STARKVILLE — Mississippi State got the entire defensive staff that produced the nation’s second-best defense by yards per play allowed for cheaper than LSU pays defensive coordinator Dave Aranda.
MSU paid $1.425 million for the defensive staff, The Dispatch learned through a records request, while LSU paid Aranda $2.5 million according to the USA Today database. The Dispatch obtained the contracts of head coach Joe Moorhead and every MSU assistant coach for the 2018 season.
Moorhead’s four-year contract states the school pays him $500,000 for 2018, $550,000 for 2019, $600,000 for 2020 and $650,000 for 2021. When he was hired, MSU announced he would be paid $2.6 million, $2.7 million, $2.8 million and $2.9 million in those years, respectfully, leaving $2.1 million, $2.15 million, $2.2 million and $2.25 million to be paid from private sources, including the Bulldog Club.
That ranks 13th in the Southeastern Conference, ahead of only Missouri.
Missouri and coach Barry Odom recently agreed to a two-year extension and a raise that pushes him about $3 million, thus bumping MSU to last in the league.
But MSU Director of Athletics John Cohen has made it clear he does not concern himself with the raw expenditure numbers and how they rank.
“Everything is relative to your competition. We have to do it differently than our competition does it. We’re not going to out-money the SEC,” Cohen told The Dispatch in July. “We have to make great decisions on how we spend our budget money, and we’re going to make great decisions.”
Every assistant coach had a three-year contract, through the 2020 season. Offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach Luke Getsy is the highest paid at $600,000; defensive coordinator and safeties coach Bob Shoop made $400,000 this year but has a raise built into the contract for the next two years, getting him up to $600,000.
The rest of the defensive staff is made up of defensive line coach Brian Baker ($375,000 a year), cornerbacks coach Terrell Buckley ($350,000) and linebackers coach Tem Lukabu ($200,000), the first two being retained from the Dan Mullen staff.
MSU has already had one assistant coach, tight ends coach Mark Hudspeth, leave the staff (he took the Austin Peay head coach job) and Moorhead feels he has what it takes to prevent full-scale defections.
“None have been communicated to me, and I certainly hope not, but I’ve talked to guys about this through the year and as things wrapped up: if there’s opportunities for coaches to improve their situation personally, professionally and financially, I think it’s part of my job as a head coach to help them achieve those goals,” Moorhead said. “Certainly everyone’s communicated the opportunities that have been made available and you’d like to keep everyone in tact, but at the same time, it’s part of a head coach’s job to help his staff grow.”
Cohen said when he introduced Moorhead on Nov. 30: “As we were going through Joe’s contract, (money) was probably the least amount of time that we spent on any subject. Because Joe said, ‘Hey, what you’re offering me is great, but here’s what’s important to me: I’m going to take care of our staff and I want to make sure that we have the best football staff in America.'”
If there are further defections, there is at least a chance that the coach could be barred from a Southeastern Conference foe. The contracts for Getsy, Lukabu, running backs coach/run game coordinator Charles Huff, quarterbacks coach/pass game coordinator Andrew Breiner and offensive line coach Marcus Johnson all have two-year non-competes with the SEC, meaning they cannot go to another SEC school unless the school terminates the contract without cause or the coach terminates it for a material breach.
Baker, Buckley, Shoop and special teams coordinator Joey Jones do not have that clause in their contracts.
Thus far, coaches haven’t seen much reason to leave.
“He’s a very passionate guy,” Jones said. “You can tell, highly organized guy in meetings and practices. That’s a good quality for him.”
Huff receives $350,000 a year, Breiner and Johnson $300,000 and Jones $200,000.
Much like Moorhead, the assistant coach pay ranks near the bottom of the SEC.
Getsy is currently MSU’s highest-paid assistant but he ranks tied for 29th in the conference; Tennessee, Alabama, Texas A&M and Georgia all have four assistants each ahead of Getsy.
All assistant coaches will receive a postseason bonus, “up to no more than one month’s payment,” for MSU making it to the Outback Bowl.
“I think we have a good administration, people understand this is a special place,” Moorhead said. “They like our working environment, they like our kids, they like our trajectory. There’s a lot of positive things going on.”
Follow Dispatch sports writer Brett Hudson on Twitter @Brett_Hudson