Auburn has announced a new three-year contract for defensive coordinator Kevin Steele that sources told ESPN will pay him $2.5 million per year, making him the highest-paid defensive coordinator in college football.
Steele's new deal will run through the 2022 season. He was already making $2 million annually. Other coordinators, including Clemson's Brent Venables and Texas A&M's Mike Elko, were also making $2 million-plus and could conceivably pass Steele if they receive raises this offseason.
The Tigers have ranked in the top 20 nationally in scoring defense each of Steele's four seasons on the Plains. Auburn is one of only five FBS programs to hold opponents under 20 points per game each of the last four seasons. Steele's Auburn defense held national champion LSU to a season-low 23 points this year and Heisman Trophy quarterback Joe Burrow to just one touchdown pass.
"Kevin has done a fantastic job with our defense the last four years making it one of the best in the country," Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said. "This will provide great stability and leadership for our defense in the future. I'm appreciative of Kevin's hard work."
Steele's defenses have finished in the top 6 of ESPN analyst Bill Connelly's SP+ ratings -- a tempo- and opponent-adjusted measure of college football efficiency -- each of the past three seasons.
The 61-year-old Steele has also served as Nick Saban's defensive coordinator at Alabama, Les Miles' defensive coordinator at LSU and Dabo Swinney's defensive coordinator at Clemson. Steele was a finalist for the Broyles Award in 2017 as the top assistant coach in college football.