NCAA Football Coach Salary vs. Wins

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A question was posed to me the other day: "Is Steve Sarkisian (head coach for UW's football team) worth the money we're paying him?". For the record, his salary is currently around $2.25 million, though he's not paid by tax payer money.

The question of an employee's worth intrigues me. No doubt people have strong opinions/feelings on the matter. How do we quantify this to answer it objectively?

In the case of a factory worker, we might say that the number of gizmos he/she produces per hour without error determines their value. I don't think this kind of metric works for things like teachers...

Still, football coaches are often judged based on their team's performance. So I decided that the best way to answer the question was to compare the salaries and win/loss records for NCAA FBS (aka Division I-A) coaches.

Detailed data on coach salaries wasn't super easy to find, I would have liked to find a neat & tidy table with salary broken down by year for each coach, alas. I did find this nice compilation by USA Today. I grabbed win/loss stats here. Note: for my analysis I have not followed up on any of these stats/teams individually, so no doubt there have been hires/fires and raises/cuts which will affect the specific details.



The correlation between higher pay and better winning percentage is promising. The median salary is $1.46 million. Texas is doing well, but boy they're paying for it! I then subtracted a linear fit (dashed line) from the winning percentages to determine the typical scatter.



The standard deviation in winning percentage at a given salary is +/- 12%. All the coaches that fall within this "region of acceptable performance" are highlighted in purple. I believe these coaches are "worth it". Twice the standard deviation is gold/yellow. Coaches in this region should either be asking for a raise, or watching for the hammer to fall.

There are a few major outliers that bear mention. Boise State is getting a whopper of a deal (as noted in Fig 1), as well as Ohio State. On the unfortunate side, Duke is very far below par; the sole outcast in the negative 3rd standard deviation. This doesn't bode well for an athletics program under scrutiny to dial back costs.

So this has all been in good fun, and I certainly hope no one is actually fired on my account! Looking at Washington in particular, Sark seems to be just below the standard deviation, but in fairness he's only been coach since 2009. After our victory over Portland State this weekend, I'm hopeful he'll make up some lost ground this year!

The full table of data is below the fold...
Update: due to demand from the wise folks on Reddit, I have updated the table to be sorted by School name and added helmet thumbnails. (I took them down, it seemed to be causing havoc with his website)







NCAA Div I-A Football. Salary in $ millions. WPD = Win Percentage Difference, stddev(WPD) = 11.8
SchoolCoachWIN %SalaryWPD
Air Force Troy Calhoun 57.0 0.889 10.31
Akron Rob Ianello 40.0 0.375 -2.76
Alabama Nick Saban 57.1 4.833 -20.04
Arizona Mike Stoops 42.7 1.465 -8.43
Arizona State Dennis Erickson 52.6 1.503 1.13
Arkansas Bobby Petrino 58.7 3.638 -9.25
Arkansas State Hugh Freeze 36.9 0.202 -4.50
Army Rich Ellerson 24.6 0.610 -19.96
Auburn Gene Chizik 72.3 3.500 5.45
Ball State Pete Lembo 42.7 0.350 0.18
Baylor Art Briles 31.8 1.549 -20.04
Boise State Chris Petersen 87.3 1.525 35.69
Boston College Frank Spaziani 67.4 1.079 19.18
Bowling Green Dave Clawson 54.1 0.364 11.46
Buffalo Jeff Quinn 24.6 0.325 -17.76
California Jeff Tedford 55.9 2.300 -1.74
Central Florida George O'Leary 50.4 1.392 -0.24
Central Michigan Dan Enos 46.7 0.326 4.29
Cincinnati Butch Jones 59.4 1.394 8.80
Clemson Dabo Swinney 61.2 1.846 7.03
Colorado Jon Embree 46.0 0.725 0.52
Colorado State Steve Fairchild 47.4 0.700 2.14
Connecticut Paul Pasqualoni 52.6 1.500 1.19
Duke David Cutcliffe 17.2 1.763 -36.29
East Carolina Ruffin McNeill 47.4 0.885 0.75
Eastern Michigan Ron English 22.7 0.343 -19.86
Florida Will Muschamp 75.5 3.221 10.79
Florida Atlantic Howard Schnellenberger 47.1 0.406 4.06
Florida State Jimbo Fisher 63.4 2.750 2.26
Fresno State Pat Hill 62.2 0.679 17.13
Georgia Mark Richt 73.2 2.940 10.68
Georgia Tech Paul Johnson 61.3 2.369 3.11
Hawaii Greg McMackin 62.1 1.115 13.60
Houston Kevin Sumlin 47.8 1.200 -1.33
Idaho Robb Akey 28.2 0.372 -14.49
Illinois Ron Zook 39.7 1.754 -13.71
Indiana Kevin Wilson 34.1 1.260 -15.48
Iowa Kirk Ferentz 63.8 3.785 -5.32
Iowa State Paul Rhoads 44.4 1.151 -4.31
Kansas Turner Gill 45.5 2.101 -10.63
Kansas State Bill Snyder 56.5 1.925 1.80
Kentucky Joker Phillips 42.1 1.702 -10.90
Louisiana Tech Sonny Dykes 42.9 0.461 -0.56
Louisiana-Lafayette Mark Hudspeth 35.2 0.361 -7.49
Louisiana-Monroe Todd Berry 32.8 0.225 -8.79
Louisville Charlie Strong 65.7 2.305 8.03
Marshall Doc Holliday 53.3 0.620 8.68
Maryland Randy Edsall 58.8 2.013 3.42
Memphis Larry Porter 40.6 0.755 -5.09
Michigan Brady Hoke 64.2 3.254 -0.75
Michigan State Mark Dantonio 52.6 1.918 -2.08
Middle Tennessee State Rick Stockstill 48.9 0.589 4.44
Minnesota Jerry Kill 47.8 1.700 -5.19
Mississippi Houston Nutt 50.4 2.772 -10.89
Mississippi State Dan Mullen 38.9 2.500 -20.23
Missouri Gary Pinkel 58.4 2.700 -2.31
Navy Ken Niumatalolo 53.7 1.538 1.94
Nebraska Bo Pelini 66.2 2.775 4.91
Nevada-Reno Chris Ault 52.6 0.439 9.30
New Mexico Mike Locksley 44.4 0.760 -1.29
New Mexico State DeWayne Walker 29.5 0.375 -13.21
North Carolina Everett Withers 45.5 0.500 1.80
North Carolina State Tom O'Brien 54.4 1.878 0.05
North Texas Dan McCarney 34.1 0.545 -9.98
Northern Illinois Dave Doeren 58.5 0.371 15.79
Northwestern Pat Fitzgerald 50.4 1.190 1.32
Ohio State Luke Fickell 79.7 1.172 30.78
Oklahoma Bob Stoops 82.4 4.075 11.11
Oklahoma State Mike Gundy 57.4 2.100 1.28
Oregon Chip Kelly 71.7 2.800 10.26
Oregon State Mike Riley 62.0 1.313 12.04
Purdue Danny Hope 52.2 0.925 5.20
Rice David Bailiff 38.5 0.625 -6.23
Rutgers Greg Schiano 46.6 2.297 -10.98
San Diego State Rocky Long 35.9 0.801 -10.17
San Jose State Mike MacIntyre 35.6 0.412 -7.44
South Carolina Steve Spurrier 56.6 2.828 -5.08
South Florida Skip Holtz 62.8 1.700 9.82
Southern Methodist June Jones 31.1 1.727 -22.14
Syracuse Doug Marrone 40.9 1.049 -7.05
Tennessee Derek Dooley 63.6 2.331 5.71
Texas Mack Brown 81.6 5.194 1.60
Texas A&M Mike Sherman 53.3 2.201 -3.52
Texas Christian Gary Patterson 78.8 2.018 23.39
Texas Tech Tommy Tuberville 66.0 2.059 10.20
Texas-El Paso Mike Price 40.6 0.394 -2.30
Toledo Tim Beckman 60.0 0.412 16.96
Troy Larry Blakeney 56.6 0.381 13.75
UCLA Rick Neuheisel 52.2 1.285 2.42
Utah Kyle Whittingham 71.1 1.700 18.12
Utah State Gary Andersen 27.6 0.354 -15.04
Virginia Mike London 50.7 1.795 -2.98
Virginia Tech Frank Beamer 75.9 2.328 18.03
Wake Forest Jim Grobe 48.1 2.276 -9.31
Washington Steve Sarkisian 42.1 2.250 -15.13
Washington State Paul Wulff 44.7 0.600 0.20
West Virginia Dana Holgorsen 68.8 1.490 17.47
Western Michigan Bill Cubit 48.9 0.379 6.06
Wisconsin Bret Bielema 68.3 2.598 8.39
Wyoming Dave Christensen 34.6 0.843 -11.76

3 comments:

  1. Way to go Illinois!

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  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I just noticed that it's using team stats for that period instead of the coach's actual win percentage. That's why so many of the numbers are incorrect.

      Delete

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