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How Florida State won a $400,000 standoff with Houston

When Kendal Briles interviewed for the Texas State head coaching job, Houston did everything in its power to keep him.

The school offered its first-year offensive coordinator a 3-year, $2.1 million contract, making him the highest-paid Group of 5 assistant. But that wasn't all. The school also handed offensive line coach Randy Clements a new 3-year deal worth $1.2 million, paying him more than plenty of Power 5 offensive line coaches.

Briles and Clements, you see, went way back. Clements had been Art Briles' offensive coordinator dating all the way back to 1990, at Stephenville High School, when Kendal was seven years old. Clements remained in the Briles tree through 2002, long enough for Art to spend three dues-paying years as the running backs coach at Texas Tech, then reuniting when the elder Briles got the Houston head job in 2003.

You know the story from there: they went from Houston to Baylor, performed a worst-to-first turnaround at Baylor, then watched it all implode. Clements spent the 2017 season as the offensive line coach at Southeastern University, an NAIA school in central Florida, while Kendal joined Lane Kiffin's staff at Florida Atlantic. Briles helped FAU go from 3-9 to Conference USA champions, and Houston, amid tremendous controversy, hired Briles and Clements to do the same.

And at first, it worked. Houston started last season 7-1 before injuries saw the Cougars limp to an 8-4 finish to the regular season. Still, that success prompted Texas State to interview Briles, which prompted Houston to pony up to keep the pair.

That lasted three weeks.

On Dec. 23 of last year, Florida State hired away Briles and Clements. The Seminoles offered a jump in profile and pay. Briles will earn $3 million over his 3-year contract. Clements netted a modest raise -- he'll earn $905,000 over a 2-year contract -- but, again, he's now in the ACC instead of the AAC and he's working with Briles again.

After Briles and Clements left (and after Houston lost the Armed Forces Bowl, 70-21, to Army), Houston decided it no longer wanted Major Applewhite as its head coach if he no longer had Briles and Clements as his offense's architect and general contractor, so they fired the whole staff and brought in Dana Holgorsen from West Virginia.

Houston wanted "nearly $450,000" for Clements to get out of his contract, but Florida State agreed to cover only $50,000. Cue Mexican standoff.

Now, nearly four months after Clements' departure, Florida State has won that standoff. According to documents obtained by Warchantand other outlets, FSU will indeed pay $50,000 to get Clements out of his Houston contract.

The flip side here is that Clements could have argued Houston owed him a buyout. Holgorsen announced Brandon Jones as his co-offensive coordinator and offensive line coach on Jan. 12, more than a month before Clements was formally announced at Florida State. Had Clements not taken the Florida State job, Houston would have had to pay him to make room for Jones.

Instead, Houston gets $50,000 and both sides get to go their separate ways.