The stakes are high for the 2019 Apple Cup. The winner will claim the Pac-12 North and move onto the Pac-12 Championship game, and the Washington State Cougars would not only head to Santa Clara to play the Utah Utes for the Pac-12 Championship, but keep them in the running for the College Football Playoff.
A win for WSU would also be quite lucrative for head coach Mike Leach and keep alive the possibility of Leach receiving a mid-six-figure bonus at the end of the season, according to his contract, which was obtained by CougCenter from WSU via a public records request.
Like all college football coaches, Leach has a number of incentives in his contract tied to on-field performance. New Kansas head coach Les Miles would receive $1 million if the Jayhawks ever reach the National Championship game. Leach doesn’t have any incentives quite that high, but he can cash in if the Cougs keep winning, starting with Friday.
Incentives already reached
$75K — Bowl game
Leach locked that in long ago when the Cougars won their sixth game. That number could increase, however, if WSU makes a premium bowl game. More on that later.
Likely incentives regardless of the Apple Cup
$25K — Pac-12 Coach of the Year
Leach should be the runaway candidate for this award at this point.
$50K — Top 25 final national ranking
The Cougars enter the Apple Cup at No. 7 in the AP poll. At worst, they will finish the season 10-3 which is likely to get them into the final top 25 rankings and net Leach another bonus.
Incentives for winning the Apple Cup
$25K — Apple Cup victory
Win the Apple Cup, drive off in a Hyundai.
$50K — Pac-12 North Champion
A win in the Apple Cup is good for $75k total as the Cougs would also lock up the Pac-12 North.
Possible incentives after winning the Apple Cup
$50K — National Coach of the Year
Leach likely has a shot at this regardless of the outcome, but a Pac-12 North championship would make it even more likely.
$100K — Pac-12 Champion
If the Cougars won the North and went on to beat Utah, Leach’s Pac-12 success bonus would bump up from $50k to $100k.
$100K — Top 10 final ranking
This one gets tricky. The Cougs would likely need to win at least two more games for this to happen, but it will all come down to bowl season and how the votes fall. Leach’s ranking bonus would jump from $50k to $100k if the Cougs finish in the top 10.
$100K — Premium bowl game appearance
If WSU makes the Sugar, Rose, Orange, Cotton, Peach or Fiesta bowls, Leach’s bowl game bonus increases from $75k to $100k. If the Cougs win the Apple Cup, there is a chance they could do no worse than the Rose or Fiesta bowls depending on how the rankings shake out.
$200K — College Football Playoff appearance
Make the final four and the bowl bonus jumps another $100k to $200k.
$300K — National Championship game appearance
Make the playoff and win a game and you can tack on another $100k. That doesn’t seem like much for beating Alabama, to be honest.
$400K — National Championship
If the Cougars win it all this year, Mike Leach’s bowl bonus will jump to $400k. It is late November and this incentive is still in play. What a time to be alive.
What it all means
Win the Apple Cup and Leach adds a $75k bonus for a total bonus between $150k - $225k.
Make the Rose Bowl and Leach is likely looking at a $400k bonus, depending on voting.
Come away with the whole enchilada? A National Championship would result in a $700k bonus check.
Hopefully Pat Chun has a Brinks truck ready to drive over to Leach’s house.