Big money for special teams coaches

Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

Remember when the special teams coach was the guy at the bottom of the totem pole, usually one of the younger guys on the staff juggling different responsibilities and not making a lot of money?

Well, not anymore.

Special teams are important enough at Arkansas that Bobby Petrino brought John L. Smith aboard to coach them and is paying him $210,000 per season. Smith has a two-year contract and will be the highest paid special teams coach in the SEC.

Granted, Smith isn't just any coach. He's been a head coach at four previous stops, including Michigan State and Louisville. He'll be an asset to Petrino in several different ways with that kind of experience, but it's also another reminder of the importance college coaches are placing on special teams nowadays.

Steve Spurrier brought in Ray Rychleski from Maryland to oversee the Gamecocks' special teams last season and paid Rychleski in the $170,000 range. Rychleski, though, may be on the move to the Indianapolis Colts after just one season in Columbia.

Tennessee is paying Eddie Gran $185,000 to coordinate its special teams, but Gran will also coach running backs. Rychleski oversaw the tight ends at South Carolina, and Petrino said Smith will assist somewhere on the defense for the Razorbacks.