College football coaches – were it pays to be hired to be fired

Wednesday, reports emerged LSU football coach was Les Miles was looking at five-year $27.5 million contract to coach the Arkansas Razorbacks. LSU where Miles currently coaches the football team won a national championship with Miles in 2007. Miles was the 2011 Coach of the Year; has an eight-year record of 85-20 at LSU going into its 2012 bowl game. He has won 81 percent of his games since coming to Baton Rouge in 2005, the fifth best winning percentage in the history of the SEC, while taking the Tigers to the best eight-year record in school history. He has led LSU to four top five finishes, two Southeastern Conference titles and the BCS National Championship in 2007. Two years in a row LSU has posted the second best Graduation Success Rate in the SEC, trailing only Vanderbilt. They really like Les Miles coaching their football team at LSU.

“Les Miles is one of the premier coaches in the country and has LSU in contention for championships year in and year out,” Vice Chancellor and Director of Athletics Joe Alleva said. “Only two coaches in the 119-year history of LSU football have coached as many years at this school and only one has won more games. Les Miles has made a commitment to LSU and LSU is solidifying its commitment to Les Miles.”

Miles is winning and winning pays. Miles' previous contract paid about $3.75 million annually through 2017. He has not received a raise since 2008, though he has since received an extension and raises for assistants. Wednesday, LSU announced they were rewriting the five remaining years of Miles’ current contract and adding two years to the contract through 2019.

Losing doesn’t create renegotiated contacts, quite the opposite, coaches are fired, and contracts are bought out.

Saturday afternoon in an interesting two-hour period five major college football programs fired their football coaches, sending a message to their donors, their alumni and their students, a winning football team is very important as to how we manage the day-to-day business of our university. The five schools who fired their head coaches Saturday owe a total of $14 million in buyouts to their head coaches. The $14 million does not include any monies owed to assistant football coaches hired by the fired head coaches.

“It’s shameful,” said Raymond D. Sauer, chairman of the department of economics at Clemson University and president of the North American Association of Sports Economists in a New York Times report. “We can understand the market forces at work, but all that money being burned up that way is a high cost of doing business.”

Two years ago Gene Chizik led the Auburn Tigers to the National Championship. Cam Newton was Chizik’s quarterback. Football fans don’t have to feel too bad for Gene Chizik. Auburn announced the total buyout for Chizik and his assistant coaches is $11.09 million. Chizik's buyout will total $7.5 million and be paid in monthly installments of $208,334 for the next 36 months.

"After careful consideration and a thorough evaluation of our football program, I have recommended that Coach Chizik not be retained," Auburn athletic director Jay Jacobs said in a statement. "President (Jay) Gogue has accepted my recommendation. Earlier this morning, I informed Gene that he will not return as head coach."

"I'm extremely disappointed with the way this season turned out and I apologize to the Auburn family and our team for what they have had to endure," Chizik said. "In my 27 years of coaching, I have gained an understanding of the high expectations in this profession. When expectations are not met, I understand changes must be made."

Two years ago the Auburn Tigers went 14-0, last year Auburn was 8-5. The Tigers went 3-9 and (0-8 in the SEC) in 2012, losing their final three league games by a combined 150-21. Off the field the 2010 team, four members of the team were involved in a robbery in March 2011 (Auburn won their BCS Championship in January 2011.) Antonio Goodwin was convicted in April and sentenced to 15 years in prison. Dakota Mosley, Michael McNeil and Shaun Kitchens are awaiting trial.

Two-time 1,000-yard rusher Mike Dyer transferred to Arkansas State with Malzahn after being indefinitely suspended before the BCS bowl game.

Freshman quarterback Zeke Pike was arrested in June for public intoxication and later dismissed from the team. Starting center Reese Dismukes was suspended for the opener against Clemson following a public intoxication arrest.

“This could be a prophylactic move by Auburn — we know what’s coming, let’s get on the front end of this and maybe lessen sanctions,” said Robert H. Lattinville, chairman of the sports division of the law firm Stinson Morrison Hecker, which represents numerous coaches.

Boston College fired Frank Spaziani after four years of losing records in the ACC, an inglorious 2-10 in 2012 sealed Spaziani’s fate. Spaziani had three years remaining on a contract that paid him $1.1 million per year.

"This is a very performance-based business," new Boston College Athletic Director Brad Bates said at a news conference at Alumni Stadium to announce his first major move since being hired by BC last month. "Ultimately, winning and losing make a great deal of difference."

"Obviously this is a sad day for my family and me," Spaziani said in a statement released by the school. "Boston College has been my home for more than 16 years, and I have been fortunate to work with some amazing student-athletes. I will always treasure my relationships with them and the BC staff. Boston College is a tremendous place, and I am extremely thankful for my time there. I wish the current and future Eagles nothing but the best."

"We want someone that oozes with integrity, someone who genuinely cares about the students, and we want someone who is going to win," Bates said. "Spaz clearly is a man of integrity. He genuinely cared about his students. The performance, obviously, in the last couple of years, suffered."

Spaziani may be a good man, a man of tremendous integrity but he failed to win games on the football field – that’s what counts in college football.

Colorado fired Jon Embree after the Buffalos went 1-11 in 2012. The contract Embree signed in 2011 called for a $500,000 buyout if he was fired in 2012. Athletic director Mike Bohn announced they are ready to pay their next football coach as much as $2.5 million annually – Embree’s contract called for a base pay of $750,000. Colorado who joined the Pac last year is set to receive $21 million in television fees from their Pac-12 television agreement. Bohn’s message – he wants to win, and he’ll pay for a winner to coach his football team.

N.C. State fired Tom O’Brien after the Wolfpack went 7-5 in 2012. According to The Raleigh News & Observer it will cost N.C. State $1.2 million over the next four years to buy out O’Brien’s contract. There’s also the matter of paying a consulting firm, Parker Executive Search, to help find O’Brien’s replacement and the three assistant coaches who are under contract for the 2013 season.

Why fire a winning coach and a football team bound for a bowl game? N.C. State athletic director Debbie Yow fired O’Brien who compiled a 40-35 record in six seasons because in large part season ticket sales were falling for Wolfpack football. Yow told The Raleigh News and Observer the school has lost more than 1,000 season-ticket holders in the last six years, which cost the athletic department more than $1.4 million. N.C. State are heading to either the Russell Athletic Bowl or the Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl.

Purdue fired Danny Hope the Boilermakers head football coach Saturday. Hope went 22-27 in his four years as the Boilermakers coach, taking Purdue to the Little Caesars Bowl in Detroit last December (and winning). Hope had a contract through the 2016 season. The contract included a $600,000 buyout if Hope was fired at the end of Purdue’s 2012 season. The Boilermakers who are 6-6 and bowl eligible are heading to the Meineke Car Care of Texas

"I think when it became clear to me that no matter how hard one was working, it was going to be difficult to reverse the image and the view of the program," athletic director Morgan Burke said. "I don't like people to have to continue to put 120 percent effort in -- and Danny is a 150 percent effort guy, he gives it all he's got -- and to recognize that there are forces beyond your control. As the season progressed, it became increasingly clear to me that we were probably going to have to make a change."

Les Miles and LSU are heading to either the AT&T Cotton Bowl or Chick-fil-A Bowl. Miles is getting paid more and more every year he coaches the Tigers – he wins, he makes more money.

“The coaching business is a competitive one and it is important to compensate our coach for his accomplishments and his worth,” Alleva said. “Les has not received a pay increase since his salary was automatically elevated following our national championship in 2007 and he has continued to keep LSU on the national stage.

“Our intent was to address his contract following this year’s bowl game, but speculation about other job opportunities accelerated our process a little,” Alleva said. “I think we have accomplished the important step of securing Les Miles as our head coach for the long-term good of the program.”

Miles received a two-year extension to his current contact; Miles received a raise for each of the seven years of his new contract.

For Sports Business News this is Howard Bloom