Try 1 month for 99¢

Many members of Scott Frost’s first coaching staff have been recruiting for Nebraska since Saturday evening.

On Monday, Frost made seven jobs official, and they all came with him from Central Florida.

They are: Erik Chinander (defensive coordinator), Travis Fisher (defensive backs), Mike Dawson (defensive line), Jovan Dewitt (outside linebackers/special teams), Mario Verduzco (quarterbacks), Ryan Held (running backs) and Greg Austin (offensive line).

Former Husker linebacker Barrett Ruud is also on staff and on the road recruiting. He is not immediately an on-field assistant, but will become the inside linebackers coach when the Huskers — like all schools — are allowed to add a 10th assistant on Jan. 8.

NU also released salary figures for the seven assistants, led by Chinander, who will make $800,000 to lead the Blackshirts. 

Austin, Dewitt and Dawson each are set to make $475,000, Verduzco $350,000 and Fisher and Held $300,000 each. 

Ruud's salary was not released and full contract details for each assistant were not immediately available, per the school. 

All of the assistants are currently working as part-time employees, which allows them to coach for UCF in Jan. 1's Peach Bowl against Auburn. They will become full-time employees after that game and all have two-year contracts. 

There are now two openings remaining, including offensive coordinator, and it appears increasingly unlikely that anybody from Mike Riley’s coaching staff will be retained.

Frost hired his full defensive staff from UCF and added the eventual spot for Ruud. On offense, the Huskers still need an offensive coordinator and coaches for the wide receivers and tight ends. At UCF, now-interim head coach Troy Walters coordinated the offense and coached receivers. 

In addition to their two years together in Orlando, Frost has long-standing connections with most of the group.

Austin (2006) and Held (1998), of course, are Nebraska graduates.

Austin, Chinander and Dawson each have years of experience working with now-UCLA head coach Chip Kelly, who tutored Frost at Oregon and is one of the 42-year-old’s biggest football influences.

Still more are tied to Frost from his time at Northern Iowa. Chinander was there for five years. Dewitt succeeded Frost as defensive coordinator in Cedar Falls in 2009, when Frost became Kelly’s wide receivers coach at Oregon.

Verduzco was at UNI from 2001-14. He made the first scholarship offer of the new coaching era here, to Fresno, California, dual-threat quarterback Adrian Martinez mere hours after Frost’s hiring was announced.

The heavy UCF influence is not a surprise. The Journal Star reported most of the hirings in recent days and Frost himself said Sunday during his introductory news conference that he had full trust and confidence in the staff.

"A lot of coaches, when they get a bigger job or change from one school or another, think they need to go out and hire some different people," Frost said Sunday. "… The staff I hired at UCF is a group of men that are unbelievable coaches and have unbelievable character. And if it wasn’t that way, we wouldn’t have been able to make the turnaround that we made."

In addition, Lincoln Southeast and UNL graduate Zach Duval is expected to be the football program’s head strength and conditioning coach.

Athletic director Bill Moos said the total salary pool for 10 full-time assistants and the head strength coach is $5 million. 

The UCF staff made a total of about $2.3 million in 2017. Immediate information for that season could not be immediately located. However, Chinander was the highest-paid assistant on staff in 2016 at $425,000. 

Chinander's salary is less than what former defensive coordinator Bob Diaco was set to make in 2018 ($875,000). The other assistants compare favorably to the past staff, in line with a larger salary pool for Frost's first year. Dawson is making $202,500 more than John Parrella would have in 2018, Dewitt $50,000 more than Trent Bray, Austin $25,000 more than Mike Cavanaugh and Held $50,000 less than Reggie Davis. 

Fisher has a different role in coaching the entire defensive backfield than safeties coach Scott Booker and cornerbacks coach Donte Williams on the previous staff, who combined to make $500,000. 

Riley's staff didn't have a quarterback-specific position coach — offensive coordinator Danny Langsdorf handled the group — like Frost does with Verduzco. 

Each assistant — plus the head strength coach and director of operations — can earn bonuses on top of his base salary, according to Frost's signed memorandum of understanding. 

Bonuses are broken into two categories: Conference success and postseason success. 

Assistants can earn 5 percent for a division or co-division title. That bumps to 15 percent if the Huskers win the Big Ten. 

They can also earn bonuses between 8.33 percent (one month's salary) and 25 percent for postseason success ranging from a non-College Football Playoff bowl game on the low end to a national title on the high end.

Contact the writer at or 402-473-7439. On Twitter @HuskerExtraPG.


Sports writer

Parker joined the Journal Star as the University of Nebraska football beat writer in August 2017. He previously covered Montana State athletics for the Bozeman Daily Chronicle and graduated from the University of Wisconsin in 2012.

Load comments