Recently USA Today released their compilation of every assistant coach salary in college football, giving us a chance to see how the USF football staff stacks up against the competition.
Head coach Charlie Strong is working with a budget of $1.66 million for assistant coaches and support staff. According to the USA Today release, $1.254 million of it has gone to assistant coaches.
The highest paid coach on staff is defensive backs coach Blue Adams at $225,000
Adams, who replaced Corey Bell after he bolted for UF three days after National Signing Day, turned cornerback Mazzi Wilkins into a shutdown corner. He also helped improve Ronnie Hoggins’ tackling ability so much that Strong felt comfortable moving him inside to nickel late in the season.
Wilkins has credited Adams with the turnaround in his game after the coach challenged the corner to become more flexible. He started stretching more and more and eventually was able to touch his toes which he hadn’t been able to do so previously (Athletes, they’re just like us).
Next on the list: Defensive tackles coach Sean Cronin, $200,000
Cronin helped guide senior DT Deadrin Senat to a first-team all-AAC selection and senior DT Bruce Hector to a second-team all-AAC selection.
Senat finished second on the team in tackles with 61, adding 7.5 TFL and three sacks. Hector had 31 tackles, tied for the team lead with 13 TFL, and led the team with seven sacks.
Freshmen Kevin Kegler and Kelvin Pinkney provided much-needed depth inside when Marlon Gonzalez was lost for the season in Week Zero against San Jose State. The duo combined for 26 tackles, four TFL, and 2.5 sacks.
Third highest (and a TDS favorite): RB Coach Shaun King, $180,000
King is (probably) the best recruiter the Bulls have, plus he’s a great coach. Even though senior running back D’Ernest Johnson had a subpar — by his standards — season, King helped fellow senior RB Darius Tice have a career year coming back from the ankle injury that forced him to miss most of the 2016 season.
Tice rushed for 878 yards, second on the team to Quinton Flowers, and scored a career-high 11 touchdowns on the ground. He rushed for more yards this year than he had done in the previous four years combined (874).
King is also credited with turning Flowers into the lethal weapon we all saw in 2016. Even after King moved from quarterbacks to running backs coach to facilitate the hiring of offensive coordinator Sterlin Gilbert, Flowers made sure to mention “Coach King...” every time he spoke about playing quarterback and anything that entailed the quarterback position.
It is believed King was offered a position on former head coach Willie Taggart’s staff at Oregon, but King did not want leave the Tampa Bay area. With Ducks QB coach Marcus Arroyo becoming Oregon’s OC, don’t be surprised if Taggart comes knocking for King’s services. Moving to Tallahassee is an easier sell than Eugene. Arroyo made $300,000 as QB coach under Taggart.
FSU QB coach Randy Sanders made $602,000 under former head coach Jimbo Fisher, and Taggart has $1 million more to use for assistants than his predecessor did. If Taggart puts together a super team of ace recruiters to take over Florida, King will be high on the list.
Fourth highest: Defensive ends coach Damon Cogdell: $140,000
I could probably just type “Greg Reaves” over and over again to get my point across. The former walk-on was an absolute revelation this year, and helped turn around one of the worst defenses in the nation a year ago.
Reaves finished fourth on the team with 48 tackles, tied for first with 13 TFL, and chipped in four sacks, all while doing a little bit over everything on defense.
Defensive coordinator Brian Jean-Mary used Reaves all over the field. Hand in the ground, traditional DE? Yep. Sent out wide to cover tight ends in the slot? You know it. Defacto MLB spy versus fast quarterbacks? Oh yeah.
Reaves’ partner in crime on the other side, Mike Love, created havoc as well with 27 tackles, 11 TFL, and 4.5 sacks. Cogdell and Cronin earned their money.
Tied for fifth: Every coach that came over from Texas, $100,000
OC Sterlin Gilbert; WR coach Charlie Williams; OL Matt Mattox; DC Brian Jean-Mary; TE/Special Teams Justin Burke: $100,000.
Not all $100,000 is created equal.
BJM has earned a pretty hefty raise for masterminding one of the greatest defensive turnarounds in recent memory. With practically the same players, he made the defense the best unit on the team. If you predicted that before the San Jose State game, go collect your winnings, and also stop lying because no one saw that coming.
Gilbert jammed a square peg into a round hole..until the C. game. That was a great game plan. He very nearly pulled off one the greatest troll jobs in history. And he would’ve gotten away with it too, if it wasn’t for the special teams miscue.
Burke’s special teams issues cropped up in games where the Bulls could overcome them, but it finally caught up with them on Black Friday. Outside of Gilbert being named head coach, Burke being on staff next year may be the coach situation most likely to cause a riot on #USFTwitter.
How the Bulls rank among other American schools
The Bulls ranked last among teams that reported figures to USA Today, but there are a couple pretty big caveats.
Temple, Navy, SMU, and Tulane did not report because they are private institutions and are not subject to open records laws. Tulsa, another private school, reported only two salaries, both of which were $100,000 more than Adams’ salary.
Among schools that did report, Cincinnati was first with $2.326 million for assistants. C. came in second with $2.325 million, followed by $2.1 million for Houston, $1.9 million for Memphis, $1.8 million for UConn, and $1.6 million for East Carolina.
This “cheapness” is only temporary. The salary pool for USF will jump up to $2.25 million on January 1, 2018. (We’re guessing some of the assistants that came with Charlie from Texas were still owed money by the Longhorns for 2017. If they could afford to take less money this year, USF was being smart to save some money towards the future.) In two years, the pool shoots up to $3.4 million, assuming Strong is still at USF.