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SEC Coaches and Basing Pay on Incentives, Not Salary

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How much would coaches get if their salaries were based on incentives instead of guaranteed money?

War Machine Dawg suggested that someone write an article about football coaches getting paid based on incentives, and not a yearly salary.  The idea was interesting, so I came up with a system where coaches would mostly receive pay based on how their teams performed.

I looked up the incentives for the contracts of each SEC head coach using this website.  A lot of coaches get incentives for simply not getting fired or leaving.  If you take out those incentives, incentives are usually about 25% of their total contract.

I made up an incentive based system where coaches would all receive 1 million a year, but would get Saban like pay for getting all of the possible incentives.

Incentive Amount
Bowl game appearance 600,000
Division Champion 300,000
Conference Champion 900,000
Top 4 Bowl Game (or making playoffs) 1,200,000
National Champion 1,200,000
Academic progress rate above 930 300,000
Academic progress rate top 3 in SEC 600,000
Conference wins 100,000 each
Top 25 finish in College Playoff Poll 300,000
SEC Coach of the Year Award 500,000
Total Possible 6,800,000

What the coaches made in guaranteed pay last season is compared to what they would have made under the system I created above is in the table below, which includes the one million in guaranteed pay.  The actual guaranteed pay listed for the coaches isn't exact, but it is close enough.  The numbers listed are by millions.  For Academic Progress rate, I used their scores from last year.

Coach Guaranteed Salary Incentive System Salary Difference
Saban 6.9 6.0, 7.2 if Alabama wins CFP -.9 or .3
Bielema 3.2 2.4 -.8
Malzahn 3.9 2.1 -1.8
McElwain 3.5 3.7 .2
Richt 5.5 2.4 -3.1
Stoops 2.1 1.5 -.6
Miles 4.3 2.7 -1.6
Freeze 4.3 4.0 -.3
Mullen 4.0 2.3 -1.7
Pinkel 4.0 2.0 -2.0
Spurrier 4.0 1.3 -2.7
Jones 3.0 2.7 -.3
Sumlin 5.0 2.3 -2.7
Mason Unknown 2.1 Unknown

Some Observations

  • Coaches wouldn't want this exact system, because almost all of them would have made less money.
  • Every coach got the 930 or higher Academic Progress Rate bonus.  Mason, Saban, and Pinkel got the $600,000 top three Academic Progress Rate bonus.  Spurrier missed it by a point.  I based it off the multi-year APR, not the one year score.  This is one bonus where it would pay to be at Vanderbilt.
  • This system didn't significantly reward coaches for getting nine wins instead of six.  Other than the conference wins bonus, incentives for coaches seem to be all about winning championships.  If I wanted to adjust the system to better reflect how much coaches make, I would make the conference win bonus around $250,000.
  • I was a little surprised that I didn't see a rivalry game win bonus in any of the contracts I looked at.
  • Under this system, coaches might be much less reluctant to take a difficult job.  It doesn't take into account the resources a school has, or if their school is in a talent rich area.