Shocker: SEC reigns in coaching pay yet again

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Every year for the past few years, USA Today has done an exhaustively outstanding job in compiling the salaries of Div. 1-A head coaches, private institutions notwithstanding, and putting them into a database that’s too compelling not to pour over and dissect.

Every year, the dollar amounts attached to the names of coaches whose schools reside in the SEC and are found in that database trump that of every other conference in the country.  And, in a stunning turn of events, that’s the case for the umpteenth time in a row again this year.

To put an exclamation point on just how far the salaries in the SEC have spiraled into the financial stratosphere, the 11 coaches in that conference — Vanderbilt was not included in the database — will make a combined $34,121,380 in 2011 according to the latest figures published by the paper.  The combined total pay of the 47 coaches in Conference USA, the MAC, Mountain West, Sun Belt and WAC?  $28,848,050.

The lowest-paid coach in the SEC — Kentucky’s Joker Phillips at just over $1.7 million — would be the highest-paid coach in any of those conferences with the exception of the MWC and Conference USA; however, the coach in the former conference — TCU’s Gary Patterson — will be taking his $2.018 million salary this year to the Big 12 in 2012, while the latter’s coach — SMU’s June Jones — and his $1.727 million are likely heading out to the Big East.

USA Today notes that the average salary in 2011 of all 110 coaches included in the latest database is $1.47 million, up 55 percent from the first year they did the survey in 2006.  All told, 64 of those 110 coaches make at least $1 million annually.

A total of $159,701,667 — which doesn’t include bonuses, incidentally — will be disbursed to coaches in 2011; that total is more than the gross domestic product of the Falkland Islands and Kiribati, a country of just over 103,000 residents located in the Pacific which, like Les Miles, is noted for its body percussion.

The average total 2011 pay of SEC coaches is just over $3.1 million, a total that’s obviously tops in the country for any conference.  Not far behind, relatively speaking, is the Big 12 at $2.506 million, followed by the Big Ten ($1.946 million) and ACC ($1.872 million).  Somewhat surprisingly, the Big East ($1.683 million) actually trumps the Pac-12 ($1.594 million); the caveat there is that USC’s Lane Kiffin and his rumored $3-$4 million annual salary, which is not included in this year’s listing, would push the Pac-12 past the Big East.

No coach in the SEC, Big 12 or Big East — again, based on those included in the 2011 database — makes less than seven figures, while just one each in the ACC (North Carolina interim coach Everett Withers, $500,000) and the Big Ten (Purdue’s Danny Hope, $925,000) will make less than a million dollars this year.  At the other end of the spectrum, just six coaches in the five non-automatic qualifying BcS conferences will make more than a million in 2011 — Patterson, Jones, Boise State’s Chris Petersen ($1.525 million), UCF’s George O’Leary ($1.392 million), Houston’s Kevin Sumlin ($1.2 million) and Hawaii’s Greg McMackin ($1.15 million).

Interestingly, five of those six coaches, with McMackin being the lone exception, are at schools that will either move or are rumored to be moving to an automatic qualifying conference in the next year or two.

On the individual front, Mack Brown is the highest-paid coach in the game at $5,193,500.  His average pay of $432,792 per regular season game is more than the annual salary of 22 Div. 1-A coaches.  Arkansas State’s Hugh Freeze is the lowest-paid coach in the country at $202,160 for those who are interested.

Brown and Nick Saban ($4.833 million) will make more than the $4.42 million the 12 coaches in the MAC will make combined this year, while Brown, Saban, Oklahoma’s Bob Stoops ($4.075 million), LSU’s Les Miles ($3.856 million), Iowa Kirk Ferentz ($3.785 million), Arkansas’ Bobby Petrino ($3.638 million) and Auburn’s Gene Chizik ($3.5 million) will all make more than the $3,431,653 the nine Sun Belt coaches will make combined.

And, to keep this topical given the events of the past 10 days or so: just four coaches in AQ conferences — Hope, Withers, Colorado’s Jon Embree ($725,000) and Washington State’s Paul Wulff ($600,050) — made less in 2011 than Joe Paterno‘s $1.023 million at Penn State.

About-face: Derrius Guice will play vs. Syracuse after all

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Never mind, I guess.

Wednesday night, Ed Orgeron flatly stated on his radio show that Derrius Guicewill not play this week” against Syracuse because of a left knee injury sustained in Saturday’s embarrassing loss to Mississippi State. Thursday, there was a complete 180-degree reversal.

“We got some good news today, at the beginning of the week, Derrius was ruled out, up to yesterday he wouldn’t be able to play,” Orgeron said according to the New Orleans Times-Picayune. “He came to us today and said ‘Coach, I’m feeling better, I want to practice.’ He practiced pretty good today so he’s going to get some snaps. He will play.”

OK then.

Through three games, Guice leads the Tigers with 300 yards rushing and is tied for tops on the team with four rushing touchdowns. His rushing yards are currently fourth in the SEC; last season, his 1,387 yards were tops in the conference.

Pitt FB/TD machine George Aston set to return vs. Georgia Tech

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One of the most efficient touchdown producers in college football in 2016 that you were probably completely unaware of appears ready to make his 2017 debut.

A vague lower-extremity injury knocked George Aston out of most of not only summer camp but also Pittsburgh’s first three regular-season games as well. With Georgia Tech on the horizon in Week 4, the fullback is listed as probable on the team’s official injury report released Thursday.

For a team that has scored just four offensive touchdowns in two games against FBS competition, Aston’s potential return could serve as somewhat of a boon for that side of the ball.

Last season, Aston totaled 75 yards on 22 carries as well as 169 yards on 22 receptions. In those 44 touches, Aston totaled 10 touchdowns — five on the ground, five through the air.

Saturday’s game will serve as the ACC opener for both Pitt and Tech.

NCAA approves waiver to allow UCF to schedule Austin Peay as hurricane replacement game

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Hurricane Irma forced a lot of shuffling and cancellations on the college football schedule but perhaps no team was more uniquely affected than Central Florida.

The Knights had two home games cancelled as a result of the storm, last weekend against Georgia Tech and a contest against Maine that was bought out as a way for the team to play their full AAC conference slate. Dropping the games left UCF with only 10 games for the 2017 season and a not ideal five home games as a result.

That has been cleared up somewhat however, as the school announced on Thursday that the NCAA has approved a waiver and that Austin Peay is now scheduled to go to Orlando for a Oct. 28th contest.

“I can’t thank Oliver Luck and the staff at the NCAA enough for their help and understanding of our situation,” UCF athletic director Danny White said in a statement. “We greatly appreciate Austin Peay being willing to visit Spectrum Stadium. We’re thrilled for our student-athletes, who deserve every opportunity they can get to go out and compete. I know our fans will be excited about the opportunity to have another Saturday at Spectrum Stadium.”

The Knights are currently 1-0 heading into their trip to play Maryland on Saturday. With the addition of an 11th game to their 2017 slate, UCF needs to go at least 6-5 in order to become bowl eligible as a result.

Clemson kicker Greg Huegel injured during practice, out for the season after ACL tear

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If Clemson is to defend their national title this season, they will do so without the services of their reliable kicker.

The school confirmed various reports on Thursday evening that redshirt junior Greg Huegel was injured during the Tigers’ practice on Wednesday night — on the final kick, no less — and tore his ACL. He will have surgery and will not play again in 2017.

While he didn’t get the press of Deshuan Watson or others, Huegel was a key part of the Clemson run the past few seasons after taking over as the starter in 2015. The former walk-on was a Lou Groza Award semifinalist last year and had hit two of his four field goals to start off this season, one of which was a career-long 49 yard kick just last week.

Backup kicker Alex Spence is likely to take over for the Tigers in Huegel’s absence. The redshirt junior has never attempted a field goal in a game but has kicked off and made an extra point for Clemson this season.

Reserve tight end Cole Renfrow, the younger brother of title game star Hunter Renfrow, also tore his ACL in practice and is out the rest of the season as well.

Given the thin margins that College Football Playoff teams have nowadays, the loss of Huegel figures to be a big one for Dabo Swinney and company going forward. Clemson hosts Boston College this week but will face a stiff test on the road at Virginia Tech in an ACC title game rematch to end the month.