Matt Jones is the online sports editor for the Arkansas-Democrat-Gazette and Northwest Arkansas Newspapers.
Bielema's contract worth $3.2 million
Bret Bielema (right) will make $3.2 million per year as head coach at Arkansas.
FAYETTEVILLE Bret Bielema's contract at Arkansas is worth $3.2 million annually and runs through the 2018 season, according to a letter of agreement signed Wednesday.
Bielema, who will be introduced at a 4 p.m. press conference as the new head football coach of the Razorbacks, can make up to $700,000 each year in incentives. He has an initial buyout of $3 million and cannot leave Arkansas for another Southeastern Conference program.
The buyout for Bielema's contract decreases by $500,000 each year. Arkansas would have to pay him $12.8 million if fired without cause within the first three seasons.
Among the incentives in Bielema's contract are: $350,000 for a win in the national championship game; $300,000 for a national runner-up finish; $200,000 for making the college football semifinals beginning in 2014; $100,000 for winning the SEC championship; and up to $200,000 in academic-based achievements for football players.
Incentives are also included for BCS bowl trips, appearances in the Cotton or Capital One bowls, and coach of the year honors either nationally or by the SEC. According to adjusted figures based on a USA Today survey last month, Bielema will be the 10th-highest paid coach in college football.
Arkansas hired the 42-year-old away from Wisconsin on Tuesday. Bielema went 68-24 in his seven seasons with the Badgers, winning Big Ten championships each of the last three seasons.
Bielema made $2.6 million at Wisconsin and had a contract through 2016. Arkansas will pay the $1 million buyout clause in his contract with the Badgers.
Bobby Petrino, who was fired as the Razorbacks' head coach in April for misconduct, made $3.56 million annually as part of a seven-year contract extension signed in 2010. Petrino's initial buyout was $18 million, but Arkansas didn't have to pay any of it because he was fired with cause.
Petrino's contract was terminated April 10 after it was revealed he hired a woman to an administrative position within the football program with whom he had an affair.
"As the Head Football Coach, the University expects the leader of the Razorback football program to maintain a standard of conduct that serves as a positive role model for our football student-athletes in all facets of life and that is beyond reproach," Bielema's letter of agreement reads, in part.
John L. Smith, who coached the Razorbacks on an interim basis in 2012, worked on a 10-month, $850,000 deal signed in April. He was reassigned to an administrative position last month that will run through the duration of his contract in February.
Arkansas, which was ranked No. 10 nationally in the preseason, finished the 2012 season with a 4-8 record.