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New Ohio State Defensive Coordinator Jim Knowles To Make $1.9 Million Per Year

The 56-year-old will be the highest-paid assistant coach in school history by a wide margin.

New Ohio State defensive coordinator Jim Knowles will be one of the nation’s highest-paid assistant coaches, as he’s set to make $1.9 million per year for the next three seasons.

The university released the terms of the deal on Friday afternoon, which note the 56-year-old Knowles will also receive a signing bonus of $138,850 that will be paid out within 30 days of him signing the contract.

Knowles, who spent the last four seasons in the same position at Oklahoma State, was announced as the Buckeyes’ next defensive coordinator on Tuesday evening. He made just $800,000 coaching the Cowboys last season.

Knowles replaces Kerry Coombs, who made $1.4 million in 2021 and was tied with offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson for the highest salary among the 10 assistant coaches on staff. 

He also surpasses Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano for the highest-paid assistant in school history, as Schiano made $1.5 million as Ohio State's defensive coordinator in 2018.

In addition to his base salary, Knowles can also earn performance-based bonuses totaling as much as $726,750 if the Buckeyes win the Big Ten East Division, Big Ten Championship and/or the College Football Playoff National Championship. There are also financial incentives for playoff and other bowl appearances.

Knowles would have been the fourth highest-paid assistant coach in the country this season, trailing only former Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables ($2.5 million), former Tigers offensive coordinator Tony Elliott ($2.125 million) and Texas A&M defensive coordinator Mike Elko ($2.1 million).

Venables is now the head coach at Oklahoma, while Elliott was named Virginia’s head coach on Friday afternoon. That means Knowles could be the second highest-paid coordinator in the country next season, though new Sooners offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby is reportedly set to make just under $2 million, as well.

That said, Knowles will officially join the staff of Jan. 2, the day after Ohio State plays Utah in the Rose Bowl. Despite Oklahoma State also playing Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 1, he will not coach the Cowboys that afternoon.


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