Matt Jones is the online sports director for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A double graduate of the University of Arkansas, he is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association, and voter for the Heisman Trophy.
Odom gets pay raise, extension after DC interest; salaries finalized for Hogs' new hires
Arkansas defensive coordinator Barry Odom, center, watches a stadium video monitor after Florida scored a touchdown during the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Nov. 14, 2020, in Gainesville, Fla. Odom was acting as the Razorbacks' interim head coach during the game. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)
FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas defensive coordinator Barry Odom received a pay raise and contract extension following reported interest for the same job at Texas and LSU earlier this year.
Odom's new contract with the Razorbacks is through the 2023 season and is worth $1.75 million per year.
Odom previously was under contract through the 2022 season at an annual salary of $1.3 million. He received a $100,000 raise last year after Arkansas head coach Sam Pittman said Odom had turned down interest from an unspecified SEC program.
Odom's new salary is the highest ever for an Arkansas assistant coach, eclipsing the $1.5 million the Razorbacks paid former defensive coordinator John Chavis in 2019. Chavis was under contract to make $1.6 million the following year but was paid a portion of that in severance after he was fired amid a head coaching change.
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According to a USA Today database for assistant coach salaries, Odom's new salary would have been the 11th highest in college football during the 2020 season. It could rank higher in 2021 as five of the 10-highest paid assistant coaches last season are either now head coaches or working in different jobs.
The new contract was signed by Odom on Jan. 25 and finalized with the signature of university president Donald Bobbitt on Wednesday.
Arkansas has also finalized contracts for new assistant coaches Jermial Ashley (defensive line), Cody Kennedy (tight ends) and Michael Scherer (linebackers).
Ashley and Kennedy will be paid $300,000 per year, according to their contracts. Kennedy is on a two-year contract and Ashley's agreement is for one year.
Scherer, who was an analyst for the Razorbacks last season, is set to make $175,000 annually on a one-year agreement.
Arkansas' 10 full-time assistant coaches are set to make a program-record $5.375 million in 2021 — a 2.9% increase over their initial total pay last season.
All of the Razorbacks' assistant coaches are working through June on 10% reduced pay due to a financial crunch caused by the covid-19 pandemic.
The contracts for Odom and the three new assistant coaches state they would be owed the full remaining amount of their contract value if they are fired by Arkansas for convenience. Any buyout would be subject to mitigation.
The coaches would owe the university 20% of the remaining value of their contract if they leave for another job during the contracted term. The buyout would be waived if Odom's new job is as a college or NFL head coach, or an NFL coordinator; if Scherer or Ashley are hired as college head coaches; or if Kennedy is hired as a college head coach or coordinator, or to any coaching job in the NFL.
Odom, who was previously a head coach at Missouri from 2016-19, led the Razorbacks' defense to modest statistical improvement in his first year as the Razorbacks went 3-7 against a schedule of only SEC opponents. Odom also served as Arkansas' interim head coach for a 10-day stretch that included a 63-35 loss at Florida on Nov. 14 while Pittman was in covid-19 quarantine.
“Barry has that experience sitting in the head coaching chair in the Southeastern Conference and it’s been invaluable to Coach Pittman this year and it will be invaluable going forward,” Arkansas athletics director Hunter Yurachek said Jan. 21. “Our student-athletes on the defensive side of the ball love him.
“He’s an important piece of our puzzle. … It was important for Coach Pittman that we retain Coach Odom, and we did that.”
Arkansas allowed 34.9 points in 2020, down from 36.8 points allowed during a 12-game schedule that included four nonconference opponents the year before.
Arkansas' 18 takeaways — 13 interceptions, 5 fumble recoveries — were 2 more than in 2019, but the Razorbacks' total defense was slightly worse, allowing 451.7 yards.
In Arkansas' three wins it allowed 16 points per game and totaled 11 interceptions and 2 fumble recoveries.
CORRECTION: Barry Odom's contract is through the 2023 season. A previous version was not clear.
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