It's a rare thing when you can applaud a man for his humility on the day he signs an eight-year contract extension paying him at least $3.15 million a year. Welcome to college football in 2014.
The now seventh-year coach (you know time flies when Dabo Swinney is about to enter year seven as Clemson's head coach) signed an eight-year extension on Saturday, keeping him in orange and purple through 2021. The deal pays a baseline of $27.15 million.
Swinney is 51-23 at Clemson, and 32-8 over the past three seasons with an ACC championship, a win over LSU in the Chick-fil-A Bowl to close the 2012 season and a 40-35 defeat of Ohio State in the Orange Bowl earlier this month. The Tigers finished this season ranked seventh in the Coaches' poll and eighth in the AP, the team's highest year-end ranking since winning the 1981 national championship. A $3.15 contract qualifies him as "underpaid", below the likes of Mike Gundy, Kirk Ferentz and Charlie Strong - the Louisville years.
Of course, Clemson didn't go 11-2 this season solely because of Dabo, and he'd likely be the first person to tell you that.
No school spends more on its coordinators than Clemson's $1.3 million deal for offensive coordinator Chad Morris (the largest salary for any assistant in college football) and defensive coordinator Brent Venables' $800,000 salary (tied for seventh-highest in 2013). Clemson's continued success is dependent on this arrangement continuing into the future, which meant Dabo had to agree to a "modest" deal.
Credit to Dabo for doing that. Although, again, it's easy to be "modest" when you're banking more than $3 million a year.
"Dabo is one of the top coaches not only in the ACC but in the entire nation," athletic director Dan Radakovich said in a statement. "His teams have succeeded on the field, in the classroom and in the community. We're excited to have him lead our program for a long time into the future."
The contract rises to $3.3 million in 2015 and $3.45 million in 2016 but, should Clemson win the ACC title within the first three years of the contract, Swinney's salary immediately rises to $3.5 million. The contract is also fully guaranteed through the first three seasons.
In another genius move for Swinney, he can guarantee an annual raise for hitting a certain number of wins. For instance, notes USA Today's Steve Berkowitz, a 12-0 record and an ACC championship in 2016 sets his 2017 salary at $3.8 million - and it could go up again in 2018 depending on what the Tigers do in 2017.
Swinney also retained the rights to negotiate a separate deal for his licensing company - you just know you want a belt with Dabo's face on the buckle - beginning at $500,000 a year.