Joe Paterno has been the head coach at Penn State for a long time, but most of his assistants have been around for a while as well. That's obviously not the case at many other BCS-level programs, where constant turnover is the norm and coaching staffs come and go about as frequently as the winds change directions. Apparently, that kind of turnover costs money according to Stu Durando of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, who reports assistant coach salaries are soaring across college football, and the Big Ten schools are lagging behind.
The SEC paid its assistant coaches an average of $276,122 in 2010, according to figures compiled by St. Louis attorney and agent Bob Lattinville of the firm Stinson Morrison Hecker.
The Big 12 was second at $232,685 and the Big Ten a distant fourth, behind the Atlantic Coast Conference, at $187,055. In each instance, the averages do not include salaries at private schools such as Baylor, Penn State and Vanderbilt.
According to Durando, the top 10 highest paid assistants all hail from SEC, Big XII and ACC schools. Some might call this a lack of commitment from Big Ten institutions, and easy proof of why the SEC has taken such a leap ahead of the pack in recent years. You could just as easily point to the crushing mediocrity of the ACC, however, and argue paying assistant high six figure salaries just isn't worth it at a time when so few athletic departments are running things in the black.
Ultimately, this is probably a cultural thing. Big Ten schools like to pour their money into non-revenue sports while southern schools run their non-rev programs on the cheap, if they run them at all, in order to pay ghastly sums like the $1.3 million Auburn supplies Gus Malzahn, or the $700,000 LSU pays Louisville failure Steve Kragthorpe.
Could higher salaries help the Big Ten become a little more competitive on a national stage? Perhaps. But if you ask me, I'd rather take my chances with Jay Paterno and a women's volleyball dynasty over a Big East burn out and nothing to fall back on if he ends up being worth less than half of his exorbitant salary.