On the Beat: Venables, Clemson staff rank high in earnings

Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables is the fifth-highest paid assistant coach in the country. Gwinn Davis/Special to The Post and Courier

Outside the money machine that is the SEC, Clemson is the most giving football program when it comes to paying assistant coaches.

USA Today released its annual report of assistant coach and combined staff salaries Wednesday. Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables, who signed an extension before this season, is the fifth-highest paid assistant coach in the country in total earnings at $1.406 million, and the Tigers’ total staff pay of $4.33 million checks in at sixth nationally.

The four coaches earning more than Venables in 2015 were all coordinators in the SEC this year (three defense, one offense), and two have already accepted head coaching jobs within the SEC for next season. Former Auburn defensive coordinator Will Muschamp, hired Sunday to take over at South Carolina, was paid $1.6 million by Auburn this year in addition to buyout commitments from Florida, while outgoing Alabama defensive coordinator and new Georgia head coach Kirby Smart took home just over $1.5 million.

LSU’s salaries of its nine assistants total $5.47 million, led by offensive coordinator Cam Cameron’s $1.52 million. Former LSU defensive coordinator John Chavis, now at Texas A&M, checks in at fourth with $1.5 million.

Auburn, Alabama, Georgia and Texas A&M round out the top five in total staff pay.

Clemson owes its total staff less in 2015 due to former offensive coordinator Chad Morris’ $1.3 million coming off the books after he took over at SMU. Clemson co-offensive coordinators Jeff Scott ($419,823, per USA Today) and Tony Elliott ($419,076) are the next-best-paid coaches on Dabo Swinney’s staff, followed closely by defensive ends coach Marion Hobby’s $417,200 salary.

The cheapest coach on Clemson’s staff, 38-year-old Brandon Streeter ($275,000), is in his first year as the Tigers’ quarterbacks coach. He coached Deshaun Watson, who is among the three finalists for the Heisman Trophy.

Florida State’s staff ($4.28 million) is seventh overall. South Carolina ranks 10th, paying its coaches $3.996 million. Co-defensive coordinators Jon Hoke and Lorenzo Ward each earned $752,400 this year.

Swinney ranked No. 26 on the list of head coaching salaries in 2015, with $3.305 million before bonuses.

Swinney was named the Home Depot National Coach of the Year Wednesday, his first such award. He will be presented with the honor at Thursday night’s Home Depot College Football Awards show broadcast by ESPNU at the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta.

Watson is one of three finalists for the Maxwell Award honoring the college player of the year — joined by fellow Heisman finalists Derrick Henry of Alabama and Christian McCaffrey of Stanford. He’s also up for the Davey O’Brien Award for outstanding quarterback, against Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield and TCU’s Trevone Boykin.

The John Mackey Award for best tight end went to Arkansas’ Hunter Henry. Clemson junior Jordan Leggett was a finalist.

As part of a promotion stemming from the Palmetto Bowl Nov. 29, Waffle House served 2,200 waffles, 1,600 cups of coffee and 1,700 hashbrowns during a free giveaway at a Clemson Waffle House on Dec. 2 thanks to the Tigers’ 37-32 victory over South Carolina.

Waffle House is also donating $10,000 to Clemson’s general scholarship fund.

“We were happy to cap this Palmetto Bowl victory for Clemson fans with free waffles, hashbrowns and coffee,” Waffle House president and CEO Walt Ehmer said. “This was a tasty step for Tiger fans as they continue their quest for a national championship.”