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Chuck McGill: Pricey assistants becoming the norm

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Attention, last-minute shoppers. If you're in search of one last gift, preferably from the bargain bin, steer clear of college football assistant coaches.

Those fellas are pricey.

The fine folks at USA Today researched and compiled the salaries of Football Bowl Subdivision programs, except for 20 schools that are private or exempted under state law from providing the information. Still, there are 100-plus schools in the database with salary and bonus information for more than 900 FBS assistants.

West Virginia University paid its nine assistants a combined $2.733 million this season, an average of $303,666.67 - or nearly $100,000 above the national average of $209,331. Defensive coordinator Keith Patterson and special teams coordinator Joe DeForest are tops in payroll on the staff at $501,000.

Patterson and DeForest are tied for No. 45 nationally in annual pay, two of the 54 assistants in the nation who eclipsed the $500,000 mark. They are two of eight assistant coaches in the Big 12 making at least $500,000. Texas offensive coordinator Major Applewhite, erstwhile Longhorns defensive coordinator Manny Diaz and Oklahoma defensive coordinator Mike Stoops lead the way with $650,000 per year.

The Mountaineers may still be adapting to life in the Big 12 on the field, but they're keeping up with the Stoopses in terms of coaches compensation. WVU ranks fourth in the Big 12 behind Texas ($4.1M), Oklahoma ($3.4M) and Oklahoma State ($2.8M) in salaries earmarked for assistants. The staff salaries for Baylor and TCU were not included in the database.

While every WVU assistant is above the $200,000 threshold, first-year Marshall defensive coordinator Chuck Heater is the only Herd assistant in that club. Heater is at $200,000 exactly, one of eight assistants in Conference USA at or above the $200K salary line. In fact, seven of those eight assistants are between $200,000 and $202,925, including former Marshall assistant Tony Petersen, who makes $200,000 at Louisiana Tech.

UAB defensive coordinator/outside linebackers coach Reggie Johnson is far and away the highest paid assistant in C-USA at $251,200.

Overall, West Virginia has the No. 21 best paid coaching staff in the FBS. Marshall is No. 74 overall at $1,103,506 - the sixth highest paid group of assistants in C-USA. The Herd isn't far off the pace, however, as UTEP ($1,135,000) has the top staff salary of teams returning to the league next season.

Some other nuggets from the database:

 

  • Texas A&M defensive coordinator Mark Snyder is the 10th-highest paid assistant coach in the country. Snyder, who resigned under pressure in 2009 after a 22-37 record in five seasons as head coach at Marshall, earned $708,000 in 2013, according to USA Today database.
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    Snyder reportedly earned about $315,000 during his final season at Marshall, and he received a $535,488 buyout settlement after he resigned Nov. 30, 2009. He spent two seasons at the University of South Florida, where he earned $260,000 as the Bulls' highest paid assistant.

    Snyder is one of eight defensive coordinators in the top 10 highest paid assistants. The Aggies ranked No. 105 in total defense. The coordinators of the defenses ranked worse than A&M this season had an average salary of $205,000.

     

  • Of the nearly $200 million allocated to assistant coaches - and that doesn't include the highly compensated staffs at Southern Cal, Notre Dame, Stanford, Penn State, etc. - about 21 percent of the money ($41 million) goes to Southeastern Conference assistants.
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  • Rich Rodriguez's staff at Arizona is No. 37 in assistant payroll ($2,249,300). Rodriguez's nine-person staff includes six former WVU assistants: Jeff Casteel ($445K), Calvin Magee ($320K), Rod Smith ($255K), Bill Kirelawich ($225K), Tony Dews ($220K) and David Lockwood ($210K).
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  • The well-traveled Phil Elmassian, who worked as the defensive coordinator at WVU in 2001, is the second highest paid assistant in the Mid-American Conference ($168,394). Chuck Amato, Akron's defensive coordinator and Doc Holliday's former boss, is the highest earner among MAC assistants at $196K.
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  • Other former WVU assistants included in the database: Texas A&M quarterbacks coach Jake Spavital ($383,000); Oklahoma offensive line coach Bill Bedenbaugh ($315,000); Florida State offensive line coach Rick Trickett ($455,000); Wisconsin receivers coach Chris Beatty ($200,000); and UMass offensive line coach Dave Johnson ($90,000).
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  • In addition to Snyder, former Herd assistants are padding their bank accounts. Ohio State receivers coach Zach Smith makes $160,000; Smith's successor at Marshall, Gerad Parker, makes $130,000 at Purdue; Cincinnati defensive tackles coach Fred Tate banked $160,000 this season; Lytrell Pollard, now at Southern Miss, was paid $90,000 in 2013; and Geep Wade, who left MU for Middle Tennessee, earned $120,000.
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    At the very least, these coaches should be able to provide a few decent stocking stuffers.

     


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