For those wondering why things haven’t moved as quickly as they like on the assistant coaching front, there are a few contract complications that won’t make things quite as simple as just moving on.
There have been whispers that Cal defensive coordinator Art Kaufman is on his way out, but firing him outright is not as simple as it seems. Kaufman is in the middle of his second two-year contract with the Bears. Kaufman’s current contract with Cal expires in April 30, 2018, which is still a long way away. That means the Bears have to be prepared to pay yet another buyout, although it will be slightly more modest than the one they used on Andy Buh.
Currently, if Kaufman were to be terminated by the university without cause BEFORE the conclusion of the 2016 football season, Cal would be on the hook for $590,000. That fee would shrink down to $365,000 after the 2016 season ends. It’s likely Kaufman would want to get some part of that package, so I’d imagine if he were to be fired, it would come some time in January. If Kaufman and Cal could come to a mutual agreement, perhaps they can whittle down the buyout.
Kaufman’s base salary is currently at $250,000 a year, up from $225,000 a year from his previous contract. Kaufman’s talent fee each year sits at $340,000 a year, and he did not qualify for any bonuses.
Cal defensive position coaches are also in a slightly precarious position, since it’s likely a new defensive coordinator will want to bring in his own guys. All of their contracts expire at the end of April. If those coaches were to be terminated without cause before that time, the athletic department would have to pay back the entirety of their base salaries for 2016.
- Defensive line coach Fred Tate: $125,000 base salary, $100,000 talent fee
- Cornerbacks coach John Lovett: $145,000 base salary, $100,000 talent fee
- Safeties coach Greg Burns: $125,000 base salary, $100,000 talent fee
If Cal does decide to make changes on their defensive staff with a potential new defensive coordinator, one potential strategy is the Bears could just let the contracts expire and then bring on new staff. The question is how many position coaches will be willing to wait a few months before being brought on staff, and whether Cal can even afford to wait—spring practice concludes by the end of April/early May at the latest. If Cal decides to part with some assistants, they might have to be ready to pay up for their full buyouts as well.