Hudspeth’s New Contract Should Ease Fans’ Minds – From the Bird’s Nest
Ever since Mark Hudspeth arrived on the UL campus in December, 2010, many fans have wondered how long he would stay.
Cajun Nation bought in right away to the dynamic personality of Hudspeth and responded by setting a new record for season ticket sales before he coached his first game. And, as the Cajuns had success, some fans immediately wondered if he'd last at UL more than one season before someone threw some bucks at him and scooped him up. Tulane? Southern Miss? Every school in America with an opening?
To the credit of the University, a new contract was quickly forthcoming. And, the deal got Hudspeth well above what any UL football coach ever THOUGHT of making. And, yet, as the Cajuns reached a bowl game for the second straight year, Cajun fans held their collective breath.
Hudspeth and I spoke about his situation last season. He didn't have a microphone in front of his mouth. He talked about how much he and his wife Tyla loved Lafayette. He talked about how the University was stepping up with the master plan for athletics. He talked about how the administration made it clear he and his family were wanted.
Following the 2013 Sun Belt Conference title and another trip to the Crescent City, it was made clear the University was ready to up the ante. And, negotiations began on a new deal. It was the promise of a new deal that really made any job openings after the 2013 season a moot point.
These contracts take time. Have your lawyer call my lawyer. I'll have my lawyer call your lawyer. The salary? Probably the easiest of all the things to be agreed on. Incentives, buyout clauses and the like...now those points get sticky.
Now Hud is UL's Million Dollar Man. His salary, counting money used from private funds, is up to $950,000. Add the incentives and bonuses and we're talking about a guy who's going to be making seven figures. Every Year. Through 2019.
That's a lot of scratch.
Hudspeth is now the highest paid coach in the Sun Belt Conference (Tim Buckley of the Daily Advertiser got the numbers and shared them with readers.) It's not even close. And, I'd venture to say that Hudspeth's salary is higher than some schools in Conference USA and at least competitive with the American Athletic Conference.
The University is now making it difficult for Hudspeth to leave. And, that's okay with Hud.
When jobs open up in college football, some fans will immediately wonder, still, if someone will come after Hudspeth. And, if the Cajuns continue to have success on the field and in the classroom, some school is going to want to talk to him.
But with the new contract, the list of schools who might make that call has gotten a lot smaller. And, with the buyout clause agreed to by both parties, it means if that call comes sooner rather than later, it's going to cost Hud a pretty good sized chunk of change.
Now, if the Big 12, the SEC or ACC comes calling with an open checkbook, it will be hard for the man to say no. It would be a chance to coach in a league where the words "national championships" are used. And, it would be for a lot more money than the University of Louisiana is going to be able to afford any time soon, maybe ever. If that call comes, Mark and Tyla's love of Lafayette may not be enough to keep them in Acadiana.
And, you know what? If that happens, it's okay. It will mean that the Cajuns' football program is continuing to have great success. It will mean that the job of head football coach is no longer a dead end, but a springboard. It will mean the job of head football coach will be infinitely more desirable than it was when Mark Hudspeth was lured away from Mississippi State.
Since then the University had made a financial commitment to Hudspeth...twice. They've come up with a master plan for athletics that includes stadium expansion, new state of the art weight room, a multi purpose building to house, among other things, new digs for the coaches.
The success of the program, the plan for the program and the commitment to the coaches is something that, not only the Sun Belt, but other conferences as well, should be paying a lot of attention to.
The sleeping giant is awakening.
Hudspeth has had success. The University of Louisiana has rewarded him in kind.
And, that, is all anyone can ask.