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Commentary: Stoops deal a bargain no matter how it's added up


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Shane Dale
Arizona Daily Wildcat
By Shane Dale
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Tuesday, August 31, 2004
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Editor's note: This commentary was originally published on Dec. 2, 2003, days after Arizona hired head coach Mike Stoops.

Think Mike Stoops was suckered into this head coaching deal? Did he fail to read the fine print? Is he is the next contestant on "The UA Price is Right?"

Certainly not.

While Stoops will receive $150,000 less in base salary than the team's last coach, John Mackovic, the incentives dripping from Stoops' contract make the signing look like more of a steal than it really is.

Consider the incentives in Mackovic's contract:

  • $50,000 for a BCS bowl game appearance.

  • $100,000 for a national championship.

  • $25,000 if the team's GPA was 2.7 or higher or if the team had a 75 percent graduation rate.

    That's it.

    Now look at Stoops' deal:

  • Four separate incentives - from $50,000 to $150,000 - for bowl appearances, depending on the prominence of the bowl.

  • Three separate incentives - from $20,000 to $40,000 - for a final regular-season ranking in the BCS top 10, 15 or 25.

  • Five separate incentives - from $30,000 to $70,000 - for a winning record in an 11-game season, and six separate incentives - from $30,000 to $80,000 - for a winning record in a 12-game season, including an $80,000 bonus for a 12-0 record.

  • A bonus of $40,000 for being named national coach of the year, or $20,000 for Pacific 10 Conference Coach of the Year.

  • The contract even includes bonuses for home fan attendance. Stoops will be rewarded from $15,000 - if an average of 42,000 fans show up at Arizona Stadium each game - to $60,000 - if the average attendance of 50,000-plus.

  • Not done! Stoops could get cash for selling season tickets - anywhere from $40,000 to $90,000.

  • The most entertaining stipulation has to be the new academic standards in Stoops' contract. Stoops will receive $25,000 if the football team averages a (snicker) 3.4 GP, or if the graduation rate is at least 84 percent.

    Now, let's say, for example - a reasonably realistic example - that Stoops delivers on his promise to "win quick." Let's say he accomplishes the following next season:

  • Leads Arizona to an 8-4 record (5-3 in the Pac-10).

  • Earns Pac-10 Coach of the Year honors for turning a 2-10 team around in a single season.

  • Finishes No. 23 in the final BCS standings.

  • Leads Arizona to the Holiday Bowl.

  • Gets an average of 46,000 fans to fill Arizona Stadium.

  • Sells 32,000 season tickets.

  • Graduates 71 percent of his players.

    Stoops would earn an additional $220,000 in incentives in 2004 - $70,000 more than Mackovic's base salary - for a total of $870,000.

    Now let's go, say, four years down the road, and Arizona has become the disciplined, defense-oriented powerhouse that Stoops helped create in Oklahoma and Kansas State. Assume he:

  • Leads Arizona to a perfect 12-0 season.

  • Earns both the Pac-10 and NCAA Coach of the Year awards.

  • Finishes No. 1 in the BCS standings.

  • Leads Arizona to the national championship game.

  • Sells out Arizona Stadium every game.

  • Sells 47,000 season tickets.

  • Graduates 85 percent of his players (possibly the most farfetched of all these accomplishments).

    Survey says: an extra $505,000 to line Stoops' pockets, for a grand total of $1,155,000 on the year.

    So, who's the sucker in this deal? Stoops? Livengood? UA President Peter Likins?

    The answer is D: None of the above.

    The bottom line is that it takes money to make money, and Stoops' contract reflects that. The money Stoops would receive for pulling a 180 with this football program would be dwarfed by the revenue the university would see in ticket sales, ad revenue and bowl appearances.

    Unlike Mackovic's contract, in which Tucson's least favorite person received very few reasons to rebuild Arizona into a successful program, Stoops' provides every reason one could think of for the coach to perform.

    Bob Stoops' little brother is a bargain. He'll be a bigger bargain if he rakes in the dough the athletics department has dangled in front of him.

    Shane Dale graduated from the UA in May 2004 with a bachelor of arts degree in political science. This commentary was a regional first-place winner in the category of sports column writing from the Society of Professional Journalists last year. Dale can be reached at sports@wildcat.arizona.edu.



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