PASADENA, Cali. (CBSMiami) – As Florida State and Auburn prepare to play for the BCS National Championship, a huge cloud of uncertainty is hanging over both head coaches.
The University of Texas needs a head coach and is willing to essentially send a Brinks truck full of money to get their man. Texas is considered by some in the media to be one of the top jobs in the country and reports have come out that the Longhorns are interested in Jimbo Fisher, FSU's head coach.
Fisher signed a multi-year contract extension with Florida State before he and his team left for Pasadena this week. But, until Texas makes its hire, anyone that's been listed as a possible coach will have his fans waiting on pins and needles.
"Texas, they're going to be calling on everybody they possibly can because they're going to try to get the best coach they possibly can," Florida State AD Stan Wilcox said. "Meanwhile, everybody's trying to keep their coaches because they all feel that the people that Texas is looking at are the best coaches out there."
Still, it's hard to see why Fisher would choose to go to Texas. He's got the FSU program back on top and has another possible top five recruiting class coming in this year. Plus, he's got Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Jameis Winston for at least one more season.
Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn brought the Tigers back from a winless 2012 SEC campaign to winning the conference championship this season. His Tigers team, and his previous squads, has put up stellar offensive numbers and he's considered one of the top coaches in college football.
Wednesday, reports came out that Malzahn was being considered for the vacant head coaching job with the NFL's Cleveland Browns. It's unknown if Malzahn would be interested in leaving the collegiate ranks and tangling with professionals.
Malzahn and Fisher have received the aforementioned contract extensions, but those are often worth little when it comes to jobs. Unlike players, who are locked into a school and face penalties if they decide to transfer; coaches can leave at any time with little more than a financial payout that will be paid by the new employer.
"A contract is written to be broken," said Kansas State athletic director John Currie, who doesn't have to worry about his football coach, 74-year-old Bill Snyder, going anywhere.
The trend in college sports, especially college football, is for schools to quickly lock up successful coaches and hand out raises.
Mississippi extended Hugh Freeze's contract after a 7-5 regular season and bumped his pay to $3 million per year. Washington State's Mike Leach got the Cougars back into a bowl by winning six games in his second season at Pullman. He got a two-year extension for his work.
Texas A&M made the boldest move of all this season with coach Kevin Sumlin, who was drawing interest from NFL teams last year. The Aggies made Sumlin (20-6 in two seasons at A&M) a $5 million-per-year coach with a new six-year deal.
Arizona AD Greg Byrne said the contract numbers that make headlines can often be deceiving.
"When you get down into the details the interesting numbers are what's guaranteed, both sides. If the coach were to leave, what's the buyout? And then if you were to dismiss your coach without cause what percent of the contract is guaranteed?" Byrne said. "Sometime you'll see someone with an eight-year contract, but half the contract is guaranteed, so in some ways it's a four-year contract instead."
Currie said the NFL has played a major role in changing the salary structure for college coaches, but ultimately a school needs to decide what works best for it.
"Everybody else is doing it is not a reason to make a bad decision for your institution," he said.
But market pressures can be strong and big openings — such as the one at Texas — can drive up that market.
"I'm sure there's been a time where a school's reacted too slowly, but I think there have been times where a school has jumped ahead a little more in hindsight to where they want to be," Byrne said. "It's a challenging situation. I think the market place has gotten to such that there will be agents out there that will try to parlay one school against another. And I think that's driven up some of the numbers we're seeing today."
Auburn and FSU made their moves to keep their coaches, whether Texas or the NFL has enough to pry those coaches away remains to be seen.
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