Only eight years ago, North Carolina State University drew attention from around the country for putting together one of college football’s first $1 million coaching staffs.
And that was just for the assistants. Now making a fuss over that kind of money seems trivial with assistant coaches’ salaries in the sports rising right along with head coaches’ salaries. After receiving across-the-board raises in March, Georgia’s nine on-field assistant coaches now make $1,913,758 a year combined.
“Around the country you have some assistant coaches making over $400,000,” Georgia athletics director Damon Evans said. “I think that’s a shock to the system. Just like the first $2 million a year salary for a head coach was a shock to the system, we are just now starting to get the shocks to the system as far as assistant coaches go.
Georgia’s highest-paid assistant coach is defensive coordinator Willie Martinez, who will earn $310,300 for the next fiscal year. Offensive coordinator Mike Bobo is next on the list at $267,500.
Defensive line coach and recruiting coordinator Rodney Garner ($253,301), offensive line coach Stacey Searels ($235,400), Defensive ends coach Jon Fabris ($192,610), wide receivers coach John Eason ($187,908), running backs coach Tony Ball ($157,600), tight ends coach John Lilly ($157,600) and linebackers coach John Jancek ($151,539) complete Georgia’s coaching roster.
Even at those numbers, Evans has gotten feedback that his assistant coaches are underpaid. The reason for the angst among Bulldogs fans is some of the numbers they see reported around the country.
Clemson offensive coordinator Rob Spence was offered $400,000 to take the same position under Alabama head coach Nick Saban, according to the Charleston Post and Courier. That’s double what Spence makes with the Tigers, but he turned down the job.
"There’s only so far we can go,” Clemson athletics director told The Post and Courier at the time. “There’s an awful lot of good coaches nationally that make very competitive salaries, but yet this jump creates a different mind-set. So the challenge we have is to deal with that mind-set and deal with the marketplace that exists.”
Florida State offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher, who has been named the school’s head-coach-in-waiting, earns more than $410,000 annually, but almost half of that comes from the school’s booster club rather than the athletic department.
Former Georgia player Will Muschamp will be paid $425,000 in his first year as Texas’ defensive coordinator, according to the Austin American-Statesman. He was paid $325,000 annually at Auburn.
Those numbers are the exception, though, and not the norm. According to a 2006 survey by the Big 12 conference, the average offensive coordinator in that league earned $216,059, and the average defensive coordinator earned $233,613.
Even after receiving raises following a historically good season in 2007, Missouri offensive coordinator Dave Christensen and defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus could not break the $200,000 mark.
College fans now are noticing what their school’s assistants make and the most dedicated of those let the athletics director know about it, Evans said.
“It’s become a bigger issue because the head coaches’ salaries have risen so dramatically,” Evans said. “Now people say, ‘Don’t forget about the assistants.’ They are becoming more of public interest.”
Evans believes his assistant coaches’ salaries are fair, and he believes his heads coach’s salary is fair. Head coach Mark Richt received an $800,000 raise in March and now makes $2.8 million annually.
“I, of course, want to be fair to Mark,’ Evans said. “I don’t want to not put Mark at a level that is commensurate with where he should be. At the same time, I don’t want to give away the ranch. We have to be good stewards of the money our donors give to us.”