116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
We in Iowa may think our football friends in two of our border states have gone round the bend.
They haven’t. They’re simply trying to function in their insane world.
Nebraska will pay Scott Frost $15 million to no longer be the head football coach at its state university in Lincoln. It would have been just $7.5 million had the school waited until Oct. 1, but losing to Georgia Southern at home makes everyone never want to see you on their sideline again.
Those same people were giddy when they plucked Frost from Central Florida a few years earlier, thinking the $3 million buyout to UCF was a bargain.
Paul Chryst is no longer the football coach at the University of Wisconsin. He and the school agreed on an $11 million buyout, and off he went, never to worry about the price of cheese curds.
Defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard, who was bound to get interest from other schools to become their next head coach, is the Badgers’ interim head coach on his way to getting the job later this year.
Leonhard turned down the Green Bay Packers’ defensive coordinator job early in 2021. He wasn’t going to stay a coordinator at Wisconsin forever, though.
Frost was a dismal failure, and his firing was an easy sell in Nebraska and globally. But a lot of brows were raised about Chryst’s exit given his record with the Badgers was 67-26, and they finished in the top 10 every season from 2016 to 2020.
He’ll get no pity here. When you’re your state’s highest-paid public employee — as football coaches are in over half of the 50 states including Iowa — you can get the hook anytime by any whim.
Many have said the Badgers quit on Chryst Saturday during their 34-10 home loss to Illinois and Bret Bielema. If true, that didn’t happen without reasons.
Chryst wasn’t fired with cause. Someone who was is Nick Rolovich, canned by Washington State last year with three years left on his contract because he refused to comply with a mandate requiring all state employees get a COVID-19 vaccination.
It’s not like there haven’t been coaches elsewhere who didn’t want to get those vaccinations, but they bowed to pressure and are still employed.
Washington State is 4-1 this year under vaccinated coach Jake Dickert, whose team won at Wisconsin recently to hasten Chryst’s departure.
Chryst, by the way, left Pittsburgh for Madison in 2014 when he still had two years left on his contract.
“He was as interested in making a long-term commitment to Pitt as we were in making a long-term commitment to him,” Pittsburgh Athletic Director Steve Pederson said in 2011.
Pederson got his own $2.2 million buyout when he was fired as Nebraska’s AD in 2007. He was fired as Pitt’s AD the day Chryst left.
What a racket. The $11 million Chryst is getting will come from the UW athletic department's Annual Fund held at the UW Foundation. They aren’t taxpayer dollars, which is what athletic directors love to say.
The athletic department’s account at the UW Foundation had $143 million in it as of June 2021. The pandemic forced cutting this and shaving that, but the money sure seems to be there whenever an athletic department wants to do something.
Iowa plays at Illinois Saturday. Illini coach Bielema has been on both sides of the real game. He abruptly left Wisconsin for Arkansas, and was fired by Arkansas with three years left on his contract.
Bielema’s Arkansas severance was funded by donors. Donors at Michigan State were responsible for football coach Mel Tucker getting an enormous raise and extension last year. The Spartans will lose their fourth-straight game Saturday when they face Ohio State.
Nobody has spent more on severance pay for athletic directors and football and basketball coaches than Nebraska. The total is over $50 million.
Nebraska athletic director Trev Alberts hasn’t said if donors are paying Frost’s buyout, but it seems a fair assumption.
How are people who throw around such huge sums of cash savvy enough to build fortunes in the first place?
F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote “Let me tell you about the very rich. They are different from you and me.”
To which Ernest Hemingway replied, “Yes, they have more money.”
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