But, according to a new study by researchers at Vanderbilt, coaches like Bielema who command what are widely seen as robust salaries are worth the money because of the value they bring to their universities. The Vanderbilt study, which included 947 contracts from 2005 to 2013, benchmarked coaching salaries against those of chief executive officers at public companies — another group that is often accused of being paid too much.
When Bielema was courted by Arkansas, the job opening was seen as one of the most challenging and intriguing. The incoming coach would be the third in three years and would inherit a team coming off a four-win season, but he would also be at the helm of a program competing with the best teams in the SEC. That was all factored into the compensation package that Arkansas offered Bielema, who was leaving a high-profile job at Wisconsin, where he coached the Badgers to three straight Rose Bowl appearances.
As Bielema begins his second season on the job, Arkansas fans will be keeping a close eye on him, looking to how the university’s investment is paying off.
To Bielema’s supporters, progress is already being made.
“It’s already been a good investment because he has stabilized the ship,” [Bielema's agent] Cornrich said.