Hooley: Why care what others pay?

Nick Saban wins the salary comparison, but he lost on the scoreboard in his last game against Urban Meyer

Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith could have chosen his words more wisely when he termed coaching salaries at some Southeastern Conference schools, "ridiculous," at a recent OSU Board of Trustees meeting. 

Kudos to the Ohio State Lantern for excellent reporting of Smith's comments, which referred to the fully-guaranteed, 10-year, $75-million contract Jimbo Fisher signed at Texas A&M and the $11 million Alabama paid Nick Saban last year. 

There's an old adage, "Coach your own team," that Smith would have been smart to stick to when explaining to the OSU Board why salaries elsewhere aren't his paradigm for what Urban Meyer and others are paid at Ohio State. 

No one in college athletics, or anywhere else, is overpaid as long as there isn't a pistol to the ribs of whoever agrees to pay the sum in question. 

That includes Smith, whose total compensation came in just under $2 million, according to these figures, which also show Smith's pay to be almost twice what OSU pays its president, Michael Drake. 

Is that ridiculous? 

Some might think so, but Smith probably doesn't, because he knows the complexities and challenges of the job he holds. 

In 2010, when OSU advanced to the Sugar Bowl, Jim Tressel's contact paid him a $50,000 bonus for gaining a BCS berth. 

Smith received a $61,000 bonus, which some saw as, "ridiculous," given that it exceeded the amount given to the then head coach. 

Four years later, Smith's contract stipulated he receive a salary bonus for every individual national championship won by an Ohio State athlete in any of 20 sports. 

Crusaders who believe athletes should be paid over and above their scholarship went nuclear when Smith soon received $18,000 for wrestler Logan Stieber's national championship. 

"Ridiculous," they railed, and very soon after that the bonus clause vanished from Smith's contract. 

Ridiculous is, of course, in the eye of the beholder. 

It shouldn't be any concern of OSU's what Texas A&M pays Fisher, or what Alabama pays Saban. To comment on it at all gives the appearance that Ohio State harbors some sort of jealousy toward or envy of the SEC, which it shouldn't. 

I wouldn't trade Meyer for any coach in the country. 

If he walked into Smith's office tomorrow and demanded the same 10-year, $75-million, fully guaranteed deal Fisher received at Texas A&M, any answer other than, "Where do we sign," would indeed be, ridiculous. 

PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES 


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