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.
Cameron to receive $600K in 2013, $1.3 million in 2014, $1.5 million in 2015 — an average of $1.13 million per year.—
Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerCBS) February 20, 2013
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.