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PROVO — Reflecting on a legendary career as the BYU football coach, LaVell Edwards was known to joke about his relatively meager salary compared to contemporaries.
Edwards liked to list money as the reason he participated in a call-in radio show for years after each game, which is unheard of in current times. "I made $75 a show," he once said in between laughs during a radio interview years after he retired.
To put it mildly, BYU coaching salaries historically were notoriously below market value. In one instance of proof, some outgoing coaches who followed Bronco Mendenhall to Virginia in 2015 at least doubled the money.
But that was then. This is now.
Months away from joining the competitive Big 12 Conference, BYU leaders understand money talks to attract and retain experienced coaches. The increase in spending has extended to other areas of the football program, such as improving recruiting budgets and adding support staff.
The latest, and most important, example of loosening the purse strings came this week in bringing aboard Jay Hill as defensive coordinator and associate head coach. Hill, who spent the last nine years as the Weber State head coach, will earn in the vicinity of $1.2 million annually, or about $200,000 less than defensive coordinator Morgan Scalley reportedly makes at Utah.
The amount is substantially higher than BYU paid coordinators dating back several years. The increase was part of what BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe labeled an "unprecedented contract" last December for coach Kalani Sitake, who had interviewed for the Oregon job that went to Dan Lanning.
After sputtering to an 18-21 record from 2017-19, Sitake led BYU to a 21-4 mark the following two seasons. The Cougars were inconsistent this season in going 7-5, with the New Mexico Bowl remaining next week against Southern Methodist.
In addition to a contract extension that runs through the 2027 season, Sitake was most pleased with the increased financial commitments made across the board in the program. BYU also brought aboard more analysts, a common practice with practically all Power Five programs.
The improved commitments prompted one staff member to say it "feels good to know we are trying to do what it takes to win."
With a difficult Big 12 schedule starting in September, BYU really had no choice but to make a greater financial investment in the football program. Most teams in the conference spare no expense to achieve success.
"Going into the Big 12 Conference, it is about taking care of your program, but also taking care of your players," Sitake said during the press conference to announce Hill's hiring. "You have to do everything you can as a program to function, and that means attract high-level players and high-level coaches. And Jay is a high-level coach."
Hill replaced Ilaisa Tuiaki, who was part of Sitake's first staff at BYU and served all seven seasons as the defensive coordinator. The 47-year-old Hill compiled a 68-39 record at Weber State, where he won four Big Sky Conference championships and leaves as the program's all-time leader in wins.
The former Ricks College and Utah defensive back served as an assistant with the Utes from 2005-13. He worked at Utah with Sitake, who started as the linebackers coach before being promoted to defensive coordinator.
Tuiaki resigned under pressure after BYU suffered through a miserable season on defense. Ed Lamb, who is now the head coach at Northern Colorado, also departed Sitake's staff.
In addition to Hill, BYU added Kelly Poppinga to the coaching staff. The former BYU linebacker will serve as the special teams coach and a defensive assistant.