Clemson coach Dabo Swinney is getting paid in grand fashion. The school announced Friday that he has a new eight-year contract worth $54 million in total.
That works out to an annual average of $6.75 million for the coach who just led Clemson to its second national championship ever and its first since 1981. The deal is slightly backloaded, per a term sheet the school released. Including his signing bonus and salary, he’ll make $7.5 million in 2017.
Swinney is one of the best coaches in college football, but he’d been getting paid more like a top-15 coach than the top-four coach he currently is. In 2016, only two coaches made more than the $6.75 million he’ll average going forward: Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh, who made $9 million, and Alabama’s Nick Saban, who made about $6.9 million. Those figures are per USA Today’s coach pay database. Harbaugh’s deal is more complicated than the raw compensation figure suggests.
Only four active head coaches have won national titles as head coaches: Saban, Swinney, Urban Meyer, and Jimbo Fisher. It’s really hard to argue that Swinney is anything worse than the No. 4 in the country at this point. Given Clemson’s recent success and its current recruiting trajectory, Swinney’s arguably better than that.
So it seems Swinney will now settle in the top five nationally in coach pay, and maybe higher than that. In the huge market that is college football coach compensation, that’s reasonable.
He’s a champion, and he’s recruited well enough that Clemson has a chance to win again. He’s spearheaded a rise that’s made Clemson one of the best programs in the country. This contract may or may not quell internet rumors that Swinney will eventually replace Saban at his alma mater, Alabama, but it should.
Earlier this year, the Tigers moved into a $55 million football facility. Swinney’s getting basically the same amount over the next six years. Bear those figures in mind the next time someone tells you a Playoff-contending football program is cash-strapped.