Dabo is many things, but stupid is not one of them. His owning the Clemson Board of Trustees and AD during his negotiations for his extension is a prime example. Evidently, he knows how to pick people to represent him (Morris, Venables, his agent...). But, let's take a look at where his salary falls compared to USA Today's NCAAF Coaches Payroll report, which uses 2013 data that is publicly available.
My conclusion, his salary is appropriate for someone who is consistently performing over the past 3 years (ACC Championship, win over LSU, Orange Bowl win - not bad). However, the buy-out is, well, excessive.
Let's not forget Dabo's background of growing up in poverty, so it's understandable that he would trade lower salary for guaranteed money. If you're Radokovich, and you know you're not going to fire him in the next 2-3 seasons no matter his performance, you might as well give him a ridiculous front weighted buy-out so you save money on the salary. However, he gave away too much with the buyouts after year 2.
Based on the 2014 raises and the coaches in the top 15, which is where Dabo has placed his team for the past two years and finished the season ranked 22 in 2011, $3.5m is probably reasonable. Add in the fact that Clemson is quickly becoming a national brand, which has never happened, he may very well be worth $4m. Of course, this is predicated on him continuing to hire great Coordinators.
The problem with the extension isn't with the salary, it's with a guaranteed $24m buyout. No one can hold Dabo responsible for the next 4-5 years. It's actually much better to pay him a higher salary with a lower buyout so his incentives align with the school's.
Take a look at 2013 salaries yourself. Do you think both are crazy, the salary and the buyout, or just the buyout?
|2||Texas||Big 12||Mack Brown||$5,453,750|
|5||Oklahoma||Big 12||Bob Stoops||$4,773,167|
|6||Ohio State||Big Ten||Urban Meyer||$4,608,000|
|8||Michigan||Big Ten||Brady Hoke||$4,154,000|
|9||Iowa||Big Ten||Kirk Ferentz||$3,985,000|
|11||Oklahoma State||Big 12||Mike Gundy||$3,450,000|
|12||South Carolina||SEC||Steve Spurrier||$3,322,500|
|14||Penn State||Big Ten||Bill O'Brien||$3,282,779|
|15||Clemson||ACC||Dabo Swinney - 2014||$3,150,000|
|16||Texas Christian||Big 12||Gary Patterson||$3,120,760|
|17||Texas A&M||SEC||Kevin Sumlin||$3,100,300|
|18||Nebraska||Big Ten||Bo Pelini||$2,975,000|
|19||Kansas State||Big 12||Bill Snyder||$2,803,000|
|21||Florida State||ACC||Jimbo Fisher||$2,750,000|
|23||Mississippi State||SEC||Dan Mullen||$2,700,000|
|24||West Virginia||Big 12||Dana Holgorsen||$2,630,000|
|25||Southern California||PAC-12||Lane Kiffin||$2,594,091|
|27||North Carolina State||ACC||Dave Doeren||$2,555,000|
|28||Clemson||ACC||Dabo Swinney - 2013||$2,550,024|
|29||Virginia Tech||ACC||Frank Beamer||$2,541,616|
|30||Georgia Tech||ACC||Paul Johnson||$2,515,500|
|31||Kansas||Big 12||Charlie Weis||$2,503,727|
|34||Baylor||Big 12||Art Briles||$2,426,360|
Again, this is 2013 salaries, while the ever-present NCAAF arms race pushes them upward. Some examples of premium hires and raises from the past few weeks:
Nick Saban: $7-7.5m
James Franklin: $4m
Charlie Strong: $5m
Steve Spurrier: $4m