Performance bonuses for Ohio State Football coaching staff dropped in 2021, but increases expected to follow soon

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio State’s 2021 football season fell short of ultimate expectations, and the coaching staff’s year-end performance bonuses also fell below the usual norm.

Ryan Day, his 10 assistants and three main support staff earned more than $2.5 million in bonuses last season. That number is down about $1.5 million from 2020, when the Buckeyes won the Big Ten and advanced to the national championship game.

However, Day may be eligible for another raise as coaching salaries across the country rise. And it will almost certainly cost more to round up his staff from the 2022 season.

Ohio State won a share of the Big Ten East Championship, although Michigan won the tiebreaker with their victory in the regular season finale. Day earned a $50,000 bonus for that finish and $200,000 for OSU’s appearance in the Rose Bowl, which as a six-man New Year’s game qualified as the College Football Playoff Bowl. (A berth in the playoff semifinals would have triggered bigger bonuses for Day and his team.)

The rest of the staff earned over $2.25 million in bonuses. Sharing the Big Ten East earned a bonus of 8.5% of each coach’s base salary, and the New Year’s Six Bowl earned an additional 17%.

Kevin Wilson and Kerry Coombs earned bonuses of $357,000 each as offensive and defensive coordinator, respectively. Assistant head coach and defensive line coach Larry Johnson earned $288,915 in bonuses. Other bonuses went to strength coach Mickey Marotti ($187,425), offensive line coach Greg Studrawa ($178,500), receivers coach Brian Hartline, linebackers coach Al Washington and secondary coach Greg Barnes ($153.00 each), quarterbacks coach Corey Dennis and special teams coordinator. Parker Fleming ($76,500), director of football operations Brian Voltolini ($62,402) and director of player personnel Mark Pantoni ($57,375).

In 2020, Ohio State paid bonuses of more than $4 million to Day and those 13 other positions. The team’s cumulative achievements were worth 38.25% of staff base salaries.

What some of these coaches didn’t earn in bonuses last season will likely be supplemented with increases for 2022.

Day signed a contract extension with a raise in February 2020. At the time, his projected salary of $7.6 million for 2022 ranked among the five highest in the nation.

However, several new hires and extensions have pushed coaches with similar or lesser pre-Day accomplishments up the salary board. LSU paid Brian Kelly $9.5 million to leave Notre Dame. Michigan State locked up Mel Tucker long-term at the same rate. Penn State coach James Franklin is expected to earn $8.5 million with his new extension.

The Language in Day extension said pay increases beyond February 1, 2023 “will be determined by the athletic director and approved by the board.” As Day comes off the less successful of his three seasons as head coach, he could be in line for a raise — at the very least, over the next few years of his contract — to keep OSU going. in line with these other programs.

Several of Day’s helpers can also receive a boost. New defensive coordinator Jim Knowles has signed a $1.9 million annual contract — the largest ever for an OSU assistant. Wilson and Coombs each earned $1.4 million as coordinators last season.

Hartline received a title bump to passing game coordinator that likely comes with a raise. Newly hired offensive line coach and associate head coach for offense Justin Frye has earned $700,000 as O line coach and offensive coordinator at UCLA, according to the USA Today Assistant Coaches Database. He likely won’t take a pay cut during his time at Columbus.

The biggest X-factor for the coaching salary pool is Coombs’ status, as he will no longer coordinate defense. It is not yet known if he will remain with the technical staff for 2022, and at what level of remuneration. Barnes also left recently to become defensive coordinator at Memphis. The positional composition of the defensive staff remains uncertain, although increased reliance on a three-safety system may require multiple coaches in the secondary.

According to the USA Today database, OSU’s 2021 assistant coach salary pool of $7.5 million ranked sixth nationally and first among Big Ten teams. Clemson, at $8.55 million, was the only program to eclipse the $8 million mark.

Ohio State could meet or exceed that number by 2022.

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