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College football is an immensely profitable enterprise, with a handful of elite schools generating profits in excess of $20 million per year in 2014. Those high returns have led to high salaries for some coaches and assistant coaches. Most college football assistants, however, don't earn spectacular paychecks. On average, they make between $45,000 and $60,000 per year across all NCAA divisions.
National Average for Coordinators
The top-ranking and highest-paid assistant football coaches are offensive and defensive coordinators. These coaches design plays and call them during games. They are usually second in command to the head coach. Defensive coordinators typically earn slightly more than offensive coordinators, averaging about $62,000 per year in 2014. Offensive coordinators made about $60,000 in the same year. Salaries for coordinators at the top football schools in the nation are usually much higher.
National Average for Other Assistants
Offensive and defensive coordinators handle in-game play calling, but most teams have several other assistant coaches charged with helping players improve in day-to-day practices. These coaches usually handle a specific group of players, like special teams or wide receivers. For example, Ohio State University employed eight assistant football coaches outside the traditional coordinator roles and four additional strength coaches. These jobs typically pay a lot less than offensive and defensive coordinators. A salary survey by Higher Ed Jobs found that all assistant football coaches in noncoordinator roles earned an average of $45,000 annually during the 2013-2014 academic year.
Top-Paid Assistant Coaches
A handful of assistant football coaches at some of the biggest football powerhouses earn far more money than their counterparts at other universities. Virginia Tech defensive coordinator Bud Foster was the top-paid assistant coach in college football in 2014, pulling in almost $1.4 million in total compensation. Only four other assistant coaches, all at football powers -- Clemson University, Louisiana State University and the University of Alabama -- made more than $1 million in 2014. Seven-figure salaries are exceptional for assistant coaches, however. Even in the NCAA's top grouping of schools, the Football Bowl Subdivision, many assistant coaches earned less than $60,000 per year in 2014.
Variance by University Size
A university's size and classification play a big role in predicting how much it will pay its assistant football coaches. Large research institutions, most of which play in NCAA Division I, tend to pay their coaches the most. Offensive and defensive coordinators at these schools made an average of around $180,000 and $193,000 respectively in 2014. Other assistant coaches at these universities made an average of $145,000. By contrast, coordinators at baccalaureate institutions made only $42,000 for offense and $44,000 for defense. Other assistants at these smaller schools earned an average of $38,000 in 2014.
Nick Robinson is a writer, instructor and graduate student. Before deciding to pursue an advanced degree, he worked as a teacher and administrator at three different colleges and universities, and as an education coach for Inside Track. Most of Robinson's writing centers on education and travel.