Big raise ahead for Strong?
While discussions about pay increases for football coaches are not a very popular item on college campuses across the nation enduring budget cuts because of the economy, a growing trend could force Florida officials to take a long look at defensive coordinator Charlie Strong's next contract.
Strong made less than $400,000 this past year but was instrumental in producing one of the nation's elite defenses. Oklahoma had a string of five straight 60-point games end in Florida's 24-14 win in the national title game.
And all fingers pointed at Strong as a major reason for the impressive showing.
He has declined to discuss the issue openly. But the average coordinator's salary is exploding. According to NCAA studies, the average assistant's salary was just over $60,000 in 2000. But here's just a few examples of where we're going:
_ Tennessee is giving Monte Kiffin a deal believed to be worth about $1 million for 2009, albeit a paycut after more than a decade in the NFL. But it still raises the salary structure.
_ Washington lured Nick Holt to town with a three-year deal worth over $2 million.
_ Will Muschamp at Texas, named the "coach in waiting'' should Mack Brown step aside, got a $900,000 salary.
These are exceptions to the rule. But so is Strong, who has helped put together the defense that won two of the last three national titles. He's not standing in line with his hand out but UF officials have to look at what the market is bringing this time around. Especially since several NFL teams have expressed an interest in him in the past.