Only eight months after the Board of Regents approved a record-breaking salary for Texas Longhorns defensive coordinator Todd Orlando, head coach Tom Herman’s most valuable assistant may be in line for another raise.
Yahoo Sports writer Pete Thamel reported on Friday that Texas and Orlando are in discussions about a raise and contract extension that would make him among the top five highest-paid assistants in the country.
The report comes after a flurry of activity around college football that pushed assistant salaries ever higher — LSU was forced to outbid Texas A&M to keep defensive coordinator Dave Aranda, who signed a record four-year, $10-million contract that gave him a higher salary than 85 FBS head coaches. Then the Aggies finally found their man, hiring Mike Elko away from the Fighting Irish with a three-year deal starting at $1.8 million.
And, in fact, Texas A&M targeted Orlando for that position, as did Florida State. Orlando turned down both opportunities, according to Orangebloods.
Last May, Orlando officially received a three-year contract that started at $1.1 million annually, ranking him No. 14 among all FBS assistants in salary (the caveat is that private schools don’t have to report the salaries of coaches).
Despite significant expectations accompanying Orlando from Houston, the defensive coordinator likely exceeded them this season — Texas vaulted from No. 45 in defensive FEI in 2016 to No. 7 in 2017. Even more impressive was Orlando’s ability to scheme to limit the talented passers the Longhorns faced throughout the season without compromising his defense’s ability to stop the run.
To put it simply, Orlando proved that he can not only get results at the highest levels of college football, he’s one of the best defensive coordinators in the game.
So it’s no surprise that Texas A&M and Florida State pursued Orlando in addition to SMU’s reported interest after head coach Chad Morris left for Arkansas, though both Orlando and Herman denied a report that Orlando interviewed with the Mustangs.
In fact, Orlando was adamant about his loyalty to his player and to Herman, who took a chance on Orlando to bring him to Houston from Utah State.
“Tom Herman has been unbelievable to me,” Orlando said. “Unbelievable.”
Ultimately, it’s almost certain that Orlando has head-coaching ambitions — the bigger question is whether he has specific jobs in mind and wants to hold out for what he considers an ideal situation.
Judging by Thamel’s report, however, the Longhorns aren’t going to take any unnecessary risks in losing the star defensive coordinator. Since the offer is reportedly in the range of $1.8 million, he would be paid more than nearly 70 FBS coaches did in 2017. More specifically, Orlando’s salary would be higher than most of the schools likely to target him.
Texas could even add a significant buyout to the contract like the one that Chad Morris had when he was the offensive coordinator at Clemson, which stated that he “must pay Clemson a buyout equal to the sum of his annual total compensation multiplied by the years remaining on his contract.”
When the Longhorns expressed interest in Morris in early 2014, that buyout was over $5 million.
Whatever ends up happening in the coming days, it’s worth feeling thankful that Orlando will be back on the sidelines in Austin next season.