When Iowa State athletics director Jamie Pollard introduced Matt Campbell as head football coach in November 2015, he said, "We are truly blessed to have one of the industry's rising stars leading our football program.”
He was right, but can the Cyclones keep up with that rising star?
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When Campbell arrived from the same position at Toledo, Iowa State hadn't been ranked in the AP top 25 since 2005, beat Oklahoma since 1990 or won more than three games since 2012. Having already achieved all three items through his first 19 games, what's next for the 37-year-old?
Though starved Cyclone fans are undoubtedly ecstatic for the remainder of a 2017 season that may include Big 12 title contention and their first eight-win campaign since 2000, "what's next" for Matt Campbell is a scary conversation. He's suddenly one of the most sought-after head coaches in the country and could be fielding calls from athletic directors whose annual revenue does not rank 48th in the country.
While Iowa State has invested in its football program, the reality is they're not on the same level as program such as Tennessee, at least financially, and will be strapped to afford the services of an expensive coach.
Campbell's contract, the same one he signed when arriving in 2015, runs through Dec. 31, 2021. His base annual salary is just $265,000 but through other "guaranteed compensation," his salary for 2017 is $2.1 million million. He has the potential to earn $900,000 per year through incentives, which includes a $500,000 bonus for reaching six wins, $250,000 for winning the Big 12, $100,000 for winning a bowl game and $50,000 for winning Big 12 Coach of the Year. He receives a $100,000 annual raise each year of the contract.
If Campbell does leave for another job, there is a 100-percent buyout, meaning if he terminates the contract at any point before Dec. 31, 2021, Iowa State will not owe him another penny. There is not a contract termination fee but the school is owed the entirety of the remaining contract amount if he leaves, which would be $9.4 million after this season.
He is also required to provide "prior notice" to Iowa State's athletics director if "he enters into negotiations for or publicly expresses bona-fide interest in other employment as head coach in the field of college football or as head coach or general manager in the National Football Association."
(Yes, the contract actually says "National Football Association.")
If he wishes to remain in Ames (which is entirely possible given his repeated comments on his family's love for the school and city), Campbell is all but guaranteed to sign a new or revised deal following the regular season that, at minimum, will boost his annual salary.
Can another program write him a blank check before that happens?