Clemson assistants get nice raises

Clemson coach Dabo Swinney thinks he’s got one of the best staffs in college football. After Wednesday, he’s got one of the best paid, too.

Clemson and Swinney rewarded several football assistants Wednesday with raises totaling $450,000. The compensation committee of the Clemson board of trustees approved the proposal of athletic director Terry Don Phillips.

More than 60 percent of the raises or about $265,000 will come from Swinney, who reassigned a bonus for winning the Atlantic Coast Conference this past season. The rest is from the athletic department. The increased salaries will last for two seasons.

”We have a great staff and I want to do everything I can to keep it together at a critical time in our program,” Swinney said. ”We have a young, but talented team and I feel we have a chance to do something very special in the near future.”

Co-defensive coordinator Charlie Harbison and defensive ends coach Marion Hobby will earn $375,000. Defensive line coach Dan Brooks, tight ends coach Danny Pearman and offensive line coach Robbie Caldwell will make $310,000. Recievers coach Jeff Scott will earn $215,000 and running backs coach Tony Elliott $205,000.

Strength coach Joey Batson will make $200,000.

Throw in the previously announced increase of offensive coordinator Chad Morris to $1.3 million and new defensive coordinator Brent Venables’ $800,000 salary and Clemson will pay its football assistants $4.2 million, which the school said is somewhere between 12th and 15th nationally.

Morris, who reenergized the Tigers offense this season, is the country’s highest paid coordinator. Morris agreed to the new deal shortly after the Tigers won their first ACC title in 20 years by defeating Virginia Tech, 38-10, in the championship game last December.

Venables was brought on last month as a replacement for Kevin Steele, who agreed to leave after Clemson’s 70-33 loss to West Virginia in the Orange Bowl. The Mountaineers set a bowl record for points scored.

Swinney was as angered about the Orange Bowl embarrassment as anyone. But he’s continually said Clemson’s program is heading in the right direction – the Tigers have won two ACC Atlantic Division titles in addition to the ACC championship – and can accomplish much more in the next few years.

Phillips said Swinney had the flexibility built into his contract to re-direct money to his staff. ”Coach Swinney has opted to invest in the stability of the program with money he earned in 2011,” Phillips said.

Swinney is scheduled to earn $1.9 million next month, which the school said puts him 46th nationally.

Clemson won 10 games last fall for the first time since 1990. The Tigers 8-0 start included consecutive victories against 2010 national champion Auburn, 2010 ACC Atlantic winner Florida State and 2010 ACC champion Virginia Tech.

Clemson, though, couldn’t sustain its hot start, losing four of its final six games including the Orange Bowl debacle.

Swinney said the Tigers will be young again next fall with 60 of its 85 scholarship players either freshmen or sophomores. They will have just 11 seniors on the roster. They will have to replace several playmakers including record-setting tight end Dwayne Allen and ACC sack leader Andre Branch, both who are projected as first-round picks in next spring’s NFL draft.

But Clemson does return quarterback Tajh Boyd, All-American receiver Sammy Watkins and 1,000-yard rusher Andre Ellington to Morris’ high-speed attack.

Swinney is ready for the challenge.

”It’s really exciting to me because we are built to make a run,” he said.