FAYETTEVILLE — Marcus Woodson has agreed to a two-year deal to join the Arkansas football coaching staff as a co-defensive coordinator.
The Razorbacks’ newest assistant will make $700,000 annually, according to a copy of his employment agreement obtain by Best of Arkansas Sports via a Freedom of Information request.
His deal with Arkansas began Wednesday and runs through Feb. 28, 2025. His base salary is $500,000, but he’ll also receive $200,000 in “other compensation.”
That means Woodson is receiving a 40% raise from what he made at Florida State, where he was the defensive backs coach and defensive passing game coordinator.
It will also make him one of the highest-paid defensive back coaches — assuming that’s the position he coaches, Arkansas has yet to announce that — in the country.
Excluding solo defensive coordinators who coached the secondary, such as former Arkansas defensive coordinator Barry Odom, Woodson’s $700,000 salary would have been tied for eighth nationally at the position in 2022, according to a list compiled by FootballScoop.com.
Woodson’s agreement also includes the typical incentives for success within the SEC and in the postseason, topping out at three months salary for a win in the national championship.
Updated Salary Pool for Arkansas Football
Marcus Woodson fills the hole in Sam Pittman’s staff created by the departure of linebackers coach Michael Scherer, who is now the defensive coordinator at UNLV.
Scherer’s salary was just $325,000, so Arkansas more than doubled the amount of money it had dedicated to that spot on staff.
Even with that increase, the Razorbacks’ salary pool for their 10 on-field assistants is currently set to be significantly lower than it was in 2022.
That is because new tight ends coach Morgan Turner is making $75,000 less than his predecessor, Dowell Loggains, and new defensive coordinator Travis Williams is making $750,000 less than Barry Odom, who was third-highest paid assistant coach in college football for the 2022 season, according to the USA Today database.
Throw in the $25,000 it saved on new director of strength and conditioning Ben Sowders and Arkansas had an extra $850,000 it had been committed to using in 2023.
Factor in the difference between Woodson and Scherer’s salaries — plus the automatic $50,000 raise for offensive coordinator Kendal Briles — and that number drops to $425,000.
Assuming there are no more staff changes and none of the current assistants receive raises, the Razorbacks’ 2023 salary pool — which doesn’t factor in the strength coach — is set to be $6.04 million.
That is 6.2% lower than this past season’s school-record $6.44 million salary pool for the 10 assistants. A full rundown of the salaries for Sam Pittman’s on-field staff can be found below.
It’s also worth noting that Arkansas’ win over Kansas in the Liberty Bowl triggered an automatic $250,000 raise for Pittman because it was the program’s seventh win of the season.
Potential Impact on Kendal Briles?
One of the latest rumors surrounding Sam Pittman’s coaching staff involved offensive coordinator Kendal Briles and the same position at Mississippi State.
After the passing of Mike Leach, the Bulldogs promoted defensive coordinator Zach Arnett to head coach and he is now searching for someone to take over the reins of the offense.
Briles was apparently one of his top targets, according to 247Sports’ Steve Robertson.
“I do think things are trending in a positive direction (for Mississippi State), but these things can get complicated,” Robertson said on the Out of Bounds radio show Wednesday. “He has an offer from Mississippi State to join the program and I understand that it’s a very lucrative offer, but the bigger part of it is control.”
“He would have autonomy to run the scheme the way he wants to, I understand that he’d have a say in who the running back and offensive line coach would be. That’s attractive to him. I’ve talked to some people that are pretty close to the situation and they say that things seem to be trending in a positive direction, but Arkansas is certainly working hard to keep him.”
However, it increasingly looks like the smoke surrounding him and Mississippi State was a strategic move. After all, Briles’ agent is Jimmy Sexton, who is infamous — especially in Arkansas — for leveraging other jobs to get his clients (think Gus Malzahn) more money.
Under his current contract, which he signed last off-season, Briles made $1.2 million this year and will receive automatic raises each of the next two seasons. He’s set to make $1.25 million in 2023 and $1.3 million in 2024.
Despite a vocal segment of the fan base that isn’t a fan of him, Briles has been quite productive in his three seasons as an offensive coordinator at Arkansas.
This season, the Razorbacks ranked 35th nationally in scoring offense (32.5 ppg) and 16th in total offense (471.2 ypg). Those numbers were impacted greatly by the health of quarterback KJ Jefferson. Excluding the two games he missed and one he played when clearly hampered by injury, Arkansas averaged 37.7 points and 496.8 yards — both of which would have been school records.
Considering that success and the departure of tight ends coach Dowell Loggains — who had been the apparent OC-in-waiting — to South Carolina, Sexton might have been leveraging the Mississippi State interest to get Briles a raise using the hundreds of thousands of dollars that Arkansas saved on the other hires.
Indeed, late Thursday, Briles himself sent out a Tweet stating he will “run it back” in Fayetteville in 2023 and Robertson reported this:
Even a salary bump up to $1.5 million would make Kendal Briles one of the highest-paid offensive coordinators in the country. According to USA Today’s database, only Georgia’s Todd Monken ($2 million) and Oklahoma’s Jeff Lebby ($1.8 million) made more in 2022.
Whether or not Briles leaves should not have come down to money, regardless of how “lucrative” of an offer he had from Mississippi State. However, as Robertson pointed out, the allure of 100% control of the offense — something he doesn’t necessarily have at Arkansas — was a likely enticement for heading to Starkville.
It’s also worth noting that Robertson, in the aforementioned radio interview, indicates that he believed Briles would have tweaked his offense to fit the skill set of returning quarterback Will Rogers, who isn’t the typical dual-threat quarterback ideal for his system.
2023 Arkansas Football Assistant Coach Salaries
|Coach||2022 Salary||2023 Salary|
|OC Kendal Briles||$1.2 million||$1.25 million|
|DC Travis Williams||$1.85 million*||$1.1 million|
|Co-DC Marcus Woodson||$325,000*||$700,000|
|OL Cody Kennedy||$700,000||$700,000|
|STC Scott Fountain||$515,000||$515,000|
|DL Deke Adams||$400,000||$400,000|
|RB Jimmy Smith||$360,000||$360,000|
|DB Dominique Bowman||$350,000||$350,000|
|WR Kenny Guiton||$340,000||$340,000|
|TE Morgan Turner||$400,000*||$325,000|
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