Buyout Clauses - Buyer Beware

Most universities sign their potentially valuable head coaches to contract extensions to reward their coaches but also to include a higher buyout figure in order not to be left holding a bag when the coach leaves for a bigger venue. Brian Kelly's buyout from Cincy was $700k, which ND probably footed, though every buyout is part of negotiating a new contract.

Remember RichRod's buyout mess when he left West Virginia, owing them $4 million. Michigan ended up paying $2.5 millon of it after the fact. RR forked over $1.5 million. Last year Michigan waited until Brady Hoke's buyout with San Diego State dropped from $1.5 million to $1 million.

The king of buyouts is Bobby Petrino's at Arkansas - $18 million.

In this year's Coaching Carousel, twenty-three head coaching positions have opened up so far. Twelve positions have been filled - six BCS teams, six non-BCS teams. Three of those twelve positions have been filled by current head coaches - Larry Fedora at North Carolina, Hugh Freeze at Arkansas, and Tim Beckman at Illinois. Their buyouts? Beckman - $130K, Freeze - $225k, and Fedora, who signed a contract extension in November 2010 with a higher buyout - $500k.

Last year Miami was willing to pay Temple Al Golden's $2 million buyout. This year Arizona State was in the process of finalizing a deal with June Jones when at the last minute he brought up his buyout figure of $2 million, which ASU was not willing to fork over. Jones let his agent slam ASU, while he publicly assured SMU that he could not be lured away. Jones had left Hawaii for SMU owing $400k and was sued.

With universities watching their bottom lines and athletic budgets, especially state universities, nine of the twelve positions so far have been filled from the ranks of college coordinators, ex-coaches, and NFL assistant coaches.

Here are some of the other coaching candidates, who are current head coaches, and their buyouts.

  • Art Briles, Baylor - $4 million
  • Charlie Strong, Louisville - $2.5 million (per extension signed October 2011)
  • Dan Mullen, Mississippi State - $1.4 million (per extension signed December, 2010)
  • Chris Petersen, Boise State - $650k (per extension signed October 2011)
  • Kevin Sumlin, Houston - $600k (per extension signed December 2010)
  • Troy Calhoun, Air Force - $565k
  • Kirby Smart, Alabama DC - No buyout

Mullen has publicly stated he is not interested in the Penn State job. Strong says he is loyal to Louisville and has not interviewed anywhere. Penn State and Texas A&M are the only two of the thirteen universities left, who would take on a big buyout. Texas A&M was willing to pay Alabama $1 million to buy out Dennis Franchione's contract, then paid him $4.4 million to leave, and paid him a bit over $2 million a year for five years. A&M then paid Mike Sherman almost $2 million a year for four years, then bought him out for $5.8 million. That's $29 million in nine years - a lot of oil money.

The latest news is that Art Briles has signed a contract extension doubling his salary from $1.2 million to $2.5 million per year. Mark Richt - rumored to be a candidate for the Penn State position - is meeting with University of Georgia officials to negotiate a new contract. Who else could be negotiating?

Kirby Smart is under consideration for the A&M and UCLA positions and interviewed for the Ole Miss job.

It will certainly be interesting to see how the rest of the Carousel plays out and how much buyouts play in the decision-making for each position.

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