Matt Jones is the online sports editor for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and Northwest Arkansas Newspapers.
Latest UA football salary figures total $2.8 million
Arkansas added Randy Shannon to Bret Bielema's coaching staff on Sunday, Dec. 30, 2012.
FAYETTEVILLE Arkansas released the salaries of its four newest football coaches on Thursday, further indicating a willingness by the university to better compensate its assistants.
Linebackers coach Randy Shannon, receivers coach George McDonald, cornerbacks coach Taver Johnson and running backs coach Joel Thomas will all make a greater salary than their predecessors at the positions, with none being paid less than $235,000 annually.
In all, Arkansas' full-time assistant coaches have a cumulative salary of $2.8 million for next season with one hire yet to be made. The last hire, which is expected to be a tight ends coach, could be made within the next week.
Shannon, a former head coach at Miami, is the second-highest-paid non-coordinator among Bret Bielema's eight full-time assistant coaches, slated to make $315,000. McDonald, who coached receivers the last two seasons at Miami, will make $275,000, while Johnson took a $25,000 pay cut from his position coaching linebackers and assistant head coach last season for the Razorbacks.
Each of the non-coordinators are under contract through June 30, 2014 and would have to pay $50,000 to opt out of their contract before then. Shannon would waive the buyout should he accept a head coaching or defensive coordinator position.
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The cumulative total for the Razorbacks' assistants last season was just more than $2.6 million. Arkansas' assistant coaches received a cumulative pay raise of nearly $300,000 following each of the previous two football seasons and the last three staffs have been the highest-paid in school history.
The annual salaries for the Razorbacks' offensive and defensive coordinators, Jim Chaney and Chris Ash, are up 15.8 percent from last year when Paul Petrino and Paul Haynes each made $475,000.
It marks the second consecutive year Arkansas has given new coordinators a bump in pay from their predecessors. In 2011, offensive coordinator Garrick McGee made $425,000 and defensive coordinator Willy Robinson made $375,000.
Increased salaries for assistant coaches was one of several factors Bielema gave for taking the Arkansas job last month. Bielema, who led Wisconsin to three straight Big Ten championships and Rose Bowl appearances, received a slight pay raise to $3.2 million as head coach of the Razorbacks. His last Wisconsin staff made around $1.9 million cumulatively.
Ben Herbert, Arkansas' new strength and conditioning coach who was hired from Wisconsin by Bielema, will make $300,000 as part of a three-year agreement that will keep him with the Razorbacks through June 2016.
Arkansas isn't the only school upping the ante for its new coaches in the Southeastern Conference. Tennessee, which hired Butch Jones as its new head football coach last month, will pay its nine assistant coaches a cumulative total of $3.085 million next season, according to a report Thursday in the Chattanooga Times Free Press, up from $2.975 million last season.