Sports Biz with Darren Rovell

College Football's Assistant Coaches Seeing Sweeter Futures


The road to the top is getting a whole lot sweeter for college football's assistant coaches.

Two things have happened recently that led to skyrocketing salaries. The first factor was the coach-in-waiting idea. Hoping to establish some sort of continuity, teams with aging coaches have named assistants as future head coaches.

Mack Brown, Head Coach of the Texas Longhorns

It's already happened at Texas, where at some point in the foreseeable Mack Brown will be replaced by the school's current defensive coordinator Will Muschamp. Muschamp got a raise to $900,000 for the "coach—in—waiting" title. At Florida State, Bobby Bowden's coach—in—waiting is also the school's offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher. If Fisher isn't the head coach by Jan. 2011, FSU boosters must pay him $2.5 million.

The second factor is named Monte Kiffin. After his son Lane got the job at Tennessee, Kiffin left his job as defensive coordinator of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to take the job at Tennessee.

While you see college assistants go to the NFL, it's not as often you see it the other way around. Kiffin will reportedly be paid at least $1 million. That automatically boosted the offer to the school's new associate head coach/defensive line coach Ed Orgeron, who will reportedly make about $600,000. Two points here. According to a great article by Bloomberg's Curtis Eichelberger Orgeron will make almost double that of his boss (UT's athletic director Mike Hamilton pulls in $314,575). Orgeron only got paid $900,000 a year as head coach of Ole Miss from 2005-2007.

You've immediately seen some big salaries at other assistant coaching positions.

Steve Sarkisian's new defensive coordinator at Washington, Nick Holt, will make $600,000 in the first year and $650,000 in year two and three. For comparison sake, Washington State's head coach Paul Wulff makes $700,000 a year.

And there are now bonuses for assistant coaches. Holt has a $200,000 retention bonus if he lasts throughout the life of his contract. University of Hawaii's assistants earned $9,148 each for the Sheraton Bowl appearance against Notre Dame.

It's always been that some coordinators at big schools would make more than the head coaches at some of the mid-tier schools. It's now more common than ever before. But it goes even further than that.

Two assistants left Oklahoma State at the end of the season—Curtis Luper and Tim Beckman. Luper is going to be the running backs coach at Auburn and reportedly will be paid $400,000 a year. Beckman went to become the new head coach at Toledo. His salary? In the $360,000 range.

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