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August 18, 2014

Makeover Monday: SEC Football Coaches Get Paid!

College football season is nearly upon us and for those that live in the Southeastern US, college football is king. It dominates EVERYTHING - from sports talk to newspapers to online forums to Facebook posts to coaching salaries. College football = Life to so many people. If you've never been to an SEC football game, add it to your bucket list; it's an experience unlike any other.

Saturday Down South is a website dedicated to all things SEC football. This past Thursday, they published this list of the salaries for each coach in the SEC (except for Vanderbilt who does not publish their coach's salary).

This list is simple enough, yet when I saw it, I felt like there was more of a story in there. You can clearly see, just from the table, that Nick Saban is a huge outlier. He's a winner, and he gets paid to win. Keep in mind that these are only their base salaries too. Bonuses, appearance fees, etc. are not included.

I decided to use Tableau's story points for the first time to answer a couple of key questions:
  1. How much of an outlier is Saban compared to his peers in the SEC, to other coaches in other sports and to other college football coaches?
  2. How widespread is this level of pay for college football coaches and how does the SEC stack up?
  3. Is Saban worth the money?
I also need to give a quick thank you to Emily Kund and Matt Francis for reviewing this story for me.

Some things I've learned while using Story Points for the first time:
  • If you want to tell a story, know the questions you want to answer ahead of time. This will help you plan the beginning, middle and end of the story.
  • As I answered questions, I was led to more questions, which led to finding more data, which led to a better story. Be prepared to iterate.
  • Story Points are pretty inflexible. You can't do any formatting of you viz once you're inside the Story Point. You have to go back to the original worksheet to change anything. I had expected this to work more like editing a viz on a dashboard.
  • I feel like I'm not quite using Story Points as they were intended. I feel like I'm missing their intent in this attempt because I could have done all of this same formatting with multiple dashboards and tabs. I need to learn more about the “idea” behind Story Points.
Download the data here and the Tableau workbook here.


  1. Very nicely done, as always, Andy. FYI, any college or university that receives TItle IV funds (almost every one) has to make its tax return public. On the form 990, the institution has to list the salaries of all officers, as well as the five highest paid non-officers. You can look these up on Guidestar, and in looking up Vanderbilt's, it shows James Franklin (the last coach) made $1.6 M in the 2012 Fiscal Year. Not perfect comparison, but it's interesting anyway. can also get you to the equity in athletics db at which contains a massive and messy data set from which you can extract much of this information.

  2. Great Job Andy. As you say the way you have used story points is just one way, duplicating a tabbed workbook. Essentially using the better navigation to change tabs. The real power of story points comes when you save the state of a number of workbooks and present those as each page in the workbook. Thats something that you cannot do with a tabbed workbook. I've got a viz in the works that uses a single workbook over a number of story points which should show that in effect.

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    1. The one dataset is 2013 salaries and the other is 2014. That's why I put the source on each viz.