Setting aside the obvious and all-too-easy pokes at Bret Bielema, it's not so surprising to see Wisconsin is paying its assistant coaches more. The trend, as numbers from a Detroit Free Press database show, is pervasive across the conference.
Eight of the 10 schools that reported salaries -- Northwestern (a private institution) and Penn State (because of state laws) do not have to comply with open records requests -- are paying assistants more than they did in 2013. Only Illinois and Indiana are excluded, and overall, it's amounted to a conference-wide $1,720,852.24 increase for this year.
Wisconsin's salary pool for assistants is $2,495,000, fourth-highest in the Big Ten and up from $1.973 million in 2012, which was the seventh-highest mark in the conference. That increase is the largest among the nine other schools reporting their numbers, which is equal parts interesting and obvious considering the ruckus Bielema caused upon repeatedly citing limited financial resources for assistants as a reason for his departure to Arkansas.
|Dave Aranda||Defensive coordinator/LBs||$480,000|
|Andy Ludwig||Offensive coordinator/QBs||$480,000|
|Thomas Hammock||Assistant head coach/RBs/recruiting||$300,000|
|T.J. Woods||Offensive line||$250,000|
|Jeff Genyk||Tight ends/special teams||$220,000|
|Chad Kauha'aha'a||Defensive line||$205,000|
|Chris Beatty||Wide receivers||$200,000|
|SCHOOL||CHANGE FROM 2012|
|5. Ohio State||$196,000|
|6. Iowa||$158, 052|
|7. Michigan State||$93,775|
Considering the Badgers 1) Lost six assistants after the 2012 Rose Bowl, and 2) Imported nearly an entirely new staff this past offseason, that lengthy increase is all the more significant. Also positive are the pay increases given to the holdovers from the 2012 staff: Hammock ($70,000) and Strickland ($36,400). The former's work with Montee Ball, James White, Melvin Gordon and the current crop of running backs has been critical to UW's sustained offensive production, while the latter has been absolutely huge in recruiting -- especially considering the value of his in-state knowledge to a staff entirely new to Wisconsin.
These numbers, at least Wisconsin's, aren't new information. Back in March, the university released the figures, and they seemed to back up the staunch defense Director of Athletics Barry Alvarez set forth in response to Bielema. UW officials say the $2.5 million pool first-year head coach Gary Andersen has to pay assistants is the same Bielema had.
"If that's true, it means Bielema would have left more than $500,000 unused. That would seem to contradict his contention that he needed more money to keep assistants from leaving. Bielema has declined multiple interview requests since his departure to address that issue.
One reason UW is able to pay assistants more is Andersen will make $1.8 million this season, which is a savings of $1 million from the $2.8 million Bielema was scheduled to receive at UW in 2013. Bielema made $2.7 million last year."
For what it's worth, Bielema has $3 million to pay assistants at Arkansas this season. It appears he's used that pool to favor the top coordinators -- OC Jim Chaney and DC (and Wisconsin carryover) Chris Ash will both make $550,000 this year, as well as fellow ex-Wisconsin assistant Charlie Partridge, who will get $350,000 to coach the defensive line.
Either way, the Bielema issue belongs to the past -- we've moved on to dissecting his new kitchen and pondering his recent conversation with a certain ex-United States president from Arkansas. The fact remains the Big Ten is more on par with the national landscape in terms of assistant pay. Sure, Cam Cameron will get $3.4 million to run LSU's offense over the next three years, but if we're truly concerned about these things, we could cancel that out with the Big Ten hauling in a record $315 million in revenue in 2012.
For possibly legitimate gripes more relevant to Wisconsin, we could argue Strickland still deserves more dough -- he's the conference's fifth-lowest-paid assistant and earning less than position coaches at Illinois and Indiana.
Broader picture: the average Big Ten assistant coach salary is $267,640.30. Michigan, Michigan State and Nebraska have the highest minimum salaries at no lower than $200,000.
|TOP 10 HIGHEST-PAID BIG TEN ASSISTANTS|
|1. Greg Mattison||Michigan defensive coordinator||$750,000|
|2. Tim Beck||Nebraska offensive coordinator/QBs||$700,000|
|3. Al Borges||Michigan offensive coordinator||$600,000|
|Luke Fickell||Ohio State defensive coordinator/LBs||$600,000|
|5. Everett Withers||Ohio State assistant HC/co-DC/S||$580,000|
|6. Tom Herman||Ohio State offensive coordinator/QBs||$550,000|
|7. Pat Narduzzi||Michigan State assistant HC/DC||$512,5090|
|8. Dave Aranda||Wisconsin defensive coordinator/LBs||$480,000|
|Andy Ludwig||Wisconsin offensive coordinator/QBs||$480,000|
|10. Tim Banks||Illinois defensive coordinator/DBs||$400,000|
|Bill Cubit||Illinois offensive coordinator/QBs||$400,000|
|John Shoop||Purdue offensive coordinator/QBs||$480,000|
|TOP 10 LOWEST-PAID BIG TEN ASSISTANTS|
|1. Marcus Freeman||Purdue linebackers||$120,000|
|Jafar Williams||Purdue running backs||$120,000|
|3. Mike Bellamy||Illinois wide receivers||$125,000|
|4. Grad Parker||Purdue tight ends/recruiting||$130,000|
|5. Ben Strickland||Wisconsin cornerbacks||$140,000|
|6. Deland McCullough||Indiana running backs||$153,300|
|Brandon Shelby||Indiana cornerbacks||$153,300|
|8. Zach Smith||Ohio State wide receivers||$155,000|
|9. Greg Colby||Illinois defensive line||$180,000|
|A.J. Ricker||Illinois offensive line||$180,000|
|Al Seamonson||Illinois outside linebackers||$180,000|