New Colorado defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot will be the highest paid assistant coach in program history.

Eliot, hired last week to take over the Buffaloes' defense, has been given a three-year contract that will pay him an annual salary of $700,000.

The contract does not include any built-in escalators, but Eliot could be considered for merit raises.

Eliot is replacing Jim Leavitt, who left CU last month to take the defensive coordinator position at Oregon. Leavitt was previously the highest paid assistant in CU history, earning roughly $512,000 per season.

In the previous four seasons, Eliot worked as the defensive coordinator at Kentucky, where he made about $575,000 in 2016, according to a USA Today database of assistant coach salaries.

Eliot nearly came to CU two years ago, according to a source at CU. He was one of three finalists for the defensive coordinator job that went to Leavitt in 2015.

CU head coach Mike MacIntyre met Eliot in 2003, and the two have kept in contact over the years. MacIntyre hired Eliot, 40, in part because the two share the same philosophy and knowledge of the 3-4 defensive scheme that CU has used the past two years.

"A big part of coaching is having the same philosophy, understanding what type of scheme that he wants run and how well I understand that," Eliot said.

Eliot said the defense he ran at Kentucky is similar to what CU has been running.


"I think that schematically, it's almost to the T the same," he said. "I think that we had some personnel that maybe were better at different spots, so we're going to see what we need to adjust moving forward for us here."

Contact staff writer Brian Howell at or