Photo Credit: John S. Peterson

Matt Rhule’s Coaching Staff Highest Paid in Nebraska Football History

February 09, 2023

It’s official, the 2023 Nebraska coaching staff is the most lucrative in the history of Husker football.

Head coach Matt Rhule’s contract stipulates he has $7 million annually for his assistant salary pool. Collectively, his new staff will make $5,965,000 annually—exactly $815,000 more annually than Nebraska’s 2022 assistant staff pool. Most of the assistant salaries were previously shared via open records request. The university released tight ends coach Bob Wager’s contract details on Wednesday, finalizing the staff’s financials.

Offensive coordinator Marcus Satterfield is the highest-paid assistant coach in Nebraska history with his $1.4 million salary. Satterfield’s new 3-year contract is an improvement on his $900,000 salary he earned at South Carolina. It’s worth noting Satterfield is also quarterbacks’ coach. Defensive coordinator Tony White also earned a 3-year contract with a $1 million annual salary.

Position coach hirings range from $285,000 to $670,000. Secondary head coach Evan Cooper is the highest paid of those coaches with $670,000 in annual compensation. Cooper is also a talent evaluator, a valued right-hand man to Rhule on the recruiting trail. Special teams coordinator Ed Foley’s contract is for $550,000 annually. Strength and conditioning coach Corey Campbell, one of Rhule’s 10 full-time assistant coaches, will earn $450,000 annually. Defensive line coach Terrance Knighton will make $400,000. Offensive line coach Donovan Raiola will make $325,000 (the same he was paid on the previous staff) and Wager will make $315,000 annually. Running backs coach E.J. Barthel, wide receivers coach Garret McGuire and linebackers coach Rob Dvoracek will all make $285,000 each.

All of those coaches could earn more with performative bonuses, such as bowl appearances, conference championships and College Football Playoff appearances.

“It’s really important to me that we have the resources necessary to go out and hire the very best staff that we can find,” Nebraska athletic director Trev Alberts said after Rhule’s introduction ceremony. “We have a big vision and goals and plans for our football program and we’re gonna resource it in a way that allows us to be successful.”

Satterfield and White came from coordinator positions at other Power 5 schools. Cooper has not only years of college experience but NFL experience. Raiola’s longest coaching stint came in the NFL. Knighton coached in the NFL after a long NFL playing career. Foley’s experience spans four decades. Campbell previously served at Baylor in the same capacity. This is Barthel’s first Power 5 position coaching position, although he previously served on Penn State’s player personnel staff. This is the first college coaching season for Dvoracek, McGuire and Wager. Both Dvoracek and McGuire coached in the NFL the last two seasons. Wager comes to Nebraska after a nearly 20-year coaching career in Texas high school football.

This is a slight raise from the previous coaching staff at Nebraska. Former head coach Scott Frost hired, essentially, a new offensive coaching staff last offseason. Former offensive coordinator Mark Whipple earned $875,000, which was a considerable raise from Matt Lubick’s $500,000. Raiola saved the program money, his salary was below former offensive line coach Greg Austin’s $825,000 salary. Former running backs coach Bryan Applewhite’s $325,000, was less than current Nebraska-Kearney head coach Ryan Held’s $400,000. Former wide receivers coach and associate head coach Mickey Joseph earned $600,000, up from Mario Verduzco’s $375,000 annual salary. Joseph received an additional $33,350 stipend for taking over as interim head coach.

Former defensive coordinator Erik Chinander made $850,000 last year after a $50,000 raise. Former defensive line coach Mike Dawson made $550,000, former secondary coach Travis Fisher earned $450,000, former special teams coordinator Bill Busch earned $400,000 and former linebackers coach Barrett Ruud’s salary last year was $325,000 following a $75,000 raise.

Coaches’ salaries across college football raised in the last year. New television and multimedia rights deals will soon generate the Big Ten Conference over $1 billion annually. That’s going to be allocated to its various member schools, including UCLA and USC starting July 1, 2024. That expands the Big Ten’s footprint from New Jersey to the Pacific Coast. Member schools, knowing their football “product” will be televised nationally every week, invested in coaching staffs.

For context, Wisconsin made a coaching change in this offseason as well. Luke Fickell’s contract pays him less than Rhule and the university has yet to fulfill requests for coordinators’ salaries. Wisconsin did release contracts of five assistants, ranging from $250,000 to $550,000. Michigan State head coach Mel Tucker signed one of the most lucrative college football coaching deals, earning him $9.5 million every year. That’s as much as Ohio State head coach Ryan Day. Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh, with additional compensation factored in with his restructured contract terms, eclipsed $10 million last season.

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