Nebraska announced that head coach Bo Pelini had agreed to a new contract that gives Pelini a 68% raise; he'll now earn $1.851 million a year, up from $1.1 million. That figure makes Pelini the highest paid coach in Nebraska history.
The pay raise can be looked at in two different ways. One can certainly question the money in this economy, especially when the University is likely facing a budget squeeze. But by that same factor, Pelini is underpaid compared to other head coaches, many of whom have, to be quite honest, accomplished far less. Pelini's new salary only ranks seventh in the Big XII. If only to be competitive and to drown out any whispers, it is important for Nebraska to ensure that Pelini is treated like his peers. (Iowa State is paying new Cyclone head coach Paul Rhoades more than Nebraska paid Pelini under the old contract.)
Even bigger news IMHO is that the rest of the coaching staff also got pay raises as well. Offensive coordinator Shawn Watson got a $150,000 raise, from $225,000 last year to $375,000 a year. That $375,000 is more than some head football coaches; that's the same salary that Nevada's Chris Ault and Florida Atlantic's Howard "Helicopter" Schnellenberger made this past year. That's a clear sign that Bo Pelini wants Watson to stick around for a while, as it'll might take a head coaching job at a BCS conference school to convince Watson to leave Lincoln at this point.
After the turnaround from 2007, there's no doubt in my mind that these raises were deserved. A New Year's Day bowl game after no bowl game. A defense that went from one of the worst in college football to the second best in the Big XII. That's an impressive turnaround, and demands that Pelini be paid at market conditions. Do football coaches make too much money? Perhaps...but remember that at Nebraska, football brings in 85% of the revenue of the entire athletic department. Like it or not, that's the going rate for a position that important.