Dabo Swinney’s new 10-year, $93 million deal is biggest in college football history

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A new financial standard has been set for a sport that still can’t find a way to meaningfully compensate the players largely responsible for its success.

Late Friday morning, Clemson announced that it has reached an agreement with head coach Dabo Swinney on a new 10-year, $93 million contract.  The per-year average of $9.3 million is the largest ever for a college football coach.  In July of last year, Alabama gave Nick Saban a revamped eight-year, $74 million contract while Texas A&M will be paying Jimbo Fisher $75 million over the next 10 years; those were the previous contract standard bearers for the sport.

Swinney will make $8.25 million in total compensation in the first two years of the deal — Saban was the highest-paid coach in college football at $8.3 million in 2018 — with those numbers rising to $8.5 million in Years 3 and 4; $8.75 million in Year 5; $9 million in Year 6; $9.25 million in Year 7; $9.5 million in Year 8; and topping out at $10 million in each of the last two years.  Also included in the new deal, which runs through 2028, is a split-life premium of $1 million (executed by Sept. 1, 2019) as well as a pair of $1 million retention bonuses, each payable in the springs of 2021 and 2023.

Aside from the sheer magnitude of the dollars involved, arguably the most interesting aspect of the deal is the buyout.  Specifically, language is included that would increase the buyout Swinney, who played his college football at Alabama and has long been rumored as Saban’s eventual successor in Tuscaloosa, would be forced to pay by 50 percent should he leave Clemson for his alma mater.

Conversely, the university would owe Swinney $50 million if he’s fired without cause in the first two years of the deal; $47.5 million in Years 3 and 4; $45 million in Year 5; and 100-percent of his remaining compensation through the end of the contract.

Swinney has won 116 games during his nearly 11 full seasons as the Tigers’ head coach, a number that’s second on the school’s all-time list.  Clemson has won two of the last three national championships, with both of those wins coming at the expense of Swinney’s alma mater.

“I am grateful and humbled by the incredible commitment Clemson has made to me, my family and our football program,” Swinney said in a statement. “For more than a decade, we have given our all to provide this world-class university and our incredible fans the championship football program they deserve – to live up to Best is the Standard. With this contract, we make a collective statement that we intend to continue pursuing championships and developing total student-athletes for years to come. Our sustained continuity in vision, people and culture have been a key ingredient to our success, on and off the field. I am thankful for the leadership we have at Clemson and appreciate all they do for Clemson Football. I am truly blessed to be your Head Football Coach.”

WVU RB Donaldson in concussion protocol, out for Baylor game

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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) West Virginia running back CJ Donaldson is in concussion protocol and will miss next week’s home game with Baylor after he was injured in a loss to Texas, coach Neal Brown said Tuesday.

Donaldson remained on the ground after he was tackled on a short gain in the third quarter of Saturday’s 38-20 loss to the Longhorns. His helmet and shoulder pads were removed and he was carted off the field on a stretcher. After the game he was cleared to travel home with the team.

“He’s recovering,” Brown said. “There is a strict return-to-play (policy) that we have to follow here and I’m zero involved in it. All I do is ask the question. They don’t even start the return-to-play until they’re symptom free.”

Donaldson, a 240-pound freshman, leads the Mountaineers with 389 rushing yards and six touchdowns, with an average of 6.9 yards per carry.

West Virginia (2-3, 0-2 Big 12 Conference) is idle this week and hosts Baylor (3-2, 1-1) next Thursday, Oct. 13.

Taulia Tagovailoa says he visited brother, Tua, over weekend

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COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Maryland quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa was able to visit his brother, Tua, last weekend after the Terrapins’ game against Michigan State, he said Tuesday in his first comments to reporters since Tua left the Miami Dolphins’ game against Cincinnati last Thursday with a frightening head injury.

Taulia played in Maryland’s win over Michigan State on Saturday but was not made available to the media afterward. He said Tuesday he was able to go to Florida and spend some time with his brother, who suffered a concussion four days after taking a hit in another game but was cleared to return.

“He’s doing good, everything’s fine,” he said. “My biggest thing was just seeing him and spending as much time as I can with him. I came back Sunday night.”

Tagovailoa said he appreciates the support for his brother.

“My brother’s my heart. He’s someone I look up to, someone I talk to every day,” he said. “It was just a hard scene for me to see that.”

Tagovailoa said he was in constant contact with his mother about his brother’s situation, and he was finally able to talk to Tua on Friday night.

“I really just wanted to go there and just spend time with my family, hug them and stuff like that,” Taulia Tagovailoa said. “But he told me he’s a big fan of us, and he’d rather watch me play on Saturday. … After that phone call, I was happy and getting back to my normal routine.”

Tagovailoa indicated that his brother’s injury didn’t make him too nervous about his own health when he took the field again.

“I guess when that happens to someone like my brother, or when anything happens to one of my family members, I don’t really think of how it will be able to affect me,” he said. “I just think of: `Is he OK? How’s he doing?”‘

Although it was a short visit to Florida, he said he and Tua made the most of their chance to be together.

“I just wanted to make sure he’s healthy and stuff, which he is,” Taulia Tagovailoa said.