When Bud Foster announced his retirement before the 2019 season, fans wondered which direction the Virginia Tech Hokies would go in looking for his replacement. The Hokies tried for former Missouri coach Barry Odom, who coached under Justin Fuente at Memphis, but that became a bit more costly than the Hokies apparently felt comfortable with.
Instead, Fuente promoted safeties coach Justin Hamilton to defensive coordinator and many in Hokie Nation were concerned. Make no mistake, Hamilton is loved at Virginia Tech. However, Hamilton only had two years of FBS coaching experience and he was promoted to replace one of the greatest defensive coordinators in the history of college football.
Naturally, everyone was curious on what Hamilton’s salary would be and how athletic director Whit Babcock would allocate the funds after Foster’s coaching salary came off the books. Thanks to some recently released numbers, via Mike Niziolek of The Roanoke Times, we now have our answers.
Hamilton will earn $600K in his first season as defensive coordinator while new linebackers coach Tracy Claeys will earn $500K. Claeys, a former defensive coordinator at multiple schools and briefly a head coach at Minnesota, is earning a nice salary based on his experience.
Adam Lechtenberg, who was promoted to running backs coach to replace Zohn Burden, will make $200K, after making $175K last season in his post on the player development side.
Bill Teerlinck, who was the defensive line coach for the Buffalo Bills last season, will earn $400K his first season in Blacksburg. We aren’t sure on what he earned in the NFL last season. His co-defensive line coach, Darryl Tapp, the former Hokie great, will earn $175K after spending last season as an assistant special teams coach at Vanderbilt. Fans high hopes for the DL combo known as “TnT.” Charley Wiles made $280K as defensive line coach last season and is making considerably more now at N.C. State.
New cornerbacks coach, Ryan Smith, who came to Blacksburg from JMU, will also earn $175K.
Offensive line coach Vance Vice, arguably Virginia Tech’s top recruiter, is earning just $280K. His letter of appointment expires in June and the Hokies are going to have to pay to keep him around.
Niziolek noted, through USA Today, the Hokies’ coaching pool ranks No. 37 in all of college football. That obviously makes it tough to keep good coaches around.
It’s eye-opening that Charley Wiles, who had been here for the majority of the glory years, is making $400K at N.C. State. The Wolfpack have had nowhere near the success of the Hokies on the gridiron, yet chose to pay Wiles significantly more than he earned at Virginia Tech.
We can all debate on Fuente’s dalliance with Baylor and why he did it, but it is clear that money remains an obstacle for the football team. For recruiting purposes, the Hokies must add to the recruiting staff sooner than later.
Will that happen? Only time will tell and things always seem to move slowly with this athletic department.