Posted by Jerry Hinnen
When the Colorado head coaching position first came open, one of the names mentioned most often for the job was former Buffalo running back and program legend Eric Bieniemy, running backs coach for the Minnesota Vikings. So it was a minor surprise when Bieniemy came to Boulder even without being named head coach, agreeing to serve as offensive coordinator for friend and fellow Buff alum Jon Embree.
But if that friendship and the call of his alma mater helped explain Bieniemy's decision, today's release of his and Embree's salary information helps explain that much further. We're not sure how many other assistants are earning a salary fully equal to their head coach's, but now we know there's at least one, since both Embree and Bieniemy will be earning base compensation of $250,000 per year.
It's not accurate to say that Bieniemy's making the exact same amount total as his boss; thanks to a hefty extra compensation package for media appearances and the Buffaloes' annual football camps, Embree will take home some $725,000 while Bieniemy will net just a little over $500,000 (though he also received a $150,000 signing bonus). Embree also has a much higher ceiling on his final paycheck thanks to a number of big-money incentives (which, as Gene Chizik can tell you , can sometimes pay off handsomely).
All together, the package is enough to give both Embree and Bieniemy salaries competitive within the Pac-12. (The odd distribution of the income in the contracts does raise the question if they were structured to somewhat obscure their true compensation at the cash-strapped university.) But when all is said and done, that Embree and Bieniemy have the same number at the top of those contracts will still give them a head coach-assistant relationship unique in the world of major college football. Now we'll see how well that relationship will work out for the downtrodden Buffs.