After the disastrous season that Cal just had, fans want blood. Public enemy numero uno right now is Defensive Coordinator Andy Buh. His defense just gave up the most points ever in Cal football history. They made history in many other ways, too:
Cal's streak of 14 straight games allowing at least 30 pts is the longest ever by a power conference team.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) November 24, 2013
An argument could be made that the massive injuries on the defensive side coupled with the ridiculously hard schedule made Buh's job inconceivably tougher. But historically bad IS historically bad. However, this post is not necessarily designed to debate whether Cal should fire Andy Buh. My focus today is whether Cal CAN fire him, financially.
Many people have been expressing the concern that since Buh's contract is fully guaranteed, Cal would need to cough up a significant amount of money, which the cash strapped Athletics department cannot. Or so the thought goes.
I got a copy of his contract and reviewed it to find out. I'll report back here, so you can have all the information. Usually when I do a contractual analysis like this, I like to hit all parts of the contract, but I'll focus here on how much he makes and how much it'd cost to fire him.
Under the contract (from January 6, 2013 to April 30, 2016), Buh makes $500,000.00 per year. $175,000.00 in a base salary and $325,000.00 per year in a talent fee. Since the contract year runs from May 1 through April 30, Buh is actually only technically partially into his first year. He still has about 6 more months of that first $500,000.00 and then 2 more years after that. So, approximately $1.25 mil is remaining on his contract.
What happens if Cal fires him without cause (i.e. without fraud or dishonesty etc etc)? That is the crux of this post. Under Section 12 of page 6 of the agreement, all parties agree that Buh would receive what he is entitled to under the remainder of the contract. There is no decreased amount (which is what happens if we fire Tony Franklin without cause, but that's a different contract altogether). So, while yes, technically it is true that Buh's contract is guaranteed, there's more to this story.
Duty To Mitigate Damages
The contract (on page 7) has a duty to mitigate damages clause. This clause is standard in many, many contracts. It legally forces the fired employee to take reasonable steps to get further employment. If they get another job, the amount of money that Cal has to pay them based on this contract is decreased by a dollar to dollar amount from what they receive at that second job.
So, right now, Cal has to pay Buh $1.25 mil over the next 2.5 years if he is fired without cause. If he gets another job (and the duty to mitigate damages clause is broad and includes ANY job, unlike Tedford's clause, which included only certain jobs) and that job pays him $1.25 mil over the next 2.5 years, Cal would not have to pay a dime. Under this section, Buh has to report to Cal on a consistent basis how much money he is making, so they can re-organize how much they pay him.
Of course, he may not be able to get a job that pays him $1.25 mil over the next 2.5 years. If he gets a job that pays him $250,000.00 per year, then Cal's responsibility to him would be cut in half.
The bottom line of it is this:
We don't know how expensive it would cost to fire Andy Buh.
It could cost nothing. It could cost $1.25 mil between now and April of 2016. What is most likely is that it is somewhere in between. Several hundred thousand dollars? How much money could Buh get on the open market now? After this last season, I'm not feeling positive about his prospects were he to be back out looking for a job. I'm sure he could find something somewhere, but it'd probably be $100,000-$200,000.00 a year at most. That's still a significant decrease over 2.5 years, but not $1.25 million.
I will note that after Cal fired Tedford, they renegotiated with Tedford to basically remove his duty to mitigate clause and provide clarity as to how much they would pay him over the remainder of his contract. It was very generous to Tedford, but was probably done to ensure Cal could accurately account for how much they'd need to set aside for him over time. I doubt they would do that here, but they might. Who knows?
So, what do you think about this? Too much money for Buh?