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ESPN reports that fired coaches are due to collect $31 million

ESPN came out with an interesting piece today highlighting the cost of firing a coach before his contract runs its course.

Not surprisingly, Gene Chizik had the biggest buyout at $7.5 million when he was let go at Auburn. Cal's Jeff Tedford's $6.9 million payday wasn't a "buyout", but Cal will have to pay him the remainder of what he was due in his contract.

According to the ESPN article, Ellis Johnson's $2.1 million buyout adds up to 11% of what Southern Miss' entire athletic department generated all of last year.

Newly hired Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema has a hefty buyout of $12.8 million if he's fired within his first three seasons. If he chooses to leave on his own, he'll owe $3 million in the first year, and that number will reduce by a half a million dollars each year.

Of course, some of the buyouts are contingent on upon whether the coach gets another coaching job (or in some cases broadcasting), and can be offset, or in some cases terminated, based on the coaches next gig. For example, Gene Chizik's buyout will be offset based on any future coaching or broadcasting jobs, while Robb Akey's will be terminated upon his hiring by another university.

This goes to show that once the decision has been made to head in a new direction, as long as the right boosters come forward to financially back the decision, or the program has the proper resources, there is almost no "buyout" that is too big. For coaches that have invested so much time, love, and energy into a program, that's never good news.

Here's a full look at what athletic departments have commited to their former head coaches.

Gene Chizik (Auburn)- $7.5 million

Frank Spaziani (Boston College) - Unknown

Jeff Tedford (Cal) - $6.9 million

Jon Embree (Colorado) - $1.6 million

Mario Cristobal (FIU) - $900,000

Robb Akey (Idaho) - $330,000

Joker Phillips (Kentucky) - $2.55 million

Tom O'Brien (NC State) - $1.2 million

Danny Hope (Purdue) - $600,000

Skip Holtz (South Florida) - $2.5 million

Ellis Johnson (Southern Miss - $2.1 Million

Derek Dooley (Tennessee) - $5 million

Bill Cubit (Western Michigan) - $145,000