Here’s the situation:
WVU’s 2011 football team is undefeated in the final game, playing for the Big East championship and a potential spot in the national championship game.
The Mountaineers trail by 3 points and 4:18 shows on the clock. It is fourth and 3 on the opponents’ 42-yard line.
Head coach Bill Stewart screams for the punt team to get ready to go in, turning the game over to Jeff Casteel’s defense to get him the ball back with a chance to tie or win.
All of a sudden there’s screaming in Stewart’s headphone.
“Punt my fanny!” comes the voice.
It’s Dana Holgorsen, the offensive coordinator and coach-in-waiting.
“We’re going for it,” Holgorsen screams.
“We’re punting!” says Stewart.
“Go!” shouts Holgorsen.
“Punt!” Stewart yells.
Who makes the call?
Maybe, for the first time in football history, a lawyer is going to have be summoned to work this one out, for it appears to be a contractual matter.
According to Stewart’s new contract, dated Nov. 17, 2010, and amended Dec. 7, 2010 and released this week, his position is not really defined. The contract gave the university the right to fire him or offer him the opportunity “to coach” the 2011 regular season.
It chose the latter but the contract does not use the term “head coach” for the 2011 season. While specifying that he will receive the compensation and benefits outlines in his 2008 contract, it does not outline his duties.
Holgorsen’s contract, which also was released this week, clearly defines that he is the offensive coordinator this year while also defining his duties … duties that normally are within the parameters of the head coach.
It says Holgorsen is to be given “managerial authority over the offense, including, but not limited to, offensive play calling, personnel decisions, hiring and firing of offensive staff coaches" and it allocated $1 million in salary to four "offensive assistant coaches of his choosing.”
And so it would seem, if Holgorsen has “managerial authority” over “offensive play calling”, the question becomes is a punt an offensive play? Certainly WVU has possession of the football until it is punted.
Now, let us make this even more interesting.
Why should Holgorsen want to punt? He, if he is the selfish type, gets a $50,000 bonus if the offense is ranked first in total offense or $25,000 bonus if it is in the top five, bonuses that Stewart does not get.
So certainly there could be a conflict of interest there between winning the game and rolling up the yardage … something, by the way, that could compromise a coach’s No. 1c onsideration — winning games and championships.
An awful lot of games are won by teams who don’t have the most total yardage.
That bonus clause for yardage would lend incentive to run up scores on weaker opponents in an effort to increase bonus pay, perhaps even getting a key first team player injured when left in late in a game.
The point is that with, in effect, two head coaches on the sideline there is an increased chance for conflict on any number of fronts, including over personnel in the case of the defensive coach wants to have an offensive player move to his side to fill a vacancy or vice versa.
This would seem to be Holgorsen’s call, according to the contract that gives him “managerial authority” over the offense and personnel decisions, again usurping head coaching decisions.
In truth, Holgorsen doesn’t have very many incentives to do anything this year other than build his offense, even at the expense of the team. If the Mountaineers happen to have a championship season, could not the perception be that it came from Stewart’s guidance and the defense rather than Holgorsen’s offense?
The basic terms of both Stewart’s and Holgorsen’s contract have been public knowledge since the coaching situation was first made public. Holgorsen makes $740,000 this year and $1.4 million next year when he becomes head coach.%
It goes up $250,000 each season, topping out at $2.4 million in 2016.
He is slated to get the title of head coach the day after the regular season ends or the day after the Mountaineers play in a bowl, if the university decides to allow Stewart to coach a bowl game.
Holgorsen also gets a $75,000 retention bonus each Dec. 8 for as long as he is employed as coach at the school.
Holgorsen will receive two courtesy cars and a suite at every home football game. If a suite isn't available, he's to be provided with 25 "premium" tickets.
He also gets 10 premium tickets to any WVU bowl, the right to net profits from football camps, four seats on the team plane that travels to and from home games, a country club membership, a $5,000 allowance for athletic apparel and eight tickets to every men's and women's basketball home game.
Holgorsen’s incentive package, which includes number of wins (12=$200,000); championships and bowl appearances (national title game=$100,000), rankings, Big East or National Coach of the Year ($50,000), season ticket sales above 40,000 ($50,000), and team grade point average.
Stewart has the same incentive type package with less pay except for the academic bonuses, which are the same.
Oh, and Holgorsen must be a better dresser than Stewart, for he has a $5,000 athletic apparel bonus while Stewart’s is $3,000.
E-mail Bob Hertzel at firstname.lastname@example.org
Here’s the situation:
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