Chelsea Castle/ Managing editor for content
With a $4 million per year salary, new Ohio State football coach Urban Meyer is the highest paid coach in the Big Ten conference, but OSU is spending millions on Meyer’s assistants as well.
The combined salaries for the assistant coaches Meyer has hired is just under $3.5 million, and some positions have yet to be filled.
During Meyer’s introductory press conference Nov. 28, he said assembling a top-quality staff was a priority.
“In 2005 … I think (Florida) put together the best coaching staff maybe in college football history,” Meyer said. “I know that’s a profound statement. But what those guys did, the recruits they brought in and the run that team went on, with the great players, the style of offense, defense and kicking game … my goal is to find that kind of group of coaches again.
“I think Ohio State deserves the best group of assistant coaches in America.”
It appears OSU is helping Meyer pursue just that and is willing to shell out more cash than the university is accustomed to in the process.
According to information released by the OSU athletic department, the school is spending significantly more money on its football coaches in 2012 under Meyer than under former coaches Luke Fickell in 2011 and Jim Tressel.
In 2011, the head coach, defensive coordinator and offensive coordinator made a combined $1.475 million. In 2010, those three coaches earned $4.35 million.
In 2012, the head coach, defensive coordinators and offensive coordinator will make a combined total of $5.62 million. That’s about a 281 percent increase from 2011 and about a 29 percent increase from 2010.
The increase between 2011 and 2012 can largely be attributed to Meyer’s salary, which far exceeds that of Fickell. Tressel’s contract was for $3.5 million in 2010.
Fickell was paid $775,000 in 2011, but after being removed as OSU’s head coach and named the team’s defensive coordinator for 2012, Fickell will receive $750,000 in 2012, meaning he’s taking a $25,000 pay cut.
The co-defensive coordinator, Everett Withers, will make $450,000. Jim Heacock, the defensive coordinator in 2011, made $350,000.
New offensive coordinator Tom Herman will make $420,000 in 2012, which is $70,000 more than his predecessor, Jim Bollman. Bollman recently accepted a job as offensive line coach at Boston College.
But the increased spending isn’t confined to coordinators.
New assistant athletic director for football sports performance Mickey Marotti will make $380,000, and will be in charge of the strength and conditioning of OSU football players.
In 2011, director of football performance Eric Lichter and coordinator for strength and conditioning Troy Sutton worked together to implement the Buckeyes’ strength and conditioning program. They earned a combined total of $234,828. Sutton and Lichter were not retained in their positions.
Meyer has also created a few positions that previously did not exist.
The program previously did not have a director of football operations or a director of player personnel, but Meyer hired Brian Voltolini and Mark Pantoni to jobs with these titles.
Voltolini will make $160,000 as director of football operations and Pantoni will make $80,000 as director of player personnel.
When Meyer was introduced as OSU’s coach, athletic director Gene Smith said he and the school would support Meyer in assembling the best possible staff.
“We’ll put in place the resources necessary to attract the staff that Urban feels he needs,” Smith said.
Smith deferred to athletic department spokesman Jerry Emig to answer questions regarding coaching salaries. Emig said Smith didn’t give any restrictions on how much Meyer could spend.
“There was no pool of money established or set aside for (assembling the staff),” Emig said.
Traditionally, OSU is not known for spending large sums of money on their assistant coaches. Smith had previously said he wouldn’t participate in a bidding war to land top assistant coaches like many SEC schools engage in.
During Meyer’s introductory press conference, Smith made clear that mentality was changing. When asked what had changed, Smith said, “age and maturity and competition.”
The immediate competition for the Buckeyes comes within the Big Ten Conference.
At $4 million, Meyer will be the highest paid coach in the Big Ten. According to a 2011 study by USA Today, Iowa’s Kirk Ferentz was the conference’s highest paid coach in 2011 with a salary of $3.785 million. Michigan’s Brady Hoke is third with $3.254 million.
Michigan made headlines when they decided to pay defensive coordinator Greg Mattison, who coached under Meyer at Florida, $750,000 in 2011.
At the time, Mattison was the highest paid assistant in the Big Ten. Now Mattison and Fickell share the title as the Big Ten’s highest paid coach.
In the USA Today study, the Big Ten ranked fourth in compensating assistant coaches behind the SEC, the Big 12 and the ACC.
According to the study, the average Big Ten assistant football coach made $187,055, where as the average coach in SEC is compensated with $276,122.
Thus far, the 10 coaches Meyer has officially hired have an average salary of $321,500.
Multiple reports have said Tim Hinton, who coached at Notre Dame in 2011 as the running backs coach, will join Meyer’s staff at OSU as the tight ends coach, but the hire has not been officially announced by the university. However, in an email from the OSU athletic department, Hinton’s salary was provided as $250,000. His salary was not included in the calculation of OSU’s average compensation of assistant coaches on OSU’s staff.
Multiple outlets have also reported the hiring of Ed Warinner, who was Notre Dame’s offensive line coach in 2011, but OSU has not announced a hire and his salary was not provided by the athletic department.
More positions on Meyer’s staff have yet to be filled, but Emig said the extra money the university is spending on assistant coaches is an investment.
“It’s certainly an investment but it’s also the nature of turn over,” Emig said. “When this happens, when a new coac
h comes in regardless of sport and he wants to hire a top-notch coaching staff, he has to go after individuals that are in leadership positions and most times that’s going to cost you a little bit more.”