The Big 12's best and worst uses of green

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

St. Patrick's Day is as good as any other day to determine which decisions qualify as money well spent -- as well as those that do not.

Here's a list of three appropriations I think help Big 12 schools and three that aren't as smart.


  • Bob Stoops' contract: Sure, he's making more money than almost any coach in the nation. But he's been able to lead a renaissance in the sport's athletic department that harkens back to the Bud Wilkinson era. And he's been the Big 12's most consistent winner with six conference championships in his tenure. To me, he's a bargain -- even while making more than $6 million per year after bonuses in 2008.

  • Bo Pelini's contract: It's hard to think of any coach as being underpaid. But in the grand scheme of things, Pelini's current $1.1 million yearly contract would seem to do so. He's steered the Cornhuskers back into relevance in the Big 12 North and appears to have them pointed that way for many years. For that matter, he might be a good bargain even with a sizable contract hike.

  • Mega Scoreboards at Big 12 stadiums: Sure, they are garish. But Texas started a revolution among Big 12 schools with the creation of "Godzillatron," the massive high-definition scoreboard that makes watching a game at Royal Memorial Stadium almost like watching it from your living room. Texas A&M, Oklahoma and now Nebraska have soon followed with their own versions. These scoreboards keep spectators entertained and still provide revenue for their schools. Sounds like a good match to me.


  • Out of state recruiting budgets for Texas schools: There's a reason why the lobbies at some Dallas and Houston high schools resemble a college coaching clinic on some days during the recruiting period. The Texas area is one of the most fertile in the nation and the backbone of all the Big 12's recruiting. It makes little to no sense for Texas Big 12 schools to even consider venturing outside the state for players. They can find nearly anything they want close to home.

  • The addition of "The Zone" at Kyle Field: Sure, the extra seats are beneficial for certain big games and look nice on television. But along with the Aggies' recent downturn, all of those additional seats have served as an anchor to the school's season-ticket market.

  • Bill Callahan and Steve Pederson's contract buyouts at Nebraska: Even with Bo Pelini's quick turnaround of the Cornhuskers' football program during his first season, the Cornhuskers will end up paying more than $5.325 million over the next several years to their deposed former athletic director and football coach. That's a lot of personal-seat licenses and luxury box revenue -- especially in these challenging economic times.