I posted when it was announced that I thought paying Rob Sale $400,000 a year to be Georgia’s next offensive line coach was something of an eye-opener. Evidently I’m not the only one who raised an eyebrow (h/t The Dawgbone) about it.
While we don’t know exactly what Sale made at McNeese State last season, we’ve been told it’s in the neighborhood of $60,000 a year. A $250,000 salary would have quadrupled his income and drubbed the non-existent FBS competition Georgia negotiated against to land Sale’s services. A number significantly less than that would have likely gotten Sale to leave McNeese State, but $250,000 to $300,000 is a fair starting salary for an SEC position coach.
The $400,000 salary Georgia offered to Sale is 33 percent more than his predecessor (according to the USA Today coaching salary database), new Colorado State offensive coordinator Will Friend. It’s nearly $25,000 more than LSU paid Grimes, a 15-year veteran in the FBS ranks with offensive line coaching experience at Boise State, Arizona State, BYU, Colorado, Auburn and Virginia Tech prior to beating out Sale for a spot on Les Miles’ staff. It’s $30,000 more than Auburn offensive line coach J.B. Grimes, a 30-year coaching veteran.
Sale will earn almost the exact same salary than Ohio State’s Ed Warinner, a 22-year veteran of coaching FBS offensive lines and the only two-time FootballScoop Offensive Line Coach of the Year winner. As it stands, Sale will rank below Alabama’s Mario Cristobal, South Carolina’s Shawn Elliott and Arkansas’ Sam Pittman, but ahead of Grimes, Ole Miss’ Matt Luke, Mississippi State’s John Hevesey and Tennessee’s Don Mahoney.
Each of the above comparisons have a decade or more of evidence that they can recruit and develop productive offensive lines at the highest level of college football. Sale has none. This is his first FBS full-time on the field job.
Okay, so his resume looks a little underqualified for that salary. But what about our old friend, supply and demand, otherwise known as the SEC coaching marketplace, as justification? Well, maybe not so much.
At the time this all played out, there were no other open Power Five offensive line coaching vacancies east of California. Hard to imagine Georgia felt they had to compete with anyone else for Sale’s services. On top of that, the number of qualified candidates extending interest in the job was surely in the dozens. This isn’t a situation where Georgia had to plop a big number on the table to win Sale’s services or pay up to attract top talent to the job. In fact, it’s the exact opposite.
So what are to make of this? Purely speculative on my part, but I can think of three things:
- I don’t think that at heart, Greg McGarity has changed his prudent ways. So somebody else with influence at B-M has decided that Mark Richt deserves a higher degree of flexibility when it comes to coaches’ compensation than he’s ever been granted before, under any AD’s watch.
- I still stand by my assumption that for whatever reason, Mark Richt really wanted Sale on his staff. Perhaps the salary was the way of getting Sale to Athens as soon as possible. Given the time of year we’re in right now, there’s only one reason for that kind of rush.
- It’s also possible that there’s some message-sending to the market going on here, along the lines of this ain’t your father’s Butts-Mehre anymore. Maybe some people are being told in not too subtle a way that going forward Georgia intends to fight hard to keep the coaches it values, so don’t waste your time fishing in Athens. If so, it’s an interesting strategy, but I doubt Jimmy Sexton cares.
What say you?