Nobody’s going to be surprised if Clemson University agrees that Dabo Swinney’s $3.3 million salary this season was a bargain given the market for top coaches.
So it’s likely, regardless of the outcome of Monday’s national championship game, Swinney will receive a raise that could make him one of the highest paid coaches in college football.
How much? It’s reasonable to speculate that a new agreement could lift Swinney to among the 10 highest paid coaches in the game with a salary in the neighborhood of at least $5 million.
A source indicated this week that conversation has begun, but nobody would speak on the record.
In the second year of a contract that runs through 2021, Swinney was already scheduled for a bump to $3.45 million. By winning the ACC Championship, his annual salary automatically moves to $3.5 million for the duration.
By reaching the CFP Championship game Monday night in Glendale, Ariz., Swinney was assured $950,000 in performance bonuses.
Winning would be worth another $100,000, a modest figure compared to $400,000 for appearing in each of the two playoff games. That would make his total compensation $4.5 million for 2015-16.
A survey published annually by USA Today placed Swinney at No. 26. Nick Saban is the nation’s highest paid coach at nearly $7 million annually. The top 10 includes Urban Meyer, Bob Stoops and Les Miles, coaches whose teams Clemson has beaten.
Hugh Freeze of Ole Miss, No. 10 on the list, received a raise this week from $4.3 million to nearly $5 million, moving him to No. 8 behind Kevin Sumlin of Texas A&M. Jim Harbaugh, Jimbo Fisher and Charlie Strong are all above $5 million.
Concern that Monday’s game could serve as audition for Alabama’s next coach could be ended if Swinney agreed to an extension with a big increase. Swinney’s buyout in 2016 is $5 million. It drops to $3 million in 2017.
In addressing any concern over keeping him, Clemson would need to present an offer reflecting Swinney’s value to the institution.