Are offensive minds undervalued? and Video Doesn’t Lie

NORTHWESTERN COMMAND  – Below is a list of the top 11 paid assistants in college football. Notice anything?


Coach School Dollars

1. Chad Morris, OC, Clemson                     $1.3 million

2. John Chavis, DC, LSU                              $1.1 million#

3. Monte Kiffin, DC, Southern Cal                 $1 million*

4. Kirby Smart, DC, Alabama                        $950,000

5. Brian VanGorder, DC, Auburn                  $850,000

6t. Sal Sunseri, DC, Tennessee                  $800,000

6t Brent Venables, DC, Clemson              $800,000

8. Todd Grantham, DC, Georgia                  $760,000

9t. Greg Mattison, DC, Michigan                  $750,000

9t.  Luke Fickell, DC, Ohio State                  $750,000

11t. Bryan Harsin, OC, Texas                      $700,000

11t. Manny Diaz, DC, Texas                        $700,000

#Three-year average *estimated value – private schools do not have to share contract figures


Yes, two coaches above are employed by Clemson. That is well documented. But here’s the other thing that jumps out at me nine of the 11 are defensive coordinators.

This surprises me because it seems we are seeing offensive football dictate events on fields across the country more and more. We are seeing offense reach new levels of production, reaching basketball-level scoring. I’m not even sure what answers defenses can have for the “packaged plays” we documented in today’s paper, other than to have an elite front four and really good corners.

In an offensive age it surprises me ADs are still spending more money on elite defensive coordinators.

Now there is the argument that it is more difficult to be a defensive coordinator. You are adapting to a different offense each week, and from play-to-play each gameday. Former South Carolina AD Eric Hyman told  he did a study while at Texas Christian that showed defensive coordinators make better head coaches in part because of their experience in making real-time adjustments.

Still, I think it’s become more important to have an elite offense in today’s game and I’m surprised more dollars have not flowed into pockets of the top offensive assistants.



We wrote about the packaged plays in today’s Post and Courier and this is an example of one. Boyd has essentially four options: he has the inside hand-off to Ellington, he can keep the ball, or he has multiple downfield passing targets. The concept is run-blocked so it is important Clemson linemen do not drift down field. (See: TD pass to Hopkins that was called back). This is not a ‘run’ or ‘pass’ play, it is a post-snap decision to run or pass, it are these types of plays that might make us rethink how we categorize offensive football.


A coverage sack at Clemson? Kind of. DeShawn Williams is an interior linemen who intrigues me. He does a pretty good job of shedding blockers here to disrupt the play. Clemson’s interior defensive linemen, Josh Watson included, did a better job collapsing the pocket and disrupting the running game at BC. Clemson needs more of this. I thought we’d see more Carlos Watkins but Brent Venables says he is struggling with technique, basic things like playing with too high of a pad level.


This is another packaged play, I’ll call it a quadruple option, where Boyd elects to keep the ball on a rushing touchdown. He had a one-on-one matchup with Hopkins at the top of the screen. Boyd is not just a better runner because he lost weight, his feel for running and his decision are remarkably improved. I’m not sure I’ve seen a runner (or quarterback) improve as much over the course of one offseason.

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