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American Thinker
American Thinker
16 Dec 2023
Greg Maresca


NextImg:Buyout sweepstakes

Nationwide politics consists of two dynamics: Left vs. Right.  Fundamental issues?  Forget it. Rather, what are your preferred pronouns and desired bathroom, and most especially, who should be playing for college football’s national championship? The exploding national debt, an unsecure border, foreign policy, and international trade are all nonstarters.

Dwelling in the midst of this Advent season is the bread and circus brigade of college football’s bowl season that unofficially kicked off with the annual Army vs. Navy game. Celebrating its 124th meeting on the gridiron, Army was not fooled by Navy’s submarine of a quarterback sneak as time was running out. Let’s hope no military branch is ever fooled in intelligence gathering or on the battlefield.

One battlefield where the coach is always a winner is in their contract buyout. Colleges owe fired coaches tens of millions—a record this year—in buyout monies.  Indiana’s former head coach Tom Allen is owed a $15.5 million buyout, while Houston’s Dana Holgorsen is owed $14.8 million.  The winner however of the coaches’ buyout brigade is Texas A&M’s former coach Jimbo Fisher, who will get $76 million in stocking stuffers just two years after signing a 10-year, $95 million contract extension.

Somewhere P.T. Barnum is smiling.

The list is only poised to grow.  Michigan State would have owed fired head coach Mel Tucker an $80 million buyout, but the school is off the hook because Tucker was fired over allegations of sexual harassment.

It’s not just in the college ranks where this financial psychosis reigns but also in the NFL as Frank Reich, formerly of the Colts, is being paid by the team $24,657 per day—a nine million severance through 2026—not to coach.

The most important contractual detail for any bigtime coach besides pay is the buyout.  Penn State Head Coach James Franklin’s 2024 buyout is $56 million.  At the conclusion of PSU’s loss to Michigan many of the Nittany Lion faithful let their displeasure known and surely wouldn’t object to a coaching transfer portal. Historically, however, Franklin is holding his own. Even longtime coach Joe Paterno whose name and legacy is now practically nonexistent in Happy Valley also had trouble beating Ohio State and Michigan.

The major contention against Franklin is how Penn State has yet to make the College Football Playoff.  Most D1 football programs would love a coach who consistently kept their team bowl eligible and in the top 25.  In his 10th season with the Nittany Lions, Franklin is 88-38. Penn State went 10-2 this season winning double-digit games for the fifth time in Franklin’s tenure.  For the first time, Penn State is playing in the Peach Bowl and could be the first collegiate program to win each of the New Years’ six bowl games.

Franklin made seven million this year that doesn’t include a New Year’s Eve clause where he is to receive $500,000 each Dec. 31, provided he remains on staff through the remainder of his contract that ends in 2031.

Conversely, if Franklin leaves for another opportunity, he would owe Penn State two million in 2024 and one million through 2030. If he leaves in the final year of his contract, he owes nothing.

Franklin’s deal is chock full of incentives that a generation ago were unheard of and they include:

In addition, Franklin receives $100,000 for life insurance, a $10,000 annual vehicle allowance, and a private jet for 55 hours annually for personal use. If Penn State wins a national championship, his pay will increase to $7,300,000 for every year remaining on his contract.

Being anchored in the Big Ten East with PSU’s Achilles heel of Michigan and Ohio State, those Big Ten incentives are mere verbiage on a contract. Like it or not, what practically guarantees Franklin’s stay in State College is that monster buyout.

Image: Public domain.