Posted by Jerry Hinnen
Far be it from us to criticize a fellow CBS property, but it has always bugged this blogger that Rod Roddy always introduced The Price is Right game "Plinko " by telling contestants they could win $25,000 (and, later, $50,000). While that was technically correct, the number of hoops required for contestants to actually win that amount -- winning the maximum five chips, then having all of them slide down the virtually random Plinko board perfectly into the $5,000/$10,000 slot -- made it so unlikely that the stakes for Plinko were, secretly always much lower than the figure announced. (Much like, say, an NFL free agent contract.)
Why do we mention this? Because when Gene Chizik signed his head coaching contract with Auburn, it felt like he'd agreed to play a game of Plinko with his salary. As Jay Tate of the Montgomery Advertiser detailed again recently , Chizik's original base salary of $1.9 million fell well below typical SEC market value (his predecessor at Auburn, Tommy Tuberville, earned upwards of $4 million), but a cavalcade of incentives gave Chizik the potential to earn far, far more than that. The catch: when Chizik arrived fresh off of his 5-19 stint at Iowa State, the overwhelming majority of those incentives looked so far beyond Chizik's reach they might as well not have existed.
As it turns out, though, if Chizik's time at Auburn has been a game of Plinko, it's looked something like this:
Entering today, Chizik had already claimed bonuses of $125,000 for winning 12 games, $100,000 for making the SEC Championship Game , $200,000 for winning it, and $25,000 more for having won a 13th game of any kind. With the league's announcement today that Chizik is the AP SEC Coach of the Year (leading an Auburn sweep that saw Cam Newton the conference offensive Player of the Year and Nick Fairley the defensive equivalent), he's pocketed another $100,000, bringing him up to $550,000 total. With national coach of the year honors, a top 5 final poll ranking, and (of course) a BCS national championship all triggering further (and larger) bonuses, Chizik stands to rake in as much as $1.3 million from his team's dream season.
No doubt Chizik would tell you the accomplishments of his team are the cake and the money merely the icing. But there's also no doubt that hauling in a wad of dough that substantial when no one thought you'd see a dime of it must taste awfully, awfully sweet.