By Bob Hertzel
Times West Virginian
Tom Bradley, the veteran former Penn State assistant coach, had a million reasons to leave a broadcasting job with the Pittsburgh Steelers and take on a job as senior associate head coach under Dana Holgorsen at West Virginia University.
The two-year contract will pay him $600,000 this year and $400,000 next year plus the normal perks and bonuses and a $50,000 retention bonus should he stay both years.
The $600,000 would make him the highest paid assistant for a single season in WVU history, surpassing both the departed Keith Patterson and Joe DeForest, who each earned $501,000 last year, but would not place him among the nation’s top-paid assistants.
According to USA Today’s annual surveys of assistant coaches, the highest paid in 2013 was Clemson’s Chad Morris, whose $1,309,000 base salary more than doubled Bradley’s.
In all, the newspaper found three assistants making more than $1 million in Morris, Alabama’s Kirby Smart at $1.15 million and LSU’s John Chavis at $1.1 million.
There were 17 assistant coaches in America making more than $625,000, including three from the Big 12 – two from Texas and one from Oklahoma and all three of them at $650,000.
This year it was reported that Texas defensive coordinator Vance Bedford signed for $800,000 — $760,000 in base salary, $30,000 for speaking appearances and $10,000 for working camps. Bedford also would be eligible for a maximum of $185,000 in bonuses if Texas wins the Big 12 championship, the national championship and he wins the Frank Broyles Award as the national assistant coach of the year.
Holgorsen’s staff last year earned $2,742,000 with Patterson and DeForest on top at $501,000, offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson at $301,000, wide receiver coach Lonnie Galloway at $300,000, Tony Gibson at $251,000 but probably more now after being promoted to defensive coordinator, offensive line coach Ron Crook at $250,000, cornerback coach Brian Mitchell at $236,000 and running back coach JuJuan Seider and now departed defensive line coach Erik Slaughter at $201,000.
Damon Cogdell, who replaced Slaughter, signed a two-year deal paying him $200,000.
It was originally announced that Cogdell would coach the defensive line, but he was moved to his college position, linebacker, with Bradley being assigned the D-line and sort of a special advisor to Holgorsen and new coordinator Gibson.
“He’s going to help me a lot,” Holgorsen said before the first spring practice on Sunday. “He’s been in this profession for 35 years and has seen a lot. He’ll be able to help coach Gibson when it comes to game planning, when it comes to being a sounding board on how to do things properly.
“His nickname’s ‘Scrap’ for a reason. He’s going to bring a lot to the table, and we’re fortunate and excited to have him on board. He is a great guy, too. He’s really going to fit in with the staff well.’’
Bradley’s hiring was announced on Feb. 21, which is two days after it was signed and two days after Holgorsen had announced that he had not hired anyone for that job and was still conducting interviews while looking for the best candidate.
Interestingly, according to written reports, the first term of the contract runs through Jan. 30, 2015 with the second term beginning on Feb. 1, 2016.
That would seem to leave him unemployed on Jan. 31, 2015, which might allow him to quit or the school to fire him without consequences.
As it is, the deal features a clause that sets dates to terminate Bradley’s contract if Holgorsen resigns. In the event the head coach “voluntarily terminates his employment,” Bradley’s contract with WVU automatically ends either 180 days after the “Resignation Event” or, if sooner, the final date of the original contract term, which is Jan. 20, 2016.
This does not cover Holgorsen being fired.
Bradley also receives a company car, four tickets to home football games and bowl games and two tickets to home men’s and women’s basketball games.
Bradley also receives bonuses from $5,000 to $15,00 for winning from nine to 12 games, a $7,500 bonus for winning or sharing the Big 12 title, and $10,000 for making a bowl game outside the new playoff system.
He receives $15,000 for making the playoffs, $5,000 for winning the semifinal and $20,000 for appearing in the final. Winning the national championship adds $5,000 more.
• Of all the preseason magazines, Phil Steele’s annual offers the most information and comes closest to being the “bible” and this year’s brought some good news for West Virginia.
Among the top junior college recruits this season two of them are at WVU – QB Skyler Howard at No. 70 and Jaylon Meyer at No. 45.
Among freshman defensive backs Dravon Henry is ranked at No. 23.
And how does Steele come up with his rankings? This is what he wrote:
“Covering college football as I do takes 52 weeks a year as it is and while I personally do not scout the high school games and rate each player I do compile my rankings based on the many different recruiting services across the country that follow and scout HS football year round. I not only like to use all of the biggest and best services, but I also use regional reports as well.”
It’s still, as any coach will tell you, a crap shoot.
• Cornerback Travis Bell, who started nine games last year but was replaced by freshman Darryl Worley, remains on indefinite suspension from a DUI he received last December.
I was his second arrest in 10 months, and Holgorsen instituted the suspension in January, meaning he would miss spring practice, but allowed him to remain on scholarship “to work toward his degree.”
It’s possible he could be reinstated before summer drills begin.
Follow Bob Hertzel on Twitter @bhertzel.