By Mark Nagi
When I was younger, I had dreams.
I wanted to be the play by play voice of the New York Rangers. No, that didn’t pan out, but other dreams were realized. I have two smart and wonderful daughters, a roof over my head, a steady job… I know how blessed I am, and I am thankful every day for the gifts that I have been bestowed.
That all said, I have a new dream as I get closer to my trip to 50…
I want to be an unsuccessful yet high profile employee in the world of collegiate athletics.
Look no further than the UT campus. Recently, head coach Jeremy Pruitt was fired and athletics director Phillip Fulmer *cough* retired *cough cough cough*. Tennessee says that they fired Pruitt “for cause,” meaning that they aren’t paying any of the remaining $12.6 million remaining on his contract.
But folks… that doesn’t mean the unnecessary dollars aren’t flying out of the Tennessee athletics department. Fulmer will reportedly receive half of his remaining salary, a cool $1.35 million, to stop working at Tennessee. Fulmer was under contract until December 31, 2023.
With the hiring of Danny White as the new AD, Fulmer’s last go round is now complete. If you factor in the buyout he received after he was fired as Tennessee’s football coach in 2008, Fulmer will have/is getting $7.35 million from Tennessee… to not work.
White hired Josh Heupel to replace Pruitt. That meant a whole bunch of assistant coaches were going to be shown the door. Offensive coordinator Jim Chaney was set to make $1.7 million in 2021. Guess what? He is still making it… even though he wasn’t retained by UT.
Quarterbacks coach Chris Weinke was also booted but picks up a sweet $450,000 as he walks out the door.
Tennessee had one of the worst offenses in college football in 2020, and the quarterback play was a huge reason why. So maybe $2.15 million is a small price to pay for the opportunity to move on from Chaney and Weinke.
Tight ends coach Jim Osovet got $250,000 to not work at UT anymore this year.
I could go on and on about how Tennessee paid $5 million to rid themselves of Derek Dooley and over $8 million to dispatch Butch Jones… or how they gave Bruce Pearl nearly $1 million when they owed him zippo for putting Tennessee on probation.
You get the idea… Tennessee has made some awful financial decisions over the past thirteen years.
And it might get even worse. At the time of the writing of this article, we didn’t know the future of former interim head coach Kevin Steele, who could pick up $900,000 from Tennessee if he isn’t retained.
Tennessee is reportedly paying $6 million in buyouts to get White and Heupel out of their contracts at Central Florida. They paid Parker Executive Search Firm $120,000 for assisting with the AD search and another $120,000 for assisting with the head coaching search.
Yes, they paid a search firm $120,000 to help find a football coach… and White hired the guy he had just worked with at UCF.
Keep in mind that Tennessee is not alone in this… colleges across the country pay millions every single year to fire people that, for the most part, weren’t doing their jobs well.
I’ve figured out that is my new dream, to be a big time football coach that was good enough to garner a six to seven figure contract, yet incompetent enough that they’d rather pay me not to work for them than pay me to work for them.
I know that coaches are wired differently, but let me tell you, I’d have no problem taking a year to sit on the beach, sipping a beverage and watch the tide roll in while also watching my bank account grow.
Dream on, dream on, dream until your dreams come true…
As always, the buyout life remains undefeated.