Brent Key said it was an easy choice for him to leave Alabama for Georgia Tech. Technically speaking, it was a lateral move -- he was Nick Saban's offensive line coach in Tuscaloosa, and he'll do largely the same job in Atlanta. New Georgia Tech head coach Geoff Collins bestowed upon him run game coordinator and assistant head coach titles, but Dave Patenaude will be the Ramblin' Wreck's offensive coordinator.
Still, the move was personal for Key.
"I went through this place. This place made me who I am today, okay? I know the truth about this place," Key said in February. People ask me, ‘How are you going to recruit to Georgia Tech different than Alabama?’ I said, ‘Shit, it’s going to be easier. It’s going to be so much easier. I’ve got more to offer. Tuscaloosa, Atlanta. Outstanding academics. We wake up every morning, look what’s in our hands? Technology…. Look where we’re at, in the epicenter of it all.”
Another thing that made the move a no-brainer for Key? He got quite a large raise in trading in crimson for gold. According to salary details obtained by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Key will be by far the highest-paid assistant on Collins' staff, earning $600,000 per year. That salary puts him $150,000 ahead of Tech's second highest-paid assistant (defensive coordinator Andrew Thacker) and also represents a $110,000 raise from Key's salary at Alabama.
The Collins hiring represents a new era for Georgia Tech football, which means a new staff structure with a new (deeper) assistant salary pool. Paul Johnson's staff didn't employ an offensive coordinator or a tight ends coach, Collins will have both. He also had more money to pay his assistants; the 2019 Tech staff will earn $3.205 million, a 14 percent increase from the $2.812 million Johnson's final staff made.
Much of that can be attributed to Collins employing an offensive coordinator, obviously. Collins will earn less than his collective staff will; his contract begins with an even $3 million salary for 2019, a slight decrease from the $3.06 million Johnson earned in his 11th season on the job. Collins' salary at Temple was not publicly available.
Like Key, running backs coach Tashard Choice earned a substantial raise in returning to his alma mater. He'll make $225,000 this year, which is ninth among Collins' 10 assistants but more than doubles the $80,000 he made coaching North Texas' running backs.
Statistically speaking, wide receivers coach Kerry Dixon earned the largest raise from 2018 to '19. He'll make $230,000 this year, a 229 percent raise from the $70,000 he earned coaching wide receivers at Toledo. Cornerbacks coach/co-special teams coordinator will see a $30,000 raise from the $200,000 he made at Boise State.
Defensive ends/outside linebackers coach Marco Coleman spent 2018 in the NFL with the Oakland Raiders, and the five remaining Tech assistants followed Collins from Temple, where their salaries were not public information.
The full staff breakdown can be found below, again courtesy of the AJ-C.
Brent Key, Asst. HC/RGC/OL
Andrew Thacker, DC/LBs
Dave Patenaude, OC/QBs
Nathan Burton, Co-DC/Safeties
Chris Wiesehan, TEs/Co-STC
Kerry Dixon, WRs
Marco Coleman, DEs/OLBs
Jeff Popovich, CBs/Co-STC
Tashard Choice, RBs/Co-RC
Larry Knight, DL/Co-RC
* - Salary earned by assistant coach in equivalent position on 2018 Georgia Tech staff