Jimbo Fisher made history with the highest buyout received in NCAA history after being fired this past Sunday. Now, with the search for Texas A&M coaching candidates underway, the Aggies became the latest in a growing number of Power 5 schools paying tens of millions of dollars to fired college football coaches.
While Fisher wasn’t the first marquee college football coach to be fired this season, the Michigan State Spartans avoided having to pay the buyout for Mel Tucker because he was fired for cause. The Aggies fired Fisher for team performance, resulting in the school having to cover the remainder of his $75 million buyout.
It was the latest example of Power 5 schools handing out massive contracts to a head only to fire him a few years later, eating the remainder of the contract and paying their fired employee to no longer coach the team. The process itself is expected to cost the Aggies more than $100 million.
However, Texas A&M is far from alone in shelling out tens of millions of dollars to fired college football coaches. Even before more head coaches are fired in the weeks ahead, Power 5 schools have spent a staggering amount on buyouts.
According to Paula Lavigne of ESPN, Power 5 schools owe fired head football coaches an estimated $146 million just tied to firings since the start of the 2022 season.
Incredibly, per ESPN, Power 5 and Group of 5 programs have spent more than $533 million in dead money owed to fired coaches in an 11-year period from Jan. 1, 2010 to Jan. 31, 2021. The figure includes buyouts for football coaches, men’s and women’s basketball coaches and assistant coaches.
Related: College Football Defense rankings
Among the group of fired coaches still receiving buyouts including Bryan Harsin (Auburn Tigers, $15.5 million), Scott Frost (Nebraska Cornhuskers, $15 million), Geoff Collins (Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, $11.4 million) and Paul Chryst (Wisconsin Badgers, $11 million).
While schools aren’t required to pay the full amount immediately, even the terms of the buyout result in some prominent coaches being actively unemployed while still making north of $5 million per year from their former employer.
The $146 million total since just the beginning of the 2022 college football season will also increase in December and January with more football coaches poised to be fired. Fittingly, more coaching searches will also result in head-coaching candidates demanding contracts that require massive buyouts if they’re fired.