Clemson wants to make sure Dabo Swinney and his family stay at Clemson for a long time to come. On Friday, the university took a big step in assuring that happens.
The compensation committee on the board of trustees approved a new contract that makes Swinney the third highest paid coach in college football on an average basis. Swinney will make an average of $6.75 million per year, including signing and retention bonuses.
The contract is worth $54 million—that is including base salary, supplemental and licensing—and will run for the next eight years through 2024.
“What he has done with our program has been incredible,” Radakovich said. “He means so much to our athletic department and to our community. He and Kathleen are just incredible ambassadors for the institution and we are just happy we were able to come to an agreement prior to the football season.
“That was always our goal. We have been able to accomplish that and look forward to another great eight years.”
The new deal, which runs through 2024, makes Swinney the third highest paid coach in college football from an average per year standpoint, behind Alabama’s Nick Saban ($8.1 million) and Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh ($7.6 million).
“When you look at the market, the market is now defined because Dabo has won a national championship here at Clemson,” Radakovich said. “The market is defined by those four individuals, currently active coaches that have national championship victories. It further includes Coach Harbaugh at Michigan because he had a Super Bowl appearance and has been at a very, very high level. That is kind of the market and really the parameters that we used in doing our market assessment and ultimately created the terms based on that.”
Swinney, who was supposed to make $4.8 million in 2017, will now make $6 million this year as the additional $1.2 million will be paid through December 31, 2017. Swinney will also receive a $1.5 million signing bonus when he signs the deal in September.
Coming into today, Nick Saban is expected to make $11.125 million at Alabama in 2017, followed by Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh at $7 million, Ohio State’s Urban Meyer at $6 million, Penn State’s James Franklin at $5.78 million and Florida State’s Jimbo Fisher at $5.3 million.
Thursday marks the second straight year Swinney has received a new deal and the third time in four years overall. On April 12, 2016, Clemson approved a deal to pay Swinney $32.025 million over six years, including signing and retention bonuses, that contract was supposed to run through the 2021 season.
Clemson and Swinney have been negotiating his new deal since June.
“I don’t look at it as being elongated but in the summer time, things happen,” Radakovich said. “People go away for a couple of days and certainly we have our board of trustees meeting in the middle of July.
“So between vacations and timing, it’s kind of elongated it a little bit from that perceptive. But if you condense the times when we were probably sitting down and talking about it, it was not that long of a negotiation to be honest.”
Swinney can make up to an extra $1 million dollars each year in bonus incentives, including $200,000 for making the College Football Playoff, another $200,000 for playing for the national title and another $250,000 for winning the national championship.
He also can make another $200,000 for winning an ACC Championship.
As for the buyout, Swinney would owe the university $6 million—the largest buyout among the top 5 highest paid head coaches—should he leave the school before December 31, 2018. The buyout will go down to $4 million in 2019, $3 million in 2020, $2 million in 2021, ’22 and ’23.
The university’s buyout will be $5 million times the number of years remaining in years 1-6, and then the remaining base, supplement and licensing for years 7 and 8 will be the buyout.
Swinney of course deserves to be in the conversation as college football’s highest paid head coaches. He led the Tigers’ to the 2016 National Championship thanks to a dramatic come-from-behind win over Alabama in the 2017 College Football Playoff Championship Game.
It was Clemson’s first national title in college football since 1981.
Under Swinney’s direction, the Tigers are 89-28 (.761 win percentage) since 2008, which includes six straight 10-plus win seasons, three ACC Championships, two straight berths in the College Football Playoff, two Orange Bowl victories, a Fiesta Bowl win, as well as playing in the 2016 College Football Playoff Championship Game.
Over the last six seasons, the Tigers are 70-13. The 70 wins rank second to Alabama. Only Clemson and Alabama have recorded six straight consecutive 10-win seasons.
Clemson finished No. 2 nationally at the end of the 2015 season, the third highest finish in school history. Swinney’s 2012 and 2013 teams also finished ranked inside the top 10.
The Tigers are currently ranked No. 5 heading into next Saturday’s season opener against Kent State. It marks the 25th consecutive week Clemson has been ranked inside the Associated Press Top 5, a Clemson record and the longest active streak in college football.