It’s time for Michigan State to pay up

Well, ladies and gentlemen, we have a bit of a sticky situation on our hands here.

Reports have surfaced saying Pat Narduzzi was in College Station, Tex., interviewing for the defensive coordinator position at Texas A&M on Thursday.

Billy Luici, of TexAgs.com, first reported it. Narduzzi already has been the hot name on the market for head coaching vacancies in the past month or so, including Illinois, Pitt and Akron. It was rumored he interviewed at all three, but Dantonio said he only interviewed at one school, which turned out to be Akron.

Eventually, Narduzzi elected to stay at Michigan State, or so was the understanding. Turns out he still is listening to offers.

It is entirely understandable to have a coach bolt for a head coaching gig elsewhere, Don Treadwell and Dan Enos already did that, and it even looks good that a program’s coaches become highly sought after. However, if Narduzzi looks at leaving to take the same position at another school, well, that is just plain embarrassing and unacceptable on the part of Michigan State.

If he does head south for the gig at Texas A&M, there are only two possible reasons: the Aggies are joining the SEC, putting him on the top stage especially for defenses, or the dollar signs thrown at him. In this case: Money talks.

Narduzzi currently makes $235,000 as the DC on Mark Dantonio’s staff at Michigan State. Texas A&M reportedly will offer $600,000 but might go as high as $750 to 800K. If this is the case, gulp, we might be in trouble.

If the administration is to preach the Rose Bowl as the goal, and wants to be a perennial power in the Big Ten and even an elite program, it has to start paying out as if it means business. Real business.

It’s time to start backing up the coaches and compensating them accordingly.

Michigan State is 44-22 under Dantonio and with Narduzzi leading the defense. Every single thing this team has accomplished he has been a part of. A Big Ten championship, a Legends Division championship, and a 22-5 record (14-2 Big Ten) in the past two seasons.

Yet in 2011, five head coaches made more than the entire Michigan State coaching staff combined ($3,597,050) — including Iowa’s Kirk Ferentz (who is making out like a bandit at $3,785,000).

Narduzzi coached the defense to a top-five national ranking this season, but doesn’t rank among the top-five highest paid defensive coordinators in the Big Ten conference, even after a raise Dantonio said his assistants will be receiving (which supposedly will put him in the $300K range.)

This is absurd to say someone making that much money is underpaid, but the reality of sports as a business is money spent is an investment.

To invest in Narduzzi to stay, even if it is only for one more year, is sending the message that the Michigan State football program is fully backed by the athletic department and in order to compete at a top level, will pay the people to bring it and keep it there.

As that level is sustained, the football program brings in increased revenue based on its successes and national attention.

The Michigan State athletic department is entirely self-sufficient and receives no state or university funds (in other words, it doesn’t receive any of a student’s tuition), so it relies on private funding (i.e. The Spartan Fund) and revenue it generates from things such as ticket sales.

The football program brought in $45,040,778 in 2010-11, according to this report from businessofcollegesports.com (Check out the chart, it’s quite interesting). Of that revenue, 38.68 percent was invested back into the program and the rest was allocated elsewhere to help fund other sports and the athletic department.

Here is a crazy thought on the allocation of resources, scrap the plan on the new scoreboard for Spartan Stadium — costing a whopping $8 million — and use some of that money to keep Narduzzi, who just so happens to be one of the best recruiters on the staff as well, in green and white.

As nice as physical investments and shiny new gadgets might be, the product put on the field by the Michigan State program is far more important and that is where investments needs to go. The coaches who help challenge, mentor and coach the young Spartan football players are essential to the continued success of the program and need to be treated as such.

Some other potential upgrades — which might include a recruiting room and locker room renovations — would be aimed at improving the program and are directed at building the future of Michigan State football, and that is a much better indication that the athletic department knows it has to spend to compete for recruits and coaches. But that has to start now with Narduzzi, if he seriously would go to Texas A&M for the money, Michigan State has to be willing to pay him to keep him.

The Aggies new coach Kevin Sumlin recognizes Narduzzi’s coaching brilliance, and we already have him and know it better than anyone — other than the teams who faced the ferocious Spartans defense this season.

It’s time for Michigan State to pony up and show Narduzzi the Benjamins, if you will, because the man is among the best in the nation at what he does and the product rang true all season from a Spartans defense unlike any other.

If the administration wants to cash in on success and the money that comes with it, it’s time to put some cash into building toward increased success.

To be taken seriously, it requires spending seriously … Go Green!

(Editor’s Note: All Big Ten salary statistics do not include Northwestern or Penn State, as Northwestern is a private school and such information is not required to be made public, and Pennsylvania law does not require schools to make the information public.)

A note on Mark Hollis from my research

Turns out, athletic director Mark Hollis is the lowest-paid Big Ten AD in base salary, according to this report from the Chicago Tribune and a little digging of my own.

This is insane when you think about it. Hollis is BRILLIANT. He is the marketing genius responsible for the Carrier Classic — which other school’s are picking up as well moving forward, the Cold War hockey game in 2001 at the Big House, and Basketbowl at Ford Field in 2003 against Kentucky.

Oh, and he sticks up for his guys. Check out this piece on how he went to bat for Dantonio, Narduzzi and Will Gholston in the week following the Michigan game this season. Any school would be lucky to have him at the helm of its athletic department.

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Posted on January 6, 2012, in Football and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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