The PAC-12 conference is one of College Football’s most prestigious. After all, it’s one of the Power 5 conferences within this ultra-competitive sport. It contains the luxurious histories of USC, Washington, Oregon, and recently included juggernaut Utah. This success leads to these schools offering big contracts to keep their respective coaches in place for a long time.
But not all PAC-12 teams can be described as powerhouses. Some of the inferior teams often find themselves swinging for the fences when hiring a head coach. It leads them to offer rather large contracts for coaches expected to perform miracles with a rundown program.
One of the most recent examples would be UCLA hiring Chip Kelly before the 2018-2019 season. Their program hasn’t seen much recent success even with their prestigious background in College Sports. Plus, Kelly had been a household name within College Football during the 2000s and early 2010s with his massive triumph at Oregon. But hiring Kelly was considered an enormous risk. He was coming off two horrendous failures in the NFL with the Philadelphia Eagles and San Francisco 49ers.
However, UCLA was able to entice him with an expensive, five-year contract. Kelly jumped at the chance and began his tenure with the Bruins in 2018 with some fanfare. But any hype died quickly as UCLA was among the worst teams in any Power 5 conference for the next two seasons.
His lack of success and improvement has made his contact an easy pick for worst within the PAC-12. Let’s take a look at what Kelly earned over these two seasons to see what makes his contract such a horrible one for UCLA.
Chip Kelly’s 2018-2019 and 2019-2020 Contract Details
Total Guaranteed Compensation
Kelly’s contract states his guaranteed salary will be split into base salary and talent fee. The base wage consists of what Kelly gets paid for regardless of what he does during these respective seasons.
If a health issue prevented Kelly from coaching, UCLA would still be obligated to pay him this amount as long as he was still under contract. This $300,000 figure remains the same throughout his five-year contract.
- Base Salary
- 2018-2019: $300,000
- 2019-2020: $300,000
- Talent Fee
- 2018-2019: $3,000,000
- 2019-2020: $3,200,000
But his talent fee or what he gets paid for doing radio/TV appearances, attending public events, and performing coaching duties increases throughout the contract. As a result, his total guaranteed salary will end up being higher year after year:
- 2018-2019: $3,300,000
- 2019-2020: $3,500,000
This amount of guaranteed money put him 5th among PAC-12 coaches in 2019. It put him right behind Mike Leach at Washington State. Leach had been at Washington State for several years and took that program from being a dumpster fire into a perianal Conference contender.
But this guaranteed money isn’t the only way Kelly’s capable of earning money. He can hit several performance incentives throughout each College Football season. Here’s a quick look at what Kelly could’ve made during these past two campaigns (the incentives bonus aren’t subject to change):
Regular Season and Conference Incentives
- Team Win 6 = $10,000
- Team Win 7 = $10,000
- Team Win 8 = $10,000
- Team Win 9 = $25,000
- Team Win 10 = $25,000
- Team Win 11 = $50,000
- Team Win 12 = $50,000
- Conference Championship Game Appearance = $50,000
- Conference Championship Game Win = $50,000
- Non-New Year’s Six/ Non-Playoff Bowl Game Appearance = $40,000
- New Year’s Six/ Non-Playoff Bowl Game Appearance = $100,000
- New Year’s Six/ Non-Playoff Bowl Game Win = $100,000
- College Football Playoff Semifinal Appearance = $100,000
- College Football Playoff Championship Game Appearance = $150,000
- College Football Playoff National Champions = $200,000
- Top 10 Finish (including ties) = $25,000
- Top 5 Finish (including ties) = $25,000
Coaching Recognition Incentives
- Conference Coach of the Year = $50,000
- National Coach of the Year = $100,000
Academic Team Incentives
- Graduation Rate Above 70% = $45,000
- APR Greater than 930 = $25,000
- APR Greater than 940 = $10,000
- APR Greater than 950 = $10,000
- APR Greater than 960 = $10,000
- APR Greater than 970 = $15,000
- APR Greater than 980 = $15,000
- APR Greater than 990 = $25,000
What Chip Kelly Made In Both Seasons
Chip Kelly’s first season in Westwood was an absolute disaster. His team started with five straight losses until they finally obtained a win over their rivals USC. However, the Bruins didn’t capitalize on this momentum as they stumbled to the finish line, finishing with a 3-9 record.
This 3-9 record was the worst in UCLA history since a 2-7-1 1971 season. As you might expect, Kelly earned none of the on-field performance incentives. He didn’t even reach the low 6-win plateau, which is almost a given for a prestigious Power 5 school like UCLA.
His team did have some success within the classroom to earn Kelly a few additional dollars. They had an APR rating of 942 and a 90% graduation rate for the 2018-2019 academic year. Due to this, he gained an extra $80,000.
This additional money would bring his total earnings to a respectable $3,380,000. He ended up pulling in more than a million dollars per win. It’s highly unlikely UCLA felt good about paying this much money for such mediocrity. But the win over USC did provide him with some goodwill.
Any goodwill was blown away by UCLA’s continued struggles during Kelly’s second season. His team did obtain one more one win earning a 4-9 record. But this improvement level isn’t what UCLA wants to pay for, especially with guaranteed salary increases each season.
The Bruins 4-9 record made sure Kelly didn’t earn any on-field performance incentives for a second straight year. His team did have a few impressive moments, such as winning against 19th-ranked Washington State and a late-season three-game winning streak.
But even with these victories, Kelly still couldn’t guide UCLA to a low-tier bowl game. He managed for the second straight season to not even reach the lowest expectations. His salary continued to rise anyway, even with this lack of success.
The Bruins did continue to excel with their classwork, though, with an impressive 92% graduation rate and 973 APR. As a result, Kelly pulled in an additional $115,000, bringing his total earnings to $3,615,000.
UCLA ended up paying an additional $235,000 for one more win. This situation isn’t one any college would like to experience when hiring a household named coach like Kelly. His stature comes with the promise of some notable immediate improvement. These two seasons have shown anything, but for the Bruins.
Future Contract Changes
His contract will only continue getting worse as it progresses. Kelly’s talent fee payout will continue to increase over the next two years, causing his total guaranteed salary to rise. He’s also entitled to get a retention bonus after the 2020-2021 season
- 2020-2021: $4,000,000
- 2021-2022: $4,300,000
- 2022-2023: $4,300,000
- February 21, 2021: $1,000,000
Total Guaranteed Salary:
- 2020-2021: $4,300,000
- 2021-2022: $5,600,000
- 2022-2023: $4,600,000
These numbers aren’t looking great for UCLA. Honestly, they could become a financial black hole in these next few years. It doesn’t seem like the Bruins are ready to compete with their conference rivals during this upcoming season, either. There’s no way around it, but to say the Kelly hiring has been an unmitigated disaster. It’s easy to see why UCLA earned the honor of having the worst coaching contract in their entire conference. After all, paying a top-five coaching salary within your conference for last-place finishes is rough.