A Beau Tuck Tuck Classic
TUSCALOOSA | Athletics Director Mal Moore was not concerned about whether Nick Saban would endorse potato chips and soft drinks when he first spoke to the then-coach of the Miami Dolphins.Moore was concerned about getting the coach to come to the University of Alabama to win football games, he said.And on Thursday, UA trustees approved a contract for Saban that does not require too much of him off the field.“This is the way he has done this at other schools," Moore said after the trustees meeting. “We hired him to coach football."The eight-year contract guarantees Saban $32 million unless he quits or is fired for cause.There is also no buyout clause in the contract if he leaves for another job, a rarity among the contracts of head coaches of major college football programs.The contract makes Saban the highest-paid college football coach, and, unlike in some coaching contracts, the money is not paid at the end in deferred compensation. Saban’s salary was guaranteed when he signed the contract.“I think the university did everything exactly like you would like for them to do," said Saban, who was hosting a benefit golf tournament for his Nick’s Kids charitable foundation at the NorthRiver Yacht Club on Thursday. “Everybody did their due diligence and we appreciate President Witt in his role and what he did and all the other people in the university community that made all this happen.“We look forward to trying to build something special for the state and the people at the University of Alabama."Moore said Saban’s salary is based on the market value generated by winning conference and national championships while coach at Louisiana State University. It was needed to woo him away from the professional ranks, Moore said.Saban was earning about $4.5 million with the Dolphins. Before that, he led the LSU Tigers to the 2003 BCS national championship.“We believe this contract serves the university well," President Robert Witt told trustees. “It represents a sound business decision."No state taxpayer money will be used to pay Saban’s salary.Although averaging to $4 million a year, Saban’s annual salary will fluctuate. The university will pay a base of $225,000 annually, but his “personal service fee" for off-the-field job requirements bounces between $3.275 million and $3.975 million.This year Saban will make $3.5 million. He will earn $3.75 in 2008, $3.9 million in 2009, $4.1 million in 2010, $4.15 million in 2011 and $4.2 million from 2012 to 2015.“As a board, we feel we have made a wise and good investment," said Joe Espy, trustee chairman from Montgomery. “It is a decision that has been unanimously accepted by the university community."Saban said the record level of compensation created no extra pressure on him as Alabama’s head coach.“Pressure doesn’t come from external factors," Saban said. “I won’t do things any differently than I did when I was the lowest-paid coach making $8,000 per year. The gratification you get comes from doing the best job you can do, regardless of other considerations."The chief difference between Saban’s contract and that of his predecessor, Mike Shula, focuses on obligations off the field.Working out that part of the contract was a sticking point during negotiations, those close to the situation said.However, UA officials said it took nearly six months to get the contract signed because Saban came and began recruiting, then had spring practice and was back to recruiting.Espy said details of contracts take a while to hammer out.“Sometimes jobs well done take a little time," he said.Shula had been obligated “without limitation" to appear in commercial endorsements, radio and television programs, media events and public appearances negotiated by the university, according to the contract he signed about a year ago. For those efforts, Shula received an annual “talent fee" of $1.35 million.By contrast, Saban need only appear once a week on the radio during the season, twice during spring practice and once close to the national signing day for high school recruits.For television programs, Saban is bound to appear once a week during the season, once after the season and once after a bowl game.Those radio and TV appearances will presumably be on the weekly radio call-in show and post-game review television show that are broadcast during the season.Appearances at booster clubs, golf tournaments, speaking engagements or any other events where Saban is not endorsing a product will be limited to 15 per year under the contract, unless Saban chooses to do more. Also, Saban’s contract stipulates that he stay at least one day at the events.Moore said he does not think the limited appearances will be a problem with booster clubs nor alumni, and Witt said that Saban has indicated he is willing to do more if needed.As for endorsements of companies that sponsor Crimson Tide athletics, Saban “shall not be required to personally endorse or promote in a commercial manner the use or purchase of any product or service," according to the contract.In other words, someone other than the head football coach will appear in television, radio and print advertisements.“I’ve only done two in my career, one at Michigan State and one at LSU," Saban said.“I will do things to support the University. I think what we do should be a first-class representation of the University."Witt said Shula did commercials because it was his choice, and Saban’s absence from them is not a concern.Moore said Saban did one television commercial during his five-year stint at LSU.“He has never done them," Witt said. “That’s just not who he is."Saban’s presence at the helm of the football program -- the moneymaker for UA athletics -- “transcends any need for him to be involved in commercial endorsements," Witt said.Just six months after he took the job, the attention and excitement surrounding the football team has grown, with possibly the clearest evidence being the capacity crowd of 92,000 in Bryant-Denny Stadium for the A-Day game in April, he said.“That’s going to bring increased attention to every company we have a relationship with," Witt said.As with nearly all coaching contracts, Saban has built-in bonuses. If the football team wins the conference and national titles, along with Saban being named conference and national coach of the year, he would get $600,000.Saban’s bonuses break down as follows:$75,000 for appearing in the SEC championship game and an additional $50,000 for a win,$65,000 for playing in a post-season bowl game,$90,000 for playing in the Chik-Fil-A, Cotton, Outback or Capital One bowls,$125,000 for appearing in a Bowl Championship Series bowl game,$200,000 for appearing the BCS national championship game and an additional $200,000 for winning the BCS national championship game,$25,000 for earning SEC coach of the year,$50,000 for winning a recognized national coach of the year award,$50,000 if the team’s graduation rate is in the top half of SEC teams,$100,000 if the team’s graduation rate is in the top quarter of SEC teams.The deal is similar in structure to Saban’s former contract at LSU.However, when his team beat Oklahoma in the Bowl Championship Series title game in Jan. 2004, 21-14, it triggered a clause in Saban’s contract that guaranteed him becoming the highest-paid coach in college football, who at the time was Oklahoma’s Bob Stoops, by $1.When he left LSU for the Miami Dolphins, Saban’s contract was seven years for approximately $2.3 million a season plus incentives, but did not include a buyout penalty.Details of that contract included $400,000 in salary, $1.45 million for radio and television programs, $300,000 by the Tiger Athletic Foundation and $150,000 from the school’s official shoe and equipment provider.He was lured away by a five-year, $22.5 million deal and promise he would have total control over Dolphins football operations.
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