It’s about time to do a wrap-up post on the subject of whatever tension there’s been between the coaching staff and the athletic administration prior to this month’s developments, because, if nothing else, there’s been a dramatic change in how money is being spent on coaches compensation. Chip Towers does the speculative math:
Georgia’s salary pool for assistant football coaches was $3.3 million coming into this past season. That’s about to go way up.
The Bulldogs already have approved a $450,000 raise for defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt. And while contract figures are not yet available for new offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer, it’s clear he’ll earn significantly more than former OC Mike Bobo, who was making $575,000 a year.
Trying to find a verifiable data base of NFL assistant coach compensation is nearly impossible. But based on published reports, Schottenheimer was set to earn “nearly $2 million” a year back in 2009 when he was offensive coordinator for the New York Jets. It would follow that he was probably making more than that with the St. Louis Rams.
Publicly at least, Schottenheimer was in good stead with the Rams and head coach Jeff Fisher before opting to leave to accept Georgia’s coordinator position earlier this week. But between the heat on Fisher and Schottenheimer himself in St. Louis, it would indicate that Schottenheimer was seeking more security elsewhere.
To supply that, UGA will sure offer him its standard three-year contract it uses for coordinators. My guess is that would be in the range of $1.5 million a year. I would almost guarantee it would be for no less than Pruitt’s $1.3 million. So going that number, the Bulldogs are due to pay $725,000 more annually for an offensive coordinator than it did previously.
Meanwhile, as previously reported, Georgia is set to provide promotions and raises for defensive line coach Tracy Rocker and running backs coach Bryan McClendon. Like Pruitt, they were offered coaching opportunities elsewhere in 2014. They are due to make $300,000 and $250,000, respectively, this fiscal year.
So a low-balling guess of $200,000 in annual increases for those two coaches would place the salary-pool increase for football of $1.5 million for 2015. And that doesn’t include the still vacant position of offensive line coach. Will Friend earned $300,000 as Georgia’s O-line coach and running game coordinator last year.
Add in whatever pay bump Richt is scheduled to get with his latest contract extension, and you’re talking real money.
Consider that, before all these raises are set to hit the books, Georgia’s salaries for its 10 on-field coaches for football ($6.5 million) represented 6.5 percent of the athletic association’s total operating budget (approximately $99 million). And that’s obviously about to go up considerably.
Comparatively, that’s about the same as South Carolina’s (6.6 percent), slightly above Arkansas’ (6.4), well above that of Texas (5) and behind Alabama and Auburn (8 percent), according to published figures.
To which Towers observes, “All this money being thrown around certainly undercuts the notion that UGA is thrifty when it comes to football or athletics in general.”
That’s a nice straw man argument. Nobody argues that Georgia doesn’t spend money; it’s an SEC program, so that comes with the territory. (By the way, Chip, 8% of Alabama’s budget is a shitload more than 6.5% of Georgia’s. Just sayin’.) The question is whether Georgia’s athletic administration has been sensitive to market changes. And that’s a question that was highlighted by Greg McGarity’s own words.
As for assistant salaries, Georgia’s rankings of fifth in the SEC and 13th nationally seems about right to McGarity, based on results.
“That’s about where we are,” he said. “That’s about where we should be. Are we there with LSU, and Alabama and Auburn of recent years? Probably not, because they’ve done great things, they’ve played in the bigger bowls. They’ve had great success on a national level better than us. So it’s all reflective of performance.”
But offensive coordinator Mike Bobo, whose offense has set records the past few years, continues to be paid nearly $300,000 less than the school’s defensive coordinator. McGarity said that’s Richt’s decision, or at least Richt’s decision within the salary pool that he is provided each year.
“Mark has a pool of money that he allocates however he allocates,” McGarity said. “There was a significant jump made after the ’12 season for Mike. The pool is reflective of team success. You basically see where the pool is and how it ranks and where you finish. It’s all based on results.” [Emphasis added.]
Since those words were uttered, one thing has happened related to performance: Georgia beat Louisville in the Belk Bowl. It would be a stretch to call that something similar to what McGarity chalked up the salary commitments at some of Georgia’s peer institutions, so either McGarity was blowing smoke when he said that to Emerson and intended to hand out big raises to the staff all along, or something happened behind the scenes at Butts-Mehre to prompt a change in approach. You tell me which. Again, in McGarity’s own words, he tends to be reactive to coaches’ needs, rather than proactive.
“… But a lot of times it’s got to be the coach expressing to us what’s important. My question to coaches is, ‘What can I do to help you?’ And if I don’t know about it, I can’t predict what they want in that vein.”
Ask yourself if this sounds like a coach who hadn’t let his AD know what’s important.
After Schottenheimer left the room, Richt unprompted made a point to thank Georgia’s administration specifically for stepping up to bring Schottenheimer aboard and give defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt a contract extension and a bump in salary to $1.3 million.
He specifically mentioned only president Jere Morehead.
“A lot of these things are market-driven so to speak,” Richt said. “There are people that pursue our coaches at time. And I guess there’s a cost of doing business.”
I have no idea what’s led to the money being paid out now. And I really don’t care, as long as it’s an indication that B-M and the coaching staff are on the same page about what it takes to get the program where it needs to be. That’s welcome news.
Just don’t try to sell me that what we’re seeing now is business as usual. The truth is more like the immortal words of Rod Tidwell, “you’re a little slow, but you come around.”