By Chase Goodbread
TUSCALOOSA | In a move that resulted in a raise of $100,000 for University of Alabama offensive coordinator Jim McElwain, the Compensation Committee of the UA Board of Trustees approved 10 contracts Thursday morning, establishing the initial contracts of three new football assistants, a new operations director, and UA's head volleyball coach, while approving pay raises for five other football assistants.
McElwain's annual salary was increased from $410,000 to $510,000, the largest increase on the staff. McElwain drew interest from several schools in search of a coach following the regular season last year, including Colorado. McElwain's raise puts both of UA's coordinators over the half-million mark, as defensive coordinator Kirby Smart's pay was increased in January from $750,000 to $850,000. Alabama's total investment in McElwain and Smart now stands at $1.36 million per year.
Two-year contracts were approved by the committee for each of Alabama's three new assistant coaches. New defensive line coach Chris Rumph, hired from Clemson, will earn $288,750 per year, while new offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland will earn $395,000 annually. Mike Groh, UA's new wide receivers coach and recruiting coordinator, will earn $250,000 per year.
As for incumbent position coaches, running backs coach Burton Burns was increased from $270,000 to $280,000, secondary coach Jeremy Pruitt was increased from $200,000 to $225,000, linebackers coach Sal Sunseri was increased from $350,000 to $390,000, and special teams/tight ends coach Bobby Williams was increased from $305,000 to $315,000.
Alabama's nine assistant coaches, in total, will earn just over $3.5 million over the next year.
New Director of Football Operations Joe Pannunzio will earn $170,000 per year over two years, while volleyball coach Ed Allen will earn $120,000 per year over five years.
Bonuses for all assistant coaches include a four-percent incentive if UA reaches the Southeastern Conference Championship Game, an eight-percent bonus for any bowl game, a 12-percent bonus for an appearance in either the Chik-fil-A, Cotton, Outback or Capital One Bowls, and 16 percent for a BCS bowl appearance.
UA paid a $45,000 buyout to Clemson when it hired Rumph, according to documents released by UA following the meeting. If Rumph were to leave for another coaching job, UA would receive a buyout of $75,000 from the hiring institution.
Johnson reaching comfort zone
After two seasons as a part-time player, including nine career starts, junior linebacker Nico Johnson said he has become more comfortable in his knowledge of the defense than ever before.
And the result has been a productive spring through the first two weeks of drills.
"I'll just say I'm playing faster. I didn't play as fast as I thought I should last year. I feel more comfortable and relaxed," Johnson said. "... My freshman year, I wasn't sure, so I was kind of holding back, didn't want to make mistakes. Last year it was about the same, but it was better. Now, I know it, so I'm going. That's what's happening."
Johnson, who is competing at inside linebacker along with Dont'a Hightower and C.J. Mosley, made 33 tackles for the Crimson Tide last season with an interception and two pass breakups.
Saban to throw out first pitch
UA coach Nick Saban will throw out the ceremonial first pitch for the Crimson Tide's baseball series with Arkansas this weekend. The No.13-ranked Razorbacks will try to snap No.21-ranked Alabama's five-game Southeastern Conference win streak beginning at 6:35 p.m. at Sewell-Thomas Stadium. The stadium box office will open at 4:30 p.m. (adults $8, youth 12-under $4).
"I went to (the) middle school next door to my high school. Most of the kids graduate, then go there (Atlanta Westlake). The special ed department my mom runs, she's the administrator there, I got to go to different classrooms and help out the teachers. Some of the teachers I knew personally from when I was in middle school. From there, it was gold. I had a good time, they had a good time, and I appreciated it." - Offensive lineman Chance Warmack on his volunteer work during spring break.
Alabama will hold its seventh of 15 spring practices Friday before holding its first scrimmage of the spring on Saturday at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Both are closed to the public.
Reach Chase Goodbread at email@example.com or at 205-722-0196.