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Do Colleges Get What They Pay For in College Football Coaches? Clearly Not! 8-25-2013
August 25, 2013
11:20 am
Forum Posts: 50
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May 31, 2013
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Mark Dent / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

"In an average year at the Division I-A level, about 10 percent of college coaches get fired and replaced, according to a study by University of Colorado political science professor Scott Adler, Colorado-Denver political science professor Michael Berry and Loyola University Chicago political science professor David Doherty. These new coaches often are paid more. According to an analysis by the Post-Gazette, only 13 of the 59 BCS-conference head coaches employed in 2012 whose salaries had been reported by USA Today made less than their inflation-adjusted predecessor's salary. Nearly 40 percent of them had a starting salary at their school higher than the final salary of the coach they replaced.

The market has decided the value of a college football coach, but another question arises: Does the average high-major college football coach actually make a difference?

Important or not?

You're not alone if you've ever wondered exactly what your boss does. The importance of management has been debated for centuries. As pointed out by Dave Berri on the Freakonomics blog, father of modern economics Adam Smith argued in 1776 that the "principal clerks" who ran the daily operations of a firm were homogenous: 'Their labour of inspection and direction may be either altogether or very nearly the same.'

College football has taken an opposing stance. In 1982, Texas A&M wrested coach Jackie Sherrill away from Pitt with a $280,000 annual salary ($656,000 in today's dollars). The amount was reported by the New York Times to be a salary higher than any university had paid any employee for any job and so controversial that the Texas A&M president threatened to resign.

Since then, coaches have been determined to be increasingly valuable commodities. According to the Post-Gazette analysis, which used the USA Today database for 2012 coaching salaries and drew from a multitude of local newspapers for previous salaries, the average annual salary in 2012 for a current coach of a BCS conference football team was $2.37 million, 43 percent higher than his immediate predecessor's and 143 percent higher than the salary of the coach who came before his immediate predecessor. All previous values were adjusted for inflation.

Last year, two academic studies were released that questioned strategies common amongst college football programs regarding coaches.

One was authored by Towson professors William Tsitsos and Howard L. Nixon. It found that of the 25 programs who paid coaches the highest salaries from 2003-2011, the range of those programs that ranked in the top 25 at season's end was between 40 and 56 percent. Fewer than 30 percent experienced a short-term or long-term climb in the rankings during this period. The majority stayed the same and about a fifth got worse. The notion that higher pay leads to better coaching and thus better results didn't hold.

The other study was Adler's. Examining all 263 Division I-A football coaching changes from 1997 to 2010, Adler, Doherty and Berry discovered that most changes led to a neutral or negative effect on the team when tracking the results over a five-year period.

Whoever the coach, the bad teams continued to be bad teams, performing the same as similarly bad teams that didn't replace their coach. The mediocre teams, those who went about .500 before making a change, continued to be as bad or worse as similarly mediocre teams who didn't replace their coach.

Adler said universities continue to make the inefficient choice of replacing a coach because they don't know what else to do and have few options.

'Really, the only feasible thing other than perhaps investing boatloads of money in the facilities is just to fire the guy who is in charge," he said in an interview. "That's long been done as the way to get quick results. The question is whether or not it makes a difference. I think we're only beginning to look at the data.'

Adler's main observation would be to not replace coaches as often. With any coaching change, he suggested, there are 'start-up' costs involving disruptions in recruiting patterns, team culture and the management style directed at players, which could be why many mediocre teams in his study became worse.

Adler said consulting firms had contacted him about his study but not any athletic departments. Tsitsos hadn't heard from any of them either.

'I'm not surprised athletic directors aren't eager to bring any attention to this,' Tsitsos said. 'They have so much to lose, and nothing is stopping them.' "

It may seem on paper that schools are making irresponsible decisions by hiring and firing and upping the salary for football coaches when their program is unlikely to change positively. The problem is sometimes they're forced to."

Read the rest of this fine article.
So, Debbie Yow, who messed up Maryland's athletic program, is at it again at NC State?

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