Coaches play, win leverage game
If you're a savvy, rising star in your workplace, you're always looking to climb the corporate ladder. That often involves flirting with another company and fielding a better offer for a higher position. If your current company wants to keep you, it will have to give you a fat raise.
At least that's how it's supposed to work. But if you go stealing company secrets or hightailing in the middle of a big project you're supervising, you're not going to win many friends in the process. It's no different on the coaching carousel.
Bill Self knows this well. Three days after coaching Kansas to its first NCAA championship in 20 years, he finally said a firm "no" to his alma mater, Oklahoma State, and agreed to remain in Lawrence with a lucrative new deal that will make him among the highest-paid coaches in the game. (The figures aren't public yet, but Self will likely earn in the neighborhood of $3 million a year.)
Jayhawks fans know all about the "Dancing Coaches" routine. Their last coach, Roy Williams, split for his own alma mater, North Carolina, in 2003 after leading Kansas to the national title game, which it lost to Syracuse. He parlayed a brilliant 15-year run at Allen Fieldhouse into a new contract at Carolina, leaving a pile of bitterness and ill will behind him.
The list of coaches who have leveraged their success into big-money deals is long and distinguished. So in honor of Self's power play, here are 10 other big names who have cashed in over the past few years, in ascending degrees of creepiness (1 being the fan's best friend, 10 being the guy who's only looking out for No. 1):
10. Tom Coughlin, New York Giants. With his head constantly on the chopping block, his team nearly mutinying and failing time and again in the playoffs, Coughlin 2.0 ditched his notorious drill-sergeant persona last season. His team responded by shocking the previously undefeated New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII. The Giants have since made the new touchy-feely Coughlin one of the highest-paid coaches in the NFL with a four-year, $21 million extension.
Creep factor: 1
9. Terry Francona, Boston Red Sox. All Tito did was something not one of his 32 predecessors accomplished: manage the Sox to a World Series title. Two of them, in fact. The champs signed Francona to a three-year extension in February with options that top out at a total of $20 million.
Creep factor: 1
8. Urban Meyer, Florida. They said his spread offense wouldn't work outside the comforts of the wild, anything-goes Mountain West. But Meyer still parlayed his success at the University of Utah into $2 million-a-year contract in Gainesville, then proceeded to win a national title in his second year in charge of the Gators. Last June, Florida signed Meyer to a six-year extension that gave him a $1.2 million-a-year raise.
Creep factor: 3
7. Pete Carroll, USC. As an NFL head coach, Carroll was spectacularly mediocre: a combined 33-31 record during four seasons in charge of the Jets and Patriots. But as a college coach during seven seasons at Southern Cal, he's a god: two national championships, six straight Pac-10 titles and a 76-14 record to name a few of his accomplishments. Carroll parlayed that success -- and constant interest from NFL teams -- into an extension in '05 that reportedly pays him around $3 million a year.
Creep factor: 4
6. Jon Gruden, Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The list of coaches chewed up and spit out by Al Davis is a long one, but Gruden may have had the biggest last laugh of former Raiders play-callers since Mike Shanahan. After "Chucky" guided Oakland out of the cellar and into title contention, Tampa Bay was forced to trade for him in '02, giving up four high-round draft picks and $8 million in cash. Gruden proceeded to coach the Bucs to their first and only Super Bowl title -- over his old team -- after landing himself a five-year, $17.5 million deal to join Tampa in the first place. In January he signed a three-year extension through 2011 worth a reported $17 million.
Creep factor: 5