We spend a good amount of time here talking about the limitations the Syracuse Orange face when it comes to coaching salaries. If you listen to a lot of NCAA administrators you’ll hear talk about rules being needed to “keep a level playing field”. With that in mind, SBNation’s Jason Kirk wrote this piece about a coach salary cap with the idea that such a measure could make college football more competitive.
It’s unlikely that schools would willingly agree to this, but if it comes down to implementing a coach salary cap or paying players, the idea suddenly becomes a bit more plausible. Since we are always trying to think of ways to get Syracuse football back into the Top 25 discussion, we figured it was a good time to fire up some roundtable thoughts on Jason’s column.
How Syracuse should respond if this coaching staff salary cap was a reality?
If the NCAA implemented a salary cap system for college football coaching staffs, then there is only one way Syracuse should respond – thank the heavens and cry tears of joy. Syracuse has long been at a disadvantage since its athletics department does not devote nearly the same amount of money to its coaching staff that other Power Five schools do.
While SU is a private institution and we don’t know the exact about head coach Dino Babers and his staff are being paid, we do know ex-coach Scott Shafer only made $1.5 million in his second season (bottom of the ACC), per SU’s tax returns. We also know Syracuse lost former running backs coach Mike Hart after just one season to Indiana when the Hoosiers offered him “an enormous raise,” according to Babers. While a college football salary cap wouldn’t catapult the Orange into College Football Playoffs territory, it would make it a lot easier for SU to compete and develop into a frequent bowl game contender.
Overall, I think the idea of a salary cap is great. Ideally, the more money being invested back to the student athletes, the better. Since the cornerstone of the NCAA is not to pay the athletes, I'm all in favor of getting more money to them in one way or another. Using football surpluses to enhance the faculties for Olympic athletes would be an obvious win.
For Syracuse specifically, I'd like to see them go all in on using extra positions for nutrition and sports science. With Babers's up tempo system, athletes are key and keeping the first choices healthy is even more important. Additionally, the ability to utilize the iSchool and ECS' already thriving research departments, Syracuse could be on the cutting edge for collegiate athletics.
Jason’s idea would certainly make it more balanced. We know that Syracuse is behind their P5 counterparts when it comes to paying coaches, but we don’t know how far. If this was a reality, I’d like to see the salary pool weigh heavily towards the Head Coach and Coordinators. Having a stable philosophy will help a program contend in the ACC. Then, I think it would be in Syracuse’s best interest to fill position coaches with younger coaches. With experience at the top I think a school like Syracuse could use quantity to focus on skill development and recruiting. We’ve seen some benefits from the additional staff members that the Orange have added in the recruiting areas, so let’s build on it.
It’s a tough balance — do you pay your head coach #ALLTHEMONEY and then have him overturn his staff every year? Or can you find a head coach and some key assistants who are all willing to stick around for a set amount (let’s say $4-4.5 million or so, out of a total of $5 million) and then fill out the remaining staff with names that will inevitably rotate most offseasons?
At Clemson, Dabo Swinney’s deferred raises to his assistants, in order to keep his staff intact. For years, Florida State struggled to keep assistants because they were spending it all on the head coach. Recent success for the ‘Noles has seemingly stabilized things, with salaries rising for assistants (and in kind, the assistants sticking around). SU has a ways to go just to spend $5 million a year on football staff salaries, I’d bet. But having a ceiling on salaries may actually encourage them to get to progress toward it sooner.
Those are our thoughts, but what would you want Syracuse to do in a coach salary cap era? Let us know in the comments.