My financial expertise and a quarter will get you a cup of coffee at one of our Journal-World vending machines. But a minimum figure of at least $3 million keeps floating around in my head as far as setting up a new Kansas University football operation.
Depending on whom KU brings in, and how many, $3 million might be conservative. That's before a single game has been won and, more important, before that first paying fan has planted his or her derriere in all-too-lonely Memorial Stadium.
It may take something like $1 million, or close to that, to phase out the Terry Allen staff. Terry's package with various perks runs around $320,000 a year; he's due to be compensated for another year under the existing contract. His top assistants draw in the neighborhood of $125,000 to $150,000 after the drastic upgrading for 2001. Other aides' compensations run in the $60,000-$90,000 range.
There'll be a whole lot of settling going on. Then the new staff wages definitely will be hiked. Allen made a mistake by bringing in too many old pals for his early staffs here. When Terry jump-started his crew with seven major additions before this fall, it was too late. The new guy will demand bigger bucks for dandy assistants.
Before you conclude that KU is out of line, consider a recent Fort Worth Star-Telegram survey of the Big 12's 11 public institutions (Baylor is private). Five head football coaches have financial packages exceeding $1 million in guaranteed annual compensation; more than half the full-time assistant coaches have annual salaries in excess of $100,000.
The biggies: Oklahoma's Bob Stoops at $2 million; Kansas State's Bill Snyder, $1.5 million; Texas's Mack Brown, $1.45 million now, and likely to rise; Nebraska's Frank Solich, $1.1 million; Texas A&M's R.C. Slocum, $1.02 million. (KU basketball coach Roy Williams reportedly runs in the $1.2-$1.5-million venue and, all things considered, should.)
Star-Telegram reporter Danny Robbins adds that 53 of the 99 full-time assistant coaches at the 11 schools are getting more than $100,000 in annual compensation. Eleven are making more than $140,000 a year.
At Oklahoma and Oklahoma State, the Star-Telly found, the average salaries of assistant football coaches exceed the average salaries of full professors by more than 50 percent. Texas's nine full-time assistant coaches are being paid a total of $1.22 million, highest in the league. The annual salaries of the Texas aides range from $113,668 to $198,640. The average salary of a UT assistant, $135,126, is $41,026 more than the average salary of a full professor for this prestigious academic entity.
OK, Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma State are struggling just to reach the level of Kansas State and Iowa State. Missouri's package for new man Gary Pinkel reportedly is around $900,000. So Kansas has to think in terms of a minimum $1 million outlay, including perks, shoe and suit pacts, appearances, bowl games and the like, to keep up with the Black and Gold Joneses.
Oklahoma State in its bid to get up and stay off the floor has a little different situation. First-year coach Les Miles took the job last December after agreeing to accept a "relatively low-end" salary $400,000 in guaranteed compensation per year so more money would be available for his staff.
Salaries currently being paid to Oklahoma State's nine full-time assistant coaches total $1.06 million, a figure surpassed in the league only by Texas and Oklahoma. OSU offensive coordinator and assistant head coach Mike Gundy, once a star quarterback for the Cowboys, has a contract that pays him $250,000 a year, half of which is guaranteed income from radio, television and fund-raising activities.
Don't think head coach Miles's "agents" won't be hustling for a boost for their guy after the recent stunning upset of hated Oklahoma! By the way, at OU the average assistant's salary is $129,333, or $48,033 more than the average annual wage of full professors.
Back to Kansas and the rasbukniks likely to be needed for the "renaissance" about $1 million to settle with the current coaches, at least another million outlay for a new head man, then another "mill" to hire the caliber of coaches the new boss will need and, in fact, demand.
You wonder where it's all going to end again considering it will take a miracle for the Jayhawk footballers to stage a 2002 turn-around the way South Carolina and Maryland managed.
It was in November of 1957, Thanksgiving Day, in fact, when Kansas lured Jack Mitchell from the Arkansas job at a whopping $15,000 a year on a five-year deal. In 1966, Jack, the last coach to leave with a winning record, settled a "lifetime contract" for $56,000 over four years. Now, that's the difference between a professor's salary and a topflight assistant's wage at some schools.
You knew athletics finances were heading for hell in a handbasket when in 1982 Texas A&M hired Jackie Sherrill as head football coach for a numbing $267,000 per. Hell, America's president was barely making $200,000 then!
Little wonder faculty people at so many universities appreciate the attention, recognition and support a program such as that at Kansas State brings, but tend to resent that a lot of football assistants are making $45,000 or more a year than they.
Says Max Urick, former athletics director at K-State, "It's going to implode at some point in time. It just scares the heck out of me."
Anybody else feeling a little goosey?