Butch Jones delivers 'bang for the buck'

Big East coaches do not typically make what SEC coaches make.

There are myriad reasons for that, but the truth remains that Big East schools have got to get the "biggest bang for the buck" when it comes to the coaches they hire and the salaries they are able to pay.

Of the six league coaches whose salaries have been reported, only two make $2 million or more. Louisville coach Charlie Strong just got a new deal worth $2.3 million a year to make him the highest paid coach in the league, while USF coach Skip Holtz also got a new deal worth $2 million a year. That easily puts them in the top half of all head coaches in FBS.

Both are good at what they do. But I think Cincinnati coach Butch Jones gets the nod as the Big East coach that delivers the "most bang for the buck."

Jones just got a new contract with a pay raise, taking his 2012 salary up to $1.575 million. That still ranks him No. 4 among the six head coaches whose salaries have been reported, behind Strong, Holtz and UConn coach Paul Pasqualoni ($1.6 million).

Of the eight head coaches currently in the Big East, only Strong and Jones have led their teams to Big East championships. But Jones has done more with less. Not only does he make less, his budget ranks No. 5 among the six schools that disclosed financial information through public information requests.

Just to compare, Louisville had athletics department expenses of $81.1 million for 2010-11; Cincinnati had expenses of $43.7 million. That is nearly half. The Bearcats also rank third to last in athletics spending among all public schools in AQ conferences.

Yet Cincinnati has found a way to win regardless, as Jones explained in a behind-the-scenes feature I did on programs that win with less last month. This is what Jones told me:

"First of all, we can never let the word budget become an excuse," Jones said. "You've got to find a way. What it does is it tests your creativity. You have to find creative ways to bring revenue into your football program. The age-old thing is building relationships, selling your program, getting more out of your boosters, getting fans to get emotionally invested in your program. I think one word that describes everything is creativity. We have to do more with less. I will never let a shortage in the budget be a reason. We're going to find ways to make it work."

Jones is heading into his third season at Cincinnati, coming off Big East Coach of the Year honors, a co-Big East title and a 10-win season. He had similar success at Central Michigan, winning two MAC titles. Cincinnati is clearly a program that has established itself in the Big East, so much so that Jones turned down a job offer from a bigger program last December to continue his work with the Bearcats.

He may not be the highest paid coach in the Big East, but last season he proved he is one of the best.

Big East coach salaries

Charlie Strong, Louisville, $2.3 million

Skip Holtz, USF, $2 million

Paul Pasqualoni, UConn, $1.6 million

Butch Jones, Cincinnati, $1.575 million

Doug Marrone, Syracuse, $1.23 million

Kyle Flood, Rutgers, $750,000

Steve Addazio, Temple, N/A (Note: Former coach Al Golden made a reported $550,000 in his last season in 2010)

Paul Chryst, Pitt, N/A (Note: Former coach Todd Graham made a reported $2 million last season)