Head coaching contracts within College Football have become more and more complicated over these last couple of decades. It comes from the absurd amount of money generated by these teams during their respective seasons. Universities want to ensure their teams remain a financial dynamo, allowing them to use those profits to improve the school’s resources.
As a result, a premium has been put on acquiring top-flight coaches who can guide teams to winning seasons and championships. Schools are more than willing to offer large-money contracts for these types of results. A byproduct of these large-money contracts was the inclusion of specific clauses and incentives. It’s a way to ensure the successful coaches stay at their university rather than bolt for a new job.
These incentives and clauses include cash bonuses for achievements, such as winning the National Championship, having a top-5 defense, or reaching a certain amount of wins. Some of these clauses are quite outlandish or unfeasible, which brings us to an interesting question: what coaching contract has the most unrealistic clause in College Football?
A significant amount of research led to finding the answer lying within Seth Littrell’s contract at the University of North Texas. It states Littrell will receive a $100,000 bonus for winning the National Champion during his tenure. If anybody projected North Texas would win the title next season, they’d get laughed at for many different reasons. Let’s look at a few of them to provide a full picture of what makes this clause outrageous.
North Texas’s Conference
The first strike against this ever happening is North Texas playing in Conference USA, one of the worst in the NCAA. It’s filled with schools that most people don’t even realize have a football team, such as UTEP and Old Dominion. Their late-season schedule would be considered subpar compared to the other teams contending for a College Football Playoff selection.
North Texas would need to compensate for their subpar conference schedule with early-season games versus Power 5 schools (Big Ten, Big 12, SEC, ACC, and PAC-12). Their schedule only had one team from these conferences, Texas A&M, which has been canceled due to COVID-19. If they even played against these types of opponents, they’d need to win all of their games and the conference title to have a remote shot at playoff consideration.
But the selection committee is also notorious for looking past smaller conference teams with these credentials. They often have picked a Power 5 school with one or two losses over an undefeated team from a small conference. The latest instance came with the University of Central Florida being on the outside looking in 2018-2019’s playoff: a one-loss Oklahoma Sooners team was chosen instead.
It doesn’t help that Central Florida’s conference (AAC) is considered much more competitive than Conference USA. These are long odds for Littrell and North Texas to overcome during the 2020-2021 College Football Season and future seasons.
North Texas’ lack of talent remains the most significant reason against any realistic championship aspirations. This team isn’t budding with multiple future NFL players or 5-star recruits. It’s a low-tier D1 school with a roster lacking the top-end talent needed for winning a title. They couldn’t even compete in their conference last season: North Texas finished 4-8 and tied for fourth in Conference USA’s West Division.
This upcoming season doesn’t look like it’s going to be any better. Littrell needs to find a new quarterback as their senior starter, Mason Fine, graduated. The shortened training periods due to COVID-19 will only make finding a component one even harder. Their second-leading receiver, Michael Lawrence, is another significant loss on offense for Littrell. He’ll have to find another running mate for returning senior wide receiver, Jaelon Darden. This amount of production will be a hard thing to reproduce. It’s not looking good on the offense for the Mean Green.
On the defensive side, North Texas lost several players in their secondary to graduation: CB Nick Harvey, S Taylor Robinson, S Jameel Moore, S Dominique Harrison. None of these players were standout players, but each of them saw significant field time last season. Replacing them with inexperienced young players could become disastrous.
One good piece of news is that the entire starting linebacking core returns. This unit was solid and should only improve with more experience together. But if a subpar secondary is backing them up, their improvement won’t matter much. Honestly, fans should expect some severe growing pains on defense for the Mean Green. It should struggle even against the top teams in Conference USA.
The talent pipeline likely isn’t going to get much better in future seasons, either. North Texas has been recruiting better in recent years, but it’s still nothing compared to any Power 5 school. This year, their recruiting class ranked 68th in the entire NCAA without a single 4-star or 5-star recruit signing with them. It’s an improvement on the previous season, 75th, but not enough to compete for a National Championship. It will always be an uphill battle for them to recruit those exclusive 4-star or 5-star guys against teams with better resources, reputation, and amenities.
If Littrell somehow does bring a National Championship to North Texas, the payout should be a little more than $100,000. Look at the odds he’s facing to obtain this clause in his contract. It’s borderline impossible based on his resources, the team’s conference, and talent pool. You’re asking him to perform a modern-day miracle to get this done.
You’d think he’d deserve a little more money than 1/7th of his total contract. Therefore, the payout should be unrealistic to incentivize Littrell further to perform above his weight class. It seems like North Texas forgot a zero or two when writing this clause.