Three Texas teams lead conference in assistant salary pools, Texas A&M ranks No. 3 nationally

By Russell Wilburn

USA Today released its annual college football assistant coach salary database and it told interesting stories about which schools are serious about competing.

Two schools rank in the top 10 nationally in assistant coaching salary pool; you can probably guess who they are. However, an American Athletic Conference school and a Conference-USA school also sit near the top of the Group of Five list.

Keep in mind, four of the schools in Texas – Baylor, TCU, Rice and SMU – are private institutions. All four declined to release salary information.

Additionally, the numbers are for the 2018 season.There have already been notable staff changes for the 2019 year. Houston offensive coordinator Kendal Briles had his salary nearly doubled. Texas Tech and Texas State are in the process of instituting brand new staffs. The numbers will assuredly be different next year.

Here are a few takeaways for Texas schools from the newly-released database.

*Note: All rankings are limited to the 105 public schools that released full salary information.

Texas A&M wants to compete

The Aggies made headlines last season by signing head coach Jimbo Fisher to a 10-year, $75 million fully-guaranteed contract. It turns out that’s not the only place they spent.

Texas A&M boasts the No. 1 assistant salary pool in the state, and No. 3 in all of college football. The only programs that rank ahead of Texas A&M are Ohio State and Clemson. The Aggies boast the highest-paid assistant in the state and five of the top 10.

The Aggies have proven that they are ready to compete at the highest level. They spent whatever it took to help Fisher get his ideal staff to Texas A&M.

Dishing out for defensive coordinators

The state of Texas is known for offense. However, defensive coordinators actually made up several of the highest-paid coaches in the state, especially at the Power Five level.

Texas A&M defensive coordinator Mike Elko is the highest-paid assistant in the state at $1.8 million. Texas defensive coordinator Todd Orlando isn’t far behind at 1.71 million. Both more more than double what their offensive coordinators make; Texas OC Tim Beck and Texas A&M OC Darrell Dickey each make a cool $800,000.

Texas Tech also paid former defensive coordinator David Gibbs nearly double what it paid nominal offensive coordinator Kevin Johns. Baylor likely pays Phil Snow more too. However, plenty of that has to do with the head coaches. Tech, A&M and Texas all have offense-heavy head coaches. Finding a defensive guy to complement you will cost you big tim.

Texas State lags behind

Bobcats athletic director Larry Teis promised that new coach Jake Spavital would have an augmented assistant salary pool. Based on the most recent numbers, that has to change.

Texas State is last in the state – by far – in assistant salary pool. The Bobcats are one of just 10 teams nationally with a salary pool of less than $1 million. The second-worst pool in the state is UTEP; the Miners pay more than $300,000 more to their assistants.

No one is asking Texas State to spend like Texas. However, it’s exceedingly difficult to attract good coordinators when a school won’t pay even $150,000. North Texas – a comparable school to Texas State – has seven assistants that make more than any coach at Texas State.

North Texas outspends its coverage

The Mean Green aren’t the most profitable of all the Group of Five athletic departments, but North Texas is willing to pay for assistants. UNT leads Conference-USA in assistant salary pool at $1.72 million. In fact, the Mean Green’s mark would lead the MAC and is within $10,000 of the top Sun Belt school too.

The money is spread fairly evenly throughout the staff. Coordinators Graham Harrell and Troy Reffett and assistant head coach Tommy Mainord each make more than $250,000. The only assistant to make less than six figures is former NFL running back Tashard Choice.

No matter what happens with head coach Seth Littrell, the Mean Green’s salary pool will make UNT an attractive job.

TCU spends for Cumbie

The data in the USA Today Salary Database is from the most recently available documents. However, private schools don’t have to release that data on demand. Any numbers will be from the most recently available tax documents, likely from 2016.

However, by any metric, TCU has dished out in a big way for offensive coordinator Sonny Cumbie. Cumbie is listed at just under $1 million in salary for the 2016 tax year, which makes him the highest-paid offensive coordinator in the state.

If there was any concern that the private schools in the state couldn’t compete with the public schools, that number should put it to sleep.

Highest paid assistants in 2018

School Role Coach Salary
Texas A&M Defensive coordinator Mike Elko $1,800,000
Texas Defensive coordinator Todd Orlando $1,710,000
TCU Offensive coordinator Sonny Cumbie $963,416
Texas A&M Offensive coordinator Darrell Dickey $800,000
Texas Offensive coordinator Tim Beck $800,000
Texas Tech Defensive coordinator David Gibbs $650,000
Texas Offensive line Herb Hand $650,000
Texas A&M Offensive line Jim Turner $600,000
Texas A&M Wide receivers Dameyune Craig $600,000
Texas A&M Defensive line Elijah Robinson $575,000

Assistant salary pools in 2018

School Salary Pool Rank
Texas A&M $6,789,640 3
Texas $5,955,000 8
Texas Tech $3,008,000 47
Houston $2,136,000 56
North Texas $1,720,000 64
UTSA $1,370,000 73
UTEP $1,317,500 75
Texas State $979,920 98

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