Damon Evans is at peace with the size of Grantham’s contract.
“We went after coaches that were making more than what we were paying before,” Evans said. “We knew that in order to get the individual that we wanted that we were going to need to step up and pay more than we’ve done in the past. We’ll continue to evaluate each individual based on performance, based on market and based on what we think is a fair and competitive wage based upon their performance.”
“I feel confident and comfortable because of the finances of this organization are in such a way that we are able to give a salary like this and in a position to do so to where we don’t put ourselves in a bad situation, that we don’t affect our bottom line so much that it causes problems in other areas ,” Evans said. “We’re positioned well financially. We can manage something like this.”
“As far as assistant coaches go, do I see there being some changes? Yes I do,” Evans said. “Salaries are increasing. You’re seeing multi-year deals across the landscape of college football, but for us, we evaluate each situation on its own merit and do what’s appropriate for that particular situation or that particular individual. I’m not going to rule out that we’ll do another multi-year deal. We’ll just do what we believe is in the best interest of the program.”
Best hang on to your hat, Damon. Because Mike Hamilton is prepared to double down.
… Two sources said UT was willing offer up to seven-figures annually for the “right” defensive coordinator — but the department wouldn’t complain if the best available candidate to accept the job demanded less money. UT men’s athletic director Mike Hamilton often speaks about the “line-item” business of coaching staffs, and the only price figure restriction is the combined sum.
“I hate to be so cold about it, but I look at this as a line-item, and you’re trying to pay for experience and the coaches that they’d hire and all those kinds of things,” Hamilton said. “The way I look at it is, ‘OK, we’re going to pay the head coach this, and what does the rest of that line-item look like for their assistant coaches?'”
Hamilton, as he said he would, claimed to ask every potential UT head coaching candidates to questions about their collections of assistants: “Who would you bring with you, and what are the dollars necessary to hire the best coaches you can bring to the University of Tennessee?”
“I challenge them,” Hamilton continued. “We now have that model out there to hire the best possible coaches they can hire. In some cases, you might have a head coach that has a higher salary, and the pool would be less for the assistant coaches.”
Dooley’s contract hasn’t been released to the media yet, but his total financial package per year is believed to be in the same range as predecessor Lane Kiffin’s — approximately $2-2.5 million per year.
UT’s assistant football coaches last season made a combined $3,325,000. That was the highest of all public institutions in college football (private schools don’t have released that information, and most don’t).
In other words, even though UT spent like there was no tomorrow on its assistant staff last year and got middling results from a staff that blew apart like the mercenaries most turned out to be, Hamilton is ready to travel down that exact same road again. That’s not cold, that’s crazy.
… Dooley said his strategy won’t necessarily mirror Kiffin’s though. In other words, Dooley said the best fit for his UT program won’t necessarily be one widely regarded as the nation’s best.
“This whole ‘putting together the best staff in the country’ and all this, well, every staff can’t be a headliner to me to make a good staff,” Dooley said Friday at his introductory press conference. “A staff is a team, and each member of a staff brings strengths, and each member of a staff has things that maybe they don’t do as well. It’s no different than assembling a football team, and so what I’m more concerned with is who wants to be here?”
It sounds like Dooley’s got more sense than his boss.