LINCOLN — Though Bo Pelini was rumored on Internet message boards to be a potential candidate for the Tennessee and Arkansas jobs this week, Nebraska Athletic Director Tom Osborne said neither school — nor any others — sought permission to speak to the Huskers’ fifth-year coach.
Both the Razorbacks and Volunteers introduced coaches in the last 72 hours. Wisconsin’s Bret Bielema took the Arkansas job, while Cincinnati’s Butch Jones took the Tennessee job.
Pelini spent Thursday in Orlando, Fla., at the Capital One Bowl press conference and has otherwise been on the road recruiting for Nebraska, conducting several in-home visits around the country.
The Huskers finished 10-3 in the regular season, Pelini’s third 10-win season. The coach is scheduled to make a base salary of $2.975 million next year, with attainable performance bonuses —such as making a bowl game — pushing him over the $3 million mark. Because of a Big Ten championship appearance in 2012 and a bowl bid, Pelini will make more than $3 million this year.
Osborne said he’s aware that, with each cycle of coach firings and hirings, salaries travel northward. Bielema, who won three straight Big Ten titles at Wisconsin, will reportedly make $3.2 million per year at Arkansas. That’s roughly a $600,000 raise from his Wisconsin job with bonuses that could push his salary close to $4 million.
Because of the salary creep, Osborne said he tries to be “proactive” in how he views both Pelini’s salary and that of Pelini’s assistants. Because Osborne retires Jan. 1, it’ll be successor Shawn Eichorst reading those financial markets in the future. Osborne said he couldn’t comment on whether he’d spend December considering more raises for Pelini and his staff.
In June, the Lansing State Journal compared assistant salaries of 10 league schools — Northwestern, as a private school, does not have to, and an exception in Pennsylvania state law allows Penn State’s contracts to stay under wraps — found NU ranked fourth behind Ohio State, Michigan and Iowa in combined coach-assistant salaries.
At $2.13 million for the assistant coaches, NU was sixth among those schools. Iowa, Illinois and Michigan State all paid their assistants marginally more. Michigan paid its assistants a total of $2.755 million while Ohio State paid its assistants $3.22 million.
The Huskers’ highest-paid assistant, offensive coordinator Tim Beck, makes $365,000. His counterpart at Michigan, Al Borges, made $550,000 this season. In the two seasons they’ve been Big Ten offensive coordinators, both offenses have averaged 32 points per game, while Beck’s offenses have averaged 26 more yards per game.
Osborne said Nebraska’s salary pool for assistants is “reasonably competitive” and he’s “very conscious” of salary trends nationally. Osborne said NU wants to be competitive with Big Ten and national peers.
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