One of the widely-reported reasons for Bret Bielema's departure from Wisconsin to Arkansas was that he sought the ability to pay his assistant coaches more money. With all but one assistant coach hired, it appears Bielema is getting what he asked for in Fayetteville.
Chris Bahn of ArkansasBusiness.com provided a nice portrait of what the Hogs' assistants will make, and more than a few things stuck out to us when looking at his report.
First, though, let's take a run-down of what each assistant will earn:
- Jim Chaney, offensive coordinator: $550,000
- Chris Ash, defensive coordinator: $550,000
- Charlie Partridge, defensive line: $350,000
- Randy Shannon, linebackers: $315,000
- George McDonald, wide receivers: $275,000
- Sam Pittman, offensive line: $275,000
- Taver Johnson, cornerbacks: $250,000
- Joel Thomas, running backs: $235,000
Here's what the support staff will make in 2013:
- Ben Herbert, strength & conditioning: $300,000
- Mark Taurisani, director of football operations: $150,000
- Chris Hauser, on-campus recruiting: $80,000
First of all, Arkansas is making a significant investment in strength & conditioning. Herbert's salary is on the upper end of the industry, but what jumps out is the length of his contract: three years. He will be paid through June 30, 2016. That's big stuff.
Shannon's deals that run through June 30, 2014 (effectively a one year deal) with a $50,000 buyout. But the buyout is waived if he departs for a head coach or coordinator position with an NFL or FBS team.
Johnson moves from linebackers to cornerbacks to make room for Shannon, but the move also, according to Bahn, comes with a $25,000 pay cut. Does that strike anyone else as odd? Arkansas has already committed $2.8 million in its assistants with one hire still to go. It's not like Arkansas had to get Johnson's salary in line with his colleagues because, as it stands today, he's the second-lowest paid assistant on the staff.
When you're spending $3 million on a staff, why reduce one guy's salary by $25,000?
Interesting times at Arkansas.
Update> To be clear, we think Taver did an excellent job last year and deserved the offer to remain on staff. In addition to coaching the linebackers last season Johnson also served as "assistant head coach". Folks are saying that he lost the $25,000 due to losing that title. On this end we're pretty sure he'll work just as hard, put in as many hours and be as important to the team in his new capacity. Still find the reduction in pay odd.