Which college football coaches can rake in big bowl bonuses this season?

·15 min read

The COVID-19 pandemic’s impacts on the 2020 college football season included all manner of changes to head coaches’ bonus plans.

However, incentives are back in full force — and in a big way — this season. The last of them are being earned in bowl games, the College Football Playoff and from the final poll rankings that will be compiled just after the CFP title is decided on Jan. 10.

Overall, going into Friday's games, head coaches are set for a combined total of more than $12.2 million in one-time incentive pay so far, a figure that does not include the value of contract extensions and pay increases that coaches also have picked up.

The biggest remaining prize will go to the coach whose team wins the CFP championship — unless that team is Cincinnati. The details:

Bearcats coach Luke Fickell's contract gives him a $250,000 bonus for the team playing in any of the six games affiliated with the CFP, regardless of whether that game is a semifinal. Beyond that, it provides for $25,000 if Cincinnati wins a bowl game, and nothing more.

So, if the Bearcats defeat Alabama, Fickell's total will move to $570,000, and he will not have another bonus at stake in the title game.

That is not the case for the Crimson Tide's Nick Saban, Georgia's Kirby Smart or Michigan's Jim Harbaugh.

Harbaugh will not add to the $2 million in bonuses he has stacked up to this point if the Wolverines beat Georgia in the semifinals. However, if Michigan goes on to win the championship, he will get another $1 million.

Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh raises the trophy after the Wolverines' 42-3 win over Iowa in the Big Ten championship game.
Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh raises the trophy after the Wolverines' 42-3 win over Iowa in the Big Ten championship game.

Harbaugh's $2 million total so far already is the largest single-season total since USA TODAY Sports began tracking these amounts in the 2014 season. The previous best was then-LSU coach Ed Orgeron's $1.775 million in 2019, when the Tigers won the CFP championship. Harbaugh has said he will donate his bonus money to other Michigan athletics department employees whose pay was reduced because of financial issues related to the pandemic.

If Alabama beats Cincinnati in the Cotton Bowl, Saban will add $200,000. If the Crimson Tide wins the national championship, he will get an additional $200,000. At this point, Saban has $525,000.

If Georgia defeats Michigan in the Orange Bowl, Smart will get $250,000. If the Bulldogs win the national championship, he will get an additional $200,000. So far, Smart has $400,000.

In games being played on New Year’s Day:

►Kentucky’s Mark Stoops will pick up $250,000 for a win over Iowa in the Citrus Bowl. That’s the amount he gets for the Wildcats’ 10th overall win of the season.

►Iowa’s Kirk Ferentz has bonuses available based on the Hawkeyes’ ranking in the final Coaches’ or Associated Press media poll. They are No. 16 in the Coaches’ poll and No. 17 in the AP poll. If they finish No. 25 through 21, he’d get $125,000; if they finish No. 20 through No. 16, he’d get $150,000; if they finish No. 15 through No. 11, he’d get $175,000.

►Utah’s Kyle Whittingham will get $100,000 if the Utes beat Ohio State in the Rose Bowl. He gets that amount for a victory in any of the six games affiliated with the CFP.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL SALARY DATABASE: Find coaches' salaries and bonuses

USA TODAY Sports will continue tracking the amounts head coaches are scheduled to receive and for what achievements. The information is based on contracts obtained from the schools through open-records requests. The list is alphabetical, by school.

It does not include bonuses and/or pay increases for assistant coaches, staff and athletics directors that also may be resulting from these achievements. It also does not include bonuses for team academic achievements.

Alabama: Nick Saban

►$65,000: Sixth win, eligible for bowl game not among with the six connected to the College Football Playoff.

$25,000: 9-1 record assures that team will be playing in one of Southeastern Conference's top seven non-CFP bowl games

$75,000: Win SEC West Division title

►$110,000: 11-1 record all but assures that team will be playing in one of the six bowl games connected to the CFP

$50,000: Win SEC title

►$200,000: Team selected to play in CFP semifinals

***

Alabama at Birmingham: Bill Clark

►$25,000: Sixth win, eligible for non-CFP bowl game

►$25,000: Eighth regular season win

***

Appalachian State: Shawn Clark

►$25,000: Sixth win, eligible for non-CFP bowl game

►$25,000: Win Sun Belt Conference East Division title

►$25,000: Ninth win of the season

►$25,000: Win non-CFP bowl game

***

Arizona State: Herm Edwards

►$50,000: Sixth win, eligible for non-CFP bowl game

►$100,000: Eighth regular season win

***

Arkansas: Sam Pittman

►$100,000: Sixth win, eligible for non-CFP bowl game

►One-year contract extension for bowl appearance. (Agreement now set to run through Dec. 31.2026.)

►$250,000 pay increase, beginning with next contract year: Sixth regular season win

►Additional $250,000 pay increase, beginning with next contract year: Seventh regular season win.

►Additional $250,000 pay increase, beginning with next contract year: Eighth regular season win. (Compensation for additional contract year now scheduled to be $3.75 million, with at least $1.875 million guaranteed.)

►$50,000: Increase in bowl-appearance bonus with team's selection to an SEC "Group of Six" bowl game

***

Auburn, Bryan Harsin

►$50,000: Sixth win, eligible for non-CFP bowl game

***

Ball State, Mike Neu

►$25,000: Sixth win, eligible for non-CFP bowl game

***

Boise State, Andy Avalos

►$15,000: Sixth win, eligible for non-CFP bowl game

***

California: Justin Wilcox

►$25,000: Win over Stanford

***

Central Florida: Gus Malzahn

►$25,000: Sixth win, eligible for non-CFP bowl game

►$25,000: Win non-CFP bowl game

***

Central Michigan: Jim McElwain

►$20,000: Sixth win, eligible for non-CFP bowl game

►$7,500: Seventh win of the season

►$2,500: Eighth win of the season

***

Cincinnati: Luke Fickell

►$75,000: Sixth win, eligible for non-CFP bowl game

►$30,000: 10th regular win

►$40,000: 11th regular win

►$50,000: 12th regular win

►$50,000: Win share of American Athletic Conference regular season title

►$25,000: AAC coach of the year

►$50,000: Win AAC title

►$175,000: Team selected to play in any CFP-affiliated game

►$50,000: Team in top 25 of final CFP rankings

***

Clemson: Dabo Swinney

►$50,000: Eligible for non-CFP bowl game with least eight wins

***

Coastal Carolina: Jamey Chadwell

►$150,000: Sixth win, eligible for non-CFP bowl game

►$200,000: Win bowl game

***

East Carolina: Mike Houston

►$25,000: Sixth win, eligible for non-CFP bowl game

***

Eastern Michigan: Chris Creighton

►$25,000 bonus; $10,000 pay increase, beginning in next contract year; and one-year contract extension: Sixth win, eligible for non-CFP bowl game (Agreement now set to run through Dec. 31, 2026. Compensation for additional year scheduled to be $600,000, with $530,000 guaranteed.)

►$10,000: Seventh win of the season

***

Fresno State: Kalen DeBoer

►$50,000: Sixth win, eligible for non-CFP bowl game

►$25,000: Seventh regular season win

►$25,000: Eighth regular season win

►One-year contract extension: Fifth Mountain West Conference win, in combination with certainty of having winning overall regular season record (Agreement now set to run through Jan. 1, 2026. Compensation for additional year scheduled to be $1.55 million, with $1.24 million guaranteed.)

►$25,000: Ninth regular season win

***

Georgia: Kirby Smart

►$50,000: Sixth win, eligible for non-CFP bowl game

►$100,000: Win SEC East title, will play in SEC championship game

►$25,000: 10-0 record assures that team will be playing in one of Southeastern Conference's top seven non-CFP bowl games

►$100,000: 12-0 record all but assures that team will be playing in one of the six bowl games connected to the CFP.

►$75,000: Team selected to play in CFP semifinals

►$50,000: SEC coach of the year

***

Georgia State: Shawn Elliott

►$25,000: Sixth win, eligible for non-CFP bowl game

►$25,000 bonus and $25,000 pay increase beginning in next contract year: Win bowl game

***

Hawaii: Todd Graham

►$20,000: Team invited to play in Hawaii Bowl

***

Houston: Dana Holgorsen

►$10,000: Sixth win, eligible for non-CFP bowl game

►$10,000: Clinch appearance in American Athletic Conference championship game

►$10,000: Win non-CFP bowl game

►$20,000: All but assured of team finishing among top 25 in final Coaches or AP media rankings (entered bowl game at No. 21 in both rankings)

***

Iowa: Kirk Ferentz

►$100,000: Sixth win, eligible for non-CFP bowl game

►$500,000: Eighth win

►$200,000: Win Big Ten Conference West Division title, play in conference championship game

***

Iowa State: Matt Campbell

►$50,000: Sixth win, eligible for non-CFP bowl game

►$250,000: Seventh regular season win

***

Kansas State: Chris Klieman

►$50,000: Sixth win, eligible for non-CFP bowl game

***

Kent State: Sean Lewis

►$15,000: Sixth win, eligible for non-CFP bowl game

►$10,000: Win Mid-American Conference East Division title

***

Kentucky: Mark Stoops

►$100,000: Sixth win, eligible for non-CFP bowl game

►One-year contract extension: Seventh win. (Agreement now set to run through June 30, 2027. Compensation for additional year scheduled to be $6.5 million, with $4.875 million guaranteed.)

NOTE: On Dec. 15, the parties executed a two-year contract extension, running through June 30, 2028. Under that deal, Stoops' compensation is increasing to an annual rate of $6.75 million as of Jan. 1, 2022. The agreement calls for $250,000 annual increases, beginning July 1, 2023, meaning the final year of the deal is now scheduled to be worth $8 million.The annual amounts are 75% guaranteed.

►$250,000: Ninth win

***

Louisville: Scott Satterfield

►$100,000: Sixth win, eligible for non-CFP bowl game

***

Marshall: Charles Huff

►$50,000: Sixth win, eligible for non-CFP bowl game

***

Maryland: Mike Locksley

►$50,000: Sixth win, eligible for non-CFP bowl game

►$35,000: Win non-CFP bowl game

***

Memphis: Ryan Silverfield

►$25,000: Sixth win, eligible for non-CFP bowl game

***

Miami (Ohio): Chuck Martin

►$23,335: Sixth win, eligible for non-CFP bowl game

***

Michigan: Jim Harbaugh

►$500,000: Win share of Big Ten East Division title, play in conference championship game

►$1,000,000: Win Big Ten title

►$500,000: Team selected to play in CFP semifinals

***

Michigan State: Mel Tucker

►$75,000: Sixth win, eligible for non-CFP bowl game

►$50,000: Improved bowl bonus based on team being Big Ten Conference's No. 2 or No. 3 overall team

►$25,000: Big Ten coach of the year

►$125,000: Team selected to play in CFP non-semifinal

***

Middle Tennessee: Rick Stockstill

►$68,475: Sixth win, eligible for non-CFP bowl game

►One-year contract extension: Bowl win means team finished season with a winning overall record (Agreement now set to run through Dec. 31, 2028. Compensation for additional year scheduled to be $910,504 with $821,704 guaranteed.)

***

Minnesota: P.J. Fleck

►$75,000: Sixth win, eligible for non-CFP bowl game

►$100,000: Eighth regular season win

►$50,000: Bowl win over a team from a Power Five conference other than the Big Ten.

***

Mississippi: Lane Kiffin

►$100,000: Regular season win over non-conference Power 5 team (Louisville)

►$50,000: Sixth win, eligible for non-CFP bowl game

►One-year contract extension: Seventh win (Agreement now set to run through Dec. 31, 2025. According to a recent term sheet from the university, Kiffin's annual pay will increase to $7.25 million, beginning Jan. 1, 2022. That is up from the previously scheduled amount of $5.25 million, and it is set to increase by $100,000 annually. The guaranteed value of the new deal is not available because that is determined, in part, by an agreement with the Ole Miss Athletic Foundation, a private, non-profit organization that declines to provide that agreement.

$50,000: 8-2 record assures that team will be playing in one of Southeastern Conference's top seven non-CFP bowl games

$150,000: Fifth SEC win of the season

$150,000: Sixth SEC win of the season

$150,000: Team selected to play in CFP non-semifinal

Mississippi State: Mike Leach

►$75,000: Sixth win, eligible for non-CFP bowl game

►$25,000: Increase in bowl-appearance bonus with team's selection to an SEC "Group of Six" bowl game

***

Missouri: Eli Drinkwitz

►$50,000: Sixth win, eligible for non-CFP bowl game

***

Nevada: Jay Norvell

►$25,000: Win over Power 5 team (Arizona)

►$25,000: Win over Nevada-Las Vegas

►$15,000: Sixth win, eligible for non-CFP bowl game

►$25,000: Seventh regular season win

►$25,000: Eighth regular season win

***

North Carolina: Mack Brown

►$75,000: Sixth win, eligible for non-CFP bowl game

***

North Carolina State: Dave Doeren

►$25,000: Sixth win, eligible for non-CFP bowl game

►$50,000: Eighth win of the season

►$50,000: Ninth win of the season

►$50,000: Team No. 25 through No. 16 in final CFP rankings (was No. 18)

***

North Texas: Seth Littrell

►$35,000: Sixth win, eligible for non-CFP bowl game

***

Northern Illinois: Thomas Hammock

►$15,000: Win over Power 5 team (Arizona)

►$10,000: Win Mid-American Conference West Division title

►$25,000: MAC coach of the year

►$25,000: Win MAC title

***

Ohio State: Ryan Day

►$50,000: Win share of Big Ten Conference East Division title

►$200,000: Team selected to play in CFP non-semifinal

***

Oklahoma: Lincoln Riley

►$25,000: Sixth win, eligible for non-CFP bowl game

***

Oklahoma State: Mike Gundy

►$62,500: Sixth win, eligible for non-CFP bowl game

►$62,500: Team selected to play in CFP non-semifinal

***

Old Dominion: Ricky Rahne

►$25,000: Sixth win, eligible for non-CFP bowl game

***

Oregon: Mario Cristobal

►$150,000: Eligible for non-CFP bowl game with at least seven wins

►$200,000 and 1-year contract extension: Ninth regular season win. (Agreement now set to run through Jan. 14, 2027. Compensation for additional year scheduled to be $5 million, with $3.8 million guaranteed.)

►$200,000: Tenth regular season win

►$100,000: Win Pac-12 North Division title

***

Oregon State: Jonathan Smith

►$25,000: Sixth win, eligible for non-CFP bowl game

►One-year contract extension for bowl appearance. (Agreement now set to run through Feb. 28, 2027. Compensation for additional year scheduled to be $3 million, with $1.5 million guaranteed.)

***

Penn State: James Franklin

►$200,000: Sixth win, eligible for non-CFP bowl game

**

Purdue: Jeff Brohm

►$112,500: Sixth win, eligible for non-CFP bowl game

►$37,500: Seventh regular season win

►$30,000: Eighth regular season win

►$45,000: Tied for second in Big Ten West Division final standings

**

San Diego State: Brady Hoke

►$10,000: Win over Power Five team (Arizona State)

►$10,000: Win over Power 5 team (Utah)

►$50,000: Sixth win, eligible for non-CFP bowl game

►$25,000: Win Mountain West Conference West Division title, play in conference championship game

►$15,000: Mountain West coach of the year

***

South Carolina: Shane Beamer

►$100,000: Sixth win, eligible for non-CFP bowl game

***

Tennessee: Josh Heupel

►$100,000: Sixth win, eligible for non-CFP bowl game

***

Texas A&M: Jimbo Fisher

►$100,000: Sixth win, eligible for non-CFP bowl game

***

Texas-El Paso: Dana Dimel

►$2,500: Beat New Mexico State

►$59,333: Sixth win, eligible for non-CFP bowl game

***

Texas-San Antonio: Jeff Traylor

►$25,000: Regular season win over Power 5 team (Illinois)

►$50,000: Sixth regular season win

►$100,000: Sixth win, eligible for non-CFP bowl game

►$50,000: Seventh regular season win

►$50,000: Eighth regular season win

►$100,000: Ninth regular season win

►$100,000: Win Conference USA West Division title

►$25,000: Win Conference USA title

***

Toledo: Jason Candle

►$20,000: Sixth regular season win, eligible for non-CFP bowl game

►$10,000: Seventh regular season win

***

UCLA: Chip Kelly

►$10,000: Sixth regular season win

►$40,000: Eligible for non-CFP bowl game

►$10,000: Seventh regular season win

►$10,000: Eighth regular season win

***

Utah: Kyle Whittingham

►$15,000: Team ranked in top 25 at any time during season

►$241,667: Sixth win: eligible for non-CFP bowl game

►$100,000: Win Pac-12 Conference South Division title, play in conference championship game

►$158,333: Win Pac-12 title, play in any CFP bowl game

►$85,000: Team in top 25 of final CFP rankings

►$55,000: Pac-12 coach of the year

***

Utah State: Blake Anderson

►$75,000: Sixth win: eligible for non-CFP bowl game

►$25,000: Win Mountain West Conference Mountain Division title, play in conference championship game

►$50,000: Win Mountain West Conference title

***

Virginia: Bronco Mendenhall

►$75,000: Sixth win, eligible for non-CFP bowl game

***

West Virginia: Neal Brown

►$50,000: Sixth win, eligible for non-CFP bowl game

***

Western Kentucky: Tyson Helton

►$50,000: Eighth win assures that team will finish season with winning overall record

►$50,000: Win bowl game

***

Western Michigan: Tim Lester

►$25,000: Sixth win, eligible for non-CFP bowl game

►$10,000: Seventh regular season win

►$14,500: Nine players selected to Mid-American Conference all-conference teams

►$25,000: Win non-CFP bowl game

***

Wisconsin: Paul Chryst

►Unspecified share of staff bonus pool (amount in pool is 2% of defined staff payroll of $5.58 million): Sixth win, eligible for non-CFP bowl game

►Staff bonus pool increased to 4% of defined payroll: Seventh win ($223,200 in pool)

►Staff bonus pool increased to 7% of defined payroll: Eighth win ($390,600 in pool)

***

Wyoming: Craig Bohl

►$27,709: Sixth win, eligible for non-CFP bowl game

►$25,000: Win bowl game

Follow colleges reporter Steve Berkowitz on Twitter @ByBerkowitz

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: College football: Which coaches can rake in big bowl bonuses?