POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Dec 26, 2010
Flush from a 7-6 finish in the 2008 regular season, Greg McMackin's first as head football coach at the University of Hawaii, there was a request for the school to extend his five-year contract that pays him $1.1 million a year.
Officials reportedly said they'd consider it — after the bowl game.
Then came the 49-21 debacle against Notre Dame in the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl. End of discussion.
Fast-forward to when the Warriors closed the just-completed regular season 10-3 and indications were the administration was willing to revisit the possibility of an extension.
And, now, in the wake of that 62-35 Hawaii Bowl setback against Tulsa, officials should not only have pause for thought but, you hope, inspiration for a creative solution.
The fact is, UH has been running an annual deficit seven of the past eight years and has accumulated a net deficit of nearly $10 million. It can't afford what it is currently paying its head coach. Especially not while it averages 33,835 through the turnstiles, may or may not have pay-per-view money in the future and is preparing to ante up for travel subsidies to the Mountain West and Big West conferences.
What UH might be able to live with is something in the $650,000-$750,000 ballpark plus realistic bonus incentives so that when UH's profits rise, so, too, does McMackin's pay.
Not a bad neighborhood at all and one certainly closer to where the average of school-supported base pay currently is for the other nine coaches who will make up the MWC in 2012.
The WAC's senior active head coach, Fresno State's Pat Hill, has agreed to a restructured extension that, beginning Saturday, will lower his guaranteed pay by the Bulldogs from $952,499 to $650,000 annually, according to USA Today. That's a blueprint UH should seriously look at as it ponders McMackin's situation this time.
Whatever bucks UH can round up to invest in football salaries might be more prudently spent on bolstering the pay of assistant coaches, especially the coordinators Nick Rolovich and Dave Aranda.
UH could, of course, punt on McMackin's extension again since he has two years remaining on his original deal. And McMackin may well wish to do that rather than accept a salary rollback. Although at age 66 when the 2011 season begins and no posse of higher-profile suitors banging on his door, an extension might be worth grabbing when you can get it.
With recruiting hitting prime time, it would look a lot better for all concerned to at least have an extension offer in the pipeline if not on the table so that opponents can't use innuendo against the Warriors.
UH could, for example, offer a one-year extension that significantly lowers the buyout threshold instead of leaving the school on the hook for the full amount as has been the case with Herman Frazier, Bob Nash and others.
What McMackin has done with a 10-4 season and a share of the Western Athletic Conference title is laudable, especially since it helped position UH for the MWC. It is worthy of consideration for an extension.
But it makes both dollars and sense for UH to offer one that is in step with the current economic climate and what the school can afford.
Reach Ferd Lewis at firstname.lastname@example.org.