By John Taylor
October 26, 2016
Yes indeed: if there were an Agent Hall of Fame, Neil Cornrich would be a first-ballot inductee.
Early last month, Iowa announced that it had reached an agreement with Kirk Ferentz on a new contract that runs through the 2026 season. The details of the contract, revealed as part of USA Today‘s annual coaching salary database release, negotiated by Cornrich and agreed upon by the university are staggering.
From USA Today’s report on coaching buyouts:
— Even if he’s fired after this season for not winning enough games, the 61-year-old Ferentz would be owed more than $25 million, payable in monthly installments until 2026.
— He’s guaranteed an additional $22 million from 2021 through 2025 if he sticks around and wins at least seven games each season through 2020. It wouldn’t matter if he’s dismissed in 2021 after finishing 0-12.
— If that’s not enough, those guarantees wouldn’t even be reduced if Iowa fired him and he took a lucrative new job somewhere else.
Another Cornrich client, Oklahoma’s Bob Stoops, would be owed nearly $25 million if he were fired today without cause. All told, there are at least seven head football coaches, the paper writes, “who would be owed at least $20 million in guaranteed money if he were fired on Dec. 1 for losing too many games.” Jimbo Fisher tops the buyout list, with Florida State on the hook for $33.1 million in the improbable event that Florida State dismisses him.
Others with the $20 million-plus golden parachute include Ohio State’s Urban Meyer ($27.4 million), Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh ($25.6 million), Alabama’s Nick Saban ($23.3 million), Clemson’s Dabo Swinney ($20 million). Another, Illinois’ Lovie Smith, is just shy of that mark at $19.3 million.
Of the four coaches already dismissed this year, Les Miles had the highest buyout with LSU owing the former coach nearly $9 million according to the paper. Darrell Hazell is due $5 million from Purdue, while Fresno State will owe Tim DeRuyter $3.3 million and FIU will shell out $609,000 to Ron Turner.
Texas will owe Charlie Strong just north of $11 million if, as expected, they fire the coach at season’s end.
The multimillion buyouts are part of a burgeoning trend all across the sport.
In 2011, there were 15 coaches with guaranteed buyouts of at least $8 million. This year, at least 33 are guaranteed that much — well more than half of the 53 publicly available coaches contracts in the Power Five conferences.
When it comes to actual salary being paid in 2016, Saban would sit atop the list at $6.9 million. However, Harbaugh is the highest-paid coach in college football at $9 million, with $5 million of that coming in salary and $4 million in the form of insurance payouts.
In 2006, the first year the USA Today database was published, there were eight head coaches making at least $2 million annually. A decade later, that number has risen to 58.