Fresno State will pay football coach Jeff Tedford an annual base salary of $1.58 million through 2021 in a contract that includes a host of performance bonuses that hold a potential value that is well above that of former Bulldogs coach Tim DeRuyter and other coaches in the Mountain West Conference.
“We knew Jeff was probably the most highly successful coach coming into the Mountain West and I know Boise State’s coach (Bryan Harsin) is very good, Mike Bobo (Colorado State) is making more than him, Rocky Long (San Diego State) is a great coach,” athletics director Jim Bartko said. “But I felt going in that we needed a head coach with experience – and the president and I agreed on this – and if he had Bulldog ties it was even better and obviously Jeff marked all of those boxes.
“Jeff also was like, ‘I don’t need to be the highest-paid person. Give me a flat fee and if I have success I can give it back within our staff and I can make more money.’ … And the success is not just wins, it’s academic, it’s getting people in the stands.”
The contract, which was released by the university on Thursday, includes a unique attendance bonus that is worth as much as $300,000 per year along with the typical annual bonuses tied to a team’s Academic Progress Report score, grade-point average and graduation rates off the field and regular-season wins, conference championships and bowl participation on the field.
If the Bulldogs’ paid attendance is 130,000 or more the bonus is worth $200,000, and if it is 152,000 or more the bonus is worth $300,000
Fresno State football attendance has declined sharply over the past few seasons. While the announced number has not yet dipped below 152,000, the actual number of tickets sold – not including students and complimentary seats – is well below triggering that bonus.
The Bulldogs in 2014 led the Mountain West Conference in attendance, drawing 209,257 and an average of 34,876. In 2015, those numbers dropped to 174,217 and 29,036, ranking third in the Mountain West. Last season, Fresno State attendance was 152,960 with an average of 25,493 and it fell to fifth in the league.
The number of paid tickets sold, however, was 131,649 in 2015 and 108,696 last season, according to Franklin Alegria, senior associate athletics director for external development.
The contract also includes a buyout of $1.5 million if Tedford resigns before the conclusion of the 2017, ’18 or ’19 seasons and a $350,000 one-time completion bonus if he is the Bulldogs’ coach on Nov. 30, 2021.
In the Mountain West, Bobo will be paid a base salary of $1.55 million in 2017, $1.65 million in ’18 and $1.75 million in ’19, the final year of his contract. Boise State’s Harsin✔ signed an extension after the 2014 season that includes a bump in salary to $1.75 million in 2019, the final year of that deal.
The on- and off-field performances bonuses in the Tedford contract exceed others in the conference.
The APR bonus in the Tedford contract tops out at $175,000 for a score at or above 960 – it was $120,000 in the extension DeRuyter signed following the 2013 season.
The team grade-point average bonus for Tedford can be worth as much as $105,000 for a GPA of 2.9 and above – it was $90,000 for DeRuyter.
On the field, the deal with Tedford has a bonus tied to regular-season wins while for DeRuyter it was based on regular-season winning percentage.
But Tedford starts with $100,000 at six or more wins and goes up to $400,000 at or above 11 wins, while DeRuyter received $75,000 for a winning percentage at or above 58 percent and topped out at $325,000 at 100 percent.
The bonus Tedford gets for Fresno State winning a regular-season co-conference championship or divisional champion with advancement to a championship game is $150,000, up from $75,000. Winning a regular-season conference championship or conference championship game is worth $250,000, up from $150,000.
Bowl participation bonuses and conference and national coach of the year bonuses also are higher in the deal with Tedford.
Bobo, who went 7-6 and led the Rams to the Arizona Bowl and the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl in his first two seasons at Colorado State, has bonuses of $10,000 for coach of the year in the conference, $25,000 for winning six, seven and eight regular-season games and $50,000 for playing in the conference championship game and a bowl game. He would receive $200,000 if the Rams play in a final College Football Playoff game – Tedford would receive $100,000 if the Bulldogs play in a conference-associated or at-large bowl or $200,000 for winning that bowl.
Harsin, who is 31-9 in three seasons at Boise State and is also near the top of the conference in base salary, has a bonus of $15,000 if the Broncos win the Mountain Division champion in the MW, $35,000 if the Broncos play in a bowl game and $50,000 if they win the conference championship. The largest bonus in his contract is $250,000 – for winning the College Football Playoff championship game.
Bartko said of Tedford, “He’s going to get paid less in our conference, but if he has success then he needs to be rewarded. I think he have the best coach in the conference, the most experienced coach in the conference. Rocky Long has been there a long time and (New Mexico’s) Bob Davie has been there a long time. They’re all great coaches.
“But our guy has been there and done that and we’re excited to have him build this place back up, and when you’re 1-11, you can’t take a chance. We could take a risk and say, ‘There’s some young guy from wherever who is a receivers coach that’s going to be a great coach.’ Well, we can’t afford that. We don’t have the ability to afford that.”
Robert Kuwada: @rkuwada