clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

MSU football significantly increases coaching salaries

Al Messerschmidt

One of the best bargains in college football couldn't last forever. The key details via Twitter:

Three thoughts:

1. Well-deserved, relative to their peers.

Great talent eventually requires great compensation.

Pat Narduzzi has arguably, some would say, in-arguably, been the best coordinator in the Big Ten the past three years, so it makes sense that he should be making the most money of any coordinator, which, looking at the market rate pegs him a shade below seven figures, which is what he got paid.

Dantonio slides into 5th place as far as I can tell behind Urban Meyer and three coaches at UM, Iowa, and PSU who are likely varying amounts of overpaid. ATHLETIC DIRECTORS. STOP PAYING YOUR COACHES 4 MILLION DOLLARS UNTIL THEY WIN SOMETHING BIG. PREFERABLY, MORE THAN ONCE! Not only are you burning your own money, you also drive up the rates for everyone else.

As far as assistants, having the quartet of Tressel, Barnett, Salem and Burton for basically a combined one million dollars still seems like a relative steal to me.

42 wins in 4 years is worth opening the piggy bank up for, and this should pay a healthy return on investment, both for the university and the average MSU football fan. From the fan standpoint, hard not to be thrilled that the University is paying up to keep a successful brain-trust together.

2. So, where's the money coming from?

Updated (2/26):


Good stuff. Props to the Athletic Department here, happy to be wrong about this one. Also on the fan side, sounds like a lot of people who said they'd be willing to donate to keep the staff together and the Duzz around weren't just talking big. Thanks, y'all!

Potential caveat to good news. Someone can correct me, but I don't think they've announced it.

MSU's athletic department runs in the black and just saw a big Rose Bowl related boost in revenue (not even mentioning future increased BTN payouts) so any worries about it being stapled onto student's general tuition bills are almost certainly unfounded. The more likely fear is that it comes in the form of increased seating, parking, concession costs, or PSL type deals at Spartan Stadium. In the event of that, some people will be both happy and able to increase their contribution to continue to watch in person. Others won't. Their departures will probably be filled by new season ticket holders), but it's not guarenteed over time.

I've never been one particularly convinced by 'peak football' theories where Spartan Stadium sits empty on Fall Saturdays due to some combination of increased prices, great in-home viewing options, and safety concerns (or dissolution of college football due to say, inability to pay players, more on that in a sec). But I don't know, it's  worth thinking about sometimes.

I guess we'll have to wait and see what happens here, in both respects.

3. Still uncomfortable with football coach salary inflation.

This isn't my first time mentioning this, but I think it bears repeating. Nick Saban got paid about $700,000 dollars when he left MSU in 1999. Even factoring in that we were probably underpaying him by the end of 1999, and factoring in Dantonio's massive success compared to the Saban years, and factoring the influx of money into college football, and then taking into account general inflation, I mean, that we're now at a five-fold increase in about 15 years is still pretty crazy. I mean our DC now makes more than our HC from 1999. AND, Saban himself now makes over 7 million dollars, about twice what currently Dantonio makes! That's uh, a lot of money, and with the arms-race mentality it doesn't show signs of stopping yet.

And I'm still especially uncomfortable when the players seem to have seen very minimal direct 'wage' improvements over those same 15 years and certainly nothing comparable to what their coaches have received.

Is there an implicit benefit for players in that their collegiate and professional experience are likely to both be more fun/lucrative with Dantonio in charge instead of say, JLS, or Dan Enos, or whoever? Sure, and in that sense, they definitely get something out of it (I'm sure Darqueze Dennard is very happy Dantonio, Narduzzi, and Barnett stuck around when he likely goes in the first round, as will 'future Dennards'. I'm sure Kyler Elsworth enjoys being celebrated as a Rose Bowl hero instead of finishing his season playing in the Alamo Bowl, as will future Elsworth's).

But would I, a hypothetical college football player, still be salty walking into the film room the next day knowing my position coach just got $100,000 a year, in part off my labor, while my pay-out was, at best, in the future? Yessir.

I don't know, big coaching salary bumps have a way of turning me into Jay Bilas (in that I get all crabby about 'amateurism' and also can suddenly dunk a basketball).


From the standpoint of a fan who can set points 2 and 3 to the side, if you want to win college football games and not run afoul of the NCAA, the #1 best place to invest your money is in a good coaching staff. This does that (again). When you consider over the past decade or so, the other investments have been in 'useful to winning football games' things like recruiting centers, academic help buildings, practice fields, and locker rooms, as well as the addition of multiple aesthetically pleasing (and functional) expansions to Spartan Stadium's facade, it looks Michigan State football is playing (and paying) to win.