Buck up, Les Miles -- you have to start somewhere.
Miles, Louisiana State University's new football coach, will earn at least $1.25 million a year under the seven-year deal that the university has offered him, LSU announced  Wednesday. The university's Board of Supervisors is expected to approve the deal January 20.
That may seem like a lot of money to many college and university employees. But Miles's deal pales in comparison to the seven-year, $18.45 million contract LSU gave to the man Miles replaced, Nick Saban, who resigned last month to coach the National Football League's Miami Dolphins.
Assuming the board approves the deal, Miles, who won 28 of his 49 games as head coach at Oklahoma State University, will earn a "base salary" of $300,000. But that will be supplemented by $600,000 in payments for appearances on radio and television and on the LSU sports program's Webcast site , a $300,000 contribution from the Tiger Athletic Foundation, LSU's main booster group, and $50,000 in shoe and equipment endorsements. That's a total of $1.25 million.
But that's not all. Miles can earn $50,000 more if his LSU team plays in a bowl game, and $75,000 if it plays in the Southeastern Conference title game. He can take home another $100,000 if the Tigers earn one of eight berths in the Bowl Championship Series, and $175,000 if they play in the BCS title game. The maximum he can earn in such incentives is $400,000, or a total of $1.65 million. (LSU's news release says Miles will also be "rewarded financially" for his team's graduation rates, but it provides no details.)
Lastly, Miles will collect $200,000 a year in deferred compensation if he stays at LSU for the entire seven years of the contract. That would bring his total compensation to $1.85 million a year -- which still trails the $2.6 million a year that Saban was earning when he left.
But Miles can take solace in two facts. First, Saban's first deal when he came to LSU in 1999 was worth $1.2 million a year. Second, LSU renegotiated Saban's contract just four years later, when his Tigers won the national championship in 2003.