UCLA moved quickly to extend the contract of head baseball coach John Savage after his club won the national championship in June, the school's first title in baseball, and now that extension has been made official after being approved by the UC Board of Regents -- and it is a very, very rich extension. Savage is now one of the highest paid coaches in the country and possibly the highest paid coach in the Pac-12.
Savage's new contract will guarantee him $600,000 per year in base salary through 2025, But various bonuses, from conducting baseball camps, team performance and a variety of other markers, can push Savage's annual compensation over $1 million. This comes on the heels of USC reportedly readying a $1 million offer for Savage, an advance he rejected to stay in Westwood.
UCLA will now pay Savage near what LSU pays Paul Mainieri, the highest paid college baseball coach in the country. Mainieri is guaranteed $750,000 annually, with bonuses that can push him just over $1 million, making the maximum possible compensation of he and Savage almost identical. Savage's guaranteed $600,000 would place him third in the SEC, just behind Arkansas' Dave Van Horn and Mississippi St.'s John Cohen, whose club UCLA beat to capture the national title.
To compare Savage's deal to local rivals, Tennessee lured Save Serrano away from Cal St. Fullerton after the 2011 season with a contract that guarantees him $450,000 and a maximum possible compensation of $546,000 annually. While the lure of the SEC, its support, facilities and exposure all played a role in Serrano's departure, money did well and now the Bruins are now paying Savage above and beyond what it took to pluck him from Fullerton.
Savage will now be the highest paid coach in the Pac-12, or close to it. Oregon's George Horton held the title as the conference's highest paid coach, with $500,000 guaranteed annually with bonuses that could reach $800,000, numbers Savage's contract now exceeds. USC and Stanford do not have to release coaches' contract, but it is unlikely that the Trojans pay Dan Hubbs more than Savage will get under his new contract. The Cardinal could pay Mark Marquess, the school's long-standing and very successful head coach, more.
There are still questions about the UCLA program -- namely whether it will have a stadium to play in next season -- but two of them have been answered: 1) Are UCLA national champions? 2) Will UCLA do what's necessary to keep the man who took them to the top of the mountain? The defending national champions have their coach, and they paid a pretty penny to keep him.