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Chuck Landon: Holliday shifting assistant salaries

Jan. 12, 2013 @ 12:08 AM

Technically, the "Big Green" is Marshall University's scholarship foundation.

But in reality?

The "Big Green" is the money it takes to hire coaches.

Take the recent moves on Marshall's football coaching staff, for example.

Thundering Herd head coach Doc Holliday couldn't have enticed Chuck Heater to replace Chris Rippon as defensive coordinator unless he upped the ante from the $178,887.50 Rippon was paid in 2011, according to the West Virginia State Auditor's web site.

But these are hard times, right?

We are facing our own personal fiscal cliffs, right?

So it is with Marshall.

That's why the departure of Tony Petersen to Louisiana Tech provided some much-needed leeway. Petersen was earning $179,107.50 in 2011 while wearing three hats as assistant head coach, quarterback coach and co-offensive coordinator.

Petersen's resignation allowed Holliday, who was paid $638,991.86, to move some money around in the coaches' salary pool and offer Heater a salary of $200,000, according to sources.

It also enabled Holliday to give offensive coordinator/tight end coach Bill Legg a raise from $179,503.61 to $200,000, according to sources. It also appears Legg will take over Petersen's duties as quarterback coach.

Then, there's the most recent change in Marshall's still fluid football staff.

Cornerbacks coach Lytrel Pollard is leaving after only one year to return to his alma mater, Southern Miss. The move makes sense for Pollard as well as dollars and cents for Marshall.

Since Heater is going to coach Marshall's cornerbacks, Pollard was superfluous unless he was shifted to linebackers coach.

Instead, now Holliday can take Pollard's salary and augment it with some of Petersen's remaining money to hire Steve Dunlap as linebackers coach. Pollard's salary is unavailable, but for comparison's sake he replaced Mike Cassity, who was paid $105,933.04 in 2011.

It probably will take at least $130,000 to hire Dunlap, who was making $214,740 as West Virginia University's assistant head coach and special teams coordinator until he was fired recently.

But, coincidentally, Holliday could increase an offer to Dunlap by also adding the assistant head coaching title to his job description.

That's not a bad idea.

After all, everybody agreed the Herd needed a significant overhaul on the much-maligned defensive side of the ball. So, how much better could Marshall's defense be in 2013 with the addition of Heater and Dunlap?

Together, they represent 69 years of collegiate coaching and both are experienced defensive coordinators. Dunlap was the defensive coordinator at WVU in 1992-2000, at Syracuse in 2004, at N.C. State in 2005-06 and at Marshall in 2007.

That leaves Todd Hartley, who earned $57,245.78 in 2011, as safeties coach and J.C. Price as defensive line coach. Price's salary is unavailable, but he replaced Fred Tate who made $84,668.60 in 2011.

On offense, a tight ends coach will have to be hired. The salary could range from the $84,004.27 Phil Ratliff made in 2011 to the $55,772.06 Gerad Parker made as wide receivers coach.

Speaking of Parker, there are rumors that he also might leave. Considering the superlative job he has done with Marshall's wideouts, it would come as no surprise if Petersen tried to lure Parker to Louisiana Tech.

Otherwise on offense, running backs coach and recruiting coordinator JaJuan Seider makes $95,782.77, while line coach Geep Wade's salary is unavailable.

That's the bottom line.

Chuck Landon is a sports columnist for The Herald-Dispatch. Contact him at 304-526-2827 or clandon@herald-dispatch.com.

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