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Gus Malzahn, Jimbo Fisher Compete For Massive Bonuses In BCS Title Game

Dec 20 2013, 10:26am CST | by

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Gus Malzahn, Jimbo Fisher Compete For Massive Bonuses In BCS Title Game
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Gus Malzahn, Jimbo Fisher Compete For Massive Bonuses In BCS Title Game

Bowl season is right around the corner, but fans have to wait until January for the five BCS bowls, the most anticipated games of the postseason. For some of the coaches involved in those games, like Nick Saban and Urban Meyer, there’s nothing left to play for in terms of direct bonus checks. For others, especially Auburn’s Gus Malzahn, the potential payout is incredible.

Below are the direct financial benefits of the upcoming BCS games for the coaches competing in them. It’s worth noting that a BCS bowl victory could be valuable if it helps a head coach win coach of the year honors or provides him leverage in future contract negotiations, but the details below are limited to the direct payouts.

Note: Baylor and Stanford are private schools, so contract details are unavailable for Art Briles and David Shaw .

When Urban Meyer’s Ohio State Buckeyes lost the Big Ten Championship to Michigan State, the second-year OSU head coach lost out on millions . Had Ohio State won, Meyer would have been guaranteed an extra contract year worth at least $4 million, plus another $350,000 for the victory and a trip to the BCS National Championship. Meyer is instead headed to the Orange Bowl, which is still worth a nice $150,000 bonus. He doesn’t receive any bonus for winning the game.

Alabama’s Nick Saban is another coach with no money on the line in January; he gets $125,000 for playing in the Sugar Bowl bowl, but nothing extra for winning. That’s a huge drop from recent years. Last year’s championship run was worth $525,000 from bonuses for making the SEC Championship ($75,000), winning it ($50,000), playing in the BCS National Championship ($200,000) and winning that too ($200,000). Saban got the same payout when the Crimson Tide beat Texas in 2009-10, but the victory over LSU two years later only got him the $400,000 in title game bonuses.

Michigan State’s Mark Dantonio is a third coach who enjoyed some nice bonuses so far, but won’t get anything else with a bowl win. When the Spartans upset Ohio State in the Big Ten Championship, Dantonio earned $100,000 for winning the conference and another $250,000 for earning a bid to a non-championship BCS bowl (MSU plays Stanford in the Rose Bowl). The game’s outcome won’t directly impact his bottom line.

While Meyer, Saban and Dantonio will all be working hard in the coming weeks to ensure postseason success, their competition has some extra incentive to win.

Bob Stoops has led Oklahoma to nine BCS bowls since taking over in 1999 and, while he doesn’t receive a direct payout for a bowl game’s outcome, this year’s Sugar Bowl will still impact his pay. Stoops has already received $110,000 for making a BCS bowl, and he’d get another $82,500 if the Sooners finish the year with a top-ten ranking. Oklahoma is at No. 11 now, which means the game against Alabama will decide whether Stoops cracks the top ten for the full bonus, or if the Sooners fall, and thus knock that ranking incentive down to $55,000.

George O’Leary, whose UCF Knights joined the AAC this year, has already made $100,000 for qualifying for a BCS bowl, and he would double that payout with a victory over Baylor in the Fiesta Bowl. O’Leary also has a bevvy of other bonuses but, unfortunately for the head coach, a 2008 contract amendment caps that non-BCS incentive pay at $400,000 per year, down from the $500,000 bonus cap in his 2006 extension. The coach’s contract includes $100,000 for winning seven or more games (check), $100,000 for winning a conference championship (check),  plus up to $635,000 in bonuses for coaching honors, home game attendance levels and team conduct, rankings and academic performance.

Like O’Leary, Clemson’s Dabo Swinney could net $100,000 for a BCS bowl victory, but he only received $75,000 for making the game. Some of the more valuable bonus clauses in Swinney’s contract are tied to the team’s performance within the ACC; winning the conference or even the Atlantic Division would increase his base salary. The Tigers failed to achieve either after losing to Florida State earlier in the season. If Clemson ever wins a national title, Swinney would get $150,000.

Finally, the two coaches competing in this year’s BCS National Championship have the most to gain with a victory. As with Saban, they both have massive performance bonuses tied specifically to the title game, which makes the showdown in Pasadena a a very lucrative affair.

Auburn recently signed Gus Malzahn to a six-year extension that raises his annual salary to nearly $4 million. His previous deal was already one of the most bonus-heavy contracts in college football. Under that deal, Malzahn collected $375,000 for winning 12 games and the SEC title game. He gets another $150,000 for making the BCS National Championship and $100,000 for finishing the season with a top-five rank, which is all but assured with a championship bid. Assuming that his new contract didn’t change any bonus clauses, a win in January would be worth a staggering $375,000 ($350,000 for the BCS title and another $25,000 for a 13th victory).

Malzahn’s upcoming opponent, Florida State’s Jimbo Fisher, gets $125,000 for playing in the championship, and another $100,000 for finishing in the top five of the AP poll (again, this is all but guaranteed). He also picked up $100,000 for winning the ACC. Should FSU win over Auburn, Fisher gets $125,000 for the championship victory and another $100,000 for going undefeated. That doesn’t quite compare to Malzahn’s $350,000 win bonus, but it would bring Fisher’s total incentive pay up to $550,000 before considering things like coach of the year honors.

All told, and again including only direct payouts, here’s the scoreboard of which BCS bowl coaches have the most on the line in January:

Malzahn – $375,000

Fisher – $225,000

O’Leary and Swinney – $100,000/>/>

Stoops – $27,500

Meyer, Saban and Dantonio – $0

Briles and Shaw – n/a

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Source: Forbes


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