You got to spend money to make championships, a final observation.

I’m not sure everyone completely groks the point I’m trying to make in my recent series of posts about the new NCAA recruiting regime and how Georgia is currently facing it.  I’m not arguing that Butts-Mehre needs to import the Process and turn itself into Tuscaloosa East.  Nor am I arguing that Greg McGarity should morph into some slightly less profligate, more sensible version of Mike Hamilton.

What I am saying is that there seem to be two realities bearing down the road to remaining a dominant player in the SEC – and, yes, Virginia, a team that’s played in back-to-back SECCGs qualifies as such – and programs that choose to disregard them do so at their own peril.  More and more money continues to flow into conference schools’ coffers, and since the major labor costs (the players) are controlled, there are only so many places to direct the tsunami.  The new recruiting regime, like it or not, presents such an opportunity.  Kevin Steele is very good at exactly what Alabama wants from the position he just filled; spending the money given the context of the times makes sense to the folks running the ‘Bama athletic department.  Greg McGarity isn’t convinced about the wisdom of a decision like that.

Who knows, maybe he’s right.  But here’s the thing, as I mentioned before.  The conference is already well into an arms race when it comes to assistant coaching contracts and Georgia’s taken its sweet time recognizing that reality.  The school has been lucky that Mark Richt is an attractive head coach to work for, but in this day and age, loyalty only goes so far.

Let me illustrate my concern with the latest example of Gawd’s way of letting us know that the SEC has too much money.

That’s Cam Cameron, who has managed to parlay being fired from his last offensive coordinator job into being hired by his good friend to run the same offensive scheme that LSU has run for years, give or take a little Crowton craziness.  But not just merely hired.  In 2014, Cameron, who hasn’t coached in college in over a decade, will become the highest paid offensive coordinator in the SEC.  (Unless another school does something even farther out there, of course.)

That’s all well and good, you may say.  LSU’s business is its own.  But if you’re Greg McGarity, here’s the question you’ve got to be asking yourself today:  if Cam Cameron is worth a three-year, $3.4 million contract, how much is Mike Bobo worth?

Now I’m not arguing that’s fair, or that it’s not crazy.  I think Cameron’s contract borders on the ridiculous.  But that doesn’t change that it’s reality.  And as much as McGarity may resist, it’s something he’ll have to factor into his dealings with an assistant coach who’s directed one of the top ten offenses in college and is an excellent recruiter.  Sure, Bobo has reason to be loyal to his alma mater and the man who gave him a real shot.  But how long are you going to keep him on the farm, so to speak, once he’s seen contracts like Cameron’s out there?

In terms of coping financially with the world as it is, the new era of recruiting being ushered in isn’t really much different.  And if you can’t undo the rules change (McGarity’s first choice), ignoring the consequences in favor of a prettier bottom line may seem like the prudent thing to do in the short term, but if it turns out that devoting more resources in this area has legs, Georgia’s going to be playing catch up.  Again.  And not just with Alabama.

So the choice isn’t saying Saban or Bust! today.  It’s simply being proactive to the extent of keeping your options open, as opposed to taking a knee-jerk, OMG, my precious profit margin! approach to the situation.  That’s all I’m asking for here.

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53 Comments

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53 responses to “You got to spend money to make championships, a final observation.

  1. Jax

    In short, spend the money judiciously, but please don’t be cheap. The dollars spent on the right people will be dwarfed by the returns. Stop thinking of it as a expense and start considering it as an investment. No one questions Mal Moore’s investment in Nick Saban, at least not anymore.

    As a wise man once said, don’t step over dollars to get to pennies.

  2. Dog in Fla

    “arms race when it comes to assistant coaching contracts”

    No kidding

    http://blogs.miaminewtimes.com/riptide/2013/02/mario_cristobal_hired_away_fro.php

  3. 202dawg

    “and, yes, Virginia, a team that’s played in back-to-back SECCGs qualifies as such”

    I think you meant Georgia but, hey, it’s your BBQ

  4. Silver Creek Dawg

    I could see Bobo getting a contract similar to Grantham (3 yrs, $2.5 million).

    I could also see the Bobo haters going apoplectic over it…

  5. Cojones

    Give Bobo the money plus money for his assistants. I hears your rant, Senator. And agrees. Not only did they give the O asst the money at LSU, but the coonasses gave their HC, who made over 1 M a raise that was higher than the deferred raise given to Richt. This to a coach who had a poorer record than Richt this last season.

    I have a new target for possible monetary mismanagement of funds for a competitive football team. The old money crowd who keep whispering in the ear of Tommy Lawhorne (and other Regents) and using him as a proxy to eventually get rid of Richt. This downward pull on the program : I think it’s time the “wink-wink” crap left the barn and visited elsewhere, like Costa Rica. How will you trust and believe in any AD that consorts with opened-door aspersions meant to reach the alums in a whisper campaign? It was not the best leadership moment of either person and it should have been beneath their dignity. Counting Ws and Ls like there is no endeavor attached; like there is no team reasoning or coaching involved or injuries that can be tied together as a program’s reason for success or nonsuccess. If we had lost Richt and Co, I dare say we would be looking at Tenn’s situation last year. The nonunderstanding of events that people link to Richt and say he is personally responsible for is ludicrous and worthy of our disdain.

    • Well put. Richt has shown that he can self-reflect and self-correct when it comes to problems with his program. That already puts him head and shoulders above nearly every other head coach in major college football. He is a good recruiter, a good coach, runs a clean program, and he has proven that he can take his team to the heights of college football. He hasn’t yet reached the mountain top, but he doesn’t seem incapable either. The right confluence of players, schedule, and luck are all that separates him from the mountain peak that such highly successful coaches as Larry Coker, Mack Brown, and Gene Chizik have all managed to reach.

      As far as the assistant coaches go… I still believe Bobo is one of the best QB coaches in football. He is obviously a good recruiter. Last year he had a really successful year as the OC. He deserves a small raise for that. If he sustains it and performs well in 2013, he deserves another, more substantial raise. If he sustains it in 2014 after losing Murray, he deserves a significantly larger raise. His offenses have been above average with the exception of last season when it exploded. If 2012 was the beginning of a new trend (and I certainly hope it is) and not just an outlier, then the man should get paid handsomely. But, I don’t think Georgia should get in the business of handing one-hit wonders elite contracts just because their contemporaries feel the need to do so.

      • But, I don’t think Georgia should get in the business of handing one-hit wonders elite contracts just because their contemporaries feel the need to do so.

        I understand the sentiment, but the risk you run is that you lose somebody qualified because you were slower to react than one of your competitors… and then have to go out in the same marketplace to find a replacement.

        • If someone were to offer Bobo $1M per year to move this year, would you match it? Where do you draw the line?

          If he made $300K last year, I could see a bump up to $500K for 2013. If he repeats in 2013, maybe go to $750K. If he does it three straight years, including a QB transition, then I could understand elite, $1M money. But, you can’t jump to elite money after one excellent year, can you?

          • Good question. I suppose it would depend on the replacement cost to find someone to fill Bobo’s shoes as a coach and a recruiter.

            Don’t forget that they wound up paying Grantham a helluva lot more than they were paying Martinez. And at this point I think you’d have to say that Bobo’s better at his job than was Willie.

    • Dog in Fla

      “If we had lost Richt and Co, I dare say we would be looking at Tenn’s situation last year.”

      Raylan Goff is offended by that remark and thinks that, while you’re good, you’ve got to get buttah and buttah with analogies or metaphors or :) or whatever they are because he’s known SOD since he was knee-high and there ain’t no way he’s losing to him in anything, even losing, because that would be ludicrous, preposterous and ridiculous

      • Mayor of Dawgtown

        Let’s have a dose of reality here. UGA ain’t sinking to the bottom of the SEC East if Bobo , or for that matter CMR, should leave. People badmouth Donnan but if you throw out his first season (5-6) to get the Ray-Ray outta the team he had about the same winning percentage as CMR for his last 4 seasons in Athens. The Goof years were an aberration. That said, pay the man (Bobo)–he’s doing a good job. I have said repeatedly that the chintziness at UGA comes from that carpetbagger Adams and when he leaves hopefully it will end.

        • Skeptic Dawg

          I would like to believe that Adams is the driving force behind UGA athletics being cheap. However, I am beginning to believe that he is merely one cog in the machine. A very large cog. I hope things change drasticly once he is gone. But I am now beginning to think McGarity is part of this issue as well. Look no further than our baseball team and Perno. Why in the world is he still leading the baseball program? I hate to admit it, but I am leaning more and more towards your train of thought: UGA from top to bottom simply is not committed to winning.

  6. AthensHomerDawg

    He was fired in week 14? and that was because of the Redskins loss. Personalities. Ravens won the Super Bowl. He is a good OC. Make no mistake about that. Even if he was fired and hasn’t coached college ball in awhile. He had a lot to do with JF development.

    “He was previously the offensive coordinator of the Baltimore Ravens of the NFL, head coach of the Miami Dolphins of the NFL, offensive coordinator of the San Diego Chargers, and head coach at Indiana University. Ravens head coach John Harbaugh announced Cameron as the new offensive coordinator on January 23, 2008. With his teams securing a better than .600 winning percentage with him as offensive coordinator (100-57 regular season record in 10 seasons with San Diego and Baltimore), he is one of the winningest coordinators in NFL history.”

    • He was fired in week 14? and that was because of the Redskins loss. Personalities. Ravens won the Super Bowl.

      Personalities? After, what, 4-5 years?

      He was fired and then the Ravens won the SB is a time frame that can cut in one of two ways.

      • AthensHomerDawg

        OK. “Personalities” might be a bit lame…. but so is “That’s Cam Cameron, who has managed to parlay being fired from his last offensive coordinator job into being hired by his good friend to run the same offensive scheme that LSU has run for years, give or take a little Crowton craziness. ”

        “Following a 2–14 record in 2011, Caldwell was fired on January 17, 2012.”
        That’s Jim Caldwell, who managed to parlay being fired from his last Head Coach job into being hired as a quarterbacks coach to run the same offensive scheme that Cameron has run for the last several seasons.
        JC was 2-1 in the end…… and it all seemed to me like a head move per the man in charge to spark a team that had languished. We had a db that did the very same thing. LSU picked up a fired DC and has managed quite well with him. Anyway, enjoyed your post. Thanks.

        • Simple question: do you think Cameron’s worth $1 million+/year as an offensive coordinator, given the current salaries for the position in the conference?

          • With NFL head coaching experience to use? Yes, I’d say so. Now if you’re asking about his quality as an OC, I’m not as good a estimator on that. But with his resume, I think $1m salary is probably low, considering he could just as easily be a head coach at a South Florida, Kentucky, etc and making twice that.

            That doesn’t have anything to do with what we “should” pay Bobo either. Bobo isn’t a free agent for hire, and he doesn’t have a resume of NFL head coach and several other stops. He’s not going anywhere but to a head coaching gig, so why bid against ourselves? If we’re spending money, I don’t see any need to give Bobo what he “should” get, or would be able to command on the open market. He’s just fine on much less.

            If we’re spending money, hire a second Daryl Jones (maybe with the name recognition of Hines Ward). Hire “video analyst”s, and nutritionists and off field staff. Maybe invest in putting a full track complex off Milledge, turning the current track into an indoor practice area and making that entire block S&C and practice facility for football. We’ve got better things to spend that extra $2-300,000 Bobo could command as a free agent vs. what he can live more than comfortably on in the only home he’s known since Thomasville.

            • Have you seen Cameron’s record as a head coach?

              • I didn’t say I’d want him hired for my school. But looking at the inbred nature of high level coaching (sees Charlie Weiss at Kansas, Bob Davie at New Mexico, etc), can you deny he wouldn’t get a look at a lesser school if he wanted it? The man has shown success as an OC too, at San Diego, before Baltimore. He can recruit “NFL experience” to kids. His resume makes him cost more than Bobo, even if his ability doesn’t justify that worth.

                • Reasonable point about Weis, but I don’t think Cameron’s looked upon in the same light (not that Weis deserves it, either). Davie isn’t being paid anywhere near what Cameron is. And that’s my point here – what AD in his right mind is going to lay out that kind of jack for a guy who was incessantly mocked for the job he did when he was at Miami?

                  I’m not saying he couldn’t find work. Just that his longstanding friendship with Miles helped him land a terrific deal that he couldn’t obtain anywhere else.

              • AthensHomerDawg

                “How can you be so obtuse?”
                He wasn’t hired as a head coach. He was hired as an OC at LSU. He will do very well as an OC there.
                “he is one of the winningest coordinators in NFL history.”

                • I think you’re missing the point to our discussion.

                  Where else in the college ranks is he going to get the kind of money LSU is paying him, either as a head coach or an OC?

                  “he is one of the winningest coordinators in NFL history.”

                  And he is one of the losingest head coaches in NFL history. So what to either?

                  • Dog in Fla

                    At least he beat the Ravens and got Tony Sparano the first pick

                    “His 2007 Dolphins lost 13 consecutive games to start the season, before beating the Baltimore Ravens in overtime on December 16 for their first and only win. The Dolphins ended the 2007 season in last place in the AFC East with a 1-15 record, the worst record in the NFL that year and the worst in the team’s 40-year history.”

          • AthensHomerDawg

            Apparently, Les does. He looks pretty savvy with the Chavis hire. Chavis will approach a million by the time Cameron gets there. The OC salaries are just trending where the DC salaries are. But over all the salary ceilings are getting ridiculous. The point I was trying to make is that Cameron is not a bad OC. And he is not. Bobo for all the crayon meanness is not a bad OC. I might be too pro coach sometimes. I have been lucky to meet and get to know so many. Bobo’s Dad was a coach at Stephens County for a year and I had the opportunity to chat him up on occasion. It was pretty insightful.
            just sayin’

  7. Always Someone Else's Fault

    Miles and Richt have remarkably similar profiles as head coaches in terms of records: 113-42 versus 118-40 as head coaches, 47-17 (73%) SEC versus 67-29 (70%) SEC. Yes, Miles has played for it all twice and won one. Richt is two plays away from playing for it all twice. From that perspective, McGarity has to feel he’s getting better value for his investment than LSU. Similarly, I am sure McGarity looks at the pay/production ratio he’s getting out of Bobo and laughs when he compares it to the pay/production ratio LSU has received from its offensive offense.

    Face it, Georgia is going to have to get burned to change its stance on this one.

    • Dog in Fla

      Are we or are we not in a wide-stance and, if so, does it mean that once Bobo is hired away, we’re not going to get Jim Caldwell?

  8. Macallanlover

    Remaining rational on compensation issues in tumultuous times is difficult because you have to live with some over reactive decisions when calm returns. And calm will return to CFB as incoming gold bars from the WWL will not last forever. As others have said, bad decsions from others shouldn’t cause you to jump over the cliff too but UGA started well behind the curve in regards to salaries, primarily because Vince too mistook cheap for frugal.

    McGarity and Company should hit our assistants pretty good ASAP because we are in no danger of blowing past the prevailing market rate. Bobo, in particular, deserves a substantial increase, but I also think we have to protect/reward our position coaches too. In my corporate life we regularly checked starting/mid/max averages of comparable positions with other Fortune 100 companies (particularly similar. It wasn’t our desire to be at the top, around the 90th percentile was the goal; at that level employees are generally happy regarding salary and there are very few who can come after your talent with dollars alone. I think UGA should set their salary budget to be around 3rd to 4th in the SEC. That keeps you from chasing every fool out there but keeps you in the upper echelon….then reward exceptional performance with bonuses.

  9. Bulldog Joe

    McGarity is facing his “Bobby Dodd” moment.

    Either step up and compete or get the hell out of the SEC.

    • Scott W.

      Today I learned two things. What grok means and that irrationality is still alive and well in the Bulldog fan base.

      • Dog in Fla

        Somewhere in another dimension, a little tear comes to one or more of the eyes of Robbie Heinlein, Tony Bagels Burgess and Stan the Man Kubrick, each of whom still can’t grok the idea that they’re undead when irrationality is still alive and well in the Bulldog fan base and Cam Cameron, after getting laid off by the Ravens and Dolphins, is getting $3,900,000 from Das Hat.

  10. We are a damn non profit. There is no return to shareholders. The rainy day fund is set. What the hell are we posting a profit for? It makes no sense

    If we want to roll more cash into the UGA Academic Endowment, then fine. Lets have that discussion. But sitting on cash like this. It just isn’t strategic.

    There is absolutely zero evidence of a strategic vision or plan from McGarity. None. What does he want us to be other than the stated goal of competitive?

    I’m so unimpressed. Our bball coach and baseball coaching situations are these long drawn out ordeals …. Basically death by apathy and paper cuts. Yet he blisters the gym dog coach….only to replace him with a person with an hilariously I impressive resume.

    I just don’t see evidence of a plan.

    If you don’t know where you are going how will you know when you get there.

  11. Tommy

    I feel like my thinking on this is in transition. For about 10 years, I’ve felt like every one of these reports about UGA’s huge profit margins struck me as antagonistic to fans. We’re not getting dividends, or a break on tickets. The AD isn’t substantially reinvesting in the product and it isn’t kicking back any of its surplus to help the University from which it gets its brand. The $70M in reserves and $20M+ operating margin seemed like our unspent donations were being flaunted in front of us. Obviously, I’d feel better about supporting a program that’s investing in championships, a la the Yankees.

    But presenting this…
    “More and more money continues to flow into conference schools’ coffers, and since the major labor costs (the players) are controlled, there are only so many places to direct the tsunami.”
    … as a problem troubles me.

    We’re not the Clippers, as we don’t appear to be starving the program. As it relates to reinvesting in the product, the only places to direct the tsumani are areas where we know empirically there’s a problem. I think this has been McGarity’s logic. Fourth quarter lapses were a problem, so we shored up S&C and nutrition.

    But what else can you say, using a reasonable baseline of data, is truly a problem? Recruiting? Whatever you want to say about the 2013 class, they haven’t played a down. The 2011 and 2012 classes seemed solid (at least in terms of filling our needs with top targets). Would hiring an equivalent of Kevin Steele have given us Montravius Adams or Alvin Kamara? Maybe, but should missing out on those players cause us to rethink our org chart?

    At some point, we’re going to have to spend on coaches. Wisconsin probably thought they had a lifer like Bielema for as long as they wanted him, something to keep in mind with Bobo. And I wouldn’t plan on having Grantham in 2014.

    Still, for all we know, Alabama is swatting a fly with a Cadillac. What we know is that we’ve gone from being a program that couldn’t stay on the field with them four years ago to one that was five yards shy of beating them on a big stage, all while running a much leaner organization.

    • This is more in line with the discussion I’ve been having with myself on the topic.

      I don’t know how this plays out. In fact, for all I know, McGarity’s successful in leading a drive to roll the change back to the previous status quo. But if he’s not, do you feel confident that he’s got a plan to deal with where things would head? I’d like to think so, but that gut reaction in the NYT article about his profit margin being affected makes me think he’s got nothing right now but a hope that he doesn’t have to do anything.

  12. Will Trane

    What is the payroll package that Alabama rolled out for their new offensive line coach? Their old went to the NFL Eagles. Bama received a lot of accolades for Saban and their D cordinator. But for me, their money in the bank guy was their O line coach. Think not watch the BCS game and a few other the past couple of years. And just think Grantham could have gone to the Eagles. If he had, damn what a staff.
    Now Senator what do you think is the value of a Cristabol at Bama ( new hire) and a Grantham ( who did a hellavu job against Bama in the SECGC)?
    But I will agree with you I think McGarity does not have a sense of urgency about assistants (that is where the rubber meets the road…Daytona Week, okay), their value, their pay, and their contracts. Dawgs do not need to keep up this game of top assistants leaving after the bowl season and in the heat of recruiting. But did Bama’s O line coach hurt them in this season recruiting. After all Tunsil went to Ole Miss at the last second.
    If there are some coaching issues at UGA it is in the men’s big three…baseball and basketball…stuck in place for the moment.

  13. Hogbody Spradlin

    Questions:
    — What is the official rationale for keeping the large reserve “on reserve.” I’m sure everybody has opinions, but what does the athletic department actually say when it explains in depth?
    — Is the reserve large enough that it could self sustain as an endowment, and grow off its investment results?
    — What is the average annual profit for the football program? Seems easier to justify increasing current expenditures from current revenues than dipping into reserves.

  14. Bevo

    Excellent post on the topic with very reasonable conclusions. I hope our AD takes these views into account.

  15. 79Dawg

    To some extent, this brave new world of unending riches and wide open rules feels a lot like English football in the mid-90s after the Premier League was formed and players had a right to free agency…. I just hope we don’t end up like Arsenal – a historic club, a good run of success (but can’t win the big one), a decent, honest, likeable manager, but the Board won’t put up the money to compete in the global arms race of astronomical transfer fees….
    As much as I would hate to see it, at this point, it would almost be better if everyone just acknowledge that D-1 football is a semi-pro, development league for the NFL, made everything wide open (i.e. have as many coaches as you want, pay the players, stop pretending that they even have to go to “all online” classes even), and just chunk the last vestiges of amateurism in the trash heap. While I think that would hurt the sport in the long-run, the BS of trying to walk the line between semi-pro and amateurism is making a mockery of it as well…

  16. Lrgk9

    Senator and Mcallanlover – your reasoned, top 25% of the payroll pack and reinvestment strategies might well payoff except for the Bon Vivant style of Dr Adams and the play from behind long volley game of McGarity. Alas, am afraid you both may be strangers in a strange land on this topic.

  17. Macallanlover

    After reading more comments on the subject, due to the non-profit status of UGA football, I would revise my thoughts to be more aggressive on salaries. I am not for wasteful, nonsensical spending but given the battlefield we face in CFB I am not in favor of losing a gunbattle to anyone because we are sitting on an arsenal of bullets or wasting in non-athletic areas. Use the monies to help fund the other athletic programs, facility upgrades, etc., but spend all the money on athletics as GM deems necessary. Would rather improve Sanford, or reduce ticket prices instead of throwing it down the money hole of academia. Add more medical equipment, trainers, bathrooms, chairback seats, airplanes, indoor practice facility, etc.