Les Miles is one of the most popular eccentric coaches in College Football. His popularity comes from his time at LSU, where he brought them a National Championship in 2007. This achievement alone will make him a beloved part of their history forever. But the final years of his LSU tenure saw his teams constantly underachieve due to offensive struggles. It seemed like Miles had lost his touch, and the game had evolved past him.
As a result, LSU ended up firing him four games into the 2016 season. Some experts thought Miles’ time as a college football coach was at an end. Miles proceeded to sit out two years without landing another coaching job. His wait would finally end when Kansas called and gave him the chance of turning around their program. It was the first time in a long while where it seems the Jayhawks were interested in fielding a competitive football team.
Miles took over for the 2019-2020 season, leading Kansas to a 3-9 record and their first win over a Power 5 opponent in 48 games. It was a small but notable improvement over their previous seasons as they were competitive in several games. But it also leads to the question of how did Kansas attract an accomplished head coach like Miles to coach their lackluster program.
It seems to be a lack of other opportunities or the challenge of building up a program. After all, his contract isn’t too competitive with other Big 12 coaches. Here’s a deep dive into what he’s getting paid for this upcoming season to provide context.
Les Miles’ 2020-2021 Contract
Total Guaranteed Compensation
The first thing to understand about Les Miles’ contract is his guaranteed compensation for 2020-2021 is split into three categories: base salary, supplement compensation, and a retention bonus.
Miles’ base salary is a standard $500,000, which tends to be around what most coaches get in their contracts. It’s what Miles is entitled to regardless of anything weird happening during the season (postponement, illness, etc.).
His supplement compensation is a sizable $2,275,000. It’s what Kansas pays him for doing his coaching duties, such as running practices, recruiting, TV appearances, and radio interviews. In other words, everything you’d expect a coach to do is covered by this income.
If Miles remains the coach past November 15, 2020, he’s also entitled to an additional retention bonus of $675,000:
- Base Salary: $500,000
- Supplement Compensation: $2,275,000
- Retention Bonus: $675,000 (remains in employment at Kansas part November 15, 2020)
Finishing the season at Kansas would result in Miles earning $3,450,000 in guaranteed compensation. You might think it’s a sizable number for a college football coach, but it puts him in the bottom five of his conference. His annual salary lines up with what Derek Mason (Vanderbilt) and Scott Satterfield (Louisville) got paid last season.
As with every head coaching contract, Miles can obtain extra money by meeting specific performance incentives throughout the year. His incentives are separated into three categories, including on-field performance, coaching recognition, and academic incentives.
On-field Performance Incentives (Cumulative)
- National Championship Win: $1,000,000
- College Football Playoff Appearance: $350,000
- New Year’s 6 Bowl Game Appearance: $1,000,000
- Any Other Bowl Game Appearance: $75,000
- Big 12 Championship Game Participant: $100,000
Kansas won’t win the National Championship this season due to them starting with an 0-3 record. But if the season began today and Miles somehow managed to win one, he could’ve earned an additional $1,350,000. He’ll instead likely have to hope for a bowl game appearance and an extra $75,000.
Coaching Recognition Incentives
- AP, USA Today, Sporting News, Home Depot, or APCA Coach of the Year (Can Only Earn One): $50,000
- Big 12 Coach of the Year: $50,000
- Assistant Coach Wins Broyles Award: $15,000
If Les Miles brings Kansas even close to a top-3 finish in the Big 12, he’d be a frontrunner for every coaching award. He’d have the opportunity to earn an additional $115,000 from winning these individual awards.
Academic Incentives (Can Only Earn One)
- GPA of 2.65 or higher: $25,000
- GPA of 2.75 or higher: $50,000
Miles can also earn money off his team’s performance in the classroom. He can obtain an extra $50,000 from his team, earning a GPA of 2.75, which isn’t too difficult. It’s a nice payday for something that has little to do with his coaching performance.
Maximum Earnings for 2020-2021
If Miles had won a National Championship and his team performed well in the classroom this season, his yearly payout would be $4,965,000. It’s nothing close to what he was even making during his heyday at LSU. But it seems Miles wants a challenge rather than bringing another established program to new heights. However, Miles has a challenging task ahead of him as Kansas is well-outside the realm of competing at the moment.