You want to talk about UCFast? How about this: Scott Frost is now making more as a head coach (7 years, $35 million) than one of his mentors, new UCLA head coach Chip Kelly (5 years, $23.3 million).
Of course this isn’t an apples-to-apples comparison. There’s a lot of context involved. While Athletic Director Bill Moos said on Sunday that “Scott never asked for money,” Frost got a salary that, based on 2017 salary figures, would rank in the top-15 nationally. That list will change obviously as coaching vacancies continue to be filled, but for now Nebraska is paying like the programs it considers its peers.
UCLA isn’t in quite the same category. And Kelly is still getting paid by the 49ers. He’s doing fine.
But it is still somewhat strange to see Nebraska that high on the annual salary rankings after Mike Riley ($2.9 million) ranked 41st in 2017. And the bigger deal might be pool of money available for Frost to hire assistants.
He’ll have $5 million at his disposal to do that, and has already announced that seven members of his UCF staff are coming with him. Former Husker Barrett Ruud is too, though his role has yet to be officially defined by the university.
The biggest mystery with Frost’s Nebraska staff is who fills the offensive coordinator role. Troy Walters, Frost’s UCF offensive coordinator, is the Knights interim head coach and could be in the running for the permanent gig. If it’s not Walters at Nebraska, there is one name to keep a close eye on. (Premium) Whoever it is, Nebraska will have plenty of money to pay him.
USA Today hasn’t updated its assistant salary numbers for 2017 yet, but in 2016 there were just three listed schools (some aren’t required to report) spending more than $5 million on assistants: LSU, Clemson and Alabama. That was a full season ago, so those numbers have certainly changed. There were seven schools in 2016 – Texas A&M, Georgia, Florida State, Ohio State, Texas, Tennessee and Florida – that paid more than $4.5 million, and you can bet that some of them have crossed over into the $5 million category.
If they weren't already, Texas A&M and Florida State almost certainly will with their new coaches. In fact, $5 million for assistants seems to be the cost of doing business for a Power 5 program today. It’s what Dan Mullen got at Florida. Even Matt Luke at Ole Miss got $5 million for his assistants. On the other end of the Power 5 scale, new Oregon State coach Jonathan Smith will have $3.3 million for assistants.
When the dust has all settled, expect Nebraska to rank in the top-15 in both salary measures.
Remember Reddit’s college football imperialism map? It started as a map of the closest FBS stadium to each county in the country – i.e. a team’s territory – and then those territories could be conquered as teams won. So when Nebraska beat Arkansas State, for example, it took the Red Wolves’ land, and this went on for every week of the season.
As you can imagine, the Huskers weren’t much of a factor on this map but you can see how it evolved week to week below:
— RedditCFB (@RedditCFB) December 4, 2017
The Grab Bag
- Must read from Orlando journalist Pat Clarke on Frost's difficult decision.
- Arizona State's introductory press conference for Herm Edwards was one of the best pieces of avant garde cinema I've seen in 2017.
- Jim Harbaugh and Mark Dantonio trade some verbal barbs.
- Baker Mayfield, Lamar Jackson and Bryce Love are your three Heisman finalists.
- ICYMI: Nebraska wrestling had a solid weekend at one of the toughest invitationals in the country.
Song Film Countdown of Today
This is one of my favorite things every year.