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Hot Reads: Where Does Nebraska Spend the Most on Coaching?

February 27, 2020

If you had to guess who the highest-paid quarterback coach in the country is in 2020, what's your guess?

When I asked myself who should be the highest-paid quarterback coach in the country, my first thought was Oklahoma. That may have, technically, been correct. The Sooners pay their QB coach $6 million a year because that person is Lincoln Riley. (I forgot Riley still had that title.)

Of course, that's not really what we're after here. Coordinators who also fill the QB coach role aren't either. Cut those guys out of the equation, get down to just position coaches and the school spending the most on its quarterbacks coach is––Iowa?

Hawkeyes QB coach Ken O'Keefe topped Football Scoop's recent tally with a salary of $625,000. O'Keefe's been in the game since the 1970s, which is part of the equation here. His breakout job was building Allegheny College into a D-III power in the 1990s. That eventually led him to Iowa in 1999 where he was the OC/QB coach for 13 seasons before joining the Miami Dolphins. O'Keefe returned to Iowa City in 2017, meaning the only Hawkeye starter he's had in this second stint is Nate Stanley.

And Stanley played pretty well over those three seasons, but replacing him is one of the biggest offseason tasks in the Big Ten. We'll see if Iowa gets its money worth.

I'm kidding. It's tough to look at the assistant salaries in any real merit-based way. For example, you could say that Iowa is paying its QB coach more than Nebraska is paying its offensive coordinator, and that would technically be true. But there's so much circumstance involved that it feels like little more than happenstance.

Exhibit A: If Matt Lubick isn't coming off a gap year (so to speak), Nebraska probably doesn't get him for $500,000 a year. Certainly not if it had to go pry him away from Washington (or somewhere else).

Exhibit B: While Clemson's QB coach is No. 2 on the list, Nos. 3 and 4 are at Missouri and Kentucky. Iowa State's Joel Gordon is tied for sixth. All fine coaches, I'm sure, but not necessarily the schools I would've guessed would be in the top 10.

And, yes, Nebraska is in there. Mario Verduzco's $375,000 a year lands him at No. 9. Football Scoop has been going through the top 10s at each position, and Verduzco is the first NU position coach to make one of the lists so far.

The minimum to get in the top 10 on the offensive line was $605,000. Greg Austin, who got the title of run-game coordinator this offseason, is at $475,000. On the defensive line the minimum was $500,000, but Tony Tuioti is still relatively early in his career so not a huge surprise he's not that close. (Dawson was, at $475,000, before he left for New York last season.) Wide receivers ($450,000 minimum) is off the table because that's Lubick's role. 

The only other list released thus far is defensive backs. It took $460,000 to make the top 10 for 2020, and Travis Fisher––fresh off a raise to $450,000––was knocking on the door. Two former Husker second coaches are on that list. Georgia DBs coach Charlton Warren is No. 2 at $725,000 and LSU's Corey Raymond is No. 10.

I'm guessing Ryan Held could sneak on to the running backs coach list, but he might be the only remaining assistant to land in a top 10.

So, if you woke up this morning wondering where Nebraska was paying the most relative to the rest of the country––keeping in mind all of the qualifiers needed––the answer for now appears to be quarterback.

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