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Tracking the highest-paid coordinators in college football heading into 2021

The list of the highest paid coordinators in college football always undergoes some changes year to year, but heading into the 2021, without a full look at some of the recent new coordinator hires, the list is already looking significantly different than the 2020 list.

The top three names from the 2020 list, provided annually from research by the good folks at USA Today, have all changed.

Those top paid assistants that have since moved on include Steve Sarkisian ($2.5 million) who left Alabama's offensive coordinator post for the Texas head coaching job, and Auburn defensive coordinator Kevin Steele ($2.5 million) left for Tennessee (where he spent just weeks before being let go following the dismissal of Jeremy Pruitt and hire of Josh Heupel).

At one of the other highest paid spots, Bo Pelini left LSU after one not-so-amicable season in Baton Rouge under Ed Orgeron after making just over $2.3 million.

 

SCHOOL

NAME (ROLE)

2020 Salary

1

Alabama

Steve Sarkisian (OC)

$2.5 million

2

Auburn

Kevin Steele (DC)

$2.5 million

3

Clemson

Brent Venables (DC)

$2.4 million

4

LSU

Bo Pelini (DC)

$2.305 million

5

Texas A&M

Mike Elko (DC)

$2.1 million

6

Florida

Todd Grantham (DC)

$1.8 million

Other coaches among the top 10 highest paid last year that have since changed jobs include defensive coordinator Don Brown (Michigan to Arizona), Jim Chaney (who spent the last several seasons at Tennessee), and Mike Yurchich (who landed at Penn State after spending 2020 at Texas).

The 2020 list was dominated by defensive coordinators, with 8 of the top 10 highest paid guys on the defensive side of the ball

As it currently sits with publicly available information, here's an updated look at the highest paid coaches from the Power 5 level.

 

SCHOOL

NAME (ROLE)

Last Reported Annual Salary

1

Clemson

Brent Venables (DC)

$2.4 million

2

Texas A&M

Mike Elko (DC)

$2.1 million

3

Clemson

Tony Elliott (OC)

$2 million

4

Florida

Todd Grantham (DC)

$1.8 million

5

Arkansas

Barry Odom (DC)

$1.75 million

6

Georgia

Dan Lanning (DC)

$1.7 million

The departures of those guys we laid out above cleared the way for Brent Venables to take over the top spot, with Texas A&M defensive coordinator Mike Elko also climbing the list to the #2 spot.

The market set the stage for some off season pay increases for in-demand coordinators that decided to stay put as well, and we've been keeping on eye on that over the past few months.

Newcomers to the list include Clemson offensive coordinator Tony Elliott, who got a pay bump back in February after being considered a top candidate (once again) for a number of openings this past cycle to enter the elite $2 million club. He made $1.6 million in 2020.

Barry Odom is another coach that earned a recent increase in pay, becoming the highest paid assistant coach in Razorback history back in February as well, going from $1.3 million to $1.75 million.

Georgia defensive coordinator Dan Lanning is the final one we'll touch on in this piece, earning a pay increase from $1.25 million to $1.7 million this off season after being pursued for other premier coordinator openings.

If you noticed a trend carrying over to this year again, you'd be right. Defensive coordinators are once again staking claim to the highest paid territory, with Elliott the only offensive mind on the list. It was just a few years ago the list was dominated by offensive minded coaches.

A few other notes of interest to keep in mind:

  • New Arizona defensive coordinator Don Brown's salary ranked #8 nationally while at Michigan. The detail of his deal on Jedd Fisch's staff have not yet been released.
  • Mike Yurcich, who was at Texas in 2020 as offensive coordinator with a salary ranked #10 nationally, landed at Penn State as offensive coordinator. His salary info has also not been shared.

Stay tuned to The Scoop for the latest.