Derrick Ansley has never been a defensive coordinator before, but he’ll be making a lot of money to do just that for Tennessee in 2019.
According to the University of Tennessee’s memorandum of understanding that was obtained by the Knoxville News Sentinel via a public records request, Ansley has signed a three-year deal with Tennessee worth $1 million annually. That makes him the highest-paid defensive coach on Tennessee’s staff, and he trails only offensive coordinator Jim Chaney for the highest-paid assistant on Jeremy Pruitt’s staff heading into 2019.
Ansley’s contract with Tennessee runs through January 31st of 2022. If Tennessee fires Ansley without cause before the end of his deal, they will owe him the remainder of the salary he’s due.
If Ansley himself leaves UT before February 1st of 2020, he would owe Tennessee a buyout of 60 percent of the remaining salary left on his contract. If he leaves on or after that date, the buyout only drops to 50 percent. The only way Ansley would be exempt from paying a buyout to UT is if he takes a job as an NFL defensive coordinator or NFL head coach.
Last year, 21 assistant coaches earned at least $1 million across college football. Of those 21 assistants, 11 were in the SEC.
The Vols now have two assistant coaches earning $1 million annually. Offensive coordinator Jim Chaney will make around $1.6 million this upcoming season to go along with Ansley’s $1 million salary.
Pruitt hired Ansley away from the Oakland Raiders in the NFL. Ansley joined Jon Gruden’s staff in Oakland last offseason to coach the Raiders’ secondary. Before jumping to the NFL, Ansley had coached several years in the SEC.
Ansley started his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Alabama. He served in that role from 2010 through 2011 before Derek Dooley hired him to coach cornerbacks at Tennessee. Ansley coached at UT for one season before joining Kentucky’s staff to coach cornerbacks for the Wildcats.
Ansley was promoted to oversee the Wildcats’ entire secondary after his second year with them, then he left Kentucky to coach at Alabama again in 2016. He served as the Tide’s defensive backs coach for two seasons before going to the NFL.
Both Jeremy Pruitt and Ansley have coached together two different times before now. Pruitt was Alabama’s secondary coach in 2010 and 2011 when Ansley was a grad assistant, and Pruitt was the Tide’s defensive coordinator in 2016 and 2017 when Ansley was back on staff as Alabama’s defensive backs coach.
“Derrick was a graduate assistant for me for two years at Alabama and then was the defensive backs coach,” Pruitt said on Friday. “We are very familiar with each other. It’s good to work from the back to the front (of the defense). I think he brings a lot of experience.
“He has coached a lot of really good players. And probably, when I start a sentence, he can finish it.”