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WSU football assistant coaches the lowest paid in Pac-12

Thanks to the USA Today, we can see how the Cougars stack up. Not surprisingly, WSU's assistants make less than their peers.

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The USA Today came out with the 2015 update of the NCAA assistant football coach salary database this week, and while no one on the WSU staff will go home hungry, the Cougar assistants made less than their Pac-12 peers.

When it comes to total staff pay (excluding the head coach), the Cougs were last in the conference, paying the assistants a combined $2,323,500. Some of that is frugality; some of that is Pullman's lower coast of living compared to the rest of the conference.

Looking at the numbers there is a pretty clear grouping of schools with lower budgets, and those with more money to spend.

WSU, Utah, Oregon St, Colorado, and Cal all paid their assistants between $2,300,000 and $2,800,000. Arizona Arizona St, and Washington spent $3,000,000-$3,300,000 while Oregon and UCLA had the best paid assistants. Oregon paid the staff $3,695,000, while UCLA assistants were the clear winners, taking home $3,969,000 in 2013. It should be noted that USC and Stanford salaries don't appear in the database because the schools are private institutions so the information isn't publicly available.

The Cougs' first-year defensive coordinator Alex Grinch has received high praise this season. The coach has helped lead the Cougar D to a much-needed turnaround. There was noticeable improvement on that side of the ball throughout the season, and Grinch's emphasis on turnovers helped WSU win games. Even better for WSU, Grinch is a relative bargain compared to other Pac-12 defensive coordinators:

Rank Coach School Salary ($)
1 Kalani Stiake Oregon St 730,008
2 Jeff Casteel Arizona 660,000
3 Art Kaufman Cal 550,000
4 Jim Leavitt Colorado 541,667
5 Tom Bradley UCLA 510,000
6 Pete Kwiatkowski Washington 485,004
7 Keith Patterson Arizona St 470,000
8 Alex Grinch Washington St 425,000
9 Don Pellum Oregon 415,000
10 John Pease Utah 400,000

As you can see from the table above, Grinch is the third lowest paid coach at his position in the conference. A popular name that was brought up during last offseason's d-coordinator search was Oregon States' Kalani Sitake, who commands $300,000 more in salary than Grinch.

If the defense continues to improve and Grinch makes a name for himself, the Cougs will likely give him a raise to make sure he sticks around at WSU. But when it comes to defensive coaches, Grinch isn't the only one who helped to turn around the unit.

The ever-popular Joe Salave'a has been crucial to the Cougars' improvement as well. Most fans are now familiar with his work as the defensive line coach, where he not only has developed guys such as Xavier Cooper and Destiny Vaeao, but he's also known for recruiting a bevy of athletes to Pullman from American Samoa and Hawaii. The wonderful work he does has been profiled a couple of times this season and our own Britton Ransford added some of his own thoughts here.

Salave'a is rewarded well for his contributions, relatively speaking: He is the highest paid WSU assistant coach who doesn't have coordinator in his title. Compared to other assistants in the Pac-12, however, his pay doesn't stand out as much, as he ranks 19th in the conference among position coaches.

Below is a table with the conference's top-paid non-coordinator assistants. The bottom rows have the rank and salary of the WSU assistants:

Rank Name School Position Salary
1 Adrian Klemm UCLA Offensive line coach 760,000
2 Kennedy Polamalu UCLA Running backs coach 460,000
3 Demetrice Martin UCLA Defensive backs coach 435,000
4 Chris Strausser Washington Offensive line coach 426,504
5 Bob Gregory Washington Linebackers coach 425,004
6 Eric Yarber UCLA Wide receivers coach 410,000
7 Steve Greatwood Oregon Offensive line coach 405,000
8 Ron Aiken Oregon Defensive line coach 405,000
9 Tom Osborn Oregon Special teams coordinator 382,584
10 Jimmy Lake Washington Defensive backs coach 375,000
-- ------- ----------- ---------------- -------
19 Joe Salave'a Washington St Defensive line coach 325,000
40 David Yost Washington St Inside receivers coach 241,500
41 Clay McGuire Washington  St Offensive line coach 236,500
42 Roy Manning Washington St Outside linebackers coach 236,500

Multiple conference rivals have tried to poach Salave'a from the Palouse, leading to Salave'a's elevated salary (and title of "assistant head coach") on the staff. If another school were to come after Salave'a, you can bet he'd be in line for a six-figure raise, based on this table. Will Bill Moos try to head off those overtures with a significant raise this offseason?

There's a lot of another interesting things in the USA Today database, and I suggest spending some time checking it out. For example, you can see how when Mike Leach was hired in 2012 the total assistant salary pool increased by $1.4 million, and that Roy Manning took a small paycut to make the move to Pullman last winter.

The state of assistant football coach salary has certainly improved since the Paul Wulff era, but the program is still frugal in comparison to their west coast neighbors.