The combined buyouts for fired head coaches in college football this season could eclipse $70 million. And each of those firings has the potential to create financial ripple effects throughout the rest of the coaching staff, too.
As contracts for assistant coaches continue to grow in both length and annual salary, getting rid of an entire staff — and offensive and defensive coordinators, in particular — can become a costly proposition. Some Power Five assistants even have six-figure buyouts in their contracts these days, just like their bosses.
Salaries database: See how much every assistant coach makes
To better illustrate the extensive costs of making a coaching change, USA TODAY Sports examined the contracts of offensive and defensive coordinators who worked for Power Five head coaches that have been fired this year. While some will be (or have already been) retained by an incoming coach, or take jobs elsewhere, USA TODAY Sports calculated the costs if they were to be terminated without cause, per the terms of their deals.
(Note: This list does not include schools at which the head coach resigned or the two sides mutually agreed to part ways.)
OC Billy Napier: Retained.
DC Phil Bennett: $758,333 (as of Dec. 30)
Mitigation/offset: Not addressed
Incoming coach Herm Edwards announced Tuesday that he will be retaining Todd Graham’s offensive staff, including Napier. And he could also choose to keep Bennett, who is wrapping up his first season with the Sun Devils; The Arizona Republic reported Tuesday that Bennett and Edwards have not yet met. If Bennett were terminated after Arizona State’s Dec. 29 bowl game, he would be owed a little more than $750,000.
OC Dan Enos: $400,000
DC Paul Rhoads: $350,000
Bret Bielema was fired as he walked off the field following Arkansas’ last game of the season Nov. 25. A clause in his coordinators’ contracts stipulates that they are due six months’ base salary as a result of Bielema’s firing. It is unclear whether either Enos or Rhoads will remain on staff next season, as the Razorbacks’ search for a new head coach continues after the hiring of Houston’s Hunter Yurachek as athletic director Monday.
OC Doug Nussmeier: $985,391
DC Randy Shannon: $2.19 million
In addition to Jim McElwain’s $7.5 million buyout, which was negotiated and released by the school last week, the Gators’ two coordinators also carried buyouts of more than $3 million combined (though they will be offset by future salaries). Shannon has already found a new home at UCF, which will save Florida from paying part of his old contract, which was scheduled to run through Jan. 31. 2020. Nussmeier will not be back in 2018, according to multiple news media outlets.
OC Danny Langsdorf: $591,667
DC Bob Diaco: $976,250
The Cornhuskers introduced Scott Frost as their new head coach over the weekend, and he has since announced that he is bringing seven assistant coaches from UCF. “The guys that helped us win there (at UCF) can help us win here,” Frost told reporters in his introductory press conference. Former coach Mike Riley’s firing Nov. 25 automatically triggered the termination of Diaco and Langsdorf.
OC Larry Scott: $801,667 (as of Wednesday)
DC Bob Shoop: $1.42 million (as of Wednesday)
As the Volunteers continue to search for Butch Jones’ replacement, his staff appears to still be employed and was recruiting on Tennessee’s behalf as recently as last week. It’s unclear which of the current assistants, if any, would be retained by the new coach, but their respective buyouts will continue to decrease over time.
OC Noel Mazzone: $541,667 (as of Dec. 30)
DC John Chavis: $1.6 million (as of Dec. 30)
Though the Aggies fired Kevin Sumlin and have since hired Jimbo Fisher, it appears Sumlin’s staff will remain intact through the Belk Bowl on Dec. 29. If Mazzone, whose contract runs through January 2019, was fired the following day, he would be owed a little more than $500,000. Chavis’ contract, meanwhile, was set to expire Dec. 31, but he signed a one-year extension in August. The extension stipulates that Chavis must make “reasonable and dilligent efforts” to find a new job “with compensation at market value” if he is fired without cause, which would mitigate what Texas A&M would owe.
OC Jedd Fisch: $0
DC Tom Bradley: $125,000 (as of Dec. 27)
Fisch and Bradley each have clauses in their contract that specify what happens following the departure of head coach Jim Mora. According to the terms of Bradley’s first contract with the university, Mora’s firing would mean the university is on the hook for Bradley’s base salary through the end of his contract, which expires June 30. UCLA would not have to pay Bradley’s talent fee during that span. The clause in Fisch’s contract is different. It mentions an automatic termination at the end of his deal “or 30 days after the hiring of a new Head Coach, Football, whichever date is sooner” — unless UCLA notifies him within 30 days of the head coach’s departure that it wants to retain Fisch. In short: If UCLA were to let Fisch leave after its Dec. 26 bowl game, it wouldn’t owe him anything.
Source: USA Today Fan Sports Poll