Last year, there were nine ACC coaches in the database with contracts for more than $650,000 and two with deals for that exact amount. All 11 of those coaches are or were offensive or defensive coordinators.
Key also accepted a buyout provision in the new contract that was not a part of his initial two-year deal. Key will owe the athletic department half of his annual salary if he were to leave prior to Jan. 31, 2022 for “a comparable position at another university,” according to the contract, and 25% if he were to leave between Jan. 31, 2022 and the early signing period for the 2022-23 year. He would not owe anything after that, although his two-year contract would be all but complete at that point.
He evidently can leave for an offensive coordinator, head-coaching or NFL job at any point without owing Tech anything.
In April, Key expressed his pleasure in coaching the Jackets’ offensive line, which will return three starters and figures to be considerably improved in the 2021 season.
“I really like coaching this group,” Key said during spring practice. “I’m having a lot of fun with these guys. The guys come to work every day, and that’s what I’m most pleased with, is that they understand that it’s not a finished product.”
Key was not the only coach on Collins’ staff accepting a new two-year contract and a raise. Running backs coach Tashard Choice, wide receivers coach Kerry Dixon and defensive line coach Larry Knight have also signed two-year deals with salary bumps that also include buyout provisions similar to Key’s, indications of their potential to be hired away. It’s notable also in that, for Collins’ first two seasons, every assistant coach but Key was working on a one-year contract.
Knight was awarded a raise from $230,000 to $252,977 for 2021 and $278,249 for 2022. Choice’s salary jumped from $236,000 in 2020 to $300,000 for each of the next two years. Dixon’s contract was worth $235,000 in 2020 and was increased to $258,477 in 2021 and then $284,298 in 2022.
The contracts for Key, Choice, Dixon and Knight were the only four for assistant coaches to be returned from the open-records request.