In College football, everyone paid except players

By Tom Aswell
Capitol News Service

• Baton Rouge

In 1955, Paul Dietzel, a relatively unknown 29-year-old assistant coach under Earl Blaik at Army, was hired as LSU's head football coach for a whopping $13,000 per year. And the only reason he got that much was because LSU, in the spirit of compromise, agreed to nudge his salary upward a tad to offset his moving expenses from West Point, NY, costs the school had refused to pay.

Dietzel, of course, went on to put LSU Tiger football on the map. His teams went from 3-5-2 in '55 to 3-7 and 5-5 over the next two years and to 11-0 and to the school's first national championship in 1958 behind the running of Billy Cannon and Johnny Robinson. The following year, Cannon won the Heisman Trophy, largely on the strength of that 89-yard punt return in a 7-3 win over Ole Miss on Halloween night though he rushed for only 598 yards that season, meager by today's lofty standards.

Until then, football was mostly a diversion at LSU and academics more or less held sway over athletics.

What has occurred over the ensuing 59 years is mind boggling, to say the least.

Today, Tigers Head Coach Les Miles makes a staggering $4.3 million, almost equal to the combined total $4.6 million paid to assistant coaches.\par }{\plain And he's just the seventh-best paid coach in America, behind, in order, Alabama, Texas, Arkansas, Tennessee, Oklahoma and Ohio State.

Alabama Head Coach Nick Saban is paid $5.4 million, nearly $1 million more than the $4.46 paid rest of his staff, and more than double the $2.4 million paid Gus Malzahn at Auburn, the team that knocked 'Bama out of the SEC championship game last year.

And those salaries don't even include other pay, such as radio and TV shows, and bonuses the coaches receive.

Louisiana Tech, with its stadium which seats barely 30,000 and is rarely filled, is ranked 92nd in base pay for its head coach, Skip Holtz, who still receives $500,000, plus a potential performance bonus of up to $295,000. He also receives an additional $10,000 from radio/TV. At least his assistants, who between them earn $1 million, combined to earn more than their boss.

The $803,000 salary of ULL head coach Mark Hudspeth ranks 76th while ULM's Todd Berry at $288,268, is the 119th highest paid coach in the country-dead last for schools that revealed coaches' salaries. No other school in Louisiana was included in the rankings. \par }{\plain But back to Miles.

Taking the salaries of assistant professors, professors and directors of academic affairs at LSU as provided CNS by the Louisiana Department of Civil Service, we had to scroll down 37 names to compile cumulative salaries equal to that of Miles and then another 38 places to reach the combined salaries of $8.76 million to match the salaries of Miles and his legion of assistants.

Sanity in the salary structure seemed to prevail somewhat better at three other state universities.

At Tech, for example, we had to go only four positions down the list to accumulate $522,000 in salaries to match Holtz. At ULL, eight professors and associate professors combined to actually exceed Hudspeth's pay while ULM had the shortest list-two-to match its head coach's salary.

Obviously, a good education pays off as evidenced by the number of associate, assistant and full professors at Louisiana colleges and universities earning in excess of $100,000 per year, exclusive of coaches' salaries.

While the average per capita income in Louisiana was about $40,000 in 2013 and the state's poverty rate of 18.3 percent was third highest in 2013 better only than the District of Columbia (20.7 percent) and Mississippi (20.1 percent), more than 1,400 employees of the LSU system earned $100,000 or more in 2013, according to State Civil Service figures.

The numbers for other universities, including all coaches:
* ULL-150;
* UNO-83;
* Louisiana Tech-59;
* ULM-52;
* Southern-36;
* Grambling-31;
* McNeese-21;
* Northwestern State-18;
* Nicholls State-13.

Perhaps if Miles beats Alabama this year, he can move into sixth place ahead of Ohio State's Urban Meyer. That, after all, does seem to be what's important these days.