(Photo Courtesy: USA Today Sports)
Looking for a definition of #ThatAwkwardMoment on this Friday morning heading into a holiday weekend? We may have found it at that bastion of football- and moral- excellence known as the University of Notre Dame.
That’s because while Brian Kelly was leading the Irish to an 8-5 record during the 2011 season (one which would ultimately be a pre-cursor to Notre Dame’s 2012 BCS title game run), the school itself was busy paying Kelly’s predecessor Charlie Weis more than they paid him. Yup, much like in an awkward dating situation, apparently the shadow of the “last guy” loomed over Kelly two seasons ago while with the Irish.
And unfortunately, it’s looking like that shadow will continue to loom straight through the 2015 season.
According to the Chicago Tribune, tax returns indicate that for the fiscal year beginning in July 2011 and ending in 2012, Weis made a staggering $2,054,744 you know, to not coach Notre Dame, while Kelly was “only” compensated $1,088,179 to lead the Irish. In actuality, Kelly probably made a bit more in outside endorsements.
Still, this really isn’t about Kelly, but instead the gargantuan wads of cash that are instead being thrown Weis’ way. That figure of $2,054,744 is the same amount that Weis was paid to not coach Notre Dame in 2010, and incredibly is the same figure he’ll get every year from now straight through December 2015, when the buyout of his contract with the university ends. By then, Weis will have made nearly $19 million to… and we cannot emphasize this enough… NOT COACH NOTRE DAME!!!!
These numbers have been reported before, but frankly it’s staggering to see on paper. More importantly, it’s incredible that the administration of the school didn’t use a bit more discretion in the structuring of Weis’ contract. Or any discretion at all, apparently.
The brunt of this cash owed to Weis comes from a famed extension he signed with the university just seven games into his tenure at the school. At the time, the Irish were 5-2, and with the constant threat of Weis bolting for the NFL looming overhead, the school acted quickly; at that point they inked Weis to an undisclosed extension which was believed to pay him upwards of $40 million through the end of the 2015 season.
Of course what they never considered was that, umm, that 5-2 mark would basically be the high-point of Weis’ tenure at the school. After that 5-2 start, Weis would go just 30-26 over the remainder of his time at the school, including just 16-21 during the 2007, 2008 and 2009 seasons.
Still, it’s stunning that when Weis inked the extension, there was no clause in his contract that stated that if he was fired,\ the buyout would only be good if he remained unemployed.
For example, when Gene Chizik was canned by Auburn, it was widely reported that it would cost the school $7.5 million in buyout cash (relative chump change to Notre Dame). What no one mentioned however, is that per the wording of his contract, if Chizik were hired anywhere else, the salary he made from that job would be deducted from the buyout.
So really, shame on Notre Dame for structuring this contract the way they did. Had they put in a similar provision with Weis that Chizik got, they’d be off the hook with him buy now; after one-year stints as the offensive coordinator with both the Kansas City Chiefs and Florida Gators, Weis signed on to be the Kansas Jayhawks head coach last year. A job that pays Weis $2.5 million annually, which ain’t too shabby. Especially when it’s essentially a secondary stream of income.
Unfortunately for those writing the checks at Notre Dame, it appears as though no such clause was written. Meaning that in addition to the $2.5 million he’s getting to coach Kansas this year, Weis is getting nearly the same from Notre Dame, you know, to stay the hell away.
And while all this numbers crunching is starting to hurt my head, it does lead to two very interesting questions:
1. Did no one read the fine-print on Weis’ contract before they handed it over to him?
2. Who the hell is Charlie Weis’ agent? I’m about ready to hire that guy!
For all his insight, opinion and analysis on college football, please follow Aaron on Twitter @Aaron_Torres.
Follow Crystal Ball Run on Twitter@CrystalBallRun.