At the halfway point of the football season, we are hearing the howls of fans (egged on by the 24/7 sports media, of course) that your favorite team should fire their head coach.
In the plains of Alabama, Gus Malzahn, the fiery head football coach of the Auburn Tigers, was considered by many to be a coaching genius just last season. In 2017, his Auburn football team defeated BOTH of the teams who played in the BCS championship game in January.
That’s right. Auburn beat both Alabama and Georgia last season in 2017. Ironically, Auburn then went on to lose to the only team that went undefeated team for the entire season, the University of Central Florida (winner of the SwampSwami 2017 national championship, by the way).
Auburn University rewarded their football coach with a brand new 7-year, $49 million contract so that the school would retain the man who led their Tigers so close to a coveted national championship.
Fast forward less than one year, and Auburn’s fickle fans are now calling for the head of Gus Malzahn. Auburn is a disappointing 4-3 to start the season and, gasp, lost to an improving University of Tennessee football team last weekend for the first time in nearly two decades.
Auburn’s schedule doesn’t get easier at this point with upcoming “revenge” games in November coming with both Georgia and Alabama, too. Yikes!
Suddenly, things are looking bleak on the plains in 2018.
And now the fickle fans want to fire the same football coach they loved just one season ago? Yes, that’s right!
Do these same fans know that the coach will still receive his annual $7 million salary for the next six years if they send him home to work on his golf game?
I understand how passionate fans can be about their teams. But can you fault Gus Malzahn for signing a lucrative contract which assured financial security for his family for generations to come?
Who offered him such a dumb deal anyway?
That would be your university’s Athletics Director and Board of Directors, that’s who!
Why don’t we hear the same fans calling for the heads of the people responsible for offering the football coach such a fabulous deal?
They don’t, but they maybe they should.
In the big, big money world of college football, Auburn (or insert your favorite school) could actually fire the coach and eat $40 million in losses and find a way to be profitable.
I’ll prove it. Let’s do some quick “worst case” math.
According to one report, the Auburn college football program is the eighth most profitable in the United States. With annual ticket revenues, stadium sales, network television, radio, and sports merchandising valued at $112 million per year and annual profits at $61 million, Auburn’s football program is funding the tiger’s share of the athletic department’s budget.
Over the next six years, Auburn would generate $366 million in revenue from its college football team.
When you look at the amazing pile of dollars on the table, you might glean how Auburn’s hierarchy could financially “justify” making coach Malzahn’s family rich just to keep the 85,000 fans coming back every season.
If bringing in a new head football coach will make such a big difference, Auburn should first take a look at Nebraska (0-6 thus far in 2018 under new coach Scott Frost) or UCLA (1-5 under new coach Chip Kelly). Bringing in a new coach (albeit successful elsewhere) doesn’t always solve the problems of your football program.
In my opinion, it is a shame that fans (and media pundits) believe that a successful coach last year can somehow become a total doofus the next. It’s just not true.
The real villains here are the people who offered this man a long-term lucrative contract as they quietly keep an eye on the financial bottom line.
College football has become a very big business, but most public corporations will stick with their leaders a lot longer than today’s major college football programs.
If college football teams were valued and traded like corporate stock shares, Auburn might be downgraded soon to “overvalued” based on its management decisions alone.
Boom! Caveat emptor.