$3.325M salary for assistants likely highest in college football

When adding Kiffin, $5.325M total is fourth highest in SEC

UT coaches salaries.

UT coaches salaries.

Tennessee's new coaching staff will earn $5.325 million this season, including $3.325 million in salary for its nine assistant coaches, UT announced Thursday.

The latter sum is the highest in the SEC, surpassing the $2.405 million Alabama paid its assistant coaches for the 2008 season by more than $900,000, and is believed to be the highest in college football.

UT athletic director Mike Hamilton said Thursday that he is more concerned with UT's overall staff cost of $5.325 million, which would rank fourth in the SEC based on 2008 figures for the conference's other 11 schools.

"First of all, ultimately I look at the salary pool - the head coach and assistant coaches - as a line item in our budget," Hamilton said. "At a lot of institutions, the model is the head coach is making a significantly higher salary than anybody else on his staff.

"This model is a little bit different from that. It spreads the dollars around a little bit more. You've got a couple other guys that are making pretty high-end salaries."

Nearly two-thirds of UT's total budget for assistant coaches will be paid to the two men deemed essential hires by new coach Lane Kiffin: defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin and assistant head coach, defensive line coach and recruiting coordinator Ed Orgeron.

Monte Kiffin, who reportedly earned more than $2 million with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last season and turned down an offer worth more than $3 million from another NFL team before the 2008 season, will be UT's highest paid assistant with a salary of $1.2 million this season. Monte Kiffin, who is Lane Kiffin's father, will also receive a $300,000 retention bonus Dec. 31 in addition to his salary.

Orgeron, the former Ole Miss coach who spent last season as an assistant with the New Orleans Saints, will earn $650,000.

Both have three-year deals, as do offensive coordinator Jim Chaney and linebackers coach Lane Thompson.

"The two individuals he said he wanted to get on board early on, those two are the guys that are there on the high end, Monte and Ed," Hamilton said. "Those dollars were available for those two individuals (only). There wouldn't have been the dollars for what we're paying Monte for any other defensive coordinator."

Orgeron, Monte Kiffin and perhaps others could also have bonuses written into their contracts in addition to UT's typical bowl bonus for coaches, Hamilton said.

Hamilton said UT is working to finish those contracts.

"We've got some final t's to cross and i's to dot with a couple guys, but obviously we have a baseline understanding and are in the middle of the process to bring contracts to fruition," he said.

Chaney, who will also coach offensive line, is UT's next highest paid assistant at $380,000.

Thompson, a former Alabama assistant, will earn $350,000, which represents a $125,000 raise from what he earned last year as one of Nick Saban's best recruiters. Thompson must pay Alabama a buyout of approximately $45,000 under his old contract.

Running backs and special teams coach Eddie Gran will earn $185,000, while tight ends and tackles coach James Cregg, quarterbacks coach David Reaves and wide receivers coach Frank Wilson will all earn $150,000. Defensive backs coach Willie Mack Garza will make $110,000.

All told, UT's $3.325 million pool for assistants - a sum that does not include Monte Kiffin's $300,000 bonus - is an increase of $1.39 million over last year's assistant salary pool.

As has been the case in previous years, liquidated damage clauses will be included in each of the contracts, costing an assistant about six months' pay if he left for a similar job. The clause does not apply to a coordinator who takes a head coaching job or to a position coach who becomes a coordinator.

While Tennessee leads by a wide margin in assistant coach pay, its $5.325 million price tag for the entire staff ranks fourth in the SEC based on 2008 figures, Hamilton said.

"We may go down in that, after the other schools make their adjustments, but I anticipate we're still going to be fourth," Hamilton said.

LSU, Alabama and Florida all paid more for their entire coaching staff in 2008, largely because their head coaches are the SEC's three highest paid coaches.

UT, meanwhile, will pay Lane Kiffin $2 million, $550,000 less than former coach Phillip Fulmer would have earned in 2009 and the seventh highest salary among the SEC's 12 coaches.

According to UT, the Vols' total coaching staff will earn $600,000 more in 2009 than the previous staff was slated to earn this season.

The increased salaries for assistant coaches will be offset somewhat by an anticipated increase in funds distributed by the SEC in 2010, the first year of a new blockbuster television deal with CBS and ESPN.

Last year, UT received about $10.6 million in shared revenue from the conference. Hamilton declined to provide an estimated amount UT would receive in 2010, but said it was important to reinvest in football, which is responsible for roughly 85 percent of UT's $87 million athletic budget.

"I think it makes sense for us to spend some of that money back on football to make sure that football is still strong both at the University of Tennessee and in our league," he said. "We also need football to be strong here because it has such a significant effect on our financial model for all of our sports in funding so many of other sports, which allows us then not to draw dollars from the university like so many athletic programs in America, particularly in a difficult financial time like we're facing right now."

UT will also likely have to pay at least partial buyouts for some of last year's staff in addition to a $6 million buyout of Fulmer's contract.

Assistants are guaranteed their 2008 salary for one year, while coordinators, who had three-year deals, are guaranteed two years' pay. UT must make up the difference, if any, between those coaches' salaries with the Vols and their new school.

Three assistants from last year's staff have not found other jobs, however Hamilton said he thought one of those coaches, former defensive line coach Dan Brooks, would remain at UT in an administrative capacity.

Specific figures for UT's responsibility to former assistants were not available Thursday.

No state or university dollars are used for athletic expenses, including coaching salaries, UT said in its release. The athletic department does receive $1 million in student fees, which is used largely to finance women's athletic programs.

Drew Edwards covers University of Tennessee football. He may be reached at 865-342-6274.

Coach Title Salary

Lane Kiffin Head Coach $2,000,000

Monte Kiffin Defensive Coordinator $1,200,000*

Ed Orgeron Recruiting Coordinator/Defensive Line $650,000

Jim Chaney Offensive Coordinator/Offensive Line $380,000

Lance Thompson Linebackers $350,000

Eddie Gran Running Backs/Special Teams $185,000

James Cregg Tight Ends/Tackles $150,000

David Reaves Quarterbacks $150,000

Frank Wilson Wide Receivers $150,000

Willie Garza Defensive Backs $110,000

* Monte Kiffin will also receive a retention bonus of $300,000 on December 31, 2009.

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Comments » 90

dvols writes:

we're #1

Southpaw_Vol writes:

"While Tennessee leads by a wide margin in assistant coach pay, LSU, Alabama and Florida are still expected to pay their coaching staff more in 2009."

Doesn't this statement contradict your headline?

Also, this staff will only be making $600,000 more than the previous staff was scheduled to make this year? If that's all, then we got one helluva deal! All of your crybabies need to shut up now! You acted like we were paying this staff about 3 million more than the last one! So, does this mean this highly touted staff is underpaid? Or, was the previous staff going to be extremely over paid? I'll take the latter.

Southpaw_Vol writes:

If we're getting around 10 million or so from this ESPN deal, then what's all the fuss over how much we are paying these guys? Half of that money alone takes care of the entire staff. We didn't have any of that money last year and had to pay a staff over 4 million. Looks like to me that we're getting a much better staff and coming out about 8 or 9 million to the good on this deal? Or am I looking at this ESPN deal all wrong?

BSweet writes:

I think the thing to take notice of is that CLK agreed to take less so his assistants could make more. He's not "out to get his" so to speak, he's really interested in building a winning program. Pardon the cliche, but the man is walking the walk, not just talking the talk. I think we've found a winner.

AKVOL writes:

in response to MrJeffersonCrownoverThe1st:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Eagerly awaiting the first draft

govolsxtra writes:

at least were using our money well

ctownvol writes:

Now that peanut butter is deadly should I lay off the Reese's cups?

Timed_vol (Inactive) writes:

Kind of reads like this to me: Lane was brought in on a 'show us what you can do' deal, complemented by his father's agreemetn to become DC.

Perhapsn Hamilton had talks with some high-profile coaches that did not work out. Knowig the need for speed, he made te deal with Lane in a way that said: "Lane, you flubbed at Oakland, and you've never been a head college coach. We'll give you a couple mill to start with, and spend the rest on highly-experienced assistants. This is your chance to build yourself back up on a national stage".

Well, just my thinking.

newtonrail writes:

in response to Southpaw_Vol:

If we're getting around 10 million or so from this ESPN deal, then what's all the fuss over how much we are paying these guys? Half of that money alone takes care of the entire staff. We didn't have any of that money last year and had to pay a staff over 4 million. Looks like to me that we're getting a much better staff and coming out about 8 or 9 million to the good on this deal? Or am I looking at this ESPN deal all wrong?

In your pontificating, Mr. Southpaw, you are forgetting of the new TV money, half goes to the Ladies. And now everyone is screaming part of should be given to the Academic side in trouble. Personally, I think UTC and UTM's Athletic Dept's should get part of money since they are subsidized by state funds.

1manningfan writes:

on espn.com the are doing top college football programs ratings and they have us ranked 12. LSU is 13, Ga 14, and UF 15.

Oh yeah, Bama 6.

Go Vols...Go SEC!

lburgvol writes:

This Bama guy just cant stand it can he . Of course all of us saw the closet bama fans coming out right and left when bama started winning a few games. I swear at my work they started showing up like they were big fans for years ! Heck UK nearly beat these guys ! Bama fans are like teenage kids , some little band or movie comes out and they all jump on the bandwagon ! Heck most of them dont even really know who there team plays on any given saturday !

volunteers4life writes:

Cool info Jeffersoncrown! Thanks for sharing, very interesting.

reddevilfever writes:

CLK took less money so he could pay his assistants more? He took less so he could have a better chance at hiring Daddy...and that was a dang smart move. Personally I think he missed the boat with one coach. He has the lowest paid assistant coach, coaching one of the most demanding positions on the field, defensive backs. Just an opinion, but I think your two most important coaches on any staff are DB's and offensive line coach. Now the OL coach is the offensive coordinator, so that takes care of that. You better get the secondary coach a little more money.

Next idea, how long do you think a former SEC head coach is going to stay as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator? NFL in my opinion...NOT FER LONG!

I predict UT will be investigated for recruiting violations within the next 3 years if this staff stays in tact.

volroadwarrior writes:

As with all the media. Deception and bias.

99gator writes:

i see we are off to a fun start this morning.

i never understand why people make such a fuss over coach's salaries or anybody's salary for that matter.

one reason is, guess what, if kiffin and company are as successful as you all want them to be......then, they will quickly be making more than what they are being paid now.

if they are not successful, they will be gone and no one will mind paying someone a heck of a lot more money to be successful.

piledriver writes:

When you're committed to winning, you pay the piper, whatever it takes. I see it as a positive not a negative for now and wait for the results to roll in on autumn Saturdays. Not unlike the New York Yankees being "back" to their old selves. Hey, dangit. They wanta win! More power to 'em.

Docrok writes:

in response to Witch_Doctor:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Dude you are frickin Hilarious!!!

Docrok writes:

in response to bama987:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Hey dude you still pay more than we do!! And just so you know your 2008 season ended the same way our 2007 season ended! Well almost, we won our bowl game!!

DingoVol writes:

I think KNS has a Rolodex of about 4 topics. "Let's see.....STAFF MAKES LOTS OF MONEY, let's run that one for the 23rd time. What happened, didn't get the negativity you were looking for yesterday? Since the total was only $600K more, you had to just compare assistants. How about tomorrow you compare our DC salary to other DC salaries. Sunday can compare Orgeron's salary to other D-line salaries in the conference.

I've got an idea, let's compare the lack of talent with KNS staff to other D-1 college town newpapers. I'm guessing we won't be the highest in that article.

tway14 writes:

in response to newtonrail:

In your pontificating, Mr. Southpaw, you are forgetting of the new TV money, half goes to the Ladies. And now everyone is screaming part of should be given to the Academic side in trouble. Personally, I think UTC and UTM's Athletic Dept's should get part of money since they are subsidized by state funds.

When utc or utm man up and play in the sec they can have some until then kiss off!!

dray writes:

"...sum is the highest in the SEC...is believed to be the highest in college football." This is a statement of which we should be proud????!!!! I COULD JUST PUKE!!!! When did it become 1st priority for a univeristy to produce athletes instead of scholars, or at least reasonably educated human beings??!?!?! Think about it, the people who are actually there to improve their minds & futures are the folks that will someday be running things. This is all so obscene & ridiculous!!

Docrok writes:

in response to reddevilfever:

CLK took less money so he could pay his assistants more? He took less so he could have a better chance at hiring Daddy...and that was a dang smart move. Personally I think he missed the boat with one coach. He has the lowest paid assistant coach, coaching one of the most demanding positions on the field, defensive backs. Just an opinion, but I think your two most important coaches on any staff are DB's and offensive line coach. Now the OL coach is the offensive coordinator, so that takes care of that. You better get the secondary coach a little more money.

Next idea, how long do you think a former SEC head coach is going to stay as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator? NFL in my opinion...NOT FER LONG!

I predict UT will be investigated for recruiting violations within the next 3 years if this staff stays in tact.

Thankfully the NCAA doesnt check with you before they launch investigations! There have been no recruiting violations with any of the new at UT! Additionally Monte has been coaching for decades is one of the most well respected coaches in college or the NFL and I see no reason why now he would need to resort to cheating. But thanks for your "Opinion"

bmvolfan writes:

in response to UTfan4life:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Come on man, the Doctor is the funniest and most original poster on this board!

Docrok writes:

in response to bmvolfan:

Come on man, the Doctor is the funniest and most original poster on this board!

I agree

ctownvol writes:

in response to Witch_Doctor:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Well I certainly don't need another curse, so let me say I enjoy the doctor's posts. Hey doc! Ya think you could put one of them there curse thingies on my 2nd ex-wife? You need some chicken bones or eye of newt?

RoyaltyVol writes:

Wow, talk about an all-star staff. Great job Mr Hamilton, this appears to be your second great hire, we'll just have to wait and see how it turns out, but I'm impressed!

Go4Two writes:

How long will our Head Coach work to 2 mil. He is currently the 7th highest paid I'm guessing that want last long. With success we will be forced to pay LK 3 mil plus.

RoyaltyVol writes:

When Tennessee starts winning the money will pour in and then we shouldn't have a problem giving raises. My guess though is that after year 2 (assuming UT wins a lot) that some of these high paid assistants will land better jobs elsewhere. Within 2 years, I wouldn't be surprised if Orgeron doesn't land a DC job or head coaching job if UT's defense is successful.

ctownvol writes:

in response to Witch_Doctor:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I was afraid you'd say that. Can't blame a guy for asking.

pdhuff#552644 writes:

in response to ctownvol:

Well I certainly don't need another curse, so let me say I enjoy the doctor's posts. Hey doc! Ya think you could put one of them there curse thingies on my 2nd ex-wife? You need some chicken bones or eye of newt?

Most ex's already have a broom.

tnecvol#477125 writes:

I'm tired of reading about the money. We have one of the biggest basketball games of the season on Saturday. I know you could write about it or something else. Maybe a little more on the LV's win against Ar. last night. The money is only well spent if they deliverr and that will be seen in the fall

ctownvol writes:

in response to pdhuff#552644:

Most ex's already have a broom.

She certainly has a broom brother. She hit me with a broom once and I asked her if she was afraid of damaging her transpotation. She didn't find the humor.

dray writes:

in response to Kiff_Daddy:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Unfortunately, you're probably right...those of us who work hard to get an education and become productive citizens for the remainder of our lives are far less paid than those SELECT FEW who can manage to exist & serve a purpose beyond their glory days of college ball.

tngl4ut writes:

This is making me a little nervous. Not about the money because if donors are still making donations then I don't care what they spend but what concerns me is that all the emphasis on recruiters. This was the same rap on Fulmer that he and his staff were nothing but recruiters and you never heard the phrase much during his tenure that he outcoached someone and eventually it caught up with him. Some of these coaches have some different experiences though. The good thing with these high salaries is that they will probably be on a short leash and will be gone soon if they don't produce.

ALL_VOL75 writes:

pay'em! this staff is sicker than the 3rd floor of the Baptist Hospital(no offence to any 3rd floorers). Lets get some results out of this staff and then pay'em some more!

RoyaltyVol writes:

Hamilton has the right approach. It does take money to make money, unless of course this staff doesn't produce. That could prove devastating to the university, especially in these hard economic times. I believe the 09 team must be in a good bowl game and the 2010 team in a New Years bowl and in the top 2 in the east and by 2011 an SEC championship. At least thats what I'm hoping for!

bigorange_inbham writes:

in response to lburgvol:

This Bama guy just cant stand it can he . Of course all of us saw the closet bama fans coming out right and left when bama started winning a few games. I swear at my work they started showing up like they were big fans for years ! Heck UK nearly beat these guys ! Bama fans are like teenage kids , some little band or movie comes out and they all jump on the bandwagon ! Heck most of them dont even really know who there team plays on any given saturday !

I agree and I live in Bham and all the sports radio has been bashing Lance for coming UT and leaving bama and trashing him and his wife but what can you from bama fans. Now they just hire a auburn coach to fill his position. Can you say calling the kettle black!

RoyaltyVol writes:

in response to bigorange_inbham:

I agree and I live in Bham and all the sports radio has been bashing Lance for coming UT and leaving bama and trashing him and his wife but what can you from bama fans. Now they just hire a auburn coach to fill his position. Can you say calling the kettle black!

Its all just business to these coaches. Many years ago, an assistant at Alabama wouldn't dare take a job with UT or Auburn, you just didn't do that. But how can you coach up these kids for a rivalry game, when a coach might be coaching with the rivalry team the next season. I believe if UT coaches want the fans and players to bleed orange, then so should they, and if they do, then they wouldn't dare coach for their rivals. I'm afraid my friend its no longer about pride and loyalty, but about money!

vol88 writes:

I still wish we had someone DEDICATED SOLELY to special teams.

douglasawilliams#582863 writes:

in response to Southpaw_Vol:

"While Tennessee leads by a wide margin in assistant coach pay, LSU, Alabama and Florida are still expected to pay their coaching staff more in 2009."

Doesn't this statement contradict your headline?

Also, this staff will only be making $600,000 more than the previous staff was scheduled to make this year? If that's all, then we got one helluva deal! All of your crybabies need to shut up now! You acted like we were paying this staff about 3 million more than the last one! So, does this mean this highly touted staff is underpaid? Or, was the previous staff going to be extremely over paid? I'll take the latter.

If that's an accurate statement than I think 600K more is a steal. Now as Al Davis used to say "just win baby". That was not a slap to CLK either I know Davis fired him.

VOLINCALI writes:

If you build it, they will come.

For those of you who worry that these guys can only recruit remember this. Any top coach out there looking to get to the NFL can learn defense from the best. This alone will bring in the top coaches in the country. Plus, offensive coaches who run the right system will have a nice reference on their resume named Monte Kiffin.

As for the money, UT has just shown a willingness to open the checkbook to secure itself among the nations elite.

Now for the real boon. Every kid across the country has been shown the commitment of this University to do what ever it takes to get back to where we should be.

iwastherein98 writes:

in response to RoyaltyVol:

When Tennessee starts winning the money will pour in and then we shouldn't have a problem giving raises. My guess though is that after year 2 (assuming UT wins a lot) that some of these high paid assistants will land better jobs elsewhere. Within 2 years, I wouldn't be surprised if Orgeron doesn't land a DC job or head coaching job if UT's defense is successful.

I bet Orgeron ends up being our DC in about 3 or 4 years.

jdcvols#230433 writes:

I know this will stir up old wounds, but Fulmer sold us out plan and simple. After reading this and the commitment that Mike Hamilton is making, Fulmer was an IDIOT for hiring someone like clawson. For $500K, he could have gotten a REAL offensive mind to come to UT. Instead, he hires clawson who obviously was so far over his head with SEC play. Why didn't Fulmer make a better move?....and I don't believe for a minute that Hamilton would have held him back. Let's see an article about this issue!! The more the saga continues, the more I'm glad Fulmer is gone.

rckymtngator writes:

It will take more than $5.325 million for UT to compete with Florida and Georgia, it will take players. Last time I looked, UT is still behind in recruiting. However, $5.325 million should keep you competitive with South Carolina, Vanderbilt, & Kentucky. Allstar coaches will get you to the Outback Bowl, Allstar players gets you to BCS games. Hope you guys enjoy playing in Tampa or Atlanta every year, if your not on NCAA probation for recruiting violations.

sayhitomaggie writes:

in response to RoyaltyVol:

Its all just business to these coaches. Many years ago, an assistant at Alabama wouldn't dare take a job with UT or Auburn, you just didn't do that. But how can you coach up these kids for a rivalry game, when a coach might be coaching with the rivalry team the next season. I believe if UT coaches want the fans and players to bleed orange, then so should they, and if they do, then they wouldn't dare coach for their rivals. I'm afraid my friend its no longer about pride and loyalty, but about money!

Sadly, this is true. Not many head coaches or assistant coaches feel the same sort of loyalty to one place and it is all about the money. It's sort of why people were sad to see Fulmer go was because supposedly he would have never left for any other place (but then again why would it be necessary to pay him a ridiculous amount of money if he wasn't going anywhere). Granted that when some coaches find a place that they are comfortable in and successful (therefore bringing in money from where they are) then they settle in for the long haul and would never want to leave. Hopefully this is what happens with this coaching staff even though I think Ed Orgeron will be a hot commodity in the near future.

douglasawilliams#582863 writes:

I was thinking about this issue of assistants pay. Few can successfully argue that there was not wide spread dissatisfaction with CPF and his staff. Sure you can always discount one losing season as an anomaly but not two in four years. I was doing a little math and some estimating and here is what the numbers were saying. Say Hamilton kept the old staff and there was still apathy in VOL nation. Say we struggle to beat Western Kentucky next season and the writing is on the wall another pathetic season. If we average 15,000 fewer tickets sold at Neyland Stadium over 7 home games that is 105,000 fewer tickets sold at about $50 a piece that is 5.2 million dollars in loss revenue. Throw in another $600,000 loss in concessions and that is about what Ed Oregeron's salary is!!!! Always take the big picture not the headline!! Not even going to factor loss in donations and all that but you get my point.

Down_The_Field writes:

in response to UTfan4life:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Figured we needed a "medicine man."

Don't we??

Down_The_Field writes:

in response to 99gator:

i see we are off to a fun start this morning.

i never understand why people make such a fuss over coach's salaries or anybody's salary for that matter.

one reason is, guess what, if kiffin and company are as successful as you all want them to be......then, they will quickly be making more than what they are being paid now.

if they are not successful, they will be gone and no one will mind paying someone a heck of a lot more money to be successful.

dito.

Down_The_Field writes:

in response to DCflorida:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

okay tough guy, you keep this up and i'm gunna call the witch doctor in to cast a spell on you and you'll be walking around for the rest of the day chanting the FSU moan.

oh...doctor.....where....are....u....????

HallowedHill writes:

If you want the best, you better be ready to pay the bill. Kiffin has done what he set out to do with the coaching staff and at a great price. This $$ amount is a drop in the bucket compared to the economic benefit of a great team. And heck, we're getting the guy from Syracuse for free.

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