MORGANTOWN — West Virginia’s football staff ranks in the middle of the Big 12 pack, though one of Dana Holgorsen’s assistants stands among the league’s best-paid, according to data published Wednesday by USA Today.
West Virginia defensive coordinator Tony Gibson was the third-highest paid assistant coach and second-highest paid defensive coordinator in the Big 12 during 2018 with a salary of $901,000. That figure ranks 26th nationally among all college assistant coaches.
The only Big 12 assistants to earn more this year are Texas defensive coordinator Todd Orlando ($1.1 million) and TCU offensive coordinator Sonny Cumbie ($963,416).
Gibson’s defense was ranked second in the league in several major categories for most of this season despite injuries forcing him to juggle the lineup, including the move of safety JoVanni Stewart to outside linebacker. Injuries at middle linebacker proved more difficult to overcome, though. By the final game, the Mountaineers were down to Zach Sandwisch, who entered spring practice as the fourth-string option.
The defense finally gave way in the final two games, allowing 1,100 yards and 76 points in the final six quarters of losses to Oklahoma State and Oklahoma that left West Virginia short of a Big 12 title. WVU finished fifth in the Big 12 in points allowed (26.5 ppg), fifth in total defense (405.8 ypg), eighth in red-zone touchdown percentage (61.5 percent) and ninth in opponent fourth-down conversions (63.1 percent).
Despite the late collapse, WVU still ranked second in the league in forced turnovers (22) and tackles for loss (7.82 per game).
As a staff, WVU coaches rank fifth in the conference among the eight schools with information made available from public records searches. As private institutions, TCU and Baylor’s contracts are not a matter of public record. Cumbie is the only assistant from either school with a publicly released contract.
West Virginia ranked 39th nationally in coaching salaries, though that number is likely lower in reality since the data does not include power programs like Notre Dame, USC and Stanford, which are private schools.
Led by Gibson, WVU assistants made a combined total of $3,447,575 this year.
Offensive coordinator Jake Spavital proved a relative bargain at $501,000. Kevin Johns, Kliff Kingsbury’s nominal offensive coordinator at Texas Tech, was the only Big 12 coordinator to earn less than Spavital this season. Spavital recently accepted the head coaching position at Texas State after helping the Mountaineers to their highest points per game average (42.3) in school history.