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What the Big 12 lacks on the football field vs. the SEC, it makes up for in coaches' pay

Big 12 supplants the SEC in 2012 as the highest paid head football coaches in the country. Now if that could only translate to "best conference" on the football field.

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In most comparisons with schools from the Southeastern Conference, the Big 12 comes up just a tad short, according to many college football experts. But one comparison in which that does not hold true is in what the two leagues pay their football coaches.

Just a year ago, it was a clean sweep for the SEC. The conference considered to play the best football this side of the Earth, also paid their head coaches accordingly. This year, however, it is the Big 12 that lays claim to the highest average payroll for its head football coaches, according to the annual analysis of major college head coaches' pay by USA Today.

The Big 12's advancement to the head of the curve when it comes to head coaches' compensation was heavily bolstered by Texas' Mack Brown and Bob Stoops of Oklahoma, who represent two of the three coaches across the country (along with Nick Saban of Alabama) who make more than $4.5 million annually. Brown's total pay, which is figured from his university pay for the current contract year plus all other non-university compensation, is $5.4 million, which leads all Big 12 coaches. Stoops is next with total compensation at Oklahoma of $4.5 million annually, and Gary Patterson of TCU is third in line among Big 12 coaches with $3.5 in total pay.

Saban at Alabama is the country's highest compensated football coach, with total earnings of $5.5 million. Behind Saban, are three other SEC coaches who rank in the top eight in coaches' pay, but overall the Big 12 tops all of the major conferences, paying its head coaches an average of just under $3 million per man.

A major reason for the Big 12's rise to the top of the pack in the controversial area of coaches' compensation was the firing by Arkansas of Bobby Petrino, whose contract and ancillary pay totaled around $3.6 million a year. Petrino's replacement, John L. Smith, was making only $850,000 in his one season as the Razorbacks' head coach.

The Pac-12 had the greatest increase in head-coaches' compensation from a year ago, both in terms of actual dollars as well as in percentage increase. The pay of the head coaches in the Pac-12 increased by an average of over a half-million dollars, which works out to a 35 percent jump.

If you examine Big 12 coaches' pay from an entirely different financial lens - say, value per win - the picture provides a completely different perspective. Kansas State's Bill Snyder led his team to 11 regular-season wins this year, and he has a chance to pick up win No. 11 in the Fiesta Bowl against Oregon. Based on what Kansas State is paying its veteran head coach, the Wildcats received the highest value among Big 12 schools for their investment this season.

Snyder, who ranked eighth in the conference in terms of what he is being paid, was worth $200,000 per victory in 2012, the best value in the conference. Taking this to the other extreme, Kansas head coach Charlie Weis earned one win in his first season on the sideline for the Jayhawks. That one win cost the University of Kansas $2,500,000, the full annual cost of Weis' coaching contract. Hopefully, the Jayhawks' investment will get much better over time. Right now, head basketball coach Bill Self, who receives $3.8 million per year, is a much better investment for Kansas school officials.

It wasn't just the pay of head coaches that saw a nice jump from 2011 to 2012. Assistant coaches' pay for schools in the Football Bowl Subdivision grew by 10 percent. The SEC dominates in this category, although two Big 12 schools rank among the top 10. Texas and Oklahoma State are among seven schools that pay their assistants more than $3 million a year.

The top-paid assistant for 2012 is Monte Kiffin, father of USC head coach Lane Kiffin. The elder Kiffin will make in excess of $1.5 million this season, according to a USA Today analysis, but he has announced his retirement after this season.

Behind Kiffin is Clemson's offensive coordinator Chad Morris, who will soon become the country's highest-paid assistant, receiving total compensation this season of $1.3 million. The next four highest-paid assistants are four defensive coordinators from Alabama, LSU, Auburn and Georgia, respectively. No wonder that the SEC is best known for its outstanding defenses. Right behind Georgia's Todd Grantham is another defensive coordinator, Brent Venables of Clemson, whose total compensation is reported to be $800,000 annually. Venables was the defensive coordinator at Oklahoma before leaving after the 2011 season to go to Clemson.

Total pay of Big 12 football coaches for 2012

Mack Brown, Texas - $5,353,750

Bob Stoops, Oklahoma - $4,550,000

Gary Patterson, TCU - $3,467,926

Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State - $3,275,000

Charlie Weis, Kansas - 2,500,000

Dana Holgorsen, West Virginia - $2,380,000

Art Briles, Baylor - $2,232,807

Bill Snyder, Kansas State - $2,200,000

Tommy Tuberville, Texas Tech - $2,155,000

Paul Rhoads, Iowa State - $1,601,550

*Source: USA Today

Best value per win in 2012 among Big 12 head coaches

(Based on regular season)

Bill Snyder, Kansas State - $200,000

Paul Rhoades, Iowa State - $266,925

Tommy Tuberville, Texas Tech - $307,857

Art Briles, Baylor - $318,972

Dana Holgorsen, West Virginia - $340,000

Bob Stoops, Oklahoma - $455,000

Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State - $467,857

Gary Patterson, TCU - $495,418

Mack Brown, Texas - $669,218

Charlie Weis, Kansas - $2,500,000

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