- Brian Bennett, ESPN Staff Writer
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Paying top dollar for assistant coaches has become an issue in the Big Ten lately. Bret Bielema cited his inability to pay and retain assistants at Wisconsin as a major reason why he left for Arkansas. Purdue made a bigger commitment to its overall staff salary when it hired Darrell Hazell to replace Danny Hope.
How do the Big Ten teams stack up when it comes to salaries for assistants? Luckily, USA Today has just compiled a database looking at what every FBS program pays its staffs. The study found that the average major college football assistant now makes $200,000 per year, a number that is on the rise. According to USA Today, pay for assistants rose 10 percent from last year and is up 29 percent from 2009, the latter of which is higher than the increase in salary for head coaches during that time period.
Here is what Big Ten teams spent on their staffs in 2012, not including the head coach (Note: Because Northwestern and Penn State are not subject to the same state open-records laws as other schools, their information was not available):
Ohio State: $3.29 million
Michigan: $2.93 million
Illinois: $2.3 million
Michigan State $2.2 million
Nebraska: $2.15 million
Iowa: $2.1 million
Minnesota: $2.1 million
Indiana: $2 million
Wisconsin $1.77 million
Purdue: $1.61 million
As you can see, Wisconsin was near the bottom of the pack in the Big Ten. Purdue has given Hazell a pool of $2.1 million for assistant coaches, which would put the Boilermakers right about the average for league schools. Ohio State and Michigan are the two richest schools and have not surprisingly made the biggest commitment to salaries. When you add in Urban Meyer's salary, the Buckeyes are paying nearly $7.6 million per year in football salaries. You get what you pay for, I guess, as Ohio State went 12-0.
While the Big Ten's median salary pool for assistants was just over $2 million in 2012, the median in the SEC was around $2.5 million. According to USA Today, the SEC paid its assistants an average of $315,000, the most in the nation. The Big 12 was second at just under $290,000.
LSU is spending more than $4 million on assistants, while Alabama is doling out more than $3.8 million on assistants. Auburn ($3.77 million), Tennessee ($2.98 million), Florida ($2.89 million), Georgia ($2.77 million) and Texas A&M ($2.68 million) also far outspent most Big Ten schools, while Arkansas ($2.56 million in 2012) is making a larger commitment to assistant pay under Bielema.
Finally, here's a look at the top-paid coordinators in the Big Ten among the 10 schools whose information was available via public records:
Luke Fickell, co-defensive coordinator, Ohio State: $761,000
Greg Mattison, defensive coordinator, Michigan: $758,900
Al Borges, offensive coordinator, Michigan: $658,300
Pat Narduzzi, defensive coordinator, Michigan State: $501,700
Tom Herman, offensive coordinator, Ohio State: $456,000
Everett Withers, co-defensive coordinator, Ohio State: $456,000
Tim Banks, defensive coordinator, Illinois: $400,000
Chris Beatty, co-offensive coordinator, Illinois: $400,000
Billy Gonzales, co-offensive coordinator, Illinois: $400,000
Tim Beck, offensive coordinator, Nebraska: $372,300
Tracy Claeys, defensive coordinator, Minnesota: $340,000
Matt Limegrover, offensive coordinator, Minnesota: $335,000
Greg Davis, offensive coordinator, Iowa: $325,000
Dan Roushar, offensive coordinator, Michigan State: $307,000
Mike Ekeler, co-defensive coordinator, Indiana: $306,600
Doug Mallory, co-defensive coordinator, Indiana: $306,600
Phil Parker, defensive coordinator, Iowa: $301,500
John Papuchis, defensive coordinator, Nebraska: $300,000
Gary Nord, offensive coordinator, Purdue: $275,000
Chris Ash, defensive coordinator, Wisconsin: $267,050
Matt Canada, offensive coordinator, Wisconsin: $265,000
Seth Littrell, offensive coordinator, Indiana: $255,500
Tim Tibesar, defensive coordinator, Purdue: $250,000
Fickell, Borges and Mattison are three of 18 assistants nationwide who earned at least $600,000 in 2012, according to the study. There were 14 assistants paid that much last season and nine in 2010. Ohio State offensive line coach Ed Warinner is the highest paid position coach in the league, at a salary of $357,800.