Is it a good idea for USC to pay Lane Kiffin nearly Four Million dollars a year?

Sam Obitz / May 20th, 2010 / No Comments »

It depends on how you look at it. I thought University of Southern California Athletic Director Mike Garrett was out of his mind when he insisted on paying Pete Carroll over one million dollars a year when he was hired. Carroll was actively pursuing the job while all who were offered it were politely turning them down and Carroll likely would have accepted just about any contract offered at that time by Garrett and USC. Now reports are that Garrett and USC are paying Lane Kiffin around four million dollars a year and the outrage in the national media is palpable.

Now instead of thinking Garrett is out of his mind again, I think he may have low-balled Kiffin if the numbers the media are reporting are accurate. Do I think Kiffin is four times the coach Carroll was when he started at USC? No. Is it a change of heart on my part because Carroll vastly outperformed expectations? No again. Why then the drastic change in my viewpoint? It has nothing to do with my feelings of either’s coaching ability. What it does come down to is a change in how I am looking at the two similar situations.

In the instance of Carroll’s hiring I was stuck on my fiscally conservative side and miffed that Garrett would offer someone more money than he had to. In strictly fiscal terms this amounts to taking an unnecessary risk. Now I am stuck on the mental side of the hiring of Kiffin and it makes complete sense to me. If the USC football coaching job is the best job of its type in the country like Garrett believes it is, then why wouldn’t you pay the person in that job the highest salary? Think of the message that sends to Kiffin and all of his potential recruits if his predecessor made substantially more money doing the same job. If Kiffin achieves the goals he and Garrett have for the program, he will have been worth every penny of his contract and get a much deserved raise. If he fails, paying him the rate the position deserves and requires will not have anything to do with it and paying it less would have made failure more likely.

All successes start with belief. Had Mike Garrett made Pete Carroll the fifth highest paid coach in the league when he hired him instead of the highest paid coach would he have had the same success he had at USC? That we will never know, but I would argue that it would have made Carroll’s job a lot tougher as he and his opponents would have been able to question his school’s commitment and belief in him. No one can question USC’s commitment to Lane Kiffin and that puts him in position to succeed.

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