Whenever I read about a Division I college football coach being fired, I question my career choices.
What would have happened if I pursued coaching instead of writing sports? Would I have had what it takes to reach the top of the profession and demand the major bucks top coaches and assistants make?
I asked myself those questions again over the weekend after the University of Florida head coach, Will Muschamp, fired Gator offensive coordinator Brent Pease. Pease reportedly was making $600,000 a year, had two years left on his contract and will be paid $1.2 million to leave the Florida program.
It amazes me that Pease — who in two seasons coached offenses that finished in the bottom quarter of big-time football programs — is still walking away with his pockets full of cash.
You could argue that Pease should return part of his salary to the university after the Gators finished dead last in total offense in the Southeastern Conference this season, and 112th in offense of a 123 Bowl Championship Series teams.
In the real world, if someone doesn't do their job, they get fired. In rare cases, they might get a month's severance pay.
In the world of college athletics, if a coach is fired, he gets the remainder of his contract.
Some coaches, such as former Tennessee men's basketball coach Bruce Pearl, can break the rules, be fired and still walk away with a nice check in their pocket.
It's not uncommon for football and men's basketball coaches at major universities to receive a seven-figure buyout when their teams underachieve.
Former Tennessee football Coach Derek Dooley — who never had a winning season in his three years in Knoxville — walked away with a settlement that paid him $5 million not to coach UT. Dooley is now an assistant coach with the Dallas Cowboys, making NFL money to supplement the money he's receiving from Tennessee.
Only about 30 or 40 of the elite athletic departments with powerful booster clubs can afford to throw away that kind of money.
Schools such as Troy or South Alabama pay their coaches well compared to the average salary most of us make. But those schools won't empty the bank to pay a coach not to come back.
Still, it's nice to think about what might have happened if I had gone into coaching, made it to the top of a big program and then been fired.
I think I could live off a multi-million dollar buyout.
But when you consider how few coaches make it to an elite program, you probably have a better chance of returning a missed Alabama field goal for a touchdown to win the Iron Bowl than you do landing one of the big jobs.
There are only about 40 elite programs with boosters in place to write a check, or series of checks, that equal $4-$5 million. Most college athletic programs struggle to stay above water financially, as the only teams that make money are usually football and men's basketball.
At some schools, such as Louisiana State, Florida State or South Carolina, baseball is a break-even or money-making sport. Some schools even make a little money off women's basketball, but those schools are the exception to the rule.
I know all the numbers and comprehend the realities, but it doesn't hurt to dream.
It's just too bad that dream check isn't real.
Randy Dickson is the Crestview News Bulletin’s sports editor. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org, tweet him @BigRandle, or call 682-6524.