Bud Foster is rich, and 3 other facts about how much assistant college coaches make
How much do your favorite team’s assistant coaches make?
Bud Foster is a rich man. The longtime Virginia Tech defensive coordinator is the highest paid assistant coach in the country, according to the recently released salary database from USA Today. Foster earned $1,369,500 in total pay this year, edging out Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart for the top spot.
Foster, who has been the defensive coordinator in Blacksburg since 1995, guided the Virginia Tech defense to a great year in 2014, coming in inside the top 20 in both scoring and total defense despite having an offense that left the defense on the field for long stretches. Perhaps most impressively, the Hokie defense ended the year at 18.1% in defensive F/+, good for 4th in the nation. Foster made a lot of money, but he certainly did his part to earn it.
Here’s a couple other interesting pieces of information from the salary database:
1. A whole bunch of recently-unemployed SEC coordinators made a big mess of money. Once the regular season ended, Auburn and Texas A&M almost immediately bid adieu to their respective defensive coordinators in Ellis Johnson and Mark Snyder. Those two, along with the still-employed-but-tenuously-so Lorenzo Ward at South Carolina made a combined salary of $2,313,450. That’s a lot of money for teams that finished 61st (Auburn), 92nd (South Carolina) and 103rd (Texas A&M) in total defense.
2. The highest paid non-coordinator is… Tom O’Brien! The former Boston College and NC State head man is serving as the associate head coach and tight ends coach at Virginia, and he pulled in $757,970 this season. It certainly makes some sense that a coach with as much head coach experience as O’Brien would pull in a larger salary, but let’s check in on the Cavaliers’ offensive statistics this year:
Total Offense: 374.2 yards/game (88th)
Scoring Offense: 25.8 points/game (86th)
Offensive F/+: -1.4% (66th)
All told, O’Brien’s wages account for just over 26% of the total assistant salary pool at Virginia. Factor in the $450,000 paid to offensive coordinator Steve Fairchild, and that’s some mighty impressive bang for your buck there, Virginia.
3. The Power 5 school with the smallest assistant salary pool is… North Carolina! The Tar Heels have the smallest payroll for assistant coaches among all Power 5 conference teams at $2,051,667. That’s only 37% of what LSU — the top assistant pool — pays its assistant coaches. Assistant coach salaries are becoming an increasingly big factor in major college football, so this is not a spot that any program would like to find itself.
Two non-power conference programs in Boise State and Army both have higher salary pools than North Carolina, although the difference is fairly small.