Ranking Big Ten football coaches’ contract buyouts

·4 min read

In the world of big-time college football, job security isn’t the most stable when comparing it to most professions. That is of course an understatement, and when a coach doesn’t produce wins on the field or is a model citizen as the face of a program off the field, it’s not long before a pink slip shows up.

However, sometimes it’s not that easy. A fan’s instant reaction to frustrations with a head coach is to call for a resignation or firing, but there are real dollars associated with those types of decisions. In most cases, it only works to part ways with an underperforming head coach when the contract buyout is palatable. Sometimes a university has to wait for the terms to get far enough along to where it can afford to terminate a contract early.

USA TODAY shared contract details of head football coaches of public universities, and included with those were the current contract buyouts. Based on that information, we thought it’d be interesting to rank the Big Ten head coaches and how much each contract buyout is. We are of course interested in Ryan Day, but it’s also important to see where he compares with other coaches in the league.

So here are all fourteen head coaches in the Big Ten ranked by contract buyouts. All figures are as of 12/01/2021.

Tom Allen, Indiana

WATCH: Indiana coach Tom Allen calls Ohio State 'special' after loss
WATCH: Indiana coach Tom Allen calls Ohio State 'special' after loss

Indiana Hoosiers head coach Tom Allen walks along the sideline during the fourth quarter of an NCAA Division I football game between the Indiana Hoosiers and the Ohio State Buckeyes on Saturday, Oct. 23, 2021, at Memorial Stadium in Bloomington, Ind. Credit: USA TODAY Sports

Current Contract Buyout

$30,000,000

Ryan Day, Ohio State

Big Ten football coaches ranked by 2021 total salary | Buckeyes Wire
Big Ten football coaches ranked by 2021 total salary | Buckeyes Wire

Ohio State Buckeyes head coach Ryan Day walks into the stadium before his team plays an NCAA college football game against Maryland Terrapins at Ohio Stadium in Columbus, Ohio on October 9, 2021. Credit: USA TODAY Sports

Current Contract Buyout

$28,416,668

Scott Frost, Nebraska

Scott Frost "grateful" for Ohio State's efforts in B1G football season
Scott Frost "grateful" for Ohio State's efforts in B1G football season

Sep 28, 2019; Lincoln, NE, USA; Nebraska Cornhuskers head coach Scott Frost heads onto the field prior to the game against the Ohio State Buckeyes at Memorial Stadium. Credit: Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports

Current Contract Buyout

$20,416,667

Mel Tucker, Michigan State

Michigan State’s new head football coach Mel Tucker is greeted by Sparty on Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2020, at the Capital Region International Airport in Lansing. Credit: USA TODAY Sports

Current Contract Buyout

$19,284,375

Greg Schiano, Rutgers

WATCH: What Rutgers HC Greg Schiano said about Ohio State postgame
WATCH: What Rutgers HC Greg Schiano said about Ohio State postgame

Rutgers Scarlet Knights head coach Greg Schiano walks on the field during pregame warmups before an NCAA Division I football game between the Rutgers Scarlet Knights and the Ohio State Buckeyes on Saturday, Oct. 2, 2021, at SHI Stadium in Piscataway, New Jersey. Credit: USA TODAY Sports

Current Contract Buyout

$19,218,750

Paul Chryst, Wisconsin

Wisconsin head coach quarter Paul Chryst talks to his offensive unit during the fourth of their game against Penn State Saturday, September 4, 2021, at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison, Wis. Penn State beat Wisconsin 16-10. Credit: USA TODAY Sports

Current Contract Buyout

$19,103,724

Jeff Brohm, Purdue

Nov 3, 2018; West Lafayette, IN, USA; Purdue Boilermakers head coach Jeff Brohm reacts against the Iowa Hawkeyes at Ross-Ade Stadium. Credit: Sandra Dukes-USA TODAY Sports

Current Contract Buyout

$18,966,667

Kirk Ferentz, Iowa

Dec 27, 2019; San Diego, California, USA; Iowa Hawkeyes coach Kirk Ferentz reacts after the Holiday Bowl against the Southern California Trojans at SDCCU Stadium. Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Current Contract Buyout

$16,503,333

P.J. Fleck, Minnesota

Minnesota head coach P.J. Fleck motions during the fourth quarter of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Oct. 2, 2021, at Ross-Ade Stadium in West Lafayette, Ind. Credit: USA TODAY Sports

Current Contract Buyout

$15,851,875

Bret Bielema, Illinois

Sep 4, 2021; Champaign, Illinois, USA; Illinois Fighting Illini head coach Bret Bielema enters the field with his team before the start of Saturday’s game with the UTSA Roadrunners at Memorial Stadium. Credit: Ron Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Current Contract Buyout

$15,138,425

Mike Locksley, Maryland

Oct 1, 2021; College Park, Maryland, USA; Maryland Terrapins head coach Michael Locksley looks on during the second half of the game against the Iowa Hawkeyes at Capital One Field at Maryland Stadium. Credit: Scott Taetsch-USA TODAY Sports

Current Contract Buyout

$6,138,426

Jim Harbaugh, Michigan

WATCH: Jim Harbaugh talks need to beat Ohio State at B1G media days
WATCH: Jim Harbaugh talks need to beat Ohio State at B1G media days

Jul 22, 2021; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Michigan Wolverines head coach Jim Harbaugh speaks to the media during Big 10 media days at Lucas Oil Stadium. Credit: Robert Goddin-USA TODAY Sports

Current Contract Buyout

$4,444,444

James Franklin, Penn State

What Penn State coach James Franklin said about Ohio State postgame
What Penn State coach James Franklin said about Ohio State postgame

Oct 30, 2021; Columbus, Ohio, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions head coach James Franklin during the first quarter against the Ohio State Buckeyes at Ohio Stadium. Credit: Joseph Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

Current Contract Buyout

Not reported

Pat Fitzgerald, Northwestern

Oct 16, 2021; Evanston, Illinois, USA; Northwestern Wildcats head coach Pat Fitzgerald looks on in the first half against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights at Ryan Field. Credit: Quinn Harris-USA TODAY Sports

Current Contract Buyout

Not reported

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