During the National Signing Day festivities Wednesday, the Clemson University football staff contended that the national championship paid off in securing another promising collection of recruits. On Thursday morning, the championship paid off more directly.
During its quarterly meeting, the Clemson Board of Trustees compensation committee approved salary increases for coach Dabo Swinney's staff. Clemson's total compensation for assistant coaches rose to $5.725 million.
Defensive coordinator Brent Venables earned the second highest salary ($1.43 million) among Division I bowl subdivision assistant coaches last season, according to figures compiled by USA Today Sports. On Thursday, his salary was increased to $1.7 million.
Venables is one of 12 assistant coaches who earned at least $1 million last season. In December, Louisiana State defensive coordinator Dave Aranda received a raise to $1.8 million per year, propelling him ahead of Venables and Texas A&M defensive coordinator John Chavis ($1.56 million).
Last week, the University of Michigan added three new members to that exclusive millionaires club. It agreed to pay each of its top three assistants at least $1 million per year. Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh also is the highest paid coach in college football with a salary of $9,004,000.
No other public school has ever paid four coaches seven-figure salaries. Clemson did not attempt to keep up with the Wolverines.
Co-offensive coordinators Tony Elliott and Jeff Scott each earned $643,750 in 2016, ranking them 41st among assistants. Their salaries were bumped to $800,000, which would rank 25th.
Offensive line coach Robbie Caldwell’s base salary climbed from $474,167 to $515,000. Tight ends coach Pearman’s pushed from $441,667 to $460,000. Defensive backs coach Mike Reed’s rose from $407,500 to $420,000. Quarterback coach Brandon Streeter’s increased from $383,333 to $430,000.
Defensive ends coach Marion Hobby earned $507,083 last season. He accepted a job with the Jacksonville Jaguars after the title run. Defensive tackles coach Dan Brooks earned $457,917 and retired after last seaosn. Mickey Conn and Todd Bates, the coaches who filled the vacant slots on the staff, will earn $350,000 and $250,000, respectively, next season.
Clemson spread $5.39 million among assistants last season, the second highest total in the bowl subdivision behind only Louisiana State ($5.78 million).
The coaches who won the previous six national championships— Auburn’s Gene Chizik, Florida State’s Jimbo Fisher, Ohio State’s Urban Meyer and Alabama’s Nick Saban— were rewarded with raises. The only exception is Saban in 2015, when he maintained the extension he signed after the 2012 championship. It runs through 2022 and paid him $6.94 million last season.
In April, Swinney signed a six-year, $30 million contract that increased his salary to $4.4 million last season, the 12th highest figure among bowl subdivision head coaches. It is scheduled to increase to $4.8 million in 2017, which would vault Swinney to eighth.
Merely four of the 11 coaches listed ahead of Swinney have won a national championship. Yet, Swinney is the only coach who is ranked in the Top 15 in salary but whose school is ranked outside the Top 35 in total revenue. Clemson is ranked 39th in the most recently reported revenue figure ($83.5 million).
To compare, Swinney’s salary would account for 5.2 percent of the Clemson’s athletic department revenue. Saban earned $2.5 million more than Swinney, but his salary would account for 4.7 percent of the $148.9 million Alabama generated.
Unless his agreement is augmented, Swinney will remain second in the Atlantic Coast Conference behind Fisher, who signed a two-year extension in December that increased his salary to $5.75 million and lengthened his contract through 2025.
So, like Saban in 2015, Swinney may be content to maintain the current agreement and allocate any potential raise to his staff. Besides, on Wednesday, Swinney cut the ribbon on a $55-million football operations complex. Even before his contract is renegotiated, the complex's custom slide could be considered an ameliorating benefit.