ORLANDO, Fla. – Success for an up-and-coming group of five football program is always a double-edged sword: the success of your program is great for growth and prosperity, but a young head coach with immense potential will attract the attention of established programs with deeper pockets.
It isn’t only the head coach at risk though, as promising coordinators or assistant coaches can be lured away by the same powers at large.
“We have some really, really talented assistants – some guys that I wouldn’t want to do my job without,” insisted Frost on Monday’s weekly availability.
“I think Danny’s leadership and President Hitt’s leadership have been tremendous, and I think they are very forward thinking in making a move to make sure that we continue the progress that we started.”
UCF Defensive Coordinator Erik Chinander has been coaching with Frost on and off since his stint at Northern Iowa in 2007. The pair has been on the same staff four times over their career at three institutions, coaching together for five years before rejoining in 2015 at Oregon – a combined eight years running together.
“When we were at Northern Iowa together we were roommates for a while,” recounted Chinander. “We just became friends and both of us were kind of lowly assistants back then, who knew he was going to be the head coach someday. Seemed to work out pretty well.”
2007-2008: Northern Iowa
2010 -2012: Oregon
Chinander left Frost once in that time span to learn at the NFL level, following Chip Kelly to the Philadelphia Eagles. When Kelly’s stint ended, it meant a return to the college ranks. Returning to Oregon was easy with his former roommate running the offense in Eugene.
“Anytime in this business, you don’t want to go somewhere that you don’t know people. Sometimes you just have to take a job, or maybe you get a chance at a dream job and you don’t know people – but when you know people, whether it’s other assistants or the head coach – it makes things easier, makes the transition easier.”
“I’ve never been a guy who has gone around looking for my next job. I think you’ve just got to the best at the job you have and then good things happen.”
Frost understands that Power Five programs will have his staff under a microscope this offseason, and has recognized the UCF Excellence Fund started by Danny White as a preemptive step in retaining his valuable staff.
Chinander won’t have to go looking – major programs are going to have him in their sights. They will be able to pay handsomely for his services, too.
FSU Defensive Coordinator Charles Kelly rakes in $833,000 a year. Virginia Tech’s Bud Foster commanded $925,000 in 2016 and sees a $25,000 increase every year. Everywhere you look in Power Five programs, top-level defensive coordinators are getting paid.
“UCF has unlimited potential, and sometimes to reach that potential you have to take both steps forward and I think Danny White has been doing that since he’s been here, trying to push this program forward and this athletic department forward,” Frost encouraged.
“If we’re going to keep those guys long term, we’ve got to make sure they have a reason to stay. There’s other things surrounding the program that I think, if we’re going to treat ourselves like a big-time football program, then we need to be able to match some of the people that are.”
Danny White’s UCF Excellence Fund is out to secure annual commitments of over $1.5 million over the next five years.
In May Coach Frost signed an extension through 2021 that bumped his season base salary to $2 million per year and increased the pool for assistant coaches by $50,000. He and his staff have made an impact already in recruiting talent around the state, Chinander chief among those responsible for the talent influx on defense.
“This is such a beautiful campus and the city of Orlando is the best college town in the state of Florida in my opinion,” insisted Coach Frost. “We’re building something pretty special here and there’s recruits everywhere around this.”
Frost’s vision is coming together rapidly on the football field, but if UCF knows that this growth could become just a nice requiem from reality if their staff is poached from under them.
Consider the excellence fund recognition that the threat is real.