Is the Huskers’ new football coach overpaid?

Opinion by TylerRaikar

With Scott Frost out of the picture coaching the Huskers, fans now rely on hope for the team to slowly progress up college team rankings, and maybe even relive their glory days from the 1970s. 

The new coach, Matt Rhule, said the Huskers “can absolutely get the University of Nebraska football exactly where it’s supposed to be,” as said on Nov. 28, 2022, at a press conference at the university’s Hawk Championship center to the Alpha Media. In an interview with ESPN’s Chris Low and Nebraska Athletic Director Trev Alberts at the same conference, Alberts said he believes that Rhule will be detail-oriented, relationship-building and a great leader for the players. 

He then went on to say that Rhule received an eight-year contract with a 90% guarantee of being worth $74 million. He will make $5.5 million in 2023 and then his salary will increase up to $12.5 million by 2030. His additional compensation will be paid by UNL. Wait a second, $74 million? Meaning he will make an average of $9.25 million a year? With this contract, it makes Rhule the fifth-highest-paid college football coach nationally in 2022. 

It also makes him the highest paid Husker coach ever, keeping in mind that this does not account for seasonal bonuses if the team wins certain games, such as the Big Ten Championship Game. Bonuses are made to incentivize the coach based on performance during the season. 

To compare, the average head football coach in an Omaha high school makes $57,564, and the OPS average salary for high school teachers as of Dec. 27 in 2022 was $52,825 according to salary.com. The base salary for an OPS teacher begins at $44,000 and climbs up with additional schooling, responsibilities and years of experience. 

Now, I love some Husker Saturdays in the fall, but not enough to accept that the new head coach will be receiving the money that mayors and governors could use to help stabilize the local common welfare. 

According to edweek.org, the number of new entrants into teaching decreased by one-third, with teachers from 2016 to 2020 dropping by 320,000 to 215,000. Riddle me this– if teachers received just a 10% increase in their salaries, not only would fewer teachers quit, but students would also receive better educations and learning tools, including updated textbooks or more technology. It would be unfair to say the revenue that Rhule will be receiving is solely ridiculous, as his salary circulates back to the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. 

Football is the most significant profit-earner for universities, and if the athletic department attracts more prospective students, the university thrives more. 

To add, the making of Rhule’s salary is a gamble UNL is betting that this new coach will win future games, causing ticket and merchandise sales to increase. Moreover, UNL is hoping for Rhule to leave the team victorious in big money games. 

Even just playing in them, all outcomes aside, grants money to be given back to the university. The majority of Rhule’s salary therefore is from accumulated ticket sales and donors.However, professors are the foundation of these universities, not the head coaches. 

The salary of the Nebraska Head Coach may motivate both the coach himself and his team to work hard and play hard, but at the end of the day, the professors also deserve a salary to recognize their PhDs and wisdom they consistently bring to their students. 

Head coaches are glorified because of America’s love of football. They also are harder to replace because coaching is not the same as teaching. It requires a different mindset that not everyone is born with. But it must be understood that professors pave successful futures for students, including the football players. 

Rhule is not at all a greedy person for accepting the position. The media’s desperation for Husker victory is, though. Like teachers and professors, various critical professions lie at risk of salary cuts. We are told the reason these salaries won’t get their deserved compensation is because of the state of the economy. 

But maybe the hard truth begs that we are unaware or unaccustomed to where money actually goes. Ironically, a chunk of the money so desperately called for that could be used to supply future doctors, lawyers or other respectable careers is instead fed to America’s favorite pastime: football. 

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