Salaries in college football have been escalating since the days when Rick Neuheisel was the conferences highest paid coach. The $1.5 million Willingham gets per year is no longer an elite coaching salary. Look for UW to end up paying $1.5 to $3 million depending on who they go after.
What were the potential UW coaching candidates up to this week?
1. Gary Pinkel (Missouri)
Missouri rolls over Nebraska 52-17. If you had to pick the guy to waive $2.5 to $3 million it would be Pinkel. The search has to start here. If Washington is serious they are going to have to make him think about it. Look for Missouri to counter and Pinkel to stay.
2. Brian Kelly (Cinncinati)
Kelly is off to a 4-1 start at Cinncinati this year with the lone loss coming to Oklahoma. Kelly is already in a BCS conference and has a team that is very competitive. Word on the street is he wouldn't mind moving up to the super power level if offered.
3. Chris Petersen (Boise State)
The Bronco's are undefeated and in the top 15. Petersen is a guy who should logically be plotting his next step up the ladder and into at BCS conference. Problem is he likes living in Boise and coaching the Bronco's. On February 22, 2007, the Idaho State Board of Education approved a new contract for Petersen, paying him $4.25 million for five years, or $850,000 per year. I think Eugene is his ultimate destination.
4. Gary Patterson (Texas Christian)
The Horned Frogs only loss this year was to Oklahoma. In seven years at TCU, Patterson's 62 victories place him in third place on the TCU career victory chart, and he is the only coach in school history to record four 10-win seasons. His teams have only failed to reach a bowl game once (2004), the Frogs have earned a spot in the Final Top 25 four times. Patterson turned down a $2 million dollar offer to coach at Minnesota.
5. Todd Graham (Tulsa)
Tulsa is 5-0 and beating the snot out of everyone. Graham turned around the program at Rice and has been the Coach at Tulsa since 2007. With an annual salary of $1,100,000 Graham is the second-highest-paid football coach in conference USA behind SMU's June Jones.
Honorable mention: Pat Hill, Dave Christensen, DeWayne Walker, Randy Edsall, Skip Holtz, Al Golden, Jim Harbaugh, Kyle Whittingham, Bronco Mendenhall, Lane Kiffin, and Mike Riley.