MORGANTOWN - Show of hands, please: Everyone who didn't imagine that the cost of doing business in the Big 12 would rise along with those immense payouts, raise 'em up.
Didn't think so.
Dana Holgorsen's freshly minted and signed contract is just another drop in the bucket. Yes, every drop contributes to what will eventually be a sizeable pool, but certainly you expected nothing less.
Yes, Holgorsen signed a six-year contract on Wednesday that will pay him $2.3 million this year and $2.9 million by 2016 and 2017. And yes, those are only the base figures. Throw in incentives (some of which are all but guaranteed) and retention pay (which IS guaranteed, provided he simply stays on the job) and we're talking eve bigger numbers. In two years he'll make $3.075 million (thanks to a one-time payment of $300,000) and oddly that number will drop slightly after that.
But at a minimum Holgorsen is likely to make roughly $2.6 million this year and close to $3.5 million by the end of the contract. All told, West Virginia will fork over well north of $20 million over the life of the contract.
Again, though, did anyone expect anything else?
Think of it this way: By the time WVU begins getting a full share of Big 12 revenues in 2016, that number is likely to be at least three times what the school was receiving as a member of the Big East. This year that was just shy of $10 million, which was unusually high thanks to a BCS bowl berth and other factors. The norm was generally $7-9 million.
By 2016, the school will be getting a check for at least $20 million from the Big 12, and who knows how much that number will rise in the next four or five years?
You didn't think that extra money was all going to travel, did you? No, the new baseball coach will make twice as much as the old one. The football coordinators are being paid what the entire coaching staff made under Don Nehlen. It's just a different era, one that West Virginia became obliged to enter when the conference change was made.
It's neither good nor bad nor indifferent. It's just reality.
Another way to look at it: While Holgorsen's contract could pay him in the neighborhood of three times what either Bill Stewart or Rich Rodriguez made, it also puts him roughly in the middle of the pack among the Big 12's 10 head football coaches. Mack Brown of Texas and Bob Stoops of Oklahoma make twice what Holgorsen will.
Granted, those two are exceptions. They, along with Alabama's Nick Saban, are the country's $5 million men, hired by schools that simply do their financial business on a different plane.
But Oklahoma State's Mike Gundy and TCU's Gary Patterson will make more than $3 million this year. Charlie Weis hasn't won a game at Kansas - and not as many as anyone hoped in a failed tenure at Notre Dame - but is guaranteed $2.5 million in each of the five years of his contract at a basketball school. And Art Briles at Baylor rode RGIII's Heisman Trophy to a new contract that reportedly pays him in the neighborhood of $2.5 million this year.