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CFP Bonuses: Won’t Someone Think of the Coaches?

With only a handful of teams left standing with a reasonable shot at a national championship, Boardroom looks at the CFP bonuses on the line in the coming days.

The temperature’s dropping — if you’re in New York like this humble sportswriter, it’s dropping a lot — and that can only mean one thing: We’re approaching Bowl Szn.

So, while fans nationwide are preparing to eat their bowl mascots or simply tailgate for their conference championship games, the fine folks here at Boardroom World Headquarters are busy crunching some numbers. Specifically, we’re calculating the hefty bonuses on the line as title games play out and the College Football Playoff picture finally becomes clear.

As we’ve outlined in the past, most college football head coaches have robust bonus structures in their contracts that pay them generously for key milestones. One of those milestones, inevitably, is a college football playoff appearance. So, with the potential field seemingly down to eight teams, Boardroom examines what each head coach could gain or lose with possible selection.

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College Football Playoff Bonuses

All odds via FanDuel Sportsbook as of Nov. 29, 2023.

Jim Harbaugh, Michigan Wolverines

2023 Record: 12-0
Next Game: Dec. 2 vs. Iowa (Big Ten Championship Game)
Odds to Make CFP: -6000

CFP Bonus: $500,000

It’s a time of, uh, let’s call it “uncertainty” for Harbaugh at Michigan, but his Wolverines are in the driver’s seat for a playoff bid. And assuming they get one, Michigan’s head man will get at least $500,000 to go with it. That will jump to $1 million if he brings a national title home to Ann Arbor.

Go deeper into Jim Harbaugh’s full contract with Michigan.

Kirby Smart, Georgia Bulldogs

2023 Record: 12-0
Next Game: Dec. 2 vs. Alabama (SEC Championship Game)
Odds to Make CFP: -590

CFP Bonus: $500,000

It only starts at half a million for Smart. If Georgia returns to the national championship game, he will get $750,000 for a loss and $1,000,000 for a win. This is Smart’s second season under his current contract, so we know he already got that $1 million bonus once…

Go deeper on Kirby Smart’s full contract with Georgia.

Dan Lanning, Oregon Ducks

2023 Record: 11-1
Next Game: Dec. 1 vs. Washington (Pac-12 Championship Game)
Odds to Make CFP: -355

CFP Bonus: $250,000

Lanning’s quarter-million-dollar bonus will double if the Ducks win their semifinal game (for you non-mathematicians, that’s $500,000 for reaching the title game). He’ll double that if Oregon hoists the trophy, giving him a cool $1 million in College Football Playoff bonuses.

Nick Saban, Alabama Crimson Tide

2023 Record: 11-1
Next Game: Dec. 2 vs. Georgia (SEC Championship Game)
Odds to Make CFP: +225

CFP Bonus: $400,000

If Alabama is selected for the CFP, Saban will earn one of three bonuses. He’d get at least the aforementioned $400K, but that would jump to $600,000 if the Tide make it to the championship game, and $800,000 if they win it.

Go deeper into Nick Saban’s contract with Alabama.

Steve Sarkisian, Texas Longhorns

2023 Record: 11-1
Next Game: Dec. 2 vs. Oklahoma State (Big 12 Championship Game)
Odds to Make CFP: +142

CFP Bonus: $100,000

For Sark to claim that six-figure bonus, he must guide the Longhorns to a Big 12 Championship Game win. Luckily for him, he’d earn another $100,000 for doing so. He can also earn an additional $375,000 for winning the national championship — $125,000 for reaching the title game and another $250,000 for winning it.

Go deeper on Steve Sarkisian’s contract with Texas.

Kalen DeBoer, Washington Huskies

2023 Record: 12-0
Next Game: Dec. 1 vs. Oregon (Pac-12 Championship Game)
Odds to Make CFP: +285

CFP Bonus: $400,000

DeBoer’s $400,000 will more than double if Washington reaches the championship game to $850,000. Oddly enough, he’d only get an additional $50,000 for winning the whole damn thing.

Mike Norvell, Florida State Seminoles

2023 Record: 12-0
Next Game: Dec. 2 vs. Louisville (ACC Championship Game)
Odds to Make CFP: -152

CFP Bonus: $300,000

For now, Norvell will get $300,000 if Florida State is selected to the playoff field. That increases to $500,000 with a win and $800,000 with a national championship. With the CFP expanding to 12 teams next season, he’ll have a chance to earn even more, concluding with a $950,000 title bonus.

Go deeper on Mike Norvell’s contract with Florida State.

Ryan Day, Ohio State Buckeyes

2023 Record: 11-1
Next Game: TBA
Odds to Make CFP: +1800

CFP Bonus: $250,000

Day knows, at this point, that his destiny is no longer in his hands. The Buckeyes are long shots to make the Playoff, but if they do, he can count on a quarter million dollars to go with it — $350,000 if they advance to the Championship Game.

Go deeper on Ryan Day’s contract with Ohio State.

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The $300 Million Michigan vs. Washington Sneaker War

Jordan Brand’s Big 10 behemoth and Adidas’ West Coast kingpin are going toe-to-toe in historic fashion. Boardroom breaks down the unprecedented apparel battle. On Monday night, the Michigan Wolverines and Washington Huskies face off…