College Football: Houston Nutt & Mike Sherman Prove Importance of Buyout

Michael Felder@InTheBleachersNational CFB Lead WriterJune 19, 2012

OXFORD,  MS - OCTOBER 22:  Head Coach Houston Nutt of the Ole Miss Rebels on the sidelines during a game against the Arkansas Razorbacks at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium on October 22, 2011 in Oxford, Mississippi.  The Razorbacks defeated the Rebels 29 to 24.  (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

We have all seen the disaster that is Notre Dame paying Charlie Weis gobs of cash, years after his coaching tenure at Notre Dame expired. However, Weis is not the only coach out there making bank after losing his job. As Illini HQ reports, the 13 coaches fired this offseason are due to collect some real nice sums of money.

Most notably, Houston Nutt and Mike Sherman. The former Ole Miss and Texas A&M coaches are due to collect $11.8 million of the roughly $27 million due to fired coaches. Throw in dismissed Kansas head coach Turner Gill at $6 million, and we're talking about three coaches collecting about 66 percent of the total number. 

These numbers speak to the importance of a buyout. While everyone and their brother is worried about the up-front numbers concerning salary and bonuses with coaches are hired, often the most critical element of a hire is ignored: the buyout. As we discussed with Clemson's Dabo Swinney, the buyout is what can make or break your program.

Most schools are not Notre Dame—they do not have money oozing from their coffers. A bad buyout on a coach that you think might, maybe, could possibly be your program's savior can cripple your program.

Being contractually obligated to pay your old coach millions of dollars can grossly limit what you can pay your new coach. As we've seen at Ole Miss, they went with a cheaper option in Hugh Freeze.

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Buyouts are the most important part of the contract in today's "Hired to be Fired" world of college football. A good buyout will keep some cash in your pocket and allow you to continue building your program. A bad buyout will set you back almost as much as the poor coaching performance.

Oh, and while it does seem easy to just keep buyouts low, there is some juggling that must be done. While a poor coaching performance makes a low buyout seem smart, a solid performance would warrant a higher buyout. Coaching is a fluid job, and with bigger programs hiring away coaches from smaller teams, it is nice to get something back when the coach leaves.

Smart buyouts are the most critical element of the contract: They insulate you from a coaching failure, but also protecting you from a coach poaching. 

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