Clemson poised to have the highest-paid coaching staff in the country

Scott Keepfer
The Greenville News

Clemson and Alabama have split their past four meetings on the football field and often find themselves going head-to-head for the same recruits.

Now the two college football kingpins also are running neck-and-neck on which has the highest-paid staff of assistant coaches in the country.

Clemson’s eight full-time assistant coaches who were with the team last year received raises totaling $1.26 million on Thursday during a meeting of the Clemson University Board of Trustees’ Compensation Committee.

The Tigers’ assistant coaches will earn a collective $8.145 million in 2020-21, up from $7.395 million in 2019-20. The departure of co-offensive coordinator Jeff Scott, who made $1 million last year and is now head coach at South Florida, impacted the latest staff compensation, as did new wide receivers coach Tyler Grisham, who received a $214,000 bump after his promotion from offensive analyst.

Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables watches over a drill during practice at Poe Indoor Facility in Clemson, S.C. Tuesday, December 17, 2019.

Still, the $8.145 million total for 10 full-time staffers makes Dabo Swinney’s staff the highest-paid in the nation – at least for now.

As things currently stand, Clemson will move past Alabama for having the highest assistant coach payroll, but Alabama has not set its compensation for next season. Based on current commitments, Alabama’s assistants will make around $8 million collectively.


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It also is unknown whether new Alabama defensive line coach Freddie Roach will be paid the same, more or less than former defensive line coach Brian Baker, who is returning to the NFL.

Clemson offensive coordinator Tony Elliott was the recipient of the largest financial windfall on Thursday, receiving a $600,000 bump in compensation from $1 million to $1.6 million. Elliott, who has been a key component in Clemson compiling a 70-5 record with two national championships since being named co-offensive coordinator in 2014, received a three-year contract that will pay him a total of $5.1 million – $1.6 million in 2020-21, $1.7 million in 2021-22 and $1.8 million in 2022-23.

His compensation will rival that of Alabama offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian. Based on figures currently known, Elliott’s raise will tie him with Sarkisian as the top-paid offensive coordinator at a public school in terms of basic annual compensation.

However, Sarkisian’s contract includes a form of deferred compensation that will pay him an additional $250,000 for his 2020-21 contract year if he remains the Crimson Tide’s offensive coordinator on signing day in February of 2021.

Taking into account another $250,000 in deferred pay that Sarkisian could get in late 2021 or early 2022, his current three-year contract potentially is worth a total of $5.3 million.

Meanwhile, Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables, who is entering his ninth season with the Tigers, received a one-year extension to his previous deal, resulting in a five-year contract that will pay him $2.4 million annually and keep him among the top two nationally. The Montgomery Advertiser reported that Auburn defensive coordinator Kevin Steele is set to make $2.5 million this season.

Nine of the Tigers’ 10 assistant coaches will make at least $500,000 this season, with the lone exception being Grisham, who will make $300,000 each of the next two seasons.

Steve Berkowitz of USA TODAY Sports contributed to this report. 

Clemson assistant coaches compensation

► Brent Venables (defensive coordinator), $2.4 million

► Tony Elliott (offensive coordinator), $1.6 million

► Robbie Caldwell (offensive line), $640,000

► Brandon Streeter (quarterbacks, passing game coordinator), $590,000

► Danny Pearman (tight ends, special teams), $545,000

► Mike Reed (cornerbacks), $540,000

► Todd Bates (defensive tackles, recruiting coordinator), $515,000

► Mickey Conn (safeties), $515,000

► Lemanski Hall (defensive ends), $500,000

► Tyler Grisham (wide receivers), $300,000