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As SEC West teams fling money at coaches, Louisiana’s governor has an idea about salary caps

LSU is among the teams spending huge on coaches.

NCAA Football: Louisiana State at Alabama John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

The SEC West is currently splashing more cash on coaches than any group of college football teams ever has before.


More at USA Today’s pay databases for head coaches and assistants.

Louisiana’s governor finds coach pay ‘obscene’ and has an idea.

The governor, Democrat John Bel Edwards, suggested to The Advocate’s editorial board he took comfort that private money, not taxpayer funds, is used to pay LSU’s $9.4 million 2017 coaching staff. But he still worries:

“I am concerned. I’m not as concerned as I would be if those were tax dollars being spent,” Edwards said. “I do think that there has to be some look nationally at some sort of salary caps for the organizations. This is an arms race, and it’s gotten out of control. Some of the salaries and buyouts are obscene, and they can create all sorts of problems.

“Everybody at this table knows that those are not taxpayer dollars, but the general public doesn’t necessarily know that,” Edwards continued. “And what about those faculty members at LSU and elsewhere who haven’t had a raise of any size in many, many years and they’re seeing what’s happening in athletics?”

There are a bunch of arguments for coaching salary caps.

SB Nation’s Jason Kirk makes some here:

More teams would contend.

How many FBS teams have realistic shots at the title in any season? Fewer than 20? While we’ll never have a sport in which everybody has an equal chance (nor should we), this would be the most direct way to widen the field. When Saban’s out-earning entire FBS conferences’ worth of coaches all by himself, it’s justifiable in the market, based on the money he’s made for his school, but is this what we want football to be?

(No, Bama fan, all this isn’t in response to Saban’s salary. He’s just got the biggest number right now.)

Some mid-majors would be able to keep rising stars longer and avoid endlessly replacing winners. When Houston backed the truck up for Tom Herman, it really would’ve taken no less than his dream job for him to leave. In our alternate reality, Tulsa is building a Todd Graham statue. So even if we never have a promotion-and-relegation system, this would mean a sustainable model for underdogs.

Plus: There’d be more money to use on athletes and more staff flexibility. College football programs could use to blow through less money, especially while they’re not paying players. And it wouldn’t be as easy for agents to take athletic directors to the cleaner’s on coach buyouts, which have become a massive expense for many public institutions that are supposed to be all about teaching young people.

What do you think?