If Clemson wins Saturday, so could James Franklin's bank account

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It’s a very, very big weekend for Clemson coach Dabo Swinney, whose Tigers can clinch the ACC’s Atlantic Division with a victory over Virginia.

Swinney’s in his first full year, and he signed an incentive-laden deal upon his full-time hire last December. But as Paul Strelow of The State newspaper in Columbia, S.C., points out, simply winning the division would more than double his annual compensation from $800,000 to roughly $1.75 million. If the Tigers win the ACC title, Strelow writes “the sum will push above $2 million.”

So why bring it up here?

Because one of the trickle-down winners of Swinney’s success is one James Franklin.

Everyone knows about the $1 million the Maryland coach-in-waiting is guaranteed if he doesn’t get the full-time job after the 2011 season. But how about if he does get the job?

Here’s the relevant facet of that clause (emphasis mine):

(b) The offered contract will include:

i. A term of five (5) years; and,

ii. A compensation package in an amount no less than the average paid to Division I-A Atlantic Coast Conference head football coaches; and,

iii. A bonus package in an amount no less than the average paid to Division I-A Atlantic Coast Conference head football coaches; and,

iv. An obligation by the Coach to pay the University an amount equal to twenty-five percent (25%) of his total guaranteed annual compensation in the year of release as a condition of release from the Agreement prior to the end of its term (e.g., if in the year the release is sought the Coach’s total guaranteed compensation package is $1,000,000, then the Coach will be required to pay the University $250,000 as a condition of release); and,

v. A “Termination for Convenience of University” provision that obliges the University to continue to pay the Coach all guaranteed compensation (including, e.g., base salary and any TV/radio compensation, deferred compensation set-aside amounts, personal appearance compensation, fund raising compensation, etc.) for the remaining portion of the term as if he were still actively employed.

That’s a lot of fun stuff.

In any case, just focusing on Swinney’s deal and assuming the numbers are dead on, the Clemson coach will get $950,000 more annually if the Tigers win this weekend.

And since Clemson presumably accounts for 1/11th of the average of the ACC coaches (the contract language isn’t clear, but Ralph Friedgen’s salary will probably have nothing to do with Franklin’s as a head coach), then the annual value of Franklin’s deal will go up $1 for every $11 extra dollars any other coach in the ACC makes.

Which means the annual value of the contract Maryland is obligated to eventually offer Franklin if it doesn’t want to cut a $1 million check to send him on his merry way will go by up by roughly $86,000 if Clemson beats Virginia on Saturday.

Over five years, that’s approximately $430,000.

While on this subject, it’s worth the reminder that USA Today published the salaries and contracts of all major-college head coaches last week. So it’s possible to set up the tentative and subject-to-change framework of the deal Maryland is obligated to offer Franklin without giving him seven figures to walk away.

The contracts for Boston College’s Frank Spaziani, Duke’s David Cutcliffe and Miami’s Randy Shannon are published estimates from the summer, but none of them seem absurdly high – especially in context with the rest of the conference. Nevertheless, they’ll get an asterisk in this chart as an estimate

CoachSalary
Frank Spaziani, BC
$1,000,000*
Dabo Swinney, CU
$816,850
David Cutcliffe, DU
$1,500,000*
Bobby Bowden, FSU
$2,319,375
Paul Johnson, GT
$2,300,000
Randy Shannon, THE U   
$1,500,000*
Butch Davis, UNC
$1,702,000
Tom O’Brien, NCSU
$1,200,000
Al Groh, UVA
$2,072,339
Frank Beamer, VT
$2,138,000
Jim Grobe, WF
$2,172,127
Total/Avg.$18,720,691/
$1,701,881 

By those calculations, a Clemson win this weekend pushes that average to nearly $1.8 million – within $100,000 of the $1,877,095 that Friedgen hauled in last year.

So Franklin’s bank account in the future stands to gain a little bit if the Tigers do what they’re supposed to and handle Virginia on Saturday. But even if they don’t, he’ll still be doing a lot better than most of us if indeed he does become the next head coach at Maryland.

- Patrick Stevens

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