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Commentary: Offense pays in college football today

Defense may win championships, but offense will earn you a bigger house and better cars to fit in your garage.

It’s part of college football’s latest trend.

New Florida offensive coordinator Charlie Weis will earn $865,000 annually in the final two years of a three-year contract that will put more than $2.6 million in his coffers.

His 2011 salary is more than any assistant college football coach in the country made last year with the exception of new Florida head coach Will Muschamp, according to figures published by USA Today.

Weis will earn $765,000 this season, which puts him among the highest paid assistant coaches in the country. He also received a $100,000 signing bonus and $10,000 per year for wearing Nike apparel (presumably size large).

Muschamp was paid $907,000 to be defensive coordinator at Texas last year for a Longhorns team that went 5-7 and had people screaming for Mack Brown’s head.

Defensive coordinators accounted for the nine of the 11 top-paid assistants last season, but the money is switching to the other side.

Auburn offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn reportedly agreed to a contract that will guarantee him at least $1 million in 2011. Former Oklahoma State offensive coordinator Dana Holgorsen, who took the Cowboys from 61st to 1st in total offense in 2010, will make $800,000 next season at West Virginia, where he will become the head coach in 2012. Add in Weis’ bonus and he is at $865,000.

All three are considered offensive wizards.

Weis’ playbook should be guarded by a Fort Knox security crew. He will earn more money than 45 of the 110 FBS head football coaches listed in the 2010 USA Today salary rankings.

His salary dwarfs that of Manatee County’s two contributions to Division I-A football, Western Kentucky head coach Willie Taggart (Manatee High) and assistant Ray Woodie (Palmetto).

Taggart earned $225,000, and Woodie was paid $70,692 in 2010 for putting together what many experts say has been one of the best recruiting jobs in the country.

Taggart is considered an offensive genius in many circles, and all he needs is patience.

Weis brings an offensive resume that arguably can’t be matched by any college assistant coach in the country, but he also might be an astute recruiter.

He talked West Palm Beach Dwyer quarterback Jacoby Brissett into signing with the Gators though they already had Jeff Driskell, the consensus best quarterback in the country in the class of 2011.

Driskell enrolled at Florida this winter, which gives him a huge jump on Brissett, who could have had a clear path to a starting job at some of the country’s top programs.

New Miami head coach Al Golden coveted him, and Jacoby’s mother went public saying she wanted her son to sign with the Hurricanes. But Weis convinced Brissett to come to Gainesville in what could turn out to be one of the country’s biggest soap operas.

One of the two is eventually going to be unhappy and probably leave. However, it’s a win-win for Weis and the Gators. Nothing makes a player better than competition, and with incumbent John Brantley getting the QB reins (at least for now) the pressure should be off both freshmen.

Weis will make more money than any head football coach earned last season in the Sun Belt and Mid-American conferences and most of those in the Mountain West, Conference USA and Western Athletic Conference. USF’s two top assistants last season, coordinators Todd Fitch and Mark Snyder, were paid $210.000 each.

If Weis can get the Gators into another SEC or national title game, who is to say the administration won’t rip up his old contract and offer him a new one.

The only thing he needs to do is find someone to run his offense, and that has never been a problem for Weis.

Spring practice starts March 16th. Bring your popcorn.

Alan Dell, Herald sports reporter, can be reached at 745-7080, ext. 2112.