Friday, October 4, 2013

Friday Roundtable: Most Underpaid Coaches In College Basketball

Mike Brey has Notre Dame - and one Cincinnati Bengals fan - ready for war. (USO photo by Mike Theiler)

BDD's Friday Roundtable is a weekly discussion among a group of our writers on a trending NBA or college basketball topic.

This week's question: Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall recently got a raise after taking his team to the Final Four, which got us to thinking, who are the most underpaid coaches in college basketball?

Bob McKillop. His name doesn't carry the same swagger as a Bill Self and he doesn't have a well-known nickname like Coach K, but it should spark some memories, at the very least. Like the time McKillop's Davidson team knocked down Gonzaga, Georgetown and Wisconsin on a march to the Elite Eight behind strong team chemistry and the hot hand of Stephen Curry, coming within three points of the Final Four as Kansas outlasted the Wildcats. Or the time, more recently, when McKillop's squad beat Self's Jayhawks in what was essentially a home game for KU (they played in Kansas City), as teamwork and a knack for efficient three-point shooting prevailed against the college all-stars (Thomas Robinson, anyone?) and rich tradition of the eventual national runner-up.

The list goes on, yet McKillop is just the 49th-highest paid coach ($370,618 with no incentives or bonuses) in NCAA hoops, trailing the likes of current Kansas State head coach and Illinois-reject Bruce Weber (No. 25; $1.5 million with $655k available via bonuses) and Cincinnati's Mick Cronin (No. 29; $1,358,900 before $555k in possible bonuses). McKillop has been consistently more successful than both relative to his school and conference affiliation (Southern), taking the Wildcats to seven March Madnesses since 1997-98, including six in the past nine seasons. His brand of basketball isn't flashy and he doesn't attract top-tier recruits, but he develops the right recruits in a system that allows them to play to their strengths without sacrificing team ideals for individual success.

The good people at USA Today ranked the 62 highest-paid college basketball coaches for 2013, and most of the names at the top are no shock to anyone. Yet one that surprised me, because of the conference, success of the program and number of years with the school was Mike Brey of Notre Dame. Brey is the No. 41 highest-paid college basketball coach at $616,843 without any bonus opportunities.

Notre Dame has not been a national title contender much, but the program has always been competitive in the brutal Big East, and considering where the program was before Brey took over, he is a steal for $616,000. Brey came to Notre Dame in 2000-01, and after not making the NCAA Tournament since 1990, Brey has taken the Fighting Irish to the big dance in eight of his 13 years as head coach, including a Sweet 16 appearance in 2003. Notre Dame has also had 20 wins or more in ever season but three during that stretch.

Brey might not be an elite college coach, but when Jay Wright and Travis Ford are making $2.2 million a year and Mike Montgomery at Cal is making a million more than Brey, he has had a lot of success for just over half a million dollars.

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