By The Anniston Star
For the next three years, Auburn University will pay Gene Chizik $208,334 a month – $7.5 million overall – not to coach the Tigers’ football team.
Good deal, right?
In the Southeastern Conference, in which Auburn plays, Chizik’s buyout clause is neither shocking nor abnormal.
In the last two years, six of the conference’s 14 universities have fired their head coaches. According to USA Today, those coaching changes have cost their universities an aggregate $26.5 million in buyout clauses.
Four years ago, the Tigers fired Tommy Tuberville, now coaching at Texas Tech University. His buyout clause at Auburn was more than $5 million. Thus, Auburn is on the hook for $12.28 million owed to two former head football coaches in a four-year span. And, don’t forget, there’s the money the university will owe its next coach and his lineup of assistants.
Four SEC universities – Auburn, Tennessee, Kentucky and Arkansas – are making coaching changes this year.
The SEC’s arms race is unstoppable. How else to judge it?
Yet, this ever-increasing arms race is worth serious debate. We love our games; our universities reap tremendous benefits from them. But where does it stop? At a time when public universities are dealing with declining budgets and state appropriations – and crushing tuition increases for students – where does the justification for issuing multi-million contracts to coaches end?
Truth is, it doesn’t.
SEC football will never return to the days of sports-on-the-cheap. It is a Big Boy-Big Bucks game, a pay-to-play reality.
Don’t be surprised when a school hires the SEC’s first $10 million-a-year coach – and fires him, too. That day isn’t far away.