To follow up on the Hugh Freeze news, Jeremy Foley has made it abundantly clear that, while he may not have settled on a new head coaching candidate yet, he’s prepared to pay the next man more than he paid Will Muschamp.
Extension talks between Freeze and Ole Miss began earlier in the season, then intensified. The Gators’ interest — an offer in the neighborhood of $4.2 to $4.3 million annually fielded by Freeze’s representatives, according to multiple sources with knowledge of the talks — helped drive Ole Miss to the $4 million mark.
As for Florida’s next move, New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels is consideration, according to one source, confirming a report by Football Scoop, although there is concern regarding McDaniels’ availability to join Florida immediately upon his hire. The Ohio native and longtime Bill Belichick assistant has not coached in college since a stint as a graduate assistant at Nick Saban’s Michigan State, and his only head coaching experience came in 2009 and 2010 with the Denver Broncos.
NFL coaches don’t come cheap. Neither will Gary Patterson. And McElwain reportedly has a significant, as in multi-million dollar, buyout that Foley would have to cover.
Muschamp and Freeze both made less than Mark Richt this season. Neither Freeze nor the new Gator head coach will be in that position in the next one. And that leaves the management of Georgia’s athletic department in an interesting position.
By my count, once the Florida hire is made, there will be exactly one SEC head coach at a public school with an annual salary less than Richt’s, Tennessee’s Butch Jones. (USA Today’s database currently lists two others making less, but Mark Stoops has already gotten a raise putting him ahead of Richt and I don’t think anyone doubts Dan Mullen is in line for a pay bump in the offseason. Of course, we don’t know what Vanderbilt pays Derek Mason, but don’t forget James Franklin was supposed to be getting Richt-type money before he left for Penn State.)
This isn’t about lobbying for a raise for Mark Richt. But what does it say about the perception of Georgia’s athletic program that Richt is paid less than his peers, despite in many cases sporting a superior resume? I suspect it reinforces a message that Jeremy Pruitt was complaining of recently.
It’s a pretty consistent piece with this, too.
Georgia is eighth nationally in scoring offense and leads the SEC, and it still would if the defensive and special teams touchdowns were subtracted. All this after losing the star tailback in the middle of the season. Bobo’s offense has been prolific for awhile now, and he also happens to be one of the staff’s better recruiters. (He ran lead on Thompson.)
Bobo and his family are eating well at $550,000 a year, but he shouldn’t be earning $300,000 less than the defensive coordinator. He’s also had chances to leave or pursue the head jobs at Southern Mississippi and Georgia Southern, and he has passed because he likes Georgia and working for Richt. But at some point, money talks, too.
I think Bobo is at $585,000 now, but Seth’s point is a valid one. Bobo is making a middle of the pack salary for an SEC coordinator, despite performing well above that level. (Two defensive coordinators who were making more were just fired from their jobs, and LSU’s Cam Cameron earns a whopping $1.3 million this season to guide LSU into scoring two touchdowns a game less than Georgia has.)
It’s clear that the athletic department has done a nice job leveraging Mark Richt’s loyalty to the institution. And maybe that will last forever. But there are only so many ways you can tip the world that your preference is to operate on the cheap before everyone becomes convinced that’s all that matters to you. And that has consequences, as Pruitt’s fretted publicly about.
And it might when it comes to finding new coaches one day. Which is something the FIRE RICHT NOW! club probably needs to factor in to its fervent hopes.