LSU’s Brian Kelly secures $500,000 bowl bonus after defeat of Army


LSU football coach Brian Kelly received a $500,000 bonus after the Tigers’ 62-0 victory over Army, making them eligible for a bowl game. This bonus is the largest ever given to a public-school coach for becoming bowl eligible, without a contract extension. Kelly is already one of the highest-paid college employees in the country.

This bonus brings Kelly’s total compensation for the season to at least $10.475 million. He may also receive additional bonuses based on academic benchmarks, further success on the field, or winning coach-of-the-year awards.

Kelly’s contract stipulates that he will receive the $500,000 bonus if the team is “bowl eligible,” meaning they have won at least six of their 12 regular season games. LSU’s current record is 6-2 (4-1 in Southeastern Conference play), securing their spot in a bowl game for the 23rd time in the past 24 seasons.

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Many football head coaches’ contracts include bonuses for reaching a bowl game. Among public-school coaches, the second-highest bonus amount for a non-College Football Playoff (CFP) affiliated bowl game is $275,000, which can be earned by Utah’s Kyle Whittingham. Penn State’s James Franklin can earn $200,000 for reaching a bowl game. Whittingham and Franklin have both achieved six wins this season.

Some highly paid coaches’ contracts only provide a bowl-appearance bonus if the team plays in one of the six CFP-affiliated games, known as the New Year’s Six. Exceptions include Jim Harbaugh of Michigan, Ryan Day of Ohio State, and Dan Lanning of Oregon. Harbaugh also receives a $500,000 bonus if the Wolverines play in the Big Ten Conference championship game.

Clemson’s Dabo Swinney and Oklahoma’s Brent Venables have specific requirements for earning bonuses for non-New Year’s Six bowl games. Swinney’s bonus is contingent on winning at least eight regular season games, while Venables’ bonus requires at least seven regular-season wins for the Sooners.


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