We've been getting a lot of questions about Kirk Ferentz's buyout ever since the nation's sixth highest paid coach went 4-8, lost to Central Michigan, hired a guy to coordinate the nation's 114th ranked scoring offense, and finished last in the Legends Division of the worst Big Ten in a generation. In simple math, Kirk Ferentz has a contract through January 31, 2020, that pays him between $1.87M and $2.07M per season in base salary, plus another $1.48M per season in "recurring supplemental payments" which is just a fancy way of saying that Gary Barta has to pay him $370,000 four times a year on top of his salary.
This figure is base salary, before bonuses like a "longevity bonus" which requires Gary Barta pay him between $325,000 and $575,000 (it is $475,000 this year, and increases from there)* on January 31 just for remaining employed by the University of Iowa. Yes, you read that correctly: Gary Barta will pay Kirk Ferentz half a million dollars just for remaining under a contract that Gary Barta cannot possible afford to terminate. These bonuses are absurd** and fun and whatnot, but they are not a factor in the buyout.
The buyout clause in Kirk Ferentz's contract mandates that Gary Barta pay him 75% of his base salary if he is terminated without cause. That works out to $18,846,249 as of this week, or $219,142 per month until the contract ends in January 2020.
Just going to let that set in for a minute.
It's difficult to concep--you need more time? Sure, go ahead.
Here's a picture of my dog. Maybe that will help.
OK, let's proceed.
It's difficult to conceptualize just how much money $18,846,249 is, so let's use some exercises in spatial and relative thought to help.
Terminated Kirk Ferentz would make $2,629,704 a year, which would make him the 16th highest paid football coach in the country. He would also continue his longstanding streak as the state's highest paid employee, making $1.4 million more than the second highest-paid person, University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics director Jean Robillard. Terminated Kirk Ferentz would make more than twice as much as Paul Rhoads, who has beaten him two years in a row.
Hayden Fry was given a contract in 1992 that paid him $132,700 per season to coach the football team. The contract ran through 1997, and Fry did receive one more extension for approximately the same amount. In the fourteen years that Ferentz has been at the helm of the program, the salary from Fry to Ferentz has grown at a 26.2% annualized rate. That's not Weimar Republic bad, but it's Montel Williams commercial bad. If the price of a gallon of gasoline ($1.03 in 1998) increased at the same rate as Iowa's head football coaching salary has, you'd be paying $26.77 per gallon at the pump today.
If Kirk Ferentz cashed out his buyout and took the money in $1 bills, then stacked those bills on top of each other, the stack would be 6,753 feet high. That is two and a half times the height of the world's tallest building, Burj Khalifa in Dubai, and more than five times the size of the Empire State Building. If he put them end to end, the line of money would stretch from Iowa City to Kingston, Jamaica. If Ferentz took the money in $20 bills and stacked them up, it would be the sixth tallest structure in Iowa.
We've all heard the line, and it's entirely unfair: Kirk Ferentz was paid $1 million per win this season.*** But terminated Kirk Ferentz would be paid INCALCULABLE DOLLARS per win, because you can't divide by zero.
Iowa farmland has hit record highs for per acre valuation. As of last year, an average acre of Iowa farmland cost $6,708. Even with those historic high prices, a wealthy booster would need to give Ferentz 4.38 square miles of farmland to pay off the buyout. America needs farmers, indeed.
Needless to say, Kirk Ferentz is not going to be fired, because even if it is warranted (and I'm not starting that conversation here), it's completely beyond our budget.
This will be the last mention of the buyout until next season. We hope it's the last mention of it, period.
* -- Danny Hope's entire buyout at Purdue is $600,000. We are going to give Kirk Ferentz $DannyHopeBuyout every January 31 from 2015 through 2020 just for remaining employed. In related news, he's comfortable with where the program is right now.
** -- The assistant coaches have built-in raises in Ferentz's contract, with no raise if the team fails to win six games and/or participate in a bowl game. So Greg Davis isn't getting a raise. Kirk Ferentz is getting one, though, to the tune of a quarter million dollars.
*** -- It was actually $981,250 per win. SO THERE.