Comparing Mark Stoops' buyout to the rest of the SEC

Comparing Mark Stoops' buyout to the rest of the SEC

Mrs. Tyler Thompsonabout 5 years

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There’s been a lot of talk about buyouts around here the past few days. As you’ve surely heard by now, if the University of Kentucky wants to fire Mark Stoops after this season, they will have to pay him $12 million dollars. This morning, Mark Story reported that that figure is actually closer to $18 million when you factor in his assistants’ salaries.

I don’t know about you guys, but that sounds like an astronomical number to me. In fact, the more you examine Stoops’ contract extension from October 29, 2014, the less it makes sense. I spent the day researching the contracts of other SEC football coaches and discovered that not only would Mark Stoops get the sixth biggest check of any coach in the SEC if he were to be fired without cause after this season, he’s one of only TWO coaches in the league who wouldn’t owe the school a dime if he left for another program. The only other football coach in the SEC without a buyout clause listed in their contract (that I could find, at least)? Nick Saban. On the basketball side, John Calipari as well. Considering what they’ve accomplished, that makes sense; in Stoops’ case, not so much.

When Stoops signed the contract extension back in October 2014, we were all probably too wrapped up in the haze of beating South Carolina and Steve Spurrier to care about the lack of a buyout clause, but looking back, that was an incredibly bizarre (some would say dumb) move. At the time, Mitch Barnhart said he didn’t believe in buyout clauses because he wanted to inspire loyalty from his employees, when in reality, he made the program extremely vulnerable should Stoops want to bolt to another school. Obviously, this issue is obsolete given Kentucky’s current situation, but the oddity is worth noting.

On the flip side, if Kentucky sends Stoops packing after this season, they would owe him a mighty big paycheck, all for a record that’s currently no better than Bill Curry’s or Joker Phillips’. For perspective, UK would have to pay Stoops more to go away than LSU would Les Miles or Auburn Gus Malzahn, two coaches on the hot seat at traditional power programs. As I asked myself several times today, what in the world?

Here are Kentucky football’s buyouts compared to the rest of the SEC, ranked in order from heftiest to smallest. (Note: All of the buyouts listed below are for firings without cause)

Nick Saban, Alabama

  • 2016 Salary: $7.09 million
  • Buyout if leaves for another program: None
  • Buyout if fired after 2016 season: $23.3 million

Bret Bielema, Arkansas

  • 2016 Salary: $4.06 million
  • Buyout if leaves for another program: $3 million in 2016
  • Buyout if fired after 2016 season: $15.4 million before 2018; $7.9 million before 2020

Kevin Sumlin, Texas A&M

  • 2016 Salary: $5 million
  • Buyout if leaves for another program before the end of the 2016 season: $5 million
  • Buyout if fired after 2016 season: $15 million (payable within 60 days of termination, nonetheless!)

Hugh Freeze, Ole Miss

  • 2016 Salary: $4.7 million
  • Buyout if leaves for another program: Not disclosed (Was $225,000 at Arkansas State)
  • Buyout if fired after 2016 season: Not disclosed, but the terms of his old contract suggest approximately $15 million

Kirby Smart, Georgia

  • 2016 Salary: $3.75 million
  • Buyout if leaves for another program: $3.75 million in 2016
  • Buyout if fired after 2016 season: $13.5 million

Mark Stoops, Kentucky

  • 2016 Salary: $3.5 million
  • Buyout if leaves for another program: None (!!!!!)
  • Buyout if fired after 2016 season: $12 million; With assistants, nearly $18 million

Jim McElwain, Florida

  • 2016 Salary: $4.25 million
  • Buyout if leaves for another program: $3.5 million in 2016 (Florida pays $2.5 million to Colorado State)
  • Buyout if fired after 2016 season: $11.25 million ($2.25 million for each remaining year of contract)

Butch Jones, Tennessee

  • 2016 salary: $4.13 million
  • Buyout if leaves for another program: $4 million in 2016
  • Buyout if fired after 2016 season: $10 million

Will Muschamp, South Carolina

  • 2016 Salary: $3 million
  • Buyout if leaves for another program: $7 million in 2016
  • Buyout if fired after 2016 season: $9.1 million (70% of annual guaranteed compensation left on contract)

Gus Malzahn, Auburn

Dan Mullen, Mississippi State

  • 2016 Salary: $4 million
  • Buyout if leaves for another program: Undisclosed (Was $1.4 million before his contract extension in 2014)
  • Buyout if fired after 2016 season: Remainder of unpaid salary (Exact figures undisclosed, but believed to be around $8.5 million)

Les Miles, LSU

  • 2016 Salary: $4.39 million
  • Buyout if leaves for another program: $1.25 million if he goes to the University of Michigan
  • Buyout if fired after 2016 season: $6.4 million

Barry Odom, Missouri

Derek Mason, Vanderbilt

  • 2016 Salary: Not disclosed (Vanderbilt is a private institution)
  • Buyout if leaves for another program: Not disclosed (Vanderbilt is a private institution)
  • Buyout if fired after 2016 season: Not disclosed (Vanderbilt is a private institution)

 

And for fun — because I don’t see Barnhart and UK putting together $12-18 million to get rid of Stoops and his staff this year unless the train totally derails and we lose to New Mexico State or Austin Peay — here’s a list of some of the highest coaching buyouts in college football history:

  • Charlie Weis (Notre Dame): $18.9 million
  • Bo Pelini (Nebraska): $7.9 million
  • Gene Chizik (Auburn): $7.5 million
  • Will Muschamp (Florida): $6.3 million
  • Charlie Weis (Kansas): $5.635 million
  • Jeff Tedford (Cal): $5.5 million
  • Derek Dooley (Tennessee): $5 million
  • Brady Hoke (Michigan): $3 million
  • Joker Phillips (Kentucky): $2.55 million 

 

Again, how in the world did we get here?

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2021-10-26