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.

Nebraska clinches spring game attendance crown, Georgia pushes past Alabama

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Georgia got its revenge on Alabama on Saturday, I guess. Months after letting a lead slip away in the national championship game, Georgia wiggled past Alabama in the spring game attendance standings on Saturday but the Dawgs still had to settle for second place overall. A record crowd at Nebraska led to the Cornhusker faithful having the highest attendance for a spring game this season.

Nebraska set a school record on Saturday with 86,818 fans attending the spring game in Lincoln, the first under new head coach Scott Frost. It was the first time Nebraska recorded a crowd over 80,000 during the past five years. Nebraska surged to the top of the Big Ten spring attendance standings as well, and stayed comfortably ahead after Penn State recorded an estimated 71,000 fans at its spring game on Saturday. Ohio State had led the Big Ten the previous three years but stadium renovations limited Ohio State to 79,000 available seats this year at Ohio Stadium, and weather and schedule adjustments to the spring game resulted in a crowd of 47,803 for Ohio State’s spring game.

The SEC once again dominated spring game attendance numbers this year. With LSU and Mississippi State numbers still pending, the SEC has five schools in the top 10 in spring game attendance as of today; Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, Florida, and Texas A&M. As a conference, the SEC eclipsed the 400,000-fan mark for the fourth time in the last five years. Although the Big Ten is typically the second best conference in cumulative spring game attendance, the conference’s number took a big dip this season thanks to weather issues across the conference. Still, the number pulled in by Nebraska, Penn State, and Ohio State helped keep the Big Ten in second place ahead of the ACC.

Keep in mind spring game attendance is treated differently by every school, and the numbers often include estimates so the accuracy can be questioned. Even though there are still a handful of spring games left, none will rival the numbers put up today.

The updated top 10 is listed below, and a full database of spring game attendance can be found here (complete with conference breakdowns and a five-year record of spring game attendance figures by school).

2018 Spring Game Attendance Top 10

  1. Nebraska – 86,818
  2. Georgia – 82,184
  3. Alabama – 74,732
  4. Penn State – 71,000
  5. Tennessee – 65,098
  6. Florida State – 60,934
  7. Clemson – 55,000
  8. Florida – 53,015
  9. Oklahoma – 52,102
  10. Texas A&M – 48,129

Jeremy Pruitt felt some Tennessee players “flat out quit” in spring game

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New Tennessee head coach Jeremy Pruit has a message to his players and Tennessee fans. If you are going to enter Neyland Stadium, you better be prepared to work.

Following Tennessee’s spring game in Knoxville, Pruitt reflected on his first spring game as head coach with the media and he was not about to let anyone off the hook for a mediocre performance in the spring game. One thing you never want to hear from a head coach is that some of his players seemingly quit. That was the case for Pruitt today, without naming any specific players.

Even fans received some gripes from the new head coach.

Tennessee estimated a total of 65,098 fans came out to watch the Tennessee spring game, which is an impressive total and right around the average Tennessee typically draws for the spring game. But the crowd buzz must not have impressed Pruitt, who could be setting the tone for the fans in the fall in hopes they turn things up a bit once the games actually matter.

The same message is now being sent to the entire team. Pruitt has a high standard in mind, which is to be expected after being an assistant at Alabama. Was Pruitt truly this displeased with his team’s effort in the spring game? Or was he simply trying to play things down in order to let his players know there will be no room for poor efforts?

Jalen Hurts speculation about to run wild after shaky spring game at Alabama

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If Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts was looking to build a case for taking the starting job for the Crimson Tide in 2018, he may have to rely on more than his performance in the spring game. Hurts turned in a sub-par performance in Alabama’s spring game on Saturday afternoon, leaving the door wide open for some speculation about his future as Alabama’s spring comes to a close.

Hurts completed 19 of his 37 pass attempts for 195 yards with no touchdowns and one interception. He also was sacked seven times. With Tua Tagovailoa out of action due to injury, Hurts was outperformed by redshirt freshman Mac Jones, who completed 23 of 35 passes for 289 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Jones was also intercepted once and was sacked six times. Of the two quarterbacks, Jones had the more inspiring performance.

Rumors speculating Hurts may end up looking to transfer will only continue to ignore following this spring, especially with Tagovailoa going into the offseason as the new hero in town after guiding Alabama back in the national championship game. It should be worth noting, however, a transfer for Hurts is not guaranteed to happen. That won’t stop fans and media from figuring out what will be next for Hurts.

Hurts’ dad recently suggested his son would be college football’s biggest free agent on the transfer market if he ended up losing the quarterback battle in Tuscaloosa. That may be a slight exaggeration, but there is no question Hurts would have plenty of potential and skill to offer any program he would potentially move to if he decides to leave Alabama. Alabama head coach Nick Saban tried to cool the tension by suggesting there is no reason to be concerned about the whole situation.

But this is Alabama we’re talking about. The Hurts watch is now in full force in Tuscaloosa, whether Saban likes it or not.

WATCH: Penn State fan with down syndrome runs for TD in spring game

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Early in Penn State’s spring game on Saturday afternoon, the Nittany Lions sent Brooke Fisher out to the field for the chance to score a touchdown. Fisher, a young girl with down syndrome, took the handoff from quarterback Trace McSorley and ran right up the middle 22 yards for a touchdown.

We’ll excuse the fact Fisher spiked the football prior to crossing the goal line. It doesn’t matter here.

McSorley ended up playing more in the first half than many likely expected, with three series on the field. He helped open the spring game with a touchdown drive capped with a pass to Mac Hippenhammer. McSorley passed for 107 yards and rushed for 41 yards in the first half.

No word on whether or not Fisher has any eligibility.