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Amidst These Troubled Times, Bo Pelini Gets A Raise

Doom and gloom - that seems to be the mantra these days. People are losing their jobs, some their homes and everyone is wondering when we're going to hit the bottom on the stock market so the turnaround can begin. Each day brings another story that sounds similar to Kevin Cosgrove's last defense at Nebraska - "It hasn't been this bad for __ years" - where the fill in the blank number keeps rising as times goes on.

With all this stuff happening, Nebraska head coach Bo Pelini is getting a raise.

Sounds like an injustice, doesn't it?

There's a negative attitude, a resentment, towards people who make a lot of money. Recall the outrage as organizations on Wall Street took taxpayer money, then promptly paid billions in bonuses. On the surface it sounds horrific, like an orchestrated screw job.

But for some components of the financial industry, it's how things work. It takes a whole lot of time and money to find people capable of being good financial advisors, and then it takes a whole lot more to properly train them. In other words, they're rare and therefore expensive. If you don't pay them well, or at least match your competitors, they'll be gone like the wind. It's the nature of the business.

They're comparable to good head college football coaches. Good head coaches are also difficult to find and if you finally get a good one, they can be just as difficult to hold on to. Few are the people who can withstand the pressure that comes with being a head coach at a top name program like Nebraska. It's not a nine to five job and the publicity of living in a fishbowl means that your family will be exposed to nastiness should things not turn out so well. See Kevin Cosgrove's son for reference.

For some background on Pelini's situation, let's take a look at where salaries stood when Bo Pelini was hired at the end of 2007. Below is a list of head coaches who were hired at roughly the same time as Bo Pelini. The third column is the football revenue brought in by that program as derived from the Equity in Athletics Disclosure Act (EADA):

Mike Sherman - Texas A&M $1.8M $42,552,070
Rich Rodriguez - Michigan $2.5M $57,463,603
Rick Neuheisel - UCLA $1.25M $28,174,046
Bobby Petrino - Arkansas $2.85M $40,135,364
Paul Johnson - Georgia Tech $1.6M $29,353,239
Houston Nutt - Ole Miss $2.0M $17,768,432
Bo Pelini - Nebraska $1.1M $49,076,861



(Note that the contract amounts are estimates)

You could make the argument that Pelini's contract should be less than his colleagues because of his inexperience as a head coach. It's a valid argument, one that holds weight as you could argue that his inexperience as a head coach cost him at least one game last season. (I'll avoid the rest of that debate for now.)

Note that of the coaches listed above, both Paul Johnson and Houston Nutt have already agreed to contract extensions. Johnson's pay moved to $2.45M per year and Nutt's moved to between $2.5M - $2.8M per year. Also note that College Football News ranked Pelini third amongst new coaches last season when they did their annual ranking of rookie coaches.

Monday's article at Husker Extra points out that Pelini's guaranteed salary currently ranks eleventh among the Big 12 conference football coaches. What they didn't say was that Nebraska is second in the Big 12 in football revenue (revenue from EADA). Clearly something is out of whack and corrections need to be made.

Institution Name Revenues
The University of Texas at Austin $72,952,397
University of Nebraska-Lincoln $49,076,861
Texas A & M University $42,552,070
University of Oklahoma Norman Campus $40,922,446
University of Colorado at Boulder $28,755,199
Oklahoma State University-Main Campus $23,106,517
Kansas State University $21,900,159
Texas Tech University $20,213,600
University of Missouri-Columbia $19,301,864
Iowa State University $17,404,826
University of Kansas $14,841,115
Baylor University $11,053,460


You may not like the fact that Bo Pelini is going to get a contract extension. You might be one of those socialists who believes no one should be paid more than $500k per year. You might even be one of those people who believes that the romanticism of Nebraska football is worth far more than any monetary compensation and Pelini should be thankful just to be where he is.

Or you might be someone who recognizes the fact that effort and talent deserve compensation relative to the industry in which they work. We should be thankful that Tom Osborne appears to be one of these people and not like the rest of us.

Pelini deserves his raise as do his assistants. Besides, someone's going to have to pay all these new taxes. Why not him?