Do you get what you pay for?

Last year, Washington paid for the most expensive assistant coaching staff in the Pac-12 Conference. It paid $5.94 million in guaranteed compensation to UW’s 10 football assistants, which ranked 10th nationwide according to USA Today’s salary database. And the Huskies still finished an underwhelming 8-5.

This year, with a first-year head coach in Jimmy Lake set to make $1.63 million less than his predecessor, the university is paying roughly $800,000 less to his staff. UW’s assistant coaching salary pool dropped from $5.94 million to $5.15 million in 2020, according to coaching contracts provided by UW to The Times on Tuesday. Many of the program’s returning assistants did receive raises, and all 10 are under contract through at least the end of the 2021 season.

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Just two UW assistant coaches — offensive coordinator John Donovan and offensive-line coach Scott Huff — were furnished contracts that run through the 2022 campaign.

With Lake assuming the head job, UW’s most highly paid assistant is defensive coordinator Pete Kwiatkowski — who is scheduled to earn $1 million in 2020 and $1.1 million in 2021. In the same position last year, Lake earned $1.4 million — making him the top earner of any assistant in the Pac-12 and the most highly paid assistant in program history.

Donovan agreed to a three-year deal worth $850,000 in 2020 — $100,000 more than departed UW offensive coordinator Bush Hamdan made in guaranteed salary last year. Donovan’s pay will jump to $875,000 annually in both 2021 and 2022.

Huff received a hefty raise this offseason, seeing his salary skyrocket from $550,000 in 2019 to $700,000 in 2020. He was the only returning assistant to receive a two-year extension, through 2022.

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Defensive line coach Ikaika Malloe — who was promoted to co-defensive coordinator last winter — was previously set to earn $500,000 in 2020, but that number has increased in his revised contract to $525,000. He’s scheduled to make $575,000 in 2021. Inside linebackers coach Bob Gregory — who made $550,000 in 2019 — will earn $575,000 annually in both 2020 and 2021.

Veteran running-backs coach Keith Bhonapha, who made $380,000 last year, is set to receive $400,000 annually for each of the next two years. Second-year wide-receivers coach Junior Adams’ salary will remain stagnant at $375,000 in 2020, before increasing to $400,000 next year. Adams’ revised contract also includes a clause that states he would owe UW a buyout worth one year of guaranteed salary should he leave for another Pac-12 program in a role other than head coach.

Will Harris — who was bumped up from assistant defensive-backs coach to defensive-backs coach this offseason — was previously set to make $250,000 this year, but he’ll make $300,000 in both 2020 and 2021. As for UW’s other new assistants, tight-ends coach Derham Cato agreed to a two-year deal worth $225,000 annually, after he made $150,000 in 2019 in the role of football analyst. Assistant defensive-backs coach Terrence Brown signed a two-year deal worth $200,000 in 2020 and $215,000 in 2021.

Barring further contract revisions, the program’s assistant-coach salary pool is set to increase to $5.365 million in 2021. All 10 contracts also include standard incentives for academic and on-field performance.

Do you get what you pay for? When it comes to coaching staffs, that might truly be the case. The top three assistant-coaching salary pools in 2019 belonged to perennial contenders Alabama ($7.54 million), Clemson ($7.41 million) and Ohio State ($7.245 million). The eventual national champion, LSU, ranked sixth at $6.645 million.

In that category, like many others, the Pac-12 trails the pack. UW’s 2020 assistant salary total, $5.15 million, is still more than any other Pac-12 program paid last year. The closest contender, according to USA Today, was Oregon at $4.967 million (18th nationally). Washington State paid its assistant coaches a combined $3.46 million.

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Lake will make $3 million in the first of a five-year deal — with that guaranteed salary increasing by $100,000 in each of the next four years. Chris Petersen, by comparison, made $4.625 million in 2019.

Lake’s contract is also loaded with performance incentives, including:

  • $300,000 if UW is selected to appear in a College Football Playoff bowl game
  • $100,000 if UW is selected to appear in a CFP semifinal
  • $450,000 if UW advances to the CFP championship game
  • $50,000 if UW wins the CFP championship game
  • $75,000 if the team appears in a non-CFP bowl game
  • $100,000 for a Pac-12 championship-game win
  • $50,000 for a Pac-12 championship-game appearance
  • $125,000 if UW’s Academic Progress Rate score (which was an NCAA-record 999 this year) is greater than or equal to 970
  • $75,000 if UW’s APR score is greater than or equal to 960
  • $50,000 if UW’s APR score is greater than or equal to 950

If Lake leaves UW for another coaching job before Jan. 31, 2022, he will owe the university a $6 million buyout. That number is cut to $3 million, then $1.5 million, then $500,000, each of the next three years, through the end of his existing contract. Should UW terminate Lake’s contract without cause, the school would owe him the remainder of his guaranteed compensation.

When it comes to guaranteed money, UW is set to pay Lake and his 10 assistants a total of $8.15 million in 2020 and $8.465 million in 2021.

So, do you get what you pay for?

We’ll find out soon enough.

Jimmy Lake MOU

John Donovan MOU


Assistant Coaches Salaries

Pete Kwiatkowski, defensive coordinator/outside linebackers: $1 million*

John Donovan, offensive coordinator/quarterbacks: $850,000

Scott Huff, offensive line: $700,000*

Bob Gregory, inside linebackers:$575,000*

Ikaika Malloe, co-defensive coordinator/defensive line: $525,000*

Keith Bhonapha, running backs: $400,000*

Junior Adams, wide receivers: $375,000

Will Harris, defensive backs: $300,000*

Derham Cato, tight ends: $225,000*

Terrence Brown, assistant defensive backs: $200,000

*represents an increase in pay from 2019