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The highest-paid linebackers coaches in college football: 2022 edition

The 2021 season saw a major leap forward for Jim Knowles. Who will be the Jim Knowles of 2022?

A year ago at this time, no one would've guessed Jim Knowles as the highest-paid linebackers coach in college football. 

The Oklahoma State defensive coordinator was well-paid at $800,000, but that was just a third of what Brent Venables earned at Clemson, where he was entrenched as the Tigers' defensive coordinator. Beyond that, in 10 seasons coordinating defenses at Duke and Oklahoma State, Knowles's units ranked in the top-40 nationally twice.

But Knowles picked a good year to have a good year. When Kerry Coombs was not retained at Ohio State, Ryan Day turned to Knowles, leader of the nation's No. 5 yards per play defense in 2021. Furthermore, his defense's shutout of Oklahoma in the second half of Bedlam allowed Lincoln Riley to take the USC job, which allowed Brent Venables to remove himself from consideration among college football's highest-paid assistants. 

Oklahoma State's offer actually beat Ohio State's in terms of total dollars ($6.5 million over five years vs. $5.7 over three), but Knowles picked Ohio State. As recently as 2016, Knowles led the nation's No. 105 defense at Duke. Now he's the highest-paid defensive coach in the country.

“It’s different because it’s The Ohio State,” Knowles said last month. ” It’s different because everything here, the expectations, the amount of resources that I have with coaches on the field, analysts off the field, recruiting resources — I basically have everything I ever wanted, everything any coach could ever want. You know, when you dream about being a coach at this level, that’s it.”

Without further ado, here's the full list. 

1. Jim Knowles, Ohio State -- $1.9 million*
2. Matt House, LSU -- $1.8 million*
3. Pete Kwiatkowski, Texas -- $1.7 million*
4. Tosh Lupoi, Oregon -- $1.7 million*
5. Pete Golding, Alabama -- $1.6 million*
6. Brad White, Kentucky -- $1.4 million*
7. Scottie Hazelton, Michigan State -- $1.1 million*
7. Derek Mason, Oklahoma State -- $1.1 million*
7. Ted Roof, Oklahoma -- $1.1 million*
7. Clayton White, South Carolina -- $1.1 million*
11. Peter Sirmon, Cal -- $910,000*
12. Tim DeRuyter, Texas Tech -- $900,000*
12. Jesse Minter, Michigan -- $900,000*
14. Erik Chinander, Nebraska -- $850,000*
15. Tony Gibson, NC State -- $835,000*
16. Chris Marve, Virginia Tech -- $825,000*
17. Will Muschamp, Georgia -- $800,000+
17. Joe Rossi, Minnesota -- $800,000*
17. Glenn Schumann, Georgia -- $800,000+
20. Gene Chizik, North Carolina -- $700,000*
21. Jordan Lesley, West Virginia -- $650,000*
21. Mike Stoops, Kentucky -- $650,000
23. Randy Shannon, Florida State -- $625,000+
24. Chris Wilson, Colorado -- $600,000*
25. Jeff Choate, Texas -- $575,000+
26. Seth Wallace, Iowa -- $560,000+
27. Joe Bob Clements, Oklahoma State -- $550,000
27. William Inge, Washington -- $550,000+
27. Brian Jean-Mary, Tennessee -- $550,000
27. Chad Wilt, Indiana -- $550,000*
31. Tommy Thigpen, North Carolina -- $504,000+
32. George Helow, Michigan -- $500,000
33. Coleman Hutzler, Alabama -- $495,000+
34. Bobby April, Wisconsin -- $475,000+
35. Andy Buh, Illinois -- $450,000
36. Matt Brock, Mississippi State -- $415,000
37. Jeff Koonz, West Virginia -- $400,000+
37. Tyson Veidt, Iowa State -- $400,000+
39. Chris Simpson, Kansas -- $380,000
40. Tyler Santucci, Texas A&M -- $375,000+
41. Mike Ekeler, Tennessee -- $350,000+
41. Sterling Lucas, South Carolina -- $350,000
41. DJ Smith, Missouri -- $350,000+
41. Mark Smith, Colorado -- $350,000
45. Steve Sanard, Kansas State -- $340,000
46. Barrett Ruud, Nebraska -- $325,000
46. Michael Scherer, Arkansas -- $325,000

PREVIOUS INSTALLMENTS: Wide Receivers | Tight Ends | Defensive LineDefensive Backs

-- Missing: DJ Durkin (Texas A&M), Maurice Crum (Ole Miss), Christian Robinson (Auburn), Jay Bateman and Mike Peterson (Florida), Manny Diaz (Penn State), Kevin Kane (Illinois), Trent Bray (Oregon State), Brian Ward (Washington State), Vic So'oto (Cal), Johnny Nansen (Arizona).

-- A handful of coaches listed above -- Oklahoma State's Mason, Texas Tech's DeRuyter, to name two -- are so-called "walk-around coordinators" without specific positional assignments. This felt like the best place to include them.