Will a new contract make Boise State's Chris Petersen a $3 million man?

Coach Pete is one of the best values in college football, and Boise State is hoping to do something about that. With negotiations picking up for a new contract, you have to wonder: How much will Petersen make?

After the jump, see what Coach Pete's peers are hauling in and debate whether or not the university can afford to pay the going rate. Is $3 million per year out of the question? Is anything less a slap in the face? Share your thoughts in the comments.

(Note: Most contract figures came from USA Today's salary database.)

The McMackin Law provides impetus for contract negotiations

There is an unspoken rule at Boise State: A Bronco head coach should always make more than Greg McMackin. Such is not the case right now as McMackin currently pulls in more than Coach Pete despite Hawaii's not being all that good since McMackin became head coach.

Hawaii's head man isn't the only coach putting Petersen's contract to shame. There are others. 

WAC salaries

  • Greg McMackin - $1.1 million
  • Coach Pete - $1.1 million

Other non-BCS coaches

  • Gary Patterson, TCU - $1.8 million
  • June Jones, SMU - $1.2 million
  • Skip Holtz, East Carolina - $1.3 million
  • Kyle Wittingham, Utah - $1.2 million
  • George O'Leary, Central Florida - $1.3 million

The question then becomes not whether Coach Pete needs a new contract, but how big will this new contract get?

Keeping up with the Gary Pattersons

Whatever number Petersen and Bleymaier decide on for the new contract, you can be sure that fellow non-BCS coach Gary Patterson's salary will enter the conversation. Patterson received a raise and extension from TCU this month.

The exact terms of Patterson's new contract, which extends his current deal by two years to 2016, were not disclosed, but sources close to the TCU administration say the new deal is guaranteed and puts his salary in the range of $2.5 million annually, up from $1.8 million per year. Also, TCU retained no buyout clause, so Patterson could take another job without a penalty.

Patterson has it pretty good. The guaranteed contract means that he'll get paid the full sum even if he gets canned before the contract expires. The raise to $2.5 million per year puts Patterson's salary above that of a majority of BCS-conference coaches. And Patterson can take a better job with no fear of buyout.

How will this impact Coach Pete's negotiations?

A salary of $2.5 million now seems like an industry standard since Patterson and Petersen are unanimously considered the best coaches in the non-BCS ranks. Petersen's success at Boise State is in many ways greater than Patterson's stretch at TCU, so the case could be made that Coach Pete deserves more than $2.5 million. Is $3 million per year asking too much?

Mack Brown's largesse

Three million per year is pocket change for newly minted Texas coach Mack Brown. The contract extension he signed on Monday makes him the highest paid coach in college football.

Beginning next season, Brown will be paid at least $5.1 million a year under a contract revision approved by the UT System Board of Regents. He'll become the first college football coach to reach the $5 million threshold and he'll zoom past Southern California's Pete Carroll, whose $4.4 million in total compensation for USC's 2007-08 fiscal year topped USA TODAY's 2009 survey of football coaches' pay.

Don't think for a second that Coach Pete will be able to finagle $5 million, but Brown's contract is a sign that college football programs across the country are doing whatever it takes to keep their coaches in town. An absurdly large contract is becoming the norm.

Can the university afford to do right by Coach Pete?

Let's say that Coach Pete deserves $3 million per year. Can the university afford that?

Petersen is already the state's highest-paid employee. A contract extension that more than doubles his current salary will be a tough sell when it goes before the state board for approval, and it will greatly affect Boise State's budgets. Plus, let's not forget that the Broncos pay their assistants better than any other non-BCS school. You have to wonder at some point if the university is going to have to make the choice between paying its assistants or paying its head coach.

Coach Pete has said time and again that he is happy at Boise State. Will that mean a hometown discount when contract negotiations heat up? The way that Boise State has been scrambling for extra money lately, you might wonder if a hometown discount is the only way this contract will work.

Your turn

How much do you think Coach Pete will make in his new contract? Should he get $3 million per year? Should he at least match Gary Patterson's deal? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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