CLEMSON — Dabo Swinney has surpassed a full decade with the Clemson football program. His new deal puts him close to a decade more at Death Valley.
Tigers coaching salaries
Head coach Dabo Swinney: $3.15 million
Offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Chad Morris: $1.3 million
Defensive coordinator/linebackers coach Brent Venables: $800,000
Defensive ends coach/co-defensive coordinator Marion Hobby: $375,000
Tight ends coach/special teams coordinator Danny Pearman: $310,000
Defensive tackles coach/associate head coach Dan Brooks: $310,000
Offensive line coach Robbie Caldwell: $310,000
Secondary coach Mike Reed: $260,000
Receivers coach/recruiting coordinator Jeff Scott: $245,000
Running backs coach Tony Elliott: $240,000
TOTAL: $7.3 million ($3.15m Swinney, $4.15m assistants)
Clemson locked down Swinney through the 2021 season, adding four years to his existing contract and infusing a healthy raise among beefed-up performance incentives. The term sheet was finalized Wednesday and approved Saturday morning by the Clemson board of trustees.
Dabo Swinney performance incentives:
ACC Championship berth ($50,000)
ACC Championship winner ($100,000)
APR score 950 or higher ($75,000)
AFCA or Bear Bryant Coach of the Year ($50,000)
ACC Sportswriter Coach of the Year ($25,000)
College Football Playoff bowl, non-ACC champ ($200,000)
College Football Playoff bowl, ACC champ ($300,000)
College Football Playoff semifinal ($400,000)
College Football Playoff title game ($400,000)
College Football Playoff champions ($100,000)
Non-CFP bowl appearance ($25,000)
Non-CFP bowl victory ($25,000)
“I’m extremely excited and appreciative for the opportunity to continue to build our program,” Swinney said in a statement. “The future of Clemson University is extremely bright, and the future of our football program is as well. While we have accomplished many goals, we still have several out there to reach and we will continue to work to get there.”
Even more than the dollars and cents, the significance is the commitment level agreed to by the employer and the employee.
Buyouts for either Clemson or Swinney to cut ties were considerably raised, essentially guaranteeing Swinney will lead the Tigers the next three seasons and likely keeping him there at least until his three boys are out of high school eight years in the future.
“Dabo is one of the top coaches not only in the ACC but in the entire nation,” athletic director Dan Radakovich said in a statement. “His teams have succeeded on the field, in the classroom and in the community. We’re excited to have him lead our program for a long time into the future.”
Swinney, 44, will make $3.15 million in 2014, $3.3 million in 2015 and is scheduled to earn $3.45 million each of the ensuing six seasons. That’s an average of $3.39 million over the life of the contract.
His 2013 take-home was $2.55 million (including two one-time bonus payments), which ranked Swinney No. 28 overall among head coaches, according to a USA Today Sports database. His 2014 salary of $3.15 million is just above Cincinnati’s Tommy Tuberville, who was the No. 15 best-compensated head coach last year.
The Swinney extension arrives just two days after South Carolina’s board of trustees raised head coach Steve Spurrier’s salary to $4 million Thursday.
Swinney’s base salary stands pat at $245,000, while his supplemental salary was raised, in addition to a new $500,000 yearly licensing fee. USA Today reported Nov. 6 that Clemson was working to create such a stipend to allow the school to promote his name and likeness.
Swinney’s agent, Mike Brown, told USA Today in November that “next to Nick Saban, Dabo’s name and likeness probably means as much” to his school compared to all other college football head coaches.
The entire contract (eight years, $27.15 million) is guaranteed, minus mitigating salary from other employers, if Swinney is fired by Clemson without cause any time in the next three years.
If terminated in 2017 or 2018, Swinney is owed 75 percent of the remainder of his paycheck. In 2019, his buyout is $4 million; in 2020, it’s $2 million, and nothing in the final year of the deal in 2021.
This is, in the event Swinney’s success went south and his job status were called into question, a riskier buyout to Clemson. On his previous deal, Swinney’s contract was only 100 percent guaranteed for the first year, dipping to 90 percent in year two, 75 percent in year three and 60 percent thereafter.
On the flip side, the new contract makes it harder for Swinney to leave Clemson. Previously, Swinney would have owed the university $2 million beginning Dec. 1 of this year had he left for another job (a figure decreasing in future years.)
Now, Swinney’s tab, should he accept another position, is $5 million for the next three years, decreasing to $3 million in 2017 and continuing to fall from there. Contractually, Radakovich has the right to waive or modify the employee buyout.
There are bonuses and incentives included to escalate his salary based on academic success, regular season victories and ACC championships.
His supplemental salary could increase beginning with the 2016 season based on regular season victories, starting at $100,000 yearly raise for a 9-3 year and topping out at a $300,000 yearly raise for a perfect 12-0 season.
A College Football Playoff semifinal appearance garners Swinney $400,000, a title-game berth nets him another $400,000 and a championship gets $100,000.
Swinney’s academic performance rate incentives were tweaked. On the old contract, his on-field achievement bonuses were increased provided Clemson surpassed the national median in APR scores.
It’s more cut and dry now. If Clemson’s football program has an APR of higher than 950, Swinney banks $75,000 and may earn performance incentives. But if the Tigers don’t reach 950, the contract states “no postseason bonuses available to Coach.”
This shouldn’t be an issue for Clemson, which ranked in the top seven in national APR the past two seasons, with a score of 983 in 2011 and 985 in 2012.
A June 2013 NCAA report indicated Clemson remains among the national leaders, on pace for a score around 985 once again.
Swinney unlocked a $215,000 bonus Jan. 3: $75,000 for coaching in the Orange Bowl, $100,000 for winning it and $40,000 for winning his 11th game. His 2013 base and supplemental earnings of $1,965,024 was accompanied by a $500,000 longevity fund for remaining as the Tigers’ head coach through Nov. 30, 2013 — the day South Carolina defeated Clemson for the fifth straight year.
After serving as wide receivers coach and recruiting coordinator from 2003-2008, Swinney was named interim coach on Oct. 13, 2008, upon Tommy Bowden’s midseason resignation. He was promoted to permanent head coach after the 2008 season, and has compiled a 51-23 overall record (33-12 in the ACC) with wins over top-10 squads Virginia Tech, LSU, Georgia and Ohio State the past three years.
Clemson opens the 2014 season Aug. 30 at Georgia.