USF announced the extensions for Stan Heath and Skip Holtz at the same time on Friday afternoon. For Heath, it was a solid bump in pay, and well-earned -- anyone who could make "the toughest job in America" not seem so tough anymore deserves that kind of recognition. For Holtz, though, it was neither. The money isn't that much more than what he makes now, unless he meets a series of incentives that range from doable (making a bowl game) to impossible (winning the national championship). And he's 13-12 in two years and coming off a season where the Bulls didn't go bowling for the first time since 2004.
First things first - while there hasn't been much to merit a new contract, I don't think USF will have to worry about firing Holtz and paying it off. It's hard to imagine his team having very many 5-7 seasons like they did in 2011. Skip probably had a 8-9 win team last year that lost almost every close game they played (although his coaching was a factor in a few of them). And while I'm not buying into any of the preseason press clippings that tout them as conference favorites, the Bulls should be better in 2012.
So why extend Holtz now? There are smaller reasons for an extension, like boosting the money for assistant coaches and the usual perks and allowances that college coaches get. Mostly, though, I think USF feels like increasing his contract buyout gives them security. If Skip were to leave after either of the next two seasons, he would owe USF $1 million. If he left after the 2014 or 2015 seasons, it would be $500,000.
But I don't know how much security that really gives them. Any potential suitor for Skip Holtz's services would be from a power conference, one with a gigantic TV contract and tons of money to throw around. (That's not even factoring in how much money they'll rake in from the new playoff format, once that starts up.) Since it's not like schools are going to start paying players any time soon, there's probably going to be another boom in coaches' salaries. If there is, a $1 million buyout won't be really prohibitive for most of the big boys.
Skip's a smart guy. I think he understands that this buyout isn't as strong as it looks, and if the right opportunity comes up, the money to get him out of Tampa will materialize from somewhere. So why not sign the contract? The worst that happens is the team craters and he loses his job, but still gets three years of paychecks from USF that he wasn't going to get before. Advantage Holtz.