The 2019 season will be Lincoln Riley's fifth in the Oklahoma program. It'll also be the fifth consecutive year he made more money than the year before -- a trend that will continue into the foreseeable future.
Hired away from East Carolina for $500,000 a year in 2015, Riley netted a raise to $800,000 in 2016 and, rather than a scheduled raise to $1.3 million in 2017, he jumped all the way to $3.1 million as the Sooners' new head coach. A Big 12 championship and College Football Playoff bought him a raise to $4.8 million in 2018 and now, after a second straight Big 12 crown, a second straight Playoff berth and a second straight quarterback to do the Heisman Trophy/No. 1 draft pick double-dip, Riley's new contract will start him at a $6 million salary, according to contract figures obtained by the Tulsa World.
The $1.2 million year-over-year raise is the largest of its kind in Oklahoma football history and takes Riley past the highest salary ever earned by Bob Stoops, according to the paper.
Riley's raise streak will continue through the life of his 5-year, $32.5 million contract, as it includes $150,000 raises in each of the four succeeding years, plus annual $700,000 stay benefits should he remain OU's head coach on June 1 of each year, and a $1 million bonus on April 1, 2021.
Oklahoma will also make a $1 million annual deposit in Riley's retirement plan, which is already fully vested.
The bonus structure calls for a $400,000 bonus for winning a national championship, $100,000 for a Big 12 championship, $125,000 for a perfect graduation rate and $50,000 for winning a national coach of the year award, among others.
The new contract was borne out of the NFL's interest in hiring the 35-year-old wunderkind. As such, Riley's buyout has been increased -- but not to the point where a big-moneyed NFL owner with points on his mind would be scared away from approaching Riley. He would owe around $4.6 million upon leaving for another job after the 2019 season and dropping $1 million a year, to the point where he would owe no buyout after March 16, 2022.
On the flip side, Oklahoma would owe Riley 80 percent of the remaining guaranteed salary should the school fire him without cause. That amount jumps by 5 percent with each successive Big 12 championship, up to a total of 95 percent.
If and when Riley leads Oklahoma to three more Big 12 titles, the school will be ready to rip up this contract and hand him another one.