When Prophetstown’s Bret Bielema packed his bags for Fayetteville instead of Pasadena today, the seventh-year coach who has led Wisconsin to three straight Rose Bowl berths stunned more than a few folks.
We shouldn’t be surprised.
Like it or not, Bielema’s payday check as the new coach of a middle-of-the-pack program in the Southeastern Conference will far exceed what he was taking home in Madison.
This season, the coach of the program which earned its third straight Rose Bowl berth by flattening Nebraska last weekend took home $2.64 million.
Not bad money, but a figure which ranked fifth among his peers in the Big Ten.
With the move, he’ll understandably find the challenge of rebuilding a program but he’ll reportedly be in the same high-rent district as Ohio State’s Urban Meyer.
The first-year Buckeyes’ coach pocketed $4.3 million this year, a figure which ranked fourth nationally but was tops among Big Ten coaches according to statistics compiled by USA Today.
Iowa’s Kirk Ferentz ($3.835 mil), Michigan’s Brady Hoke ($3.046 mil) and Nebraska’s Bo Pelini ($2.875 mil) all earned more than Bielema did.
Fans love to complain about the salaries coaches make, but the fact of the matter is that the marketplace drives the dollars.
The Big Ten’s five highest-paid coaches all rank among the top 20 in the nation, reflective of the positions they hold and the size of the athletic operations they work for.
Sixth on the list is Bill O’Brien of Penn State, who made $2.3 million and ranks 33rd among FBS coaches.
Here’s a breakdown of the rest of the Big Ten, according to the publication:
45) Mark Dantonio, Mich St, $1.934 mil
55) Tim Beckman, Illinois, $1.6 mil
61) Pat Fitzgerald, Northwestern, $1.26 mil
62) Kevin Wilson, Indiana, $1.26 mil
64) Jerry Kill, Minnesota, $1.2 mil
65) Danny Hope, ex-Purdue, $970,000
And the top three nationally?
Nick Saban, Alabama, $5.477 mil
Mack Brown, Texas, $5.354 mil
Bob Stoops, Oklahoma, $4.55 mil