In the past, signing a contract was never a big deal.
Whether it's because of Alabama's recent past involving its head football coaches or Nick Saban's deal that made him the highest paid coach in college football history, the news Thursday revolved around Saban's contract and its approval by the University of Alabama board of trustees.
"Pressure doesn't come from external forces," Saban said. "You want to be good because of what you want to do, the pride you have in your performance to be the best you can be. I don't know that it's any different than when I was the lowest paid coach making $8,000 a year."
The Crimson Tide coach signed his contract on Wednesday and it was sent to the board of trustees for the compensation committee's approval late Thursday afternoon. The eight-year contract will pay Saban $3.5 million this season and will climb each year until it reaches $4.2 million annually in 2012-14.
The total amount of the contract provides for $32 million over the eight-year period. There is no buyout clause for Saban, meaning he is free to leave at any time during the contract period. If the university terminates his contract without cause, he is entitled to the full amount. If he is terminated with cause, the university is liable for no additional payouts.
Saban was hired Jan. 4 from the Miami Dolphins, where he earned approximately $4.5 million per year.
While Saban publicly offered no complaints about the six months it took to negotiate his contract, that hasn't always been the case with Alabama football coaches. In 2002, Dennis Franchione walked away from the negotiating table and left an unsigned contract in Tuscaloosa as he took a job at Texas A&M. In May 2003, Mike Price was fired without ever having signed a contract -- or coached a game -- for off-the-field conduct.
The final obstacles to Saban's contract was a clause dealing with compensation from media programs. Contracts for college football coaches offer a small base salary, with a larger "talent fee" relating to off-the-field duties such as weekly call-in radio shows or television shows offering highlights and commentary.
Saban's contract limits his appearances to one radio show each week (as well as others during special times of the year such as signing day or spring practice), one television show each week, the "production of reasonable content for an internet Web site" and 15 appearances during the year at quarterback clubs and alumni functions.
No previous coaches at Alabama had such limitations in their contracts.
Saban's base salary is $225,000 per year, up from the $200,000 provided to predecessor Mike Shula and prior Tide coaches, with a talent fee starting at $3,275,000 this season and climbing to $3,975,000 by 2012. Various incentives are in the Saban contract, all providing the new coach more bonus money than that offered to Shula.
Saban can earn $75,000 for putting his team in the Southeastern Conference Championship Game, up from $50,000, and can earn $125,000 for winning it, an increase of $25,000 over the incentive offered to Shula. In addition to various other incentives for winning the national championship or making a Bowl Championship Series appearance, Saban can earn $65,000 for steering the Crimson Tide into a bowl game and $90,000 for earning a bid to the Chick-fil-A, Cotton, Outback or Capital One bowls.
Both the $65,000 and $90,000 incentives are new for a Tide coach.
Also, Saban can earn incentives for how his team's graduation rate stacks up with other conference teams. Another clause offers him an airplane for personal use not exceeding 25 hours of flight time annually.
"I think the university did everything exactly like you would like for them to do," Saban said. "We appreciate (university) President (Robert) Witt in his role and what he did and all the other people in the university community that made all this happen and we're very pleased and happy to be here. We look forward to trying to build something special for the state of Alabama and the people at the University of Alabama."
Saban's first appearance in a game setting as the Crimson Tide coach, at Alabama's annual A-Day game on April 21, drew a national record crowd of more than 92,000. His first game is scheduled for Sept. 1 at Bryant-Denny Stadium against Western Carolina.
Story Courtesy: The Montgomery Advertiser & AP Wire Reports