Perhaps this is the year we stop being numb to the waste, to the GNP of small countries being spent on coaches not coaching. The year when buyout numbers north of $10 million are no longer merely eye-popping and instead become an impetus for rethinking the spending structure.
So far, through five full weeks of the college football season, jobs are opening at a never-before-seen rate. Power 5 schools Nebraska, Arizona State, Georgia Tech, Colorado and Wisconsin have already made changes. There's a chance both Auburn and Louisville end up joining them before Halloween.
Per terms of those contracts, the five jobs would have required paying out more than $60 million in dead money. Some of that will be lessened through negotiated buyouts, including at Wisconsin.
But the reality is the Monopoly money being thrown around shows how cutthroat the industry has become. And it's exactly why the presidents, boards and athletic directors handing out these deals need to start rethinking how they spend.
When the television deals head into the billions and the league payouts are approaching $70 million per team annually, patience for performance has gone the way of the neck roll. Schools can afford to make changes when the cash flows in regardless of results.
Consider Auburn, ever the picture of dysfunction, which will be committed to paying Bryan Harsin more than $15.5 million if he's fired this month, half of which is due within 30 days. That means Auburn will have committed nearly $37 million in two calendar years to former coaches, after paying Gus Malzahn $21.4 million after firing him in December 2020. (The tab for both sets of assistant coaches projects to be another $10 million.)
Nebraska, meanwhile, fired Scott Frost on Sept. 11, necessitating a $15 million buyout when that figure would have dropped in half on Oct. 1.
Can schools find creative ways to spend on players as opposed to burning millions for guys to sip Coronas in beach chairs? While blue bloods such as Alabama and USC aren't changing course, could there be a Moneyball formula that emerges to help downtrodden programs such as Georgia Tech, Arizona State, Nebraska or Colorado bounce back?