The New Deal

Arkansas and head coach Bobby Petrino announce a new 7-year deal that will pay him $3.56 annually, includes a $500,000 bonus when he actually signs the deal, gives him another $725,000 if he is coaching the Razorbacks through the entire deal and has a buyout clause that is a whopping $18 million to start with and goes steadily goes down to $3.925 in 2017.

Just minutes before having dinner Saturday night with 11 recruits who can help him continue to build his football program, Arkansas head coach Bobby Petrino and the school officially announced they have played "Let's Make a Deal."

Petrino and the Razorback administration have agreed to terms on a 7-year contract worth $3.65 million annually that lock him in as the school's coach through the 2017 season.

Petrino, who just led the program to its first-ever BCS Bowl berth, sees his pay elevated from just over $2.7 million and moves him from the nation's 10th highest paid coach to number seven on the list.

"I am excited to express my commitment to the University of Arkansas," Petrino said. "Chancellor (Dave) Gearhart and (Vice Chancellor and Director of Athletics) Jeff Long have been tremendous in terms of their support and I appreciate the positive energy the fans have demonstrated. I look forward to continuing to dedicate myself to leading the Razorback football program."

Petrino will get a $500,000 bonus when the deal is actually signed - and not just agreed upon - and gets another $725,000 if he stays at the school through the length of the contract.

The buyout is $18 million for 2011 and 2012; $17.975 in 2013; $14.525 in 2014; $10.825 in 2015; $7.375 in 2016; and $3.925 in 2017.

The deal, which supersedes a previous deal that ran through 2014, also expands Petrino's non-compete clause to all SEC schools instead of just to schools in the league's Western Division and has a amazing buyout clause

That was important from the school's standpoint as Petrino had been mentioned as a candidate for the vacant Florida job - albeit the contract was already being worked on before Gator head coach Urban Meyer stepped down.

It also reportedly includes raises for Petrino's assistants, but Long stressed that compensation will be come from athletic department generated revenues and private gift support and not with taxpayer dollars or student fees.

"This new long-term agreement is beneficial to our program now and will continue to strengthen our program over time," Long said. "Coach Petrino has stabilized and elevated the success of our program. The mirror image buyout provisions included in the terms of the agreement reflect both parties' serious commitment to each other and to the long-term success of Razorback Football. That will help our ongoing fundraising efforts and send a clear message to prospective football student-athletes about the bright future of our program."

Long praised the efforts of Petrino, who has taken a program from 4-7 in his first season in 2008 to 10-2, a top 10 ranking and BCS bowl berth this season in the Sugar Bowl against Ohio State.

Petrino is one of only three coaches to lead two different programs to a BCS bowl game, having done that at Louisville in 2007 when he led the Cardinals to the Orange Bowl.

"We are pleased to announce a new agreement with Coach Bobby Petrino that will enable our program to move forward under the leadership of one of the most successful college football coaches in the nation," Long said. "This agreement demonstrates a mutual long-term commitment between Coach Petrino and the University of Arkansas.

"Coach Petrino has done a tremendous job in leading the Razorback program to new levels of success both on and off the field," Long added. "I appreciate his strong desire to remain at the University of Arkansas to continue to build our program and positively impact the lives of our student-athletes. I am excited about the direction of the Razorback Football program and look forward to Coach Petrino serving as the head football coach of the Arkansas Razorbacks for many years to come."

There is no doubt that Arkansas' planned 80,000 square foot football operations facility – expected to cost between $24-36 million - also played a role.

"It puts a huge smile on my face," Petrino said when it was announced in late October. "This is a great deal for us. The design is awesome. I can't say enough about how much it will help us be a better football team. It will help us in recruiting when everyone comes to campus and sees that."

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