No team in the SEC improved more dramatically from 2013 to 2014 than Arkansas, and the school announced Saturday that Bret Bielema has received the expected reward where his contract is concerned.
Bielema's deal has been extended by two seasons, taking it through 2020. He has also received a raise, one that will bump his salary from $3.2 million to $4 million for the 2015 season and an average of $4.25 million over the life of the contract.
"Coach Bret Bielema is not only one of the best college football coaches in the nation, he is an outstanding leader," athletic director Jeff Long said in the announcement. "What Coach Bielema and his coaching staff have done for our young men, on and off the field, is something that has dramatically changed the course of our program and most importantly positively impacted the lives of our football student-athletes. He is building a championship program in a way that all Arkansans can be proud of."
As illustrated by ArkansasFight.com, the contract's buyout terms are extremely friendly to Bielema, who would be owed $15.4 million if he's fired any time before 2018 and a minimum of $7.9 million if if he's fired any time before 2020. But Bielema would only owe Arkansas $4 million if he leaves in 2015 and would owe progressively less over the course of the contract down to only $500,000 on Jan. 1, 2019.
Bielema has gone 10-15 overall and just 2-14 in the SEC in his two seasons in Fayetteville, but the Hogs appear to be on the rise after wrapping up a 7-6 campaign in 2014 with a 31-7 Texas Bowl blowout of Texas.
"My wife and I love Arkansas and the tremendous support the Razorbacks receive throughout the entire state," Bielema said. "We are also appreciative of the unwavering support of chancellor [Dave] Gearhart, Jeff Long and the entire Razorback nation as we all work together to give Arkansas something it has never had in the most competitive conference in the nation."