ENID, Okla. —
Enid News & Eagle has been running an online poll on the homepage of our website, www.enid news.com, regarding the annual salary of Oklahoma head football coach Bob Stoops.
Not surprisingly, at last check, over 80 percent of respondents in this admittedly unscientific poll think Stoops is overpaid at $4.55 million annually. A little over 15 percent thought Stoops’ pay was “just right” and 4 percent answered it was “too low” (I want those people signing my paycheck!).
Coming after OU’s loss to Kansas State, it’s not shocking that a majority feel Stoops is drawing more water than he should, but those numbers would likely flip-flop if the poll was taken after a win over Texas or OU was undefeated. Which means it still all boils down to one thing: Winning and losing.
Stoops is feeling some heat. After all, he is only 6-4 over his last 10 games and that simply is not good enough for Sooner Nation, which not only is spoiled by OU’s success, but absolutely obsessed with football. In a state without a pro football team, the Sooners are the epicenter of the state’s sports universe.
Sure, Oklahoma State is moving up the food chain and getting some attention now as well after winning the Big 12 title last season, but in the grand scheme of things it’s still an OU world after all.
But how do you quantify if the coach is being overpaid? Since being hired in 1999, Stoops has certainly done enough to be paid among the nation’s highest football coaches. His salary is third-highest behind Mack Brown at Texas ($5.2 million) and Nick Saban at Alabama ($4.7 million) according to the USA Today 2011 college football coaches salary database. By comparison, Mike Gundy’s $2.1 million salary at OSU ranks 29th nationally.
Immediately before Stoops took over in Norman starting in 1999, the Sooners had experienced five straight non-winning seasons. Since his arrival, OU claimed a national title in 2000 and played for the crown three more times, most recently in 2008. Under Stoops, the Sooners have been the winningest college football team in the nation over the last 12 seasons, winning 132 games.
There is no doubt the OU football program is the golden goose and its revenues feed much of the school’s other departments. Keeping the school flush with money is imperative and a losing program would certainly not sustain the school’s many other sports and academic departments.
OU’s football program, according to the website businessofcol legesports.com, generated $58.8 million in revenue in the 2010-2011 reporting period, the most recent available time frame. After expenses of $23.1 million, the football program produced a staggering net profit of $35.7 million.
Yet, as impressive as those numbers are, OU ranked only 12th nationally in net football revenues. The top dog was Texas with $95.7 million in revenues and a net profit of over $71 million.
In many regards the head football coach at a major university should be viewed like a CEO at a Fortune 500 company. Taking that view, is a salary of $4.55 million for a person overseeing a nearly $60 million enterprise really out of line?
Much like a CEO at a publicly held company, the coach is answerable to its stockholders and in this case that would be OU’s ravenous fan base. And to keep these stockholders happy (and willing to spend their money), requires winning.
You can be the best CEO in the world, but if sales fall, the stockholders will be restless. At OU, winning is revenue, and despite Stoops’ track record, 6-4 in the last 10 games may be teetering dangerously close to being unacceptable.
Ruthenberg is sports editor at the Enid News & Eagle. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.