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Posted: Wednesday April 23, 2008 12:36PM; Updated: Wednesday April 23, 2008 3:22PM
Jonah Freedman Jonah Freedman >

Coaches play, win leverage game (cont.)

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Nick Saban signed an eight-year, $32 million contract when he left the Miami Dolphins for Alabama.
Nick Saban signed an eight-year, $32 million contract when he left the Miami Dolphins for Alabama.
Bob Rosato/SI

5. Billy Donovan, Florida. Loyalty isn't dead after all. Donovan led Joakim Noah and the Gators to back-to-back national titles and parlayed them to a head coaching job with the Orlando Magic that lasted all of six days. Less than 24 hours after accepting a five-year, $27.5 million offer, Donovan got cold feet and returned to Gainesville, where he put his John Hancock on a six-year, $3.5 million contract. "It was my mistake," he said at the time, "and I have to take responsibility for that, which I'm trying to do."

Creep factor: 5

4. John Calipari, Memphis. Sure, he's a hero in Normal Station, but Calipari has already leveraged interest from other schools into raises twice during his nine years in charge of the Tigers. (Lest we forget, he cashed in his success at UMass in the early '90s to a big deal with the New Jersey Nets, too.) And despite Memphis' collapse at the end of the national title game against Kansas, which many critics have blamed on Calipari, the coach and the school have agreed in principle to a reported $2.5 million-a-year extension.

Creep factor: 6

3. Charlie Weis, Notre Dame. From the "If I knew I could get paid this much to fail, I'd be a billionaire" file: The architect of three Super Bowl-winning offenses under Bill Belichick, Weis famously took over his alma mater in '05 and was hailed as a messianic figure second only to Touchdown Jesus. Halfway into Weis' first season (in which the Fighting Irish finished 9-3), Notre Dame signed him to an enormous extension that runs through 2015. Last season, his team hit rock bottom: a 3-9 record, including being shut out twice and losing to Navy for the first time in 43 years.

Creep factor: 7

2. Rich Rodriguez, University of Michigan. There are messy divorces, and then there's the Rodriguez saga. After repeatedly claiming he wouldn't leave the Mountaineers, the West Virginia native agreed in December to become Lloyd Carr's successor at Michigan for a reported six-year, $15 million deal. Since Rodriguez left for Ann Arbor, WVU has filed suit against him, claiming breach of contract, and the university has also alleged recruiting and player files disappeared from his former office in Morgantown.

Creep factor: 8

1. Nick Saban, University of Alabama. Really, is there any coach on the planet who's better at this game? No one questions Saban's coaching credentials; the guy has turned every college program he's touched into a winner. Still, he's rubbed countless fans, players and trustees the wrong way during his head coaching stops at Toledo, Michigan State and LSU, then killed much of his credibility by adamantly denying he wasn't in the running for the Alabama job during his lackluster stint with the Miami Dolphins. Two weeks later, he was Mike Shula's replacement in Tuscaloosa with an eight-year, $32 million contract that made him the best-paid in college football.

Creep factor: 10

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