Texas signed off on head coach Charlie Strong's new contract on Monday, per Chip Brown of OrangeBloods.com, and the former Louisville Cardinals coach will be getting a hefty pay increase to lead the Longhorns.
With that pay increase comes an even greater pressure to succeed right away.
Texas is unwilling to accept mediocrity. Whether former coach Mack Brown was forced out or resigned of his own accord, he ultimately stepped down in December after 16 years with the program because results weren't what they needed to be. In the last four years, the Longhorns went 30-21,18-17 in Big 12 play, and did not win a conference title.
For that, Texas was paying Brown $5.39 million in base pay, according to the USA Today. That made Brown the second highest-paid coach in college football only to Alabama's Nick Saban. Brown also had a maximum bonus of $850,000.
The terms of Strong's contract call for the new coach to get paid less than Brown, but he will still be among the highest-paid head coaches in college football.
The numbers are straightforward. Strong will be in a five-year deal that pays him $5 million guaranteed annually. However, in one year, Strong will begin receiving annual raises of $100,000. There are also numerous incentives, from a $25,000 bonus for a team GPA of at least 2.9, to $250,000 for a national championship.
Potentially, Strong could close in on $1 million in bonuses if he wins a Big 12 title, a national title and is named National Coach of the Year, among several other things.
Since these incentives are performance-based, an extra, say, earning an extra $750,000 would mean Strong is doing a great job.
But if Strong doesn't get Texas back to a championship level, the school is still paying him $5 million a year. Add in Strong's $4.375 million buyout from Louisville, which Texas has agreed to pay, and the program is forking over $9.375 million just in Year 1.
Texas can afford that amount, but it shows the university is "all in" with Strong. It's Strong's obligation, then, to produce acceptable results quickly—and acceptable isn't an 8-4 record every year.
If Strong is fired without cause, the school must pay him the amount remaining on his contract—though Strong is obligated to offset up to 50 percent of that amount if he finds employment.
In short, there's a lot on the line.
Strong is already under a lot of pressure to win because he isn't considered the best "fit" for the program. Specifically, he doesn't have Texas ties, and he's not known as the political schmoozer Brown was. Prominent booster Red McCombs criticized the Strong hire—though he later apologized for his comments—noting that he was shut out of the process by Texas athletic director Steve Patterson.
"I don't have any doubt Charlie is a fine coach," McCombs said last week to ESPN Radio San Antonio. "I think he'd probably make a fine position coach, maybe a coordinator."
McCombs' comments were insulting for a coach like Strong, whose credentials speak for themselves, but they show what kind of political forces Strong is up against. Add in an enormous amount of money and the tension only rises.
Strong was Patterson's biggest hire as an AD, and he's only been on the job a few months. Patterson's future, in many ways, is tied to Strong's success (or failure.)
The amount of money being invested in Strong only adds to the urgency to win.
Ben Kercheval is the lead writer for Big 12 football. You can follow Ben on Twitter @BenKercheval.