Skip to main content

ESPN took an interesting look at the CFB playoff bonuses for FBS head coaches


ESPN's Heather Dinich took an interesting look at the wide range of bonuses that head coaches have in their contracts for making the college football playoff and / or winning the national title, and it revealed some rather interesting figures.

Bonuses range from the high end, like Dabo Swinney who makes $900,000 if he wins it all, to Sonny Dykes' deal, which is in desperate need of an update because it specifies he would take home $50,000 for winning the now-debunked BCS national title.

Oregon athletic director Rob Mullens notes that the discrepancy in the wide range of bonuses is because athletic directors find it much easier to use the market to determine guaranteed compensation, while incentives for head coaches are clearly all over the grid.

"We pay close attention to the marketplace, which is much easier to do on guaranteed compensation than it is on incentive compensation, because incentive compensation can be all over the board." Mullens told ESPN.

In total, ESPN took a look at the contracts of 34 FBS coaches representing each of the Power 5 conferences, and found that neither coaching longevity (Bill Snyder would make $350,000 for winning the national title), nor Vegas-odds to win the title (Colorado would pay Mike MacIntyre $750,000 for a title) play any decisive factor in the bonus structure.

Some, like Dabo's $900,000 bonus, is a cumulative bankroll of $400,000 for making the playoff semifinal, another $400,000 for making the title game, and an extra $100,000 for winning it all. And Since some of the coaching contracts were written before the playoff was decided on, a good handful of coaches (like Dykes) still have BCS language in their contracts.

With making the college football playoff as the clear goal now moving forward, Auburn athletic director Jay Jacobs explained that coaching contracts are now being changed to represent that.

"It really is just like a salesperson or a COO -- you get rewarded for good will at your craft, and when you don't, you don't get that reward. Whether your sell hospital beds or win football games, it's all about how well did you do?"

Read the full piece here.