Ryan Day, Ohio State assistants to add $2.1 million for College Football Playoff berth

Joey Kaufman
The Columbus Dispatch

The College Football Playoff berth secured by Ohio State on Sunday gave coach Ryan Day and his staff just over $2.1 million in bonuses, according to language in their contracts obtained by The Dispatch through a public-records request.

The total is almost a half a million more than if the Buckeyes had missed the playoff and instead landed in another New Year’s Six bowl separate from the four-team bracket.

Ryan Day is due $250,000 for making it to the College Football Playoff.

Day is due $250,000 for an appearance in a semifinal, a matchup with top-seeded Georgia in the Peach Bowl on Dec. 31, raising his total compensation for 2022 to more than $9 million, while his 10 on-field assistants will net about a combined $1.88 million in bonuses.

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Defensive coordinator Jim Knowles collects the largest bonus for the trip to Atlanta, one totaling $403,750. The performance incentives for the assistant coaches are worth 21.25% of their base salaries, and Knowles is the program’s highest-paid assistant, earning $1.9 million in his first season after arriving from Oklahoma State.

Offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson receives $297,500, while defensive line coach Larry Johnson and wide receivers coach Brian Hartline see $240,763 and $201,875, respectively.

Most of the assistants’ bonuses are in the six-figures, including offensive line coach Justin Frye at $170,000, running backs coach Tony Alford at $159,375, secondary coach Tim Walton at $148,750 and safeties coach Perry Eliano at $106,250.

Ohio State defensive coordinator Jim Knowles will receive a $403,750 bonus for making the College Football Playoff.

The remaining bonuses given to the staff are for quarterbacks coach Corey Dennis at $85,000 and special teams coach Parker Fleming at $63,750.

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The staff’s bonus total is a $73,992 decrease from last season when it surpassed $2.2 million, an amount that also included a bonus for a share of the Big Ten East title in addition to a Rose Bowl berth. While Michigan won the division outright this fall after handling the Buckeyes on Nov. 26, the teams were tied atop the standings at the end of last year, resulting in a $50,000 bonus for Day and bonuses equaling 8.5% of the assistants’ salaries.

Ohio State offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson will receive a $240,763 bonus for making the College Football Playoff.

If the Buckeyes upset Georgia to reach the CFP final, the total postseason bonuses for Day and his assistants will increase from $2.13 million to $2.6 million. In that scenario, Day would pick up an additional $100,000 and the assistants would add a combined $373,278.

When Ohio State won the Big Ten championship along the way toward making the national championship game in 2020, they tallied as much as $3.56 million in bonuses.

Joey Kaufman covers Ohio State football for The Columbus Dispatch. Contact him at or on Twitter @joeyrkaufman.

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