Dabo Swinney is the only real peer to Nick Saban these days, and Clemson is paying up big-time to make sure Swinney stays around for the foreseeable future.
The two-time national champ head coach signed a 10-year, $93 million deal, the school announced Friday. That smashes the 10-year, $75 million deal Texas A&M gave Jimbo Fisher before 2018, making Swinney’s contract the richest by total value in the history of the sport.
The contract says a lot about Clemson, Swinney, and college football in general.
1. Clemson is doing its damndest to Bama-proof Swinney’s contract.
Swinney’s buyout amount to leave Clemson ranges from $4 million if he leaves before 2022 to $1 million if he leaves in the last three years of the deal, 2026-2028.
For all that time, the buyout is explicitly 50 percent higher if Swinney leaves to become the head coach at Alabama. That’s Clemson’s response to years of rumors that Swinney, an Alabama alum and national championship player with the school, might eventually head to Tuscaloosa. It’s also Clemson AD Dan Radakovich following through on something he’s said for years: that the school would try hard to be competitive to hang onto Swinney.
(Of course, after Clemson trounced Bama by four touchdowns in the 2018 season’s title game, the Bama internet questioned if Swinney was even a worthy Saban replacement.)
Saban’s under contract through 2025 and will coach until the sun melts the Earth, anyway.
2. But let’s all laugh very hard about the idea that a $6 million or $5.5 million buyout would stop Alabama from hiring whoever it wanted.
If Swinney ever did decide he wanted to go back to his alma mater, the buyout kicker in his contract would be like trying to stop a charging lion with a Super Soaker.
Saban is in line to make about $9.3 million per year going forward at Bama, putting him right in line with Swinney’s new deal. As if Bama wouldn’t pay $15 million in the first year to hire Swinney if it wanted him.
3. This doesn’t even have anything to do with Clemson, but let’s also laugh at Texas A&M for giving Fisher a contract with no buyout if he leaves.
A&M gave Fisher a fully guaranteed $75 million.
Fisher gave A&M a promise that he’ll work for $7.5 million a year, but at least he acknowledged in writing that he “recognizes his promise to work for the University for the entire term of his Agreement is important to the University.”
(If you are Fisher’s agent, please email me. I’d like you to do my next contract as well.)
4. There are still hucksters around college sports who will tell you that, at all levels, there’s just no damn money to pay the players.
In addition to its $93 million investment in Swinney, Clemson now practices in the football version of Palace of Versailles, which cost a reported $55 million to build.
If Dabo received half of this, and half went into a pot for players, Clemson could pay every scholarship player nearly $55K/year for 10 years. If the full $93 million went to players, every scholarship player could be paid almost $110K/year for 10 years. https://t.co/sT3Qe9q8oD— Andrew Carter (@_andrewcarter) April 26, 2019
5. Finally, an Alabama player got paid this much money to work in football.
The $93M contract that Dabo Swinney is about to sign will, in terms of total dollar value, surpass CJ Mosley's $85M as the largest contract ever signed by a former Alabama athlete. Not bad for a walk-on.— Alabama Pro Updates (@BamaProUpdates) April 26, 2019
Players not getting paid their worth isn’t funny at all, but opportunists still trying to convince you any of this makes sense are funny in their own way.