- By John Antonik
- August 01, 2013 01:57 PM
In 2006, Rich Rodriguez was West Virginia University’s first million-dollar coach. Today, just seven years later, it’s difficult to find a Division I football coach who doesn’t make at least a million.
Now, the bidding for assistant coaches is becoming just as intense with many assistants' salaries now approaching $1 million.
“It’s changing,” said West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen during last week’s Big 12 Football Media Day in Dallas. “I remember that there’s been plenty of days when there hasn’t been a need for changing assistants because nobody leaves.
“I think I was on the same staff at Texas Tech for four or five years before it changed,” Holgorsen said. “I know Coach (Art) Briles has done a tremendous job of retaining his staff (at Baylor).”
“But it’s changing. And those guys see … they see the need that some of the other staffs want to do what they’re looking at,” said Holgorsen. “How are they going to change that? They can’t come after me, so they come after the assistants to be able to do what we’re doing. I just use me as an example, but there’s been plenty of other examples across the country as well.”
Holgorsen was asked to think back to his very first job as an assistant coach more than two decades ago, how much fun it was, and how little he was making compared to what assistant coaches are getting paid today.
“My first job was Valdosta State,” he recalled. “I had as much fun there in two, three years as any job I’ve ever had. There’s not a lot of pressure. You’re just excited to be in the game.”
Not only was it exciting, says Holgorsen, but it was also a great learning experience as well.
“You’re not making any money, but you really don’t care when you’re 22 years old,” said Holgorsen. “You get a place to lay your head down, and you get a couple of free meals and you’re happy. (His first coaching job) was one of the better jobs that I’ve had, and I imagine everybody else would say the same thing.”
Seventy three-year-old Kansas State coach Bill Snyder recalled his first coaching job at Gallatin High in 1962.
"I was assistant football coach, assistant basketball coach, assistant women's basketball coach, assistant track coach, drove the school bus, taught four units of Spanish, which I knew nothing about, and I made $6,000 a year," he said. "And I thought I'd died and gone to heaven, in all honesty, because I'd never had a paycheck worth very much prior to that."
Snyder's first college assistant job was at Austin (Texas) College in 1974.
"Bob Mason was the athletic director at the time and the head coach was Larry Kramer, and I made some relationships and friendships there that were forever lasting," Snyder said. "I don't think my salary went up hardly at all, but, nevertheless, it was an enjoyable experience."
Kansas coach Charlie Weis said his first job was on Joe Morrison's South Carolina staff in 1985.
"I learned that I didn't know anything," he said. "That's the best thing that happens when you go to college or eventually the NFL. You learn how little you really know. You think you have all the answers, and you get humbled in a hurry."
Overall, Holgorsen says the coaching profession remains very rewarding both financially and personally.
“It’s one of the greatest professions that’s out there,” he said.
West Virginia Mountaineers
Big 12 Conference football