Clemson Coach's $93 Million Deal Includes an Extra Alabama Penalty

(Bloomberg) -- Clemson and Alabama have met in three of the last four college football title games. Now the rivalry is spilling over into coaching contracts.

Clemson University on Friday gave Dabo Swinney the biggest contract in college football history, a 10-year, $93 million deal that would keep the coach with the Tigers through 2028. But the South Carolina school added special protection -- a steeper financial penalty if Swinney leaves early for the top job at Alabama.

Clemson Coach's $93 Million Deal Includes an Extra Alabama Penalty

It’s common for coaching contracts to have buyouts that a coach -- or his next school -- must pay if he leaves for a different gig. Swinney’s deal has that, plus an additional cost if he jumps to the Crimson Tide. If Swinney leaves after the 2020 season, for example, he’ll owe Clemson $4 million. If he leaves for Alabama, it jumps to $6 million, according to a term sheet released by the school.

YearBuyoutIf It’s Alabama 
2019$4 million$6 million
2020$4 million$6 million
2021$3 million$4.5 million
2022$3 million$4.5 million
2023$2 million$3 million
2024$2 million$3 million
2025$2 million$3 million
2026$1 million$1.5 million
2027$1 million$1.5 million

Swinney, who has been coaching at Clemson since 2003, was born in Birmingham and played wide receiver at Alabama. He started his coaching career with the Crimson Tide and has long been linked to the school. He’s 49 years old, almost two decades younger than current Alabama coach Nick Saban.

“The magnitude and significance of the financial commitment Clemson has made isn’t lost on me,” Swinney said in an open letter to Tigers fans. “To be honest, it is all indescribably humbling.”

Swinney and Saban have met in the College Football Playoff title game in 2016, 2017 and 2019, with Clemson winning two of those three games. They also met in the semi-finals in 2018, which Alabama won.

Under Swinney’s new contract, his base pay will grow from $8.25 million in 2019 to $10 million in 2028. He’ll earn $650,000 in bonuses for every national championship.

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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