The richest college football coaching contract in terms of overall compensation now belongs to Clemson Head Coach Dabo Swinney, who signed a new 10-year, $115 million extension with the Tigers on Thursday.
The updated contract, which averages $11.5 million over ten years, is in effect through the 2031 football season. Swinney is projected to make $10.5 million in 2022, slightly behind Nick Saban, the coach of Alabama, who recently received a raise and contract extension that would pay him $10.7 million this year. Saban's contract has him earning an average of $11.7 million annually through the end of 2030. Georgia's reining national championship coach Kirby Smart currently has a 10-year, $112.5 million deal and will be paid $11.2 million annually on average.
While this money may seem outrageous to some, all three may still be underpaid, as six of the eight previous national titles in college football have been won by Swinney, Saban, and Smart collectively.
Swinney, who took over as head coach of Clemson in 2008 after serving as interim head coach, is entering his 15th season in that position. Swinney currently holds third place in FBS history for the most coaching victories in the first 15 seasons of a head coaching tenure at 160.
Its long been speculated that Swinney a former walk on receiver for the Crimson Tide, would be next in line to lead Alabama should Nick Saban decide to retire. However, according to the term sheet, Swinney would be required to pay a $9 million buyout if he left in 2022 to take the head coaching position at Alabama; if he left for another collegiate club, the buyout would be $6 million. If he leaves for a head coaching position in the NFL, he would owe nothing.
While this clause may ease some Clemson fans fears of Dabo bolting for Alabama, it certainly doesn't put it to bed. While $9 million is a hefty chunk of change, I don't see Alabama batting an eye at paying that and more should Dabo be their target once Saban decides to retire. Add to the fact that in every year of the agreement, the buyout decreases, I don't see this being the last time we have this conversation.
As part of his new contract's incentives, Clemson included a $150,000 prize for a CFP post-expansion appearance; increased championship bonuses (added $100,000); increased ACC championship bonus by $50,000; and increased his maximum bonuses from $1.05 million to $1.5 million.