When it comes to the state of Indiana and sports, the first thing that comes to mind is basketball in general and the movie “Hoosiers” specifically. Not so unexpectedly, the state’s universities have put their hoops money where their mouths are.
The Indianapolis Star compiled a list of the 20 highest-paid public university coaches in the state of Indiana in 2013 and, to the surprise of absolutely no one, a pair of hoops coaches head that compilation.
According to the Star, Indiana men’s basketball coach Tom Crean is the highest-paid in the state at $2.943 million last year. Next up? Purdue men’s basketball coach Matt Painter at $2.079 million.
In fairness, the state’s two public, Power Five FBS coaches are at Nos. 3 and 4: Purdue’s Darrell Hazell ($1.886 million) (pictured) and Indiana’s Kevin Wilson ($1.276 million). Also in fairness, Wilson’s salary — along with that of his assistant coaches pool — is double that of his predecessor, Bill Lynch.
Conference-wise, Purdue and Indiana were Nos. 11 and 13, respectively, in football coaching pay in the Big Ten.
Of course, on the football side, there’s been little on-the-field justification for exorbitant salaries.
The Hoosiers have played in just one bowl game (2007 Insight Bowl) the past two decades; haven’t won more than eight games in a season since 1967; and have been above .500 just twice since going 8-4 in 1993. Unbelievably, IU has never won 10 or more games in a season in the program’s 115-year history.
While not nearly as bad as their in-state brethren, the Boilermakers have seen their share of fair-to-middling finishes and, as last season attests, rock-bottom plummets.
Since playing in just its second-ever Rose Bowl following the 2000 season, Purdue has finished above .500 six times, at or below that mark seven times. The 1-11 record last season in Hazell’s first season in West Lafayette was the worst ever in the 122 years the Boilermakers have competed in college football.
Are the stumbling and bumbling football efforts of the state’s two flagship public universities the result of its refusal to pay top-dollar for football coaches, or are the on-field results a justification for the reticence to pay top-dollar? It’s a chicken-and-egg thing for two football programs that have laid more than its fair share of late.
One more little note. Hazell and Wilson are quality football coaches, coaches who are capable of raising their respective programs above the pabulum of some of their predecessors as long as the financial resources are devoted to the effort. The Big Ten Network money alone says you can, PU and IU. Put the money back into winning, because you have quality, albeit underpaid, coaches currently leading your teams.