Major college football is a billion dollar business. With the amount of money that is on the line, programs are looking for any advantage they can get. As a result, we are now witnessing schools investing more money than ever before into building their coaching staffs.
USA Today recently compiled a database of the salaries for every assistant coach in the country, and two things really stood out to us: one was the discrepancy in earnings for coaches at Power-5 conference schools versus coaches at non-Power-5 schools, and the other was the jaw-dropping compensation packages of some of the most-successful coaches in the country. With that being said, here is a look at the five highest-paid assistant coaches in college football in 2015.
5. Brent Venables, defensive coordinator, Clemson
- 2015 Total Pay: $1,406,107
Clemson hired Venables away from Oklahoma back in 2012, and the 44-year-old coach has been the Tigers’ defensive coordinator and linebackers coach ever since. He signed a lucrative contract extension last January that pays him an annual salary of $1.35 million plus incentives, and the move paid off in a major way. Clemson finished the 2015 regular season with a 13-0 overall record in large part due to their defense finishing seventh in the country in total defense. Don’t be surprised if Venables lands a head coaching gig sometime in the next two or three years.
4. John Chavis, defensive coordinator, Texas A&M
- 2015 Total Pay: $1,500,000
It’s not surprising to see Chavis on this list given the fact that he has 20 years of experience as a highly-successful defensive coordinator in college football’s premier conference, the SEC. The 2015 season was his first year at Texas A&M, and while the Aggies weren’t exactly dominant on the defensive side of the ball, they clearly made strides under their new defensive coordinator. If Chavis can turn A&M into a defensive powerhouse – like he did with LSU – then we will likely see the 59-year-old land the first head-coaching job of his career in the very near future.
3. Kirby Smart, defensive coordinator, Alabama
- 2015 Total Pay: $1,501,500
Smart has been arguably the top assistant coach in college football over the last five years. He led several top-ranked defenses during his time with the Crimson Tide, but the 2015 Alabama defense may have been his best work. After turning down several job offers over the last few years, Smart recently accepted the head-coaching gig at his alma mater, the University of Georgia.
2. Cam Cameron, offensive coordinator, LSU
- 2015 Total Pay: $1,519,734
Cameron became the offensive coordinator for the LSU Tigers in 2013 after spending the previous decade coaching in the National Football League. His offenses in Baton Rouge have been consistently among the best in the SEC, and for much of the 2015 season it looked as though his starting running back, Leonard Fournette, was a lock to win the Heisman Trophy. However, Cameron’s place on this list could be short-lived if his boss, LSU head coach Les Miles, doesn’t produce a more successful season for the Tigers in 2016.
1. Will Muschamp, defensive coordinator, Auburn
- 2015 Total Pay: $1,600,000
Shortly after Muschamp was fired as the head coach at the University of Florida, Auburn hired him to help turn around a defense that was one of the SEC’s worst defensive units in 2014. The Tigers had a subpar year defensively, but Muschamp still remains as one of the most well respected coaches in the business. In a surprise move, Muschamp was recently named as the successor to Steve Spurrier at the University of South Carolina.
All salary data courtesy of USA Today Sports.