Last year began in bizarre fashion at the U.S. Capitol with a mass breaking-and-entering that included a guy dressed up like either Buffalo Bill or an elk that Buffalo Bill had bagged. Dude had paint on and everything, like he was going to a Buffalo Bills game.
Then it ended with the passing at age 99 of the priceless, charming, beautiful Betty White, our devilishly funny, loveable, television great-grandmomma.
So no, 2021 was not the greatest year, sort of like the maiden voyage of the Titanic wasn’t the greatest boat ride.
But there were some good things, especially if you were named new head football coach at LSU. Friends of the university paid the fired coach $17 million to leave and hired a new one — Brian Kelly of Notre Dame — for 10 years at $95 million, give or take.
That’s serious dough, but the incentives are what put this contract over the top.
For every full season Kelly lasts, he receives an extra $500,000 the next July;
If he wins a championship, he gets an extra $500,000;
If LSU is bowl eligible — and the Tigers have been every year since 1999 — he gets an extra $500,000. Because who couldn’t use an extra $500,000, right?
And all this time I’d thought your salary was your incentive, at least your main one.
Not so when it comes to corporate ’Murica. Then it’s all Monopoly money.
In addition to incentives, the LSU coach gets an allowance – 50 hours of travel each year on LSU’s planes and a loan of $1.2 million for a house and two cars, interest free (as if!).
Good for him.
Plus, if LSU wins a title and later fires him, the school owes him 100 percent of his remaining salary. If he’s fired without cause and hasn’t won a title, the school owes him 90 percent of his remaining salary, which he’ll have to figure out a way to squeak by on.
Gnaw on those numbers for a moment: this means that with no titles won — say by 2026 — the school could fire him, would have invested $50 million for nothing, and would still be on the hook for about $40 million more. Kelly’s agent must be descended from the people way back in the day who negotiated for Manhattan Island and the Louisiana Purchase.
We all know the money in college coaching has reached boggle-the-brain levels, but this amount of mostly guaranteed money for a decade is hard to conceive, especially with the new NIL and transfer portal phenomenon still working themselves out.
True, LSU has more than a few rich and loyal supporters, but that’s a lot of football money. So much is invested in the coach, it’s going to be nearly impossible to fire him. Is there any way you think this will turn out well?
(Yeah, me either.)
But good for people making as much money as others are willing to pay, and who am I to tell super-rich people how to spend their money? So … good luck.
Kelly’s giant payday inspired me to check my own contract to see if A) I had one and B) if there were any incentives in there. Like, turn in a story without typos and I get a box of Moon Pies. A small box, but a box just the same.
Or write something that makes at least a little sense, I get an oil change. Write something semi-poetic and BOOM!, Cracker Barrel gift card.
Tried. Didn’t happen for me. Kelly gets incentives; my salary — I’m a big food and shelter guy — is my incentive.
Kelly gets an interest-free car loan. If I do not pay my non-interest-free car note on time, I have to pay a late fee; there’s my incentive again — avoiding a late fee.
And I’m scared to ask the bosses about a buyout; they might cut my salary and give me more work to do, sort of a buyout in reverse.
So I have incentives. Just not the same as Kelly and a lot of other coaches.
But on the bright side in my world, sometimes I get a Saturday off. And, I’m not responsible for beating Alabama.
Contact Teddy at firstname.lastname@example.org
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