Would Leavitt be Big East's highest-paid coach?
The lucrative seven-year contract offered by USF to football coach Jim Leavitt is just the latest in a slew of new deals to Big East coaches. The league's success and national exposure has helped four coaches negotiate new deals since the end of the 2007 season, and Leavitt's current contract, officially signed way back in January 2006, is somehow the oldest unaltered contract in the league.
Would the new deal make Leavitt the league's highest-paid coach? At least in terms of guaranteed per-year money, it appears it would. Much like USF, Rutgers has re-upped coach Greg Schiano twice since 2005, and while he earned a reported $1.73-million in 2007, Schiano's new deal through the 2016 season was announced this month as raising his guaranteed pay from about $1-million to $1.5-million. Leavitt's compensation would jump to $1.8-million per year over the seven-year offer.
West Virginia's Rich Rodriguez had been the league's highest-paid coach, but since he left for Michigan, his replacement, Bill Stewart, is now the league's lowest-paid, announced at $800,000 a year. Everybody else is making at least $1-million a year.
Leavitt and Schiano aren't the only coaches who have gotten a bump in 2008 -- Connecticut's Randy Edsall and Cincinnati's Brian Kelly got new deals, with Kelly coming just a year into his last agreement. The other three league coaches were publicly courted for high-level BCS jobs; if Leavitt has gotten calls about such jobs this off-season, he's kept that out of the public's earshot. So give credit to Woolard for being pre-emptive here, at least as far as we know.
-- When Leavitt signed his old deal, we said it wasn't intended to last very long because his total compensation was fixed at $1-million per year, which was a huge bump for 2006 but progressively less impressive as he stayed at that level each season. The new deal has standard annual escalations, starting at $1.5-million and increasing by $100,000 each year, so it'll be more impressive if he's renegotiating in another two years.
-- The new $1-million buyout, while amazingly 20 times larger than what it would have cost another school to land Leavitt in 2005, is hardly prohibitive. Just ask West Virginia, which had huge buyouts in the contracts for Rodriguez and basketball coach John Beilein and still lost both. If a school's going to offer $15-million over six years, for instance, as Michigan did to get Rodriguez, Leavitt could pay the buyout himself and still make an extra half-million a year. No contract will effectively prevent those kinds of offers from luring coaches out of their old deals, but nobody will accuse Doug Woolard of not taking action to help keep Leavitt here in Tampa.
-- Leavitt's nearly tripled his salary in a three-year period, but he has helped his assistants along the way. His pool for nine full-time assistants was $690,000 in 2005; that same pool would be $1.25-million for 2008 under the proposed deal. That's an 81 percent increase over three years, even if only three assistants (Wally Burnham, Carl Franks, Greg Gregory) actually bridge the gap from the '05 staff to the '08 assistants. Leavitt gets to choose how to split the money among his staff, but it's probable that only perhaps one or two assistants will make less in 2008 than Rick Kravitz did as the highest-paid assistant in 2005 ($104,000). Just the bump from 2007 to 2008 amounts to a 31.5 percent raise; by comparison, the coaches' pool will increase a total of 32 percent from 2008 to 2012 in going from $1.25-million to $1.65-million. (Read: They aren't going to be working off this contract in 2012)
-- I find it peculiar that in a contract offer that would increase Leavitt's pay by an extra $700,000 a year between now and 2012, USF still feels a need to alter the deal to upgrade him from a $450/month car allowance to a $900/month allowance for two cars. It's a line item that totals $5,400 a year in a $1.5-million annual package. If you made $100 a day, by comparison, this would amount to specific language to get you an extra 36 cents a day for, say, gum. I don't like making my car payment each month either, but seriously ...
Hey, remind me to tell you guys this afternoon about another new big man who just got a scholarship offer from Stan Heath. Thoughts on the new offer to Leavitt? Blog staple Dave W. has already checked in with a cautionary voice, wondering about this spending as the university as a whole faces major cutbacks. Will the assistants' bump make it possible for Leavitt to not lose any of his staff after signing day? Will Leavitt now upgrade himself to the highest tier of Netflix, sapping his productivity and sending USF back to the Papajohns.com Bowl in 2008? He says he's watching film all the time, but maybe what he doesn't tell you is that it's the director's commentary from "Meet the Robinsons." How could they delete those scenes??