USA Today published its annual list of college football assistant salaries and UCLA's football staff is the best paid staff in the conference of the ten schools who are required to publish the salaries of their assistants. (As private institutions, Stanford and Southern Cal are no required to disclose this data.)
Bruin offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone is being paid $864,000 this season, which ranks him as the second highest paid assistant in the conference, trailing only former ASU OC (and new Memphis head coach) Mike Norvell who made $950,085.
Go back and read that again.
Mazzone is being paid $864,000 this season for the most predictable offense in the conference. For those Bruin fans who still may not support replacing Mazzone, if you look at Mazzone's own words, that's $864,000 for calling "the same five plays" in a different order. By comparison, Alabama makes the CFP two years in a row and is paying Lane Kiffin only $680,000. So, where exactly is the value in Noel Mazzone?
In Mazzone's first two seasons, he was paid $350,000 and $377,000. Then in 2014, his salary was more than doubled when it increased to $762,000. And, he received another $100,000 raise for this season. Did Mazzone's performance double from 2013 to 2014? Did his performance improve 13% this year? You know the answers are no and no.
Let's look at the other Bruin assistants.
The third highest paid assistant in the Pac-12 is the twice-suspended for a "minor" NCAA recruiting violation Adrian Klemm, who made $760,000 this season. Keep in mind that his suspensions were "with pay", meaning that UCLA was paying him to stay home and watch TV. Also, keep in mind that his unit, the offensive line, performed better the first two weeks of the season while he was serving his second suspension for the same violation than they did when he returned from that suspension.
Like Mazzone, Klemm's pay more than doubled after 2013 and he received another 5% bump this year. All while being suspended for two months and 16.7% of the actual football season. For the $377,000 raise Klemm received last year, Bruin fans were treated to one of the worst offensive lines in the country.
Where is the accountability with UCLA assistant coaches? If the athletic department is going to hand out massive raises, it isn't unreasonable to demand performance and accountability from those individuals.
Bruin defensive coordinator Tom Bradley, on the other hand, was a relative bargain when compared to Mazzone and Klemm. Bradley was paid $510,000 this season and is due for a $25,000 raise next season, according to an article on staff salaries by Joey Kaufman on the Orange County Register website. Bradley actually took a $100,000 pay cut from his 2014 salary at West Virginia, according to USA Today. While some may think Bradley was overpaid for our defense this year, all you have to do is look at the defense's performance in the second half of the year, as pointed out by Bruin Bro, to realize that Bradley's salary was, in fact, a bargain.
Here's a full list of UCLA's assistant salaries:
Overall, it would seem that this year's on-field results did not match with how much UCLA paid the staff. UCLA finished the season with the sixth best record in the conference and the highest paid staff. Even if you take out Stanford and Southern Cal since they don't report salary info, UCLA would have the fourth best record in the conference behind Oregon, Utah, and Washington State.
The only conclusion that one can come to is that UCLA has overpaid for those results.
To be sure, it's good to know that UCLA has really come around on assistant coach salaries for football. At the same time, Coach Mora and Athletic Director Guerrero need to hold these very well-paid individuals accountable for the lack of on-field results.
There cannot be any handwringing. There cannot be any excuses like injuries. Why? Because the coaching staff recruits the players.
If they haven't recruited enough talent in Year 4 to have adequate backups, that's on the coaching staff for a) not bringing in more talent or b) not developing the talent that is on the campus already.
Noel Mazzone's game management has been called into question by just about any UCLA site out there. USA Today notes that Mazzone's pay includes $330,500 in retention payments that will vest to Mazzone if he is employed by UCLA on Dec. 31, 2015. Equal payments become due if Mazzone is employed by UCLA on Jan. 1, 2016 and June 30, 2016, or a full payment would become due in full if he is terminated without cause after Dec. 31.
Come Monday morning, December 28th after the Foster Farms Bowl, Coach Mora needs to announce that Mazzone has been terminated and, in doing so, save the UCLA Athletic Department $330,500 towards the pay of next year's offensive coordinator.
Or, at the very least, he needs to officially terminate Mazzone's contract by December 30th, even if it isn't announced until Mazzone finds another job.