When Illinois decided to retain head coach Ron Zook after a miserable 2009 season, it gave him a nice allowance to hire new coordinators.
Paul Petrino, who Zook hired to run Illinois' offense, became the Big Ten's highest-paid assistant in 2010 at $475,000. No other Big Ten aide earned more than $400,000 that year. Petrino's salary increased to $525,000 in 2011.
Illinois defensive coordinator Vic Koenning earned a little more than $325,000 in 2010, making him the league's third highest-paid assistant. He received a $17,000 raise last fall.
Both Petrino and Koenning are gone after Illinois' coaching transition, but the school remains willing to pay competitive salaries for its coordinators.
According to The (Champaign) News-Gazette, Illinois will pay a total of $1.2 million in 2012 for its three coordinators: Tim Banks (defense), Billy Gonzales (co-offense) and Chris Beatty (co-offense). Each coach will earn $400,000.
Assistant coach salaries are on the rise nationally, and the Big Ten had been lagging behind other leagues in paying its top assistants. Michigan changed the game a bit in hiring defensive coordinator Greg Mattison for $750,000. Urban Meyer's new staff at Ohio State is making nearly $1 million more than the previous staff, and Michigan State defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi, who nearly left for the same post at Texas A&M, has a sizable raise coming his way.
Illinois fans should be encouraged that their program remains willing to pay up for assistants. More Big Ten programs need to take this approach to remain competitive.
It's a bit surprising, though, that both Gonzales and Beatty are earning so much as first-time coordinators. Banks has been a defensive coordinator since 2007.
Here are the salaries for Tim Beckman's assistants at Illinois:
Billy Gonzales, co-offensive coordinator/receivers: $400,000
Chris Beatty, co-offensive coordinator/quarterbacks $400,000
Tim Banks, defensive coordinator/safeties $400,000
Luke Butkus, offensive line $200,000
Mike Ward, linebackers $200,000
Keith Gilmore, defensive line: $200,000
Tim Salem, special teams coordinator/running backs: $200,000
Alex Golesh, tight ends/specialists/recruiting coordinator: $150,000
Steve Clinkscale, cornerbacks: $150,000