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The Most Overpaid Offensive Coaches in College Football: 2017

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COLLEGE FOOTBALL: APR 22 LSU Spring Game Photo by Stephen Lew/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Each year, USA Today releases their annual publicly available coaching salaries database. Around these parts, we’re all pretty well versed in the rapidly escalating coaching salary scale, culminating this offseason with Dave Aranda’s ginormous payday. One of my favorite offseason projects is comparing this information against performance for a quick and dirty evaluation on over and underpaid coaching staffs in college football.

Being an SB Nation blogger, my performance metric of choice is S&P+. I’m not a fan of “one true number” type of stats, and I fully recognize quality offensive performance can be captured in a wide variety of ways. But for ease of use, let’s roll with S&P+. Perhaps in the future we can expand using other various statistics.

It’s worth noting that a handful (24 to be exact) of teams are entirely excluded from the data due to not publicly disclosing their coaching salaries: Air Force, Army, Baylor, Boston College, BYU, Duke, Hawaii, Miami (FL), Navy, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Penn State, Pittsburgh, Rice, SMU, Stanford, Syracuse, TCU, Temple, Tulane, Tulsa, USC, Vanderbilt, Wake Forest.

I can only operate on what information is available. Head coaches do not count into the salary totals. If a coach is listed as the ST coach with no other responsibilities, that’s how I charted him here. If the coach is listed as a ST coach with a positional responsibility, his salary counts into the O/D pool applicable.

The Chart

Unfortunately, SB Nation’s content management system no longer supports Tableau embeds. But you can find the interactive link: HERE. The interactive chart is filtered by conference, so you can add or remove whomever you’d like to drill the data all the way down to a single conference, if you prefer.

The chart is pretty straight forward. X axis is salary. Y is the offensive S&P+. The line down the middle represents the trend line. Dots above it symbolize performance above trend (or underpaid coaching staffs, to stick with the team). Dots below the trend line symbolize performance below trend (or overpaid coaching staffs). Obviously the further to the right, the more you paid.

LSU

Let’s take a look at LSU first.

So yeah, things went well.

If you’ll remember, LSU was the most overpaid performer in 2015 and while I never got around to putting the data together in 2016, I’d imagine the results were similar. But this year marks a true turn. In 2015, LSU at least sat on the trend line, if falling slightly below it. In 2017, with more money committed, LSU received even worse results. If Orgeron needed evidence that Canada didn’t get the job done in 2017, here’s his case.

The Best and Worst of the Rest

  • Quite honestly, Michigan might be even worse than LSU. Spending just 200k less, they 3 points worse in the S&P+
  • Alabama is out there in front of the high payers, but actually getting their money’s worth in performance.
  • Georgia’s offense actually performed better than Alabama’s on the season, at a slightly lesser cost.
  • Sweet baby Jesus is Oklahoma getting a deal on their offensive production. Of course, that’s not counting Lincoln Riley’s salary.
  • Oklahoma State is getting bang for their buck as well, though paying slightly more and performing slightly less.
  • Not far behind is Central Florida, with stellar performance at middle ground cost. Think Nebraska has a bright future?
  • Tom Herman’s Texas near the front of the pack in cost, and well below the trend line.
  • Jimbo Fisher’s Florida State not trailing far behind in cost, but did manage to squeeze out a bit more production. Still, well below trend line.
  • Pac-12 looks great nationally. Only Colorado, Cal, and Oregon State fall below the national trend line while even poor performing teams like UCLA, Arizona State, Arizona, and Oregon got great production for their money.
  • Clemson’s cost keeps rising and their production is down. To be expected when you lose a talent like Deshaun Watson. Still on the good side of things, though.
  • Kent State continues to be a raging dumpster fire on offense. The lowest performers in 2015, they are the 2nd lowest in 2017 and still paying for that level of performance.
  • UL-Monroe is holding it down in the bargain shopping department, with top 25 performance results on a Costco budget.
  • Tennessee was the worst performer in the SEC, but at least they only paid middle of the road cost!

Odds and Ends