15 college football coaches not living up to their salary in 2017
Jim Mora, UCLA ($3.5 million)
Another top-25 salary, Mora also had one of the nation’s leading quarterbacks in Josh Rosen to work with in 2017. He’s given the school a 2-4 Pac-12 record and a losing record overall, as a team that was once in the top 25 is now left scrambling to secure bowl eligibility this season. Mora’s seat, while not scalding, is definitely getting warmer, and his salary is a big reason why. Schools don’t pay $3.5 million for guys to struggle to go 6-6. Mora hasn’t even managed that in his last two seasons.
Mike Riley, Nebraska ($2.9 million)
At this point, we’re just waiting with bated breath to see when Riley is fired. There’s a new athletic director in the picture now, and even if there weren’t, the Nebraska coach has failed in two of his three seasons as the Huskers’ coach. They’re 4-5 this year, including a home defeat to Northern Illinois. While Riley’s $2.9 million salary isn’t the highest, it still puts him in the top 50 of all college coaches. Nebraska certainly isn’t getting top-50 results from him.
Kyle Whittingham, Utah ($3.7 million)
Whittingham once ran the table at Utah, and the Utes recognize what he’s done for them with a top-25 salary. If the question is what has he done for them lately, though, the answer is a lot less charitable. The Utes are 2-4 in Pac-12 play, a big disappointment for a team that spent time in the top 25 earlier in the season and at one point looked like the main threat to USC in the Pac-12 South. Barring an upset against Washington or Washington State, he’s on his way to a first losing record in conference since 2013 — hardly what the Utes are paying him big bucks for.
Bobby Petrino, Louisville ($3.9 million)
Petrino’s reputation at the college level is good, and he’s been successful everywhere he’s been, so this 2017 season can probably be written off as a blip. It’s a serious blip, though — only 20 coaches in the nation make more money than Petrino, he has the reigning Heisman Trophy winner under center for him, and he’s dead last in the ACC Atlantic with a 2-4 conference record. He may well justify his lofty salary once again very soon, but he hasn’t this year, especially considering what he’s had to work with.
DJ Durkin, Maryland ($2.5 million)
Durkin came to Maryland with a big reputation, having been on Jim Harbaugh’s staff at Michigan before getting a pretty big payday to come to the Terrapins. Only winless Indiana has kept Maryland out of the Big Ten East basement this season. The team is sitting under .500 and struggling in Big Ten play. They did beat Texas in non-conference, but that isn’t enough progress considering what Durkin is being paid.
Larry Fedora, North Carolina ($2.3 million)
What does $2.3 million buy you nowadays? In North Carolina, the answer is one solitary victory. The Tar Heels have only beaten Old Dominion in 2017, and with Fedora’s top-50 salary on the table, that’s not nearly good enough. The coach has had notable success previously with North Carolina, and perhaps he will again, but there’s no excusing a season like this one. Fedora is making more money than Oklahoma is paying Lincoln Riley, who has the Sooners in the College Football Playoff picture.
Jeff Brohm, Purdue ($3.3 million)
Brohm is being paid for what Purdue hopes he can do rather than what he’ll do in his first year at the school. Still, there’s no denying that, for this year only, he hasn’t done enough. Brohm’s Boilermakers have played teams close but have failed to get over the hump this year. That leaves his $3.3 million salary rather hard to justify given the team’s 4-5 record. The good news is Brohm will be given time to justify the money he’s making. It is, after all, only year one of his tenure, and there have been some positive signs.