by Chris Bahn
Posted 10/17/2012 10:14 am
Updated 7 months ago
For nearly three-and-a-half hours Washington State’s Bill Moos met with his top candidate for football coach last year. Moos and Mike Leach talked just about everything but football during their only face-to-face encounter.
“We covered Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Winston Churchill, World War II, reruns of Gunsmoke, snow days in our youth and missing school. We were all over the board,” the Cougars athletic director said as he recalled the visit.
When the conversation did turn to football and the job for which he was interviewing, Leach wanted to know what WSU had in place to help the football program succeed. Moos was able to provide details of a newly built stadium, a proposed $61 million football operation center and what the athletic department could do to help in recruiting.
Those were all good selling points, but Leach had something else he wanted to know.
“What kind of salary pool can I have for my staff? Can I have my own people in the strength and conditioning, trainers, football ops people?,” Moos recalled Leach asking during their visit.
Knowing a program has money to spend on staff is a critical selling point, not just for Leach, but for most coaches considering a program. It’s an area the Razorbacks will likely have to evaluate when the time comes to hire a coach.
Arkansas tied for No. 8 among SEC schools at the end of 2011, according to USA Today’s salary database. Updated figures for all schools aren’t available, but based on the 2011 totals, the Razorbacks had none of the Top 10 highest paid assistant coaches, even though Arkansas assistant football coaches claim 25-percent of the Top 20 highest-paid state employees in Arkansas.
“Certainly whenever you are having a coaching change, you anticipate it’s going to grow,” UA Athletic Director Jeff Long told ArkansasSports360.com earlier this week. “We’re preparing for that.”
Arkansas was paying Bobby Petrino $3.56 million, a figure that put him in the Top 6 among coaches at the end of 2011. Long has said the resources are available to “attract a high level coach.”
Not only that, the football program should have its $40 million operations center completed by 2013. That will be a selling point to candidates.
But getting more competitive assistant coaching salaries is something Arkansas will need to evaluate. Long said he anticipates having to bump up where the Razorbacks are when it comes to money available for staff.
“We’re not at the top, we’re certainly not at the bottom,” Long said. “I think we’re at a reasonable range for assistants. I don’t think it will take a huge investment there to get us up to where we may need to be.”