Deshea Townsend’s first college contract is a lucrative one.
And his co-workers at Mississippi State could be in line for a pay bump, too.
The newly hired cornerbacks coach signed a letter of agreement with the school worth $250,000 over the next year, according to an MSU administrator. He’ll be the second-highest paid position coach on the team, according to figures released in 2012.
Townsend, 37, will earn less than the Bulldogs’ offensive and defensive coordinators, but will sit just behind offensive line coach John Hevesy on the MSU salary chart — for now. More changes are likely on the way in MSU’s salary pool. The $2.2 million paid to the nine assistants on Dan Mullen’s staff in 2012 could increase up to 10 percent when Mullen, his staff and athletic director Scott Stricklin finalize details in February.
Townsend was hired Friday after serving two seasons as an assistant defensive backs coach with the NFL’s Arizona Cardinals. Townsend, a two-time Super Bowl champion with the Pittsburgh Steelers, is revered in the Magnolia State for his playing days in Batesville, where he led South Panola High in 1993 to the first of its 10 state titles.
Townsend joins David Turner as the most recent additions to the staff. Turner, a former assistant at MSU and Kentucky, will coach the defensive line for $200,000.
Townsend replaces veteran Melvin Smith, whose base salary of $231,875 was eligible for bonus supplements reaching $19,031. Smith left to coach a similar position at Auburn after spending the last six seasons at MSU.
The potential of deepening the MSU salary pool to $2.4 million could push MSU’s salary expenditures for Mullen and his nine assistants to $5 million, which would rank in the bottom half of the SEC but would still be among the best nationally. The coaches’ salary pool increased $218,650 in 2012.
Geoff Collins will likely become the staff’s highest paid assistant when contracts are renegotiated in February.
The second-year co-defensive coordinator, with a salary of $287,700, was promoted to defensive coordinator following the season. Chris Wilson, the defensive coordinator, was paid $308,000 with the potential to earn an additional $25,375 in bonuses, according to USA TODAY, but he left MSU after the season to coach the defensive line at Georgia.
Mullen is scheduled to earn $2.6 million as part of a four-year contract he agreed to in December 2010. Mullen and MSU agreed to a one-year extension following the 2011 season.
MSU athletic director Scott Stricklin said Mullen’s contract will be extended to the four-year maximum allowed under state law, but additional details (if any) will not be determined until the parties meet in February.
Mullen was unavailable for comment Tuesday. Coaches were out recruiting Tuesday, setting up in-home visits with prospects. National signing day is Feb. 6.
“That’s his focus right now and I don’t want to detract from that,” Stricklin said.