As Arizona athletic director Dave Heeke was walking toward the visiting locker room at Mountain America Stadium late Saturday afternoon, his grin was from ear to ear. But behind that smile was also the understanding that the 59-23 win over ASU made it even more likely his department would have to pony up to ensure coach Jedd Fisch didn’t get poached by another program.
“We’re gonna do everything we can to keep Jedd around here as long as we can,” Heeke said to a handful of reporters who had made the trip up north for the Territorial Cup.
Told of this exchange prior to his postgame press conference, Fisch also had a big smile before responding.
“Yeah, that sounds good to me,” he said. “That’s up to Dave. It sounds good. I’m certainly all for it.”
Fisch is finishing the first year of a 5-year deal he picked up last November after lifting the UA from a 1-11 record in 2021 to 5-7. That included a small raise.
Now, at 9-3 overall and 7-2 in Pac-12 play, tied for the most conference wins in school history, Fisch is looking at an even bigger jump in compensation.
The $3.25 million Fisch was set to earn in 2023 ranks 54th out of 119 FBS coaches whose salaries are public record, according to USAToday. It’s likely behind several coaches at private schools, including USC’s Lincoln Riley, Notre Dame’s Marcus Freeman, TCU’s Sonny Dykes and Miami’s Mario Cristobal.
The only Pac-12 coach earning less than Fisch is Washington State’s Jake Dickert, at $2.8 million. First-year ASU coach Kenny Dillingham made $3.85 million this season, while Jonathan Smith was making $4.85 million at Oregon State before leaving for Michigan State.
Fisch noted in his postgame presser this was only the seventh time in school history that Arizona had won nine games. That total is also one that at least nine FBS coaches with higher 2023 salaries than Fisch have yet to achieve. Among those is Dillingham, Colorado’s Deion Sanders ($5.5 million in 2023) and Cal’s Justin Wilcox ($4.4 million).
South Carolina’s Shane Beamer has the highest salary of a coach yet to win nine games in a season, earning $6.125 million for 2023, while Maryland’s Mike Locksley is making $5.5 million despite not winning more than eight games in any of his five seasons with the Terrapins.
While a new contract (hopefully) gets worked out for Fisch his overall compensation for 2023 will be going up in the form of bonuses, as much as $275,000. After beating UCLA on Nov. 4 to get to bowl eligibility, Fisch was guaranteed a $25,000 bonus for ‘partcipating in a non-major, non-CFP bowl game.’
Had the UA managed to get into the Pac-12 title game—it was eliminated for contention when Oregon beat Oregon State on Friday night—it may have had a shot at a New Year’s Six bowl, which would have earned Fisch another $100,000 bonus with the chance at $100K more for winning that game.
At No. 14 in the latest Associated Press Top 25, Arizona is all but guaranteed to finish the season ranked for the first time since 2014. Fisch will get $25,000 if the Wildcats end the year 11th to 25th, and that would rise to $50,000 if they finished in the top 10.
Fisch seems like a shoe-in for Pac-12 Coach of the Year, and if he wins that he gets another $50,000 bonus. There’s a $75,000 bonus available if he’s named AP Coach of the Year, which he figures to earn consideration for.
And Fisch’s contract also calls for him to get a $100,000 bonus for being designated as Pac-12 South Division champs. The Pac-12 did away with divisions last year, but technically Arizona finished first among the six South teams, so that’s another chunk he’s potentially picking up.