College sports over the years have evolved into big-money business. And much like in business people expect a return on their investment, whether those people be administrators, fans, or coaches. This season Kentucky’s football program has not been receiving that all important return on investment from third year coach Joker Phillips. So far in the 2012 campaign, the ‘Cats find themselves 1-5 with little sign of improvement ahead given injuries, inexperience, and schedule. So, just what is the University paying for this type of performance? Joker Phillips is currently the 3rd lowest paid coach in the SEC at 1.7 million dollars per season, ahead of only interim Arkansas Coach, John L. Smith and new Ole Miss Coach, Hugh Freeze. But, these numbers do little to tell you the performance on the field. So, to cut through this issue I examined all SEC coaches’ reported salaries and compared them to how many wins they have acquired and to the adjusted performance on the field in 2012.
First a bit of elaboration. The first few columns are pretty self-explanatory, they’re just yearly salary, wins thus far in 2012, and the price per win that the respective University pays. Adjusted wins are numbers that give extra credit (+/- .25 wins) for 21+ point wins and subtracts credit for 21+ point losses. Adjusted cost per win is just like its price per win counterpart, but adjusted for scoring margin. When making evaluations, use your best judgement. Would anyone suggest that Nick Saban and Les Miles are giving minimal return to Alabama and LSU? No, they just have high salaries and have played a small number of games, I’d be willing to bet they’d be high up on the list later in the season. Also, keep in mind that teams have not played the same amount of games and have played different schedules so the numbers are not completely on the same scale right now, but they still give a decent look at financial efficiency.
As you can clearly see from the above table, Joker Phillips is not giving the proper rate of return in any type of performance this season. In terms of pay scale efficiency Joker is currently only ahead of Auburn’s Gene Chizik who currently is being paid 3.5 million dollars per season. In terms of adjusted wins Joker’s squad is the only one with fewer than one win (one 21+ point victory, and two 21+ point losses). There really are few circumstances where this is acceptable and those usually come after a large stint on probation or a coaching change with massive departures. Unfortunately, those instances do not apply to Kentucky in any way for the 2012 season. It was stated earlier that Joker Phillips is the third lowest paid coach in the SEC at the current juncture at 1.7 million per year, so the point could be made that Kentucky is finally getting what it paid for in terms of performance on the field. Is that a good argument to make? Given recent home attendance and message board fodder, most fans now are seemingly presenting this argument loud and clear.