In Tempe, losing to UA stings.
The Territorial Cup gives away state rival bragging rights for the next year, and in 2014, the game decided the Pac-12 South championship.
The loss also hurts ASU coach Todd Graham's wallet, as he may have cost himself $1 million in bonuses by losing that game.
According to the USA Today Sports’ coaching salaries database, Graham has the highest maximum bonus ($3.491 million) of any FBS coach. It's not even close to the next highest-paid coach, UA's Rich Rodriguez at $2.125 million. Of Graham's total, $3.021 million comes from athletic bonuses and the rest is academic-related. Here is his full list of bonuses (pages 12-14).
Based on how ASU’s season played out, Graham made a little more than half a million in athletic performance bonuses, using his $2.7 million annual salary. The math:
Win non-major bowl: $250,000 (one month of annual salary for appearance plus $25,000 for winning the game).
Win 10 games: $300,000 ($50,000 for eight wins, $100,000 more for nine and $150,000 more for 10).
(Projected) Top 25 final ranking: $27,000 (1 percent of base salary).
Total bonuses: $577,000.
But Graham could have made so much more, and all he had to do was beat UA. Here’s a very realistic scenario where Graham could have made $1 million more in bonuses.
Win 11 games: $550,000 ($250,000 extra for winning 11th game).
Lose Pac-12 championship: $270,000 (10 percent of base salary).
Pac-12 Coach of the Year: $50,000.
Win major bowl: $675,000 (25 percent of base salary).
Top-10 final ranking: $54,000 (2 percent of base salary).
Total bonuses: $1,599,000, or $1,022,000 more.
Now this situation is contingent on two things happening. The first, and most important, ASU would have needed to finish No. 10 or higher in the college football playoff committee’s final ranking to qualify for a New Years Six Bowl.
As I wrote previously, losing in the Pac-12 title game would drop the Territorial Cup winner in the rankings, possibly below the threshold needed to make an access bowl. For the committee, that decision ultimately would have come down to ASU and Kansas State for the 10th spot. When the teams were both 7-1, ASU was ninth and Kansas State was seventh. In Week 14, UA was 11th, Kansas State was 12th and ASU was 13th, with UA finishing one spot ahead of KSU.
The second part of the equation is ASU would have had to win the major bowl game (most likely Fiesta Bowl vs. Boise State). Given UA didn’t take care of the Broncos, who knows whether ASU would have.
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