Where OU’s $7M in football assistant pay will rank in the SEC

Where OU’s $7M in football assistant pay will rank in the SEC

Improved contracts for nine Sooners assistants were approved by the Oklahoma Board of Regents Friday afternoon.

Eli Lederman

By Eli Lederman

| Jan 12, 2024, 4:59pm CST

Eli Lederman

By Eli Lederman

Jan 12, 2024, 4:59pm CST

OKLAHOMA CITY — Newly promoted Oklahoma offensive coordinator Seth Littrell will be paid $1.1 million in his first season running the Sooners’ offense.

Littrell’s salary was the headline item in the series of assistant contracts reviewed and approved by the Oklahoma Board of Regents Friday afternoon that will see Brent Venables’ staff earn more than $7 million collectively in 2024.

Littrell, who was promoted to his new role on Nov. 29, is under contract for three years 

through the 2026 season and will receive annual increases of $100K. The contract also includes a $90K bonus for winning the College Football Playoff national championship.

Among the remaining eight Venables assistants who received updated contracts, co-offensive and tight ends coach Joe Jon Finley earned the largest raise, jumping from $520K to $900K in a deal extended through the 2026 season. Finley, who joined the Sooners’ staff in 2021, is expected to hold an increased role in offensive game-planning alongside Littrell.

Assistant head coach and defensive line coach Todd Bates will earn $700K on his new contract that runs through the 2026 season. DeMarco Murray, Emmett Jones, Bill Bedenbaugh, Miguel Chavis, Jay Valai and Brandon Hall are now contracted through the 2025 season. 

Sooners’ assistant salaries in 2024

Seth Littrell, OC/quarterbacks: $1.1 million

DeMarco Murray, running backs: $575K

Emmett Jones, wide receivers: $664K

Joe Jon Finley, co-OC/tight ends: $900K

Bill Bedenbaugh, offensive line: $870K

Todd Bates, AHC/co-DC/defensive line: $700K

Miguel Chavis, defensive ends: $650K

Jay Valai, co-DC/cornerbacks: $750K

Brandon Hall, safeties: $500K

Not included on Friday’s agenda was a contract for defensive coordinator Zac Alley. OU is expected to hire the Jacksonville State defensive play-caller but has not formalized the agreement. Details of Alley’s contract will likely not be released until the regents’ next meeting on March 12. 

“Things are moving well,” athletic director Joe Castiglione said.

Without Alley’s contract, OU’s total assistant salary pool sits at $6.689 million. Once those details are settled, that figure will almost certainly rise north of $7 million. 

Where will that number stand once the Sooners get to their new home in the SEC? 

OU assistant coaches made $7.775 million during the 2023 season. That mark would have ranked the Sooners seventh among the soon-to-be 16 programs across the SEC:

2023 assistant salary pool among the SEC’s 16 football programs

1. Alabama: $9.17 million

2. Georgia: $9.005 million

3. LSU: $8.9 million

4. Texas: $8.525 million*

5. Texas A&M: $8.07 million

6. Kentucky: $7.94 million

7. Oklahoma: $7.75 million*

8. Ole Miss: $7.21 million

9. Auburn: $6.91 million

10. Florida: $6.525 million

11. Missouri: $6.3 million

12 Tennessee: $6.1 million

13. South Carolina: $6.1 million

14. Arkansas: $5.89 million

15. Mississippi State: $5.27 million

16. Vanderbilt: N/A

*Final season in Big 12 before joining SEC

Figures via USA TODAY 

As for where OU will stand in 2024? The dust hasn’t quite settled on the coaching salary landscape across the SEC, and won’t in the wake of Nick Saban’s departure and any developments that come with Kalen DeBoer’s appointment in Tuscaloosa.

What is certain is that Venables’ 10 assistants will collectively earn less in 2024 and that’s due in large part to a change in coordinators.

Former offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby was the fifth-highest-paid assistant coach in the nation at $1.9 annually with the Sooners in 2023. That figure left Lebby’s pay better or level with every SEC coordinator other than Georgia’s defensive coordinator Glenn Schumann, widely regarded among the top assistants in the country.

Lebby’s salary would have equaled Alabama’s Tommy Rees for the highest among SEC offensive coordinators in 2023. Based on 2023 figures, Littrell’s $1.1 million deal would make him the seventh-best paid offensive play-caller in the conference.

Offensive coordinator salaries among the 16 SEC programs (based on 2023)

Tommy Rees, Alabama: $1.9 million

Liam Coen, Kentucky: $1.7 million

Bobby Petrino, Texas A&M: $1.42 million

Mike Denbrock, LSU: $1.4 million

Charlie Weis Jr., Ole Miss: $1.4 million

Kyle Flood, Texas: $1.25 million

Seth Littrell, Oklahoma: $1.1 million (in 2024)

Dan Enos, Arkansas: $1.1 million

Mike Bobo, Georgia: $1.02 million

Phillip Montgomery, Auburn: $1 million

Dowell Loggains, South Carolina: $1 million

Rob Sale, Florida: $1 million

Kevin Barbay, Mississippi State: $900K

Kirby Moore, Missouri: $850K

Joey Halzle, Tennessee: $850K

Tim Beck, Vanderbilt: N/A

(Figures via USA TODAY )

OU will pay its offensive coordinator less in 2024. Same, more than likely, for its defensive coordinator, too.

Ted Roof made $1.15 million in his final season with the Sooners. Alley, the 30-year-old with three seasons of coordinator experience, will come to Norman after earning $213,800 at Jacksonville State in 2023. He is not expected to reach Roof’s number in his initial contract.

How much less will Alley earn relative to Roof? We’ll find out in March.

Does the approach to the Sooners’ overall assistant salary pool change in their new conference home? Ask the athletic director.

“Market data has always been a part of our decision-making. In some ways that’s not new,” Castiglione said. “But now we have new comparators. And even though we’re not yet a member of the conference, we’re looking at all that data, as well, and we try to make sure that when we make decisions that they’re the most well-informed decisions they can be.”

 

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Eli Lederman reports on the University of Oklahoma for Sellout Crowd. He began his professional career covering the University of Missouri with the Columbia Missourian and later worked at the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette before two years writing on the Sooners and Cowboys at the Tulsa World. Born and raised in Mamaroneck, New York, Lederman grew up a rabid consumer of the New York sports pages and an avid fan of the New York Mets. He entered sportswriting at 14 years old and later graduated from the University of Missouri. Away from the keyboard, he can usually be found exploring the Oklahoma City food scene or watching/playing fútbol (read: soccer). He can be reached at [email protected].

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