Different year, same Week 1 result for Arizona and head coach Kevin Sumlin. Different year, same eight-figure buyout for Sumlin.
In January 2018, about eight weeks after securing a $10-million termination buyout from Texas A&M, Sumlin agreed to a five-year, $14.5-million contract at Arizona. Seven and a half months later, Arizona lost the season opener, a five-point home loss to BYU. The Wildcats lost at Houston a week later and stumbled to a 5-7 record, tying the program's third-lowest win total in the last 15 years.
One year later, Arizona opened the season with another loss to a Group of Five team, falling to Hawai'i in Week 0. It's the first time they've lost back-to-back season openers since 1980-81. And while I'm stopping far short of suggesting consecutive season-opening losses — or Sumlin's 5-8 record in his first 13 games as head coach — is enough to warrant termination consideration, historical precedence suggests that no coach is safe.
MORE: Weekly Ranking of All 130 Teams
Sumlin, however, might be protected by a $10-million buyout. His five-year contract called for base salaries of $2 million for of the first two seasons and $3.5 million in 2021 and 2022. And just like his base salary, Sumlin's buyout didn't change from 2018 to 2019.
2018: $10 million
2019: $10 million
2020: $5 million
2021: $3 million
2022: $1 million
9 regular-season wins: $125,000.
10 regular-season wins $150,000.
11 regular-season wins: $250,000.
12 regular-season wins: $350,000.
Pac-12 South Championship: $100,000
Pac-12 Championship: $200,000.
Playoff appearance: $500,000.
Playoff win: $1 million.
Appearance in a New Year's Six game (Rose, Sugar, Orange, Cotton, Peach or Fiesta): $100,000.
Win in a major bowl game: $200,000.
Appearance in a non-NY6 game: $25,000.
Top-10 ranking in final AP Top 25: $75,000
11-15 ranking: $50,000
16-25 ranking: $25,000
Pac-12 Coach of the year: $50,000
AP National Coach of the Year: $100,000