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Bret Bielema Signs Raise and Extension With Arkansas Through 2020

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Coach B is now one of 8 SEC coaches making at least $4 million per year.

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The Razorbacks surpassed most expectations in 2014, ending the season with dominant victories over ranked rivals LSU and Ole Miss, and a bowl whipping of megavillain Texas. Bret Bielema followed that up with signing one of the highest-rated recruiting classes in program history, and as such, is being rewarded with a contract extension and raise.

Bielema had been earning approximately $3.2 million as per the initial contract he signed with Arkansas in 2012. His new salary will be $4 million per year with an annual increase of $100,000 through the term of the contract, which expires in 2020. That means his annual average compensation through the term of the contract in theory is $4.25 million.

He's also eligible for up to $1 million in bonuses each year.

The more interesting aspect of Bielema's new contract perhaps is the buyout structure. It was heavily weighted in Bielema's favor when he signed it, and, well, it still is.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-partner="tweetdeck"><p><a href="https://twitter.com/BretBielema">@BretBielema</a>&#39;s buyout numbers are: $15.4 million from 2015-17, then $11.7 in 2018, $7.9 in 2019 and $4 million in 2020.</p>&mdash; Kurt Voigt (@Kurt_Voigt_AP) <a href="https://twitter.com/Kurt_Voigt_AP/status/564092842428366849">February 7, 2015</a></blockquote>

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Essentially, Bielema will absolutely not be fired anything soon, regardless of what happens on the field.

Those numbers are only if Arkansas fires Bielema (unless he does something to trigger a firing with cause, which, yanno, isn't unprecedented). If Bielema chooses to leave Arkansas at any point the numbers are significantly different.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-partner="tweetdeck"><p>What is interesting in coach Bielema&#39;s contract is his buyout to UA is still much lower than UA&#39;s buyout to him. <a href="http://t.co/TNKXVBoJxL">pic.twitter.com/TNKXVBoJxL</a></p>&mdash; Razorback Nation (@RazNation) <a href="https://twitter.com/RazNation/status/564093672913141760">February 7, 2015</a></blockquote>

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If Bielema chooses to leave Arkansas, his buyout is only $4 million in 2015 and it goes down each calendar year all the way to only $250k in 2020. That's nothing that will stop any other school from taking a look at him. The clock is ticking on Kirk Ferentz's deal in Iowa, don't you know. By comparison, Jim McElwain's buyout at Colorado State was $7.5 million and Florida was still able to lure him away.

It should be noted that the odds of Bielema serving out the term of the contract without further raises and extensions are remote. In major college athletics, head coaches almost always have a few years remaining on their contract as a way to make it appear to recruits that they're committed to the school for the years that they'll be in school.

“Coach Bret Bielema is not only one of the best college football coaches in the nation, he is an outstanding leader,” Vice Chancellor and Director of Athletics Jeff Long said. “What Coach Bielema and his coaching staff have done for our young men, on and off the field, is something that has dramatically changed the course of our program and most importantly positively impacted the lives of our football student-athletes. He is building a championship program in a way that all Arkansans can be proud of. We look forward to his continued leadership of our football program and the many successes yet to come.”