LSU Alabama Football

LSU’s Ed Orgeron, left, joins Alabama’s Nick Saban in the ranks of the nation’s top-paid head football coaches.


On the one hand, there was LSU once again throwing money around like, well, like an overexuberant Odell Beckham Jr., tossing the big bucks as indiscriminately as it was needlessly.

Why? Because the Tigers could, which probably isn't taught in Economics 101.

On the other hand, the school absolutely did the right thing.

And it didn't take long.

Let's be honest here.

LSU didn't have to give Ed Orgeron the big raise, a minimum of $42 million over the course of the next six years, a tidy sum of $7 million per year. Subject to the Board of Supervisors' rubber stamp, it's quite a bump from the $4 million base he was making.

No, you can't ignore a national championship.

But, if it wanted to, LSU was in a unique situation to fight the skyrocketing salaries of head football coaches.

As a general rule, when you negotiate there has to be something you want.

Orgeron has his dream job. Pinches himself every morning before diving head first into work.

When first offered the job, he didn't even ask about the salary — Where do I sign? Where do I sign?

If you're talking contract with a coach, it's usually smart to keep him in your employ and out of someone else's.

If Orgeron is going anywhere, there better be gumbo.

Basically, he ain't going nowhere. And everybody knows it so don't expect many suitors.

The Tigers had nothing to worry about.

But, again, LSU did the right thing.

LSU could also have played the business model card. It wasn't in writing, but when he was hired, the general assumption was that LSU would get the head coach dirt cheap (a mere $3.5 million at the time) and spend the big bucks on big-time assistants and interpreters for them to understand that Cajun garble.

Now LSU will pay for both when he replaces defensive coordinator Dave Aranda and passing game coordinator Joe Brady.

LSU did it because it was the right thing to do.

Orgeron is getting elite money for all the right old-fashioned reasons ­— he earned it.

Once again, you have to take a deep breath and immerse yourself into the financial fantasy world of big-time college athletics, that parallel and somewhat farcical universe where the terms "$4 million per year" and "underpaid" can be used in the same sentence with little scoffing.

The next paragraph would explain what a "bargain" LSU got for Orgeron's $4 million salary.

Maybe so.

If an outfit in Ann Arbor, Michigan, can be trusted, LSU's entertaining run through the college football world got the school $200 million worth of free advertising — just since the start of December alone.

I have no idea how "they" came up with that figure and it does seem rather suspicious that it all came out to such a nice round number.

But that's what Joyce Julius and Associates (or perhaps both) figured out when adding up all the times LSU showed up on all the various print, broadcast and social media outlets.

Again, no idea how they arrived at that, but it sounds like the kind of company that enjoys crunching numbers for fun and profit.

If its anything close to $200 mill, OK, that's a pretty sweet deal. Pretty soon, you're talking real money.

Neither Joyce not Associates apparently offered any suggestions on how to cash in that unused $200 million, but it's always to gratifying to know you got something for free.

Or maybe Orgeron got the big contract because it was starting to get embarrassing for the school.

Orgeron, who according to USA Today, ranked No. 30 this season in coaching salary, won the national championship as the ninth-highest paid coach in his own conference.

He didn't play them all. But throw in Texas, Oklahoma and Clemson, and in going 15-0 Orgeron beat nine coaches who made more money in base salary than he did.

Well, eight, technically. Arkansas' Chad Morris had already been fired by the time Orgeron got to his team. The Razorbacks finally cut bait after paying a little more than $2 million for each of the four victories Morris managed in just under two years, none of which came in SEC games.

All told, the coach who this year ranked No. 30 in salary beat eight of the top 10 highest-paid coaches, including six of the top seven

Maybe it was satisfaction enough for Orgeron that two of them were the Jimbo Fisher (Texas A&M) and the Tom Hermann (Texas) who LSU courted (and fans lusted for) before "settling for" Orgeron as a desperate measure.

It's certainly paid off for the Tigers.

It was kind of nutty and out of character for LSU to be shopping in the discount section in the first place.

LSU, in a way, started the great escalation of coaching salaries at the turn of the century when it hired Nick Saban.

Coaches today should give thanks to then-LSU president (now NCAA president) Mark Emmert.

Saban was well known in football circles, but it was way before Saban was a rock star. It was a time when only Steve Spurrier and Bobby Bowden were making more than a million a year.

Yet Emmert made the big splash (always a specialty of his) by luring Saban in for the unheard tab of $1.2 million for season for five years, $6 million total. When he turned out to be one of those "bargains" you hear about, the money spigots were soon wide open as schools started playing Hold My Beer ...

Along about the same time, the coaching narrative started preaching the recruiting gospel that coaches had to have large guaranteed buyouts, lest said recruits get cold feet worrying if their coach might be let go during their stay, even though there's no anecdotal evidence that they ever kept a school from firing somebody the alumni had gotten sick of.

But in Orgeron's case, everybody should be happy with this deal.

A good guy got paid.

Scooter Hobbs covers LSU athletics. Email him at

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