Dealing with skew
Opinion graph

A joke

For light entertainment, see this chart sent in by Chris P.  Original here.


Chris said: "his graph breaks a few rules, but it has a clear message".

The shocking, out of the box column certainly grabs attention, and it is probably true that football coaches earn too much money.  But the chart really falls down on this one issue:


What's the median salary of these football coaches?

Reference: "Academic salaries", PHD Comics.


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Excuse me, but what's an "administrator"? The word is trhe key to the distinction between the bars, but does not appear in the bar graph.


The provost, maybe?

Jan Schultink

This is a great find.

I often struggle what to make of a chart where there is one huge numbers and a bunch of smaller ones. Applying this humor approach might just do the trick.

I will fix all the other things that are wrong with this chart though...

I re-posted it on my blog

Chris P

The University Presidents, Provosts and Deans are all considered Administrators.

I think the use of (for real) in the bar label is priceless.

John P

Of course, his message isn't necessarily the right one (and I say this as one of the "untenured professors," so I'm low on the food chain). A good football season probably brings in so much alumni money that the coach's salary more than pays for itself. Sad that a Heisman trophy likely reaps more money than a Nobel medal, but probably true. (And yeah, I realize this isn't a critique of the graph itself, but of its point.)

Bob Carpenter

The USA Today piece had division 1-A coaches averaging 950K US$/year. I don't think we paid Carnegie Mellon's football coach that much :-)

This chart needs to be broken out by college, because salaries vary quite a bit between liberal arts, sciences, engineering, business, medicine and law, with the odd econ professor, former politician, or literary figure bringing in a bundle. Salaries also vary quite a bit between the big names and the less famous schools.

John S.

It would be interesting to plot some measure of football prowess vs. some measure of academic achievement for US universities. I'm certain the correlation would be negative.

So yes, perhaps a great coach brings in a lot of alumni money, but the administrators use it to build bigger sports facilities, not to attract a better class of faculty.


"A good football season probably brings in so much alumni money that the coach's salary more than pays for itself."

IIRC, it doesn't even do that, oddly enough. Some years back there was a NYT (?) article about the cost of the big athletics programs, which concluded that they were actually a drain on college finances. Mostly through associated costs, if memory serves.

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