Monday, May 27, 2019

Huger Gets Extension

Last week, BGSU announced that it had given an extension and raise to Coach Huger, meaning that he is under contract until the 23-24 season.

People said what they usually say.  Moos said he wanted to continue the athletic and academic performance of the men's basketball team.  Huger said he wants to stay here, that he is "haunted" by the ghosts of 1968.

A few thoughts.

I'm glad they did it.  After the year, I did a little look at the WMU program--one whose success we would take in a minute--and I think stability was one of the keys they have.  They weren't looking to replace Hawkins every time he had an OK year, and they were rewarded with consistently competitive basketball and two Big Dance trips.

So, I think it was an appropriate thing to do.  Right for the program and earned.

But let's not go overboard on what it means.  Phrases like "Huger will coach here until 23-24" are not really what this contract means.  (I point you to the extension Coach Oats signed at Buffalo).

All a contract like this does is establish conditions of pay,  bonuses and then (most importantly) the costs of getting out of the contract should either side desire to.  Anyone saying that a recruit signing today knows that Coach Huger will be here his entire time does not follow college athletics.

So, let's say BG has a big year and makes it to the Big Dance next year and Coach Huger gets the big offer.  Under this scenario, BG would receive $500,000 and off he would go.  (I never understand why this isn't higher.  If he's going to a p5 school it's pocket change, and you could restrict his options to go to more lateral moves).

Now, to focus on the element that makes BG fans most concerned...the buyout if BG wants to terminate the contract without cause.  For reference, without cause means for losing.  If Coach Huger breaks an NCAA rule, school policy, etc, he doesn't get a buy-out.

Buy-outs get the attention of BG fans because of situations related to Louis Orr and Mike Jinks.  In the former case, BG let Orr finish his contract even as it was clear he was going to go, leaving the program twisting in the wind for a year.  In that case, I understood that the University felt it was bad optics to pay a man not to coach basketball when other budget cuts were going on at the school.  Right or wrong, keeping him that last year was a significant setback for the program.

The other is Mike Jinks, where it was clear from literally the beginning that he was not going to be able to coach D1 football but who BG could not get rid of due to what we were led to believe was a choking buy-out.

Coach Huger has the same buy-out.  The remainder of the contract, with a duty to mitigate damages with earnings from another job.  So, if BG terminates Huger, BG pays the difference between his BG salary and whatever he might make coaching basketball elsewhere.

Middle of year three with Jinks, we learned a little more about those buy-outs.  During years one and two, I had the impression that had BG let him to, BG would have had to stroke him a check for his remaining salary on day 1...a seven-figure nut that would be impossible for BG to swallow. 

But, when Jinks did go, we learned that it wasn't like that at all.  BG only had to pay him every month--as if he were on the payroll and not in one big check.  And, you figure he gets a job as an assistant and earns back most of it--in fact, if the job was at a big school, maybe all of it.  The actual amount BG would pay him was considerably less than it would first appear and not in one check.

Now, BG is a cash-strapped department, so every dollar counts.  But the magnitude of the problem was worse than we were led to believe, mostly by the media.  Obviously, BG never said publicly they were keeping Jinks because of the buy-out.  (Not to dwell on this, but in retrospect, it's hard to believe Jinks returned for a second season).

BG has the same deal with Huger.  On one hand, I can see where this is hard to buy for people.  In my mind, honestly, all any Coach in this situation is due a year's pay.  That's more than anyone else in the stands at any game at the Stroh would get after failing to succeed at their job.

I do see the other side.  BG gets a new athletic director, re-directs budgets, whatever.  New President who went to Duke.  There's risk for the Coach because he could be earning elsewhere right now as well.

I also understand that this is the industry standard.  I don't see why that should be, but fine. 

Here's the thing:  I have always said that almost all coaches in the MAC either succeed and leave or fail and leave.  You prefer the former.  If Coach gets us to the Dance and there's a better opportunity for this family, I'd wish him only the best.  I want him to succeed.  I also don't want us to have to suffer through two lost years at the end of a contract because we can't.

Having said that, let's look at the actual risk BG is taking. Worst-case.  Say that last year's success proves to be elusive, maybe there are some injuries, and you get a bunch of transfers and you're in single-digit wins in year two of the extension.  BG would owe Huger a monthly check equal to his current pay, less what he would make elsewhere, and you have to figure he'd probably be able to get at least an assistant's job elsewhere.

Would that prevent BG making a move?  I feel like it would.  But, one year later, probably not.  In other words, I don't feel like the buy-out terms constrict BG in a way that others might. History might argue against me.

Of course, those first two years I'm talking about were already under contract.  BG had the opportunity to see how things went next year before extending Coach Huger--they could even have given him a raise--without risking a 22-23 buy out (for example).  They chose not to do that.  I think the extension is the right thing to do, but I can see why some might disagree.

Let's hope we continue the upward trajectory.  If Coach Huger can continue to build the program to where the next guy isn't a re-build guy, and if we can get to the NCAAs, this deal will have been well worth it


Schadenfreude said...

I'd like to hear more about the case for dismissing Jinks after one year. If I'm making the case for that, I'd argue that the team had a surprising fall off that Jinks never seemed to anticipate. That was always troubling for me. In retrospect, I guess it also was surprising that he tried to run FalconFast for several games before realizing that it was not going to work.

At the time, I guess I just hoped the athletic director was on top of things and there was a reason for all this madness.

Are there other anecdotes that strike you in retrospect?

Anonymous said...

I think it was easy enough to tell Jinks would fail when he hired his staff. They were all just as inexperienced as he was...too many guys from outside the region were going to have to learn in the job

Orange said...


So he comes in with a defending champion team picked to finish first in the division. Even if that was unwarranted, the cupboard was not "bare" as was suggested. I felt like he had no idea what he was doing when the team gave up 70 in two of their first four games. BG had been playing football for almost 100 years and he gave up the two worst defeats in his first four games. The cupboard was not THAT bare. Yes, one was OSU, but we had played them before, right? One of those was also to Memphis, a .500 mid-major team. BG went on a winning streak at the end of the year, including two wins over teams with literally no healthy QBs on their roster. He then proclaimed that we'd be a running team and had found our identity. That team included Coppet, Miller, Moore, Redding, Greene, Valdez, Locke, Lunsford. He was also in the process of mis-managing James Morgan, who has proven to be a solid D1 player at FIU.

Yes, we all hoped this was going to be some kind of aberration, but it turned out to be exactly what it appeared to be...a man not ready to coach at this level who wasn't expecting to be offered a head job and shouldn't have been given one.