One of these things is not like the other…
In a piece posted Monday detailing America’s highest-paid sports coaches, Sportico confirmed previous reports that Bill Belichick is the top dog in U.S. coaching with estimated annual earnings of $20 million. Belichick, who was once rumored to make closer to $25 million, is ahead of fellow NFL head coaches Pete Carroll ($15 million) and Sean McVay ($14 million).
The fourth person on Sportico’s list is a bit surprising as he is not an NFL coach or even a college football coach: Gregg Popovich.
The NBA’s all-time winningest coach with 1,350 victories, 73-year-old Popovich is making $13 million to coach the San Antonio Spurs, who went 1-14 in November and now sit in the bottom of the Western Conference at 6-18.
The head coach of the Spurs since 1996, Popovich is in the final year of his current contract and could retire unless San Antonio is able to tank successfully and draft generational talent Victor Wembanyama at No. 1 overall. The tank is definitely on in Texas as the Spurs and Popovich committed to a rebuild by trading All-Star guard Dejounte Murray over the summer to the Atlanta Hawks for a haul of first-round picks. If they are lucky, one of those picks will turn into Wembanyama, the same way the Spurs were able to score Tim Duncan in 1997.
In addition to being paid for how long they have been with their respective organizations, Belichick and Popovich, who have won a combined 11 titles, are clearly being compensated for past performance as neither one of their teams are really in position to compete for a championship at this point. At least in Popovich’s case, that’s somewhat intentional.
In the case of Belichick, the relative lack of competitiveness of New England is mostly due to mistakes he has made with his coaching staff and the Patriots’ roster, including letting Tom Brady leave for nothing. Although Belichick, who is making more annually than any of the players on his roster and even more than Brady ($15 million this season), just passed George Halas for second on the all-time wins list and is now just 20 victories behind Don Shula for No. 1 overall, you could certainly make the argument that he is overpaid.
That’s a case you could make for many of the names on the list as less than half of the top 10 highest-paid sports coaches currently have their teams in playoff position (Pete Carroll, Andy Reid, John Harbaugh and Kirby Smart).