Boise Gives Petersen a Lifetime Contract
By Paul Myerberg // Apr 17, 2012
Chris Petersen’s new contract at Boise State looks a lot like his old contract at Boise State, albeit with a slight boost to his annual salary. In 2010, Petersen inked a deal with the university that raised his annual salary from $850,000 — his payout beginning in 2007, after he led the Broncos to a Fiesta Bowl win — to $1.6 million. The new deal, which kicks in beginning with this coming season, will pay Petersen roughly $11.75 million over five years; that’s an average of $2.35 million per season, though the contract is back-loaded to pay more in 2015 and 2016 than in 2012 and 2013. The first-glance takeaway from this new contract: Petersen is being paid significantly less money than the F.B.S. head coaches who inhabit the same coaching stratosphere.
Even the most lucrative year on this contract, a $2.498 million paycheck in 2016, is less than the current annual salaries of eight SEC head coaches: Nick Saban, Les Miles, Gene Chizik, Will Muschamp, Mark Richt, Steve Spurrier and Dan Mullen. As of last season, that total would have ranked 10th; since then, Mississippi and Arkansas have jettisoned Houston Nutt and Bobby Petrino, respectively.
As of the end of last season, the average annual compensation for a B.C.S. conference head coach was $2.2 million. Only the final two years of Petersen’s new contract will top that mark, and by 2015, the average annual compensation for a B.C.S. conference head coach will have ballooned even further.
Those are the large-print details. Boise State is getting one of the best coaches in America — some believe the best — for relative chump change. Saban’s new deal will pay him $5.3 million in 2012 and nearly $6 million in 2019; in terms of his monetary reimbursement, Saban is viewed as nearly three times as valuable as Petersen.
That’s hogwash, of course. Each stands along the upper crust of college football, albeit in different circumstances: Saban coaches at Alabama, Petersen at Boise State. The coffers are slightly larger in Tuscaloosa — slightly larger. Petersen is being paid well considering the circumstances, when considering where it is he works, but it will be some time before another F.B.S. head coach reaches the level of Saban’s contract.
And that matters little to Petersen. Rephrased: That matters not at all to Petersen. No coach in college football is more attuned to the fine print. While others obsess over zeroes — how many, whether six or seven — Petersen is, and has always been, obsessed with place, comfort and opportunity. He gets what he needs from Boise State. The relationship he has with the university cannot be valued monetarily.
It’s the most symbiotic relationship in major college football. Petersen has everything he wants; Boise State has everything it wants. Petersen doesn’t need the moon — and if he did, he would have taken advantage of the many job openings that crossed his desk over the last half-decade. He has comfort, a winning atmosphere and the undying support of every member of the university. For Petersen, such pluses carry no price tag.
Boise gives Petersen $11.75 million over five years because that’s what Petersen needs. If he wanted $14 million, that’s what he’d get. What’s $11.75 million to Petersen? It’s the just-right bowl of porridge: not too little, where he would be underpaid; not too much, where it would take money away from facilities, other athletic programs or the school itself. It’s just right.
The relationship between Petersen and the university can be summed up by one stipulation in his new contract. Every year that Boise State wins eight or more games, Petersen’s contract is extended by one year. For every year-long extension, Petersen receives a $100,000 raise. In essence, this is a lifetime contract. Boise State is the only program in the F.B.S. that would give its coach a lifetime contract. Chris Petersen is the only coach who would accept the offer.
Tags: Alabama, Boise State, Chris Petersen, Dan Mullen, Gene Chizik, Les Miles, Mark Richt, Nick Saban, Steve Spurrier, Will Muschamp
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