New Western Kentucky football Coach Bobby Petrino. Mandatory Credit: Beth Hall-USA TODAY Sports
Colleges making football head-coaching changes so far this season potentially will have to pay more than $50 million in expenses associated with contract buyouts alone, a USA TODAY Sports analysis of coaches' contracts and other documents finds.
The analysis takes into account amounts schools may owe head and assistant coaches they have fired, as well as damages that schools have agreed - or are likely -- to pay on behalf of head-coaching hires who had been working as the head coach at another NCAA Bowl Subdivision school.
Of the 15 schools that have announced new head coaches so far, 10 have hired the head coach of another FBS school. That is one shy of the number of such hires made in after the past two seasons, combined.
Nearly any head coach who breaks his contract to accept a job elsewhere in football is required to compensate the school he leaves. However, the new employer generally agrees to pay that buyout. In some cases, the new employer also agrees to pay any income taxes owed on the buyout amount.
Colorado's hiring of San Jose State's Mike MacIntyre on Monday means 25 of the 124 FBS schools will have new coaches next season. Thirteen of those schools created the opening by firing their coach prior to the end of a contract. The buyouts of those deals totaled more than $30.4 million, not including what Boston College may have owed Frank Spaziani (as a private school, BC is not required to disclose its contract).
Assistant coaches at those schools, many of whom had multi-year agreements, are owed at least $15 million.
Both of those figures are subject to offsets from future employment, which coaches often are required to make good-faith efforts to seek.
On the hiring side of the equation, the amount of money involved is being driven by the unusually high number of schools filling head coaching positions with active head coaches. Following the 2010 and '11 seasons, 11 of the 50 total FBS head-coaching openings were filled by active FBS head coaches.
Assuming that all of the hiring schools make their new coaches' buyout payments - and so far all five schools that have released financial details are doing so - the total will be at least $8 million.
Auburn and Tennessee will be paying the highest total tabs for their firings and hirings.
When Auburn fired Gene Chizik as its head coach, the university announced it would be paying $11.09 million in buyouts to Chizik and his staff. When Auburn hired Gus Malzahn as Chizik's successor, it agreed to pay $750,000 more to Arkansas State to cover Malzahn's buyout there.
Tennessee is paying its former head coach, Derek Dooley, $5 million, and may be paying his assistants well over $4 million more. It also will be paying new head coach Butch Jones' $1.4 million obligation for leaving Cincinnati.
North Carolina State and South Florida also will be paying former head coaches, could be paying former assistants and have said they are paying the buyouts owed by their new coaches.
California, Colorado and Purdue are other public schools facing similar sets of compensation, but they haven't yet disclosed their new coaches' full financial terms.