Posted by Jerry Hinnen
With hires like new defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox and defensive line coach Tosh Lupoi (pictured), Steve Sarkisian has put together an overhauled Washington staff that -- on paper -- ranks as one of the best in the Pac-12, and maybe the country. But not surprisingly, that overhaul has come at a cost.
The Seattle Times reported this weekend that thanks to the substantial raise for coaches like Lupoi over their predecessors, the Huskies are now spending more than any other public school in the Pac-12 on their assistants' salaries. The total bill comes in at $2.73 million, more than any other league school save -- probably -- USC, which is private and not required to release salary information.
Wilcox will make $750,000 this coming season, with escalators in his contract that could pay him as much as $850,000 in 2014. (The salary is an increase on what even his previous SEC-based employer, Tennessee, was paying him.) New offensive coordinator Eric Kiesau will earn $375,000 and Lupoi $350,000--a staggering figure for a position coach outside of the cash-flush Big 12 or SEC, but one likely necessary to pry the coach considered by many the best recruiter on the West Coast away from Cal.
So where is all this cash coming from? In a release, Husky AD Scott Woodward doesn't shy away from the source (emphasis added):
"As we've done since (Sarkisian's) arrival, we are seeking and signing the nation's best coaches, and we are willing and able to do it at market value. Our student-athletes deserve the best leaders and the best facilities to create the best environment to win championships. The expenditure on salaries for football's assistant coaches is a prudent investment of that additional money from the Pac-12 new multimedia contract, into the program that gives the biggest return to all Husky athletes."
By snatching away Tupoi and offering weapons-grade money to Wilcox, the Huskies may have just fired the first shot in what could prove to be the same kind of Pac-12 salary battles the SEC -- see the there-and-back-again journey of Alabama assistant Lance Thompson -- has been waging for years. The only real question is which of their conference rivals is going to issue the next one.
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