USA Today compiles an annual list of head and assistant coach salaries in college football, and your first reaction to the money paid to assistant coaches is likely this: Washington defensive coordinator Nick Holt and UCLA offensive coordinator Norm Chow didn't provide much return on their high compensation this fall.
While the Huskies' defense and the Bruins' offense ranked among the worst units in the conference and the nation, Holt ranked No. 7 ($650,000) and Chow No. 8 ($640,000) among the highest-paid assistant coaches.
But the second glance is more meaningful.
Try to find the Pac-10's third highest-paid assistant coach. I'm going to make some more coffee while you do that.
I'm back, and as best I can tell it's Oregon State defensive coordinator Mark Banker -- easy there, Beavers fans -- who makes $350,004 annually. (Hey, what's that $4 for?). That ranks him 41st among assistant coaches.
(Note: Pay for USC's coaches is not included because USC is a private school and keeps things super-secret. But Trojans defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin has been reported as making about $1 million a year, while defensive line coach Ed Orgeron also would rank among the highest paid assistant coaches. Suffice it to say, USC's staff is among the highest paid in the nation.)
When you wonder why a big TV contract matters, remember this: Pac-12 schools NEED that money. And a critical area of need is paying assistant coaches more money.
While Pac-10 head-coaching salaries also lag behind the SEC, Big Ten and Big 12, assistant coach pay may be a bigger issue. The trend among elite programs is more money and more years on assistant coach contracts. A great head coach will not be a great head coach without at least good crew of assistants. And a mediocre head coach can look great with a great staff.
Say you're a fan of Pac-12 school X. You are not happy with your offense/defense. Go and find the pay of your coordinator and his position coaches on that pay list.
Maybe that's why. You get what you pay for.
The conference will need to pay its assistant coaches more and offer multiyear contracts going forward to remain competitive with the top BCS conferences (read: SEC, Big Ten).