Auburn defensive coordinator Kevin Steele deserves your attention. While college football’s most flashy coordinators are guys like Alabama OC Steve Sarkisian or Clemson DC Brent Venables, Steele has blossomed into arguably the best assistant coach anywhere in the country.
Since his first year on The Plains, the Auburn Tigers have ranked 7th, 12th, 14th and 17th in scoring defense among all FBS college football teams. Churning out All-SEC talents and NFL Draft picks from Carl Lawson to Derrick Brown continually push Gus Malzahn’s program to challenge at a national level. Just last season, Auburn went on the road and became the only defense to hold the College Football Playoff national champion LSU Tigers to less than 36 points. That game ended in a narrow 23-20 victory for Ed Orgeron’s program.
Auburn announced on January 22 that the school was rewarding Kevin Steele’s incredible resume with a new three-year deal to remain at the university. AL.com confirmed Steele’s contract extension will pay him $2.5 million annually, making him the highest-paid assistant coach heading into next season.
Auburn Signs DC Kevin Steele to Three-Year Deal
“Kevin has done a fantastic job with our defense the last four years making it one of the best in the country,” Gus Malzahn said in the school’s press release. “This will provide great stability and leadership for our defense in the future. I’m appreciative of Kevin’s hard work.”
With former LSU defensive coordinator Dave Aranda taking over as head coach of the Baylor Bears — one of many title-winning Tigers leaving Baton Rouge — Steele is slated to become college football’s top-paid assistant football coach, according to the USA Today Sports salary database.
Auburn will be replacing several key players next season, including highly-touted defensive linemen like Brown, Marlon Davidson and Nick Coe, but the pipeline is stronger than ever.
Four-star recruits Zykevious Walker and Chris Thompson are enrolled for Auburn’s spring semester, while fellow four-star signees Wesley Steiner and Jay Hardy will also be entering the program this season. Mix these freshman with returning starters like Owen Pappoe (the No. 1 OLB of 2019) and K.J. Britt, who was First-Team All-SEC last season, and you’ve got another elite defensive unit that matches up with any team in the country.
See where Steele’s new deal stacks up with other elite coaches from last season.
One thing to note: as head football coaches like Oklahoma’s Lincoln Riley and Texas A&M’s Jimbo Fisher run their own offenses and fill coaching staffs in other ways, the only offensive coordinator in last year’s top 10 was Steve Sarkisian at the University of Alabama.
College Football Assistant Coach Salaries (2019)
1. Dave Aranda (LSU) — $2.5 million
2. Brent Venables (Clemson) — $2.201 million
3. Mike Elko (Texas A&M) — $2.1 million
4. Kevin Steele (Auburn) — $1.9 million
5. Todd Grantham (Florida) — $1.801 million
6. Todd Orlando (Texas) — $1.71 million
7. Steve Sarkisian (Alabama) — $1.55 million
8. John Chavis (Arkansas) — $1.5 million
9. Mike MacIntyre (Ole Miss) — $1.5 million
10. Don Brown (Michigan) — $1.5 millionAdvertisement
11. Jim Chaney (Tennessee) — $1.5 million
12. Jimmy Lake (Washington) — $1.4 million
13. Alex Grinch (Oklahoma) — $1.4 million
14. Travaris Robinson (South Carolina) — $1.2 million
15. Pete Golding (Alabama) — $1.1 million
16. Josh Gattis (Michigan) — $1.1 million
17. Greg Mattison (Ohio State) — $1.1 million
18. Phil Snow (Baylor) — $1.052 million
19. Kendal Briles (Florida State) — $1.02 million
T-20. Tony Elliott & Jeff Scott (Clemson) — $1.001 million