Utah offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig’s $2.5 million contract ranks high among Pac-12 assistants

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Offensive Coordinator Andy Ludwig at University of Utah football practice in Salt Lake City on Tuesday March 26, 2019.

Andy Ludwig is the first offensive coordinator to have worked under Utah football coach Kyle Whittingham and says he wants to be the last person in that job. The school is investing heavily in an effort to make that happen.

The three-year contract Ludwig signed in January when he rejoined the program after a 10-year absence is worth $2.5 million, by far the most lucrative deal ever awarded to a Ute assistant coach. Ludwig’s 2019 salary of $820,000 is significantly more than Utah paid former offensive coordinator Troy Taylor and makes Ludwig the No. 4 highest-paid assistant coach among the 10 public schools in the Pac-12.

Private schools USC and Stanford are not subject to salary disclosures; The Salt Lake Tribune obtained Ludwig’s contract by an open records request.

Whittingham will make $4.1 annually via the five-year contract he signed in March. If he retires as Utah’s coach, he will be eligible to earn one-eighth of his salary annually for eight years as a special assistant to the athletic director, according to a contract provision.

Taylor, who became Sacramento State's head coach in December, earned $525,000 in 2018. That's the same salary as Ute defensive coordinator Morgan Scalley and offensive line coach Jim Harding, who's also Utah's assistant head coach. Taylor's contract included a bowl bonus of two months' pay ($87,500), according to USA Today. Scalley and Harding each earned a $43,750 bonus. They will be due for contract renewals and potential raises in February 2020.

Ludwig spent the past four years coaching in the Southeastern Conference at Vanderbilt, a private school. Other SEC offensive coordinators made between $600,000 and $1.2 million in 2018, according to USA Today. That salary background and the 55-year-old Ludwig’s extensive experience at other Power Five schools, compared with Scalley and Harding, help explain his marketability.

Ludwig is scheduled to receive $15,000 raises in 2020 and ’21 and is eligible for annual bowl bonuses ($68,333 in 2019). If he takes another job before his contract expires in January 2022, he must pay Utah a $450,000 buyout. Scalley and Harding have no such provisions in the two-year contracts they signed in 2018.

In any case, like all Power Five football coaches, Ludwig has enjoyed a nice earnings trajectory. He made $248,000 at California in 2009, having left Utah after the team's unbeaten, Sugar Bowl season. Ludwig's most recently published salary was $480,000 at Wisconsin in 2014.

In the Pac-12, Jim Leavitt made $1.7 million as Oregon’s defensive coordinator in 2018, before mutually parting ways with the school. Andy Avalos, his successor, will earn $765,000 in 2019. In April, Washington defensive coordinator Jimmy Lake signed a three-year, $4.6 million contract, The Seattle Times reported. Lake’s defense held Utah to a total of 10 points in two meetings last season, including a 10-3 victory in the Pac-12 championship game.

Lake’s $1.4 million salary presumably makes him the Pac-12′s highest-paid assistant. Pete Kwiatkowski, the Huskies’ co-defensive coordinator and line coach, will make $950,000. Oregon offensive coordinator Marcus Arroyo will earn $825,000 this season, according to The Register-Guard of Eugene, Ore.

During the Utes’ spring practice, concluding in mid-April, Ludwig’s work received strong endorsements from his offensive staff members, along with Whittingham and some of Utah’s defensive players and coaches. NFL star Eric Weddle, whom Ludwig used as a part-time offensive player for the Utes in 2006, also praised him. Defensive end Bradlee Anae said, “I love this offense. As a defensive guy, I know this offense would ruin a lot of Pac-12 teams, just by the whole scheme and everything.”

That’s what Utah is paying for, anyway. Ludwig’s offense particularly will be tested Nov. 2, when the Utes again face Washington’s defense.