FSU Out $5 Million If Bowden Coaches Past 2010

Florida State has seemingly gone out of its way to let Bobby Bowden walk away on his own terms, but Bowden and the Seminoles will have quite the interesting situation on their hands if he’s not ready to walk away after the 2010 season.

Bobby Bowden

FSU hasn’t been a juggernaut as of late, and even Bowden himself has indicated that he doesn’t think the program will see a major renaissance under his watch. But he’s just two wins behind Joe Paterno on the all-time list, and JoePa is signed up for three more years at Penn State.  If Bowden wants to end his career as the wins leader, he’ll have to stick around a while. But is it worth $5 million to the university?

According to the ORLANDO SENTINEL’s David Whitley, coach-in-waiting Jimbo Fisher has a clause in his contract that says he’ll receive a $5 million payment if he’s not head coach by January 2011. Whitley says that figure became public when Fisher’s name came up in the Auburn search:

We knew he was due $2.5 million and any school that hired him would have to pay FSU that amount. Few knew those numbers had been doubled.

The coach-in-waiting scenario that T.K. Wetherell engineered made sense at first. Now it looks more like a time-bomb-in-waiting.

FSU is already paying Bowden $2.5 million per season, and if he doesn’t go away in two years it will cost the university three times that much to let him stay. Will FSU really let Bowden make his own decision with $5 million on the line? Or might they “nudge” him toward stepping down?

All I know is that if I’m Fisher, I’m rooting for Bowden to stick around so I can get my cash right away. I can’t imagine that he’ll be on a very long leash when he does take over.

This is all part of a growing trend of naming coaching successors. Chip Kelly at Oregon and Will Muschamp at Texas have similar situations. But do they have a similar clause that gives them money if their bosses don’t step aside by a certain date?

What we do know about Fisher’s contract is that it requires any other school that hires him to come up with the amount of this balloon payment to get him away from FSU. That might be why he hasn’t seriously been considered as a coach elsewhere, as that school would have to drop $5 million just to get him on campus.

Muschamp was rumored to be a candidate at Auburn, but maybe there’s a similar payment Auburn would’ve had to make to pull him away from the Longhorns.