's data: Clemson, LSU, Texas, Alabama, Auburn, Ohio State, Oregon, Florida State and Oklahoma State.
Eighteen assistant coaches last year made at least $600,000. Mike Stoops was on that list, but no other Sooner aide was even close.
That has to change.
Whether it's from a university budget that simply must grow, or from Bob Stoops' own pocket - hey, it was good enough for Les Miles at Oklahoma State in 2001, when he deferred $300,000 of his $700,000 salary to his staff - OU's next step in returning to the national championship hunt is making sure its assistant coaches' salaries are commensurate with the nation's best.
Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops walks off the field after a loss to Texas A&M in the AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic. MIKE SIMONS / Tulsa World