If you're a college football assistant coach, especially at Clemson or in the SEC, chances are you are living the good life these days. At least according to a report out today from USA Today where they note that an average FBS assistant coach now makes $200,000 a year and that since 2009 assistant coaches salaries have gone up 29%. They've increased at a rate of 8% more than their head coaching counterparts, whose salaries have gone up 21% over the same time frame.
Who's making the biggest bucks? Well, that would be a name you may not be thinking of off the top of your head. It's Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris who is making $1.3 million a season. His salary is part of the reason the Tigers staff as a whole is the highest paid in the country, making $4.2 million a year.
All of that money has produced a team that has gone 20-6 over that past two seasons, the two seasons under Morris' offensive direction and now Brent Venabels defensive direction (2012).
They aren't the only ones paying crazy jack to assistants though as LSU also pays it's assistants $4 million a year. Following them are a group of seven schools who's assistants all make between $3 and $3.9 million - Texas, Alabama, Auburn, Ohio State, Oregon, Florida State, and Oklahoma.
To put that all in perspective, in 2009 only one school was paying it's assistants over $3 million a year and that was Tennessee at $3.3 million. Crazy how fast times are changing around the college football landscape, huh?
It's all happening in a giant game of who's stuff is bigger than the others. I mean, can't you just picture the AD's and boosters sitting around holding on to a giant baseball bat, each taking their turn to one up the other person until finally someone reaches the bottom of the bat?
Another sign of just how crazy and out of whack things are getting in college football coaching circles? Chad Morris' salary is larger than over half of the FBS head coaches and larger than 41 entire coaching staff's in the FBS.
Crazy, right? But, it's hard to argue with his results as his team averaged the 6th most points this season at 42.9 points per game. On the flip side though, when this team loses it fails to score points, to the tune of just over 3 touchdowns a game different, at 21 points a game in those 6 loses.
Yes, I'm 100% well aware that there are other highly paid assistant coaches on the other sideline trying to do their job, but is it too much to ask that as the top paid assistant coach in the country you're putting an offense out there that isn't the issue in loses? Losing to your rival is one thing, but putting up just 13 and 17 points in respective years is a completely different animal.
To be certain he wasn't the only issue and Clemson decided to throw some more money at the problem, hiring Brent Venabels away from Oklahoma to be their defensive coordinator for $875,000 a year this past offseason. In year one Clemson gave up 24.9 points per game, a nice improvement of 5 less points a game over 2011.
What's my point with this little example? Well, it's to ask a bigger question, one that seemingly won't be answered anytime soon by those forking out the dough at an alarming rate. That question is...
At what point does the law of diminishing returns kick in? I mean, at what point are salaries too large for what coaches are actually getting out of their players on the field? That's the biggest question facing college football these days in general. I mean we're about to reach the point where a head coach may end up making $6 million a year, all in search of something only a handful of schools have ever actually won - a National Championship.
As long as boosters are willing to pony up crazy money and university athletic departments are willing to run in the red to sustain the chance at glory it won't be stopping anytime soon. So hang on for a wild ride down the rabbit hole that is coaching salaries in college football.