Rob Sale and the new Georgia Way math

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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?


Filed under Georgia Football

35 responses to “Rob Sale and the new Georgia Way math

  1. The Count

    I agree. This logic the Senator outlined, coupled with the subtle “shoutout” Richt gave President Morehead, points to one thing: McGarity got called on his idiot “we don’t listen to the market” mantra and was given his marching orders.


  2. Irwin R. Fletcher

    I think the article is stupid. I doubt highly that McG said ‘our offer is $400k’ and Sale said ‘thanks!!! I would have taken much less!’ For a ‘coaching scoop’ site, they seemingly have no clue what negotiations look like.

    #1- no agent or coach in demand would take less than what the guy before him got. So $300k was probably the starting point.

    #2- I could easily see BM offering $300k and Sale’s group countering higher and it being a decision of paying him or finding a different coach. If you think you have your guy, you don’t let him walk over $100k.

    Again, the article is written from the perspective of someone who seemingly has never been in a negotiation. (And the logic that that the opportunity cost of the ‘extra’ $100k is facilities instead of profit margin/reserve is another shaky bit of conjecture)

    I do think it’s interesting…paying because that’s ‘our guy’ vs a bidding war …that is a sea change.


    • Macallanlover

      I think you nailed it, the only thig in question is the difference between $300 and $400K , so the hundred grand is only out of line with his current salary. Paying that extra had to be related to: 1) getting him on board immediately and, 2) having him within range of other SEC position coaches. It isn’t out of line by those standards.


    • As to your #1, doesn’t what’s on the resume count for something? When he came to Athens, Friend took a smaller salary than Georgia was paying Searels, for example.

      The rest of your points make sense to me. Penny wise, pound foolish. It’s just that we’ve never associated that kind of thinking with B-M too much.


      • gastr1

        Right…a guy who has never coached at FBS level would not have any right to demand what a seasoned, successful predecessor had made. The whole thing is pretty strange.


      • Irwin R. Fletcher

        Resume is for job qualifications. Salary should be based on the job, not what the guy made at the last job.

        Once you decide he’s your guy over, say, a 10 year OL coach vet…you pay him based on the job. It’s not like you say “well, the guy we don’t want has experience so we’d pay him $400k but this guy that we want doesn’t so we should pay him less…even though we want him.”

        I know that’s not how hiring always works but that’s where having an agent helps. 🙂


        • I thought salary should be based on the market.


          • Irwin R Fletcher

            I hear what you’re saying…but the price on the S/D curve has been set at $300K. You try to pay Sale anything less and you are basically asking him to take less to do the same job.

            Anyway, everyone’s focused on the demand side…one job opening and what-not….what’s to say that supply of Chris Sale’s isn’t really low? If you’ve been a candidate for the LSU job and the UGA job and you’ve got the Bama pedigree and all the whispers about how good a coach you are, your time is going to come and everyone knows it.

            I’m truly speculating on how they got to $400K…but it sure makes sense to me to think that maybe B+M made the original offer of $300K thinking that would do it and got caught off guard with a counteroffer. At that point, you’re stuck. You’ve already committed that this is the guy…so what message are you going to send to let him walk for $100K a year?


            • …but the price on the S/D curve has been set at $300K. You try to pay Sale anything less and you are basically asking him to take less to do the same job.

              Again, why wasn’t that the case when Friend was hired?

              If Sale thought a coach at McNeese State could push Georgia 25% higher in salary negotiations, he’s got some major balls. Hope that translates well into his coaching.

              I’m not arguing that Richt didn’t want him. The salary speaks loudly about that. I just doubt things went as you surmise.


              • Irwin R. Flecher

                So we agree that Richt etc. wanted him and that’s the major driver behind the salary. I think that’s probably the only thing that we can be sure about in this.

                I will say…I’m hard-pressed to think of a scenario where B+M and the coaching staff gets together to crunch salary numbers and come up with $400K as an opening salvo. (I assume that Friend would/should have gotten a raise to that number this offseason based on other raises around the program and performance of the o-line, but that’s not a reason to offer it) That’s why I’m drawing the conclusion that it had to be a counter by Sale/Agent to get to that number…but agree that it’s arguable.

                I will take one thing back…looking at some of the current guys in the SEC..when Carolina hired Shawn Elliot from Appalachian St, they paid him less than the guy before.


                Of course, the fact that Ron Morris was saying there would never be a playoff because Ellis Johnson was making $700K shows how much has changed in the 5 years since that hire.


    • South FL Dawg

      It doesn’t matter what the guy before got; as an employee it only matters what your own options are. If your only other option is making $60K at McNeese State, Georgia’s offer would be great even if it was let’s say $250K. It looks like there must have been some competition for his services. It also looks like there’s been an obvious shift in B-M that they are going to pay what it takes to get the guy they want …because no doubt there would have been other candidates available for less. The discussion about this would have been one of those times you wish you could have been a fly on the wall.


  3. Cojones

    I’m with dipso; there’s got to be more. Don’t think the “message” from B-M fits into this play and would think that Richt and Schott both wanted this because of O plans – bottom line. Makes you think of CH in the arab’s tent with the fine brace of horses to be raced in the Coliseum. It’s all about the driver of this O-line team and how he plans to make the running game go faster and efficiently with them. Don’t forget how good his scoring machine worked at McNeese St..

    Betcha money that’s where the interview headed and how his substantial line play plan dovetailed with a fresh approach to how linemen will drive the running game train for the next few years. Don’t believe two pros like Richt and Schott would hand out a big gulp in salary like that if they didn’t feel that they got the best of the bargain. We shall wait and see.


  4. Ant123

    When President Morehead was informed by some donors that we could have kept coach Bobo for a competitive salary he discussed it with coach Richt to verify its accuracy. At that time coach Richt also let President Morehead know just what a disadvantage some of the short sighted financial decisions have been to the program. President Morehead responded with basically “there will be changes”. There will be more changes coming down the line.


  5. dudemankind

    This makes me continue to think, lately, some at B-M are tired of the “you have been cheap/interfering and did not give the coach proper resources” argument, and want to have proper traction in a few years if Richt cannot deliver an SEC championship. Dunno. Maybe I am way off. Insert “you are an idiot” comment below.


  6. Mike Cooley

    So, assuming you are correct and mcG hasn’t had a change of heart, who is putting the gun to his head and how did it happen? I’m not saying you’re wrong. All I’m saying is, if it is Morehead or a group of influential donors (which seems more likely) what finally made them get off their cans and force this change for the better? Bobo? That seems to be the obvious answer but supposedly money wasn’t what pushed Bobo out of Athens but a chance to be a head coach. I’ve talked to some who believe that Richt is the one who brought all this on by reaching out to so,e powerful people after finally reaching the end of his patience with McG.


    • South FL Dawg

      This is just me but I don’t think McG ever had the final say in salaries. He reported to Adams who also must have been a cheapskate, except of course when it came to paying his wife and himself. Morehead is apparently different.


    • dudemankind

      Good question. My completely wild guess is that the gun to the head would be the lost to Florida this season, for various reasons, and that the boosters were behind it. That Florida loss was pretty friggin bad. Really bad. As in “what are you doing down there?”…. bad.


  7. 69Dawg

    The problem I see is with the RB coach. He is the Recruiting Coordinator and yet his salary is still low IMHO. I really don’t care what position group he coaches I care about his recruiting.


    • SAtownDawg

      first thing I thought when I saw Sale’s salary…we have a coach who has proven results making less than the new hire….hope it doesn’t create problems because McClendon is an one of the best coaches on staff


  8. That’s a lot of money for a guy with no coaching/recruiting experience at this level but it also makes sense if Richt and co really wanted him. At the same time, this also leaves them on the hook if he bombs. All that said…we have the money and its not like our SEC competition hasn’t done crazier. Do Jones and Freeze really deserve championship money with no where near championship results? Imo, no, but my opinion doesn’t matter. The only opinion that matters is that of the people at their respective schools. They have to live with the results….good or bad.

    My only concern, as far as our hires are concerned, is IF we made certain hires and paid certain money based on the grumblings. Or even rushed into these things. As hard as I’ve been on McGarity, it’s still solely up to he and Richt. Personally, I don’t care how much money any given booster gives they shouldn’t have any say when it comes to hiring, firing or pay. UT is still trying to crawl out of a hole partially caused by caving to boosters.

    I’m really not even concerned with Sale’s pay. I’m more concerned about whether or not we rushed to hire a “big” or “known” name(Schottenheimer) because so many always go on about how we have to hire a “big” or “known” name. Not that I feel it was a bad hire but I was on board with the guy from ECU. The hire just caught me totally off guard when, just days before, we heard about interviews with 3 guys whose names were everything except Schottenheimer. Anyway…you’re taking a chance no matter who you hire. I just want the people doing the hiring to be those paid to do so, not some over-opinionated CEO who gets a say just because he donated some large sum of money. Best I can tell, 95% of us would likely Tennessee the hell out of the program. Myself included.


  9. Lrgk9

    I think the Pool O’MickyG’s Money statement was used against McGarity.

    UGA took a look at what the aforesaid Pool O’Money is for other coaching staffs in the SEC and we bumped up ours to a more competitive size with a deeper end. Now Richt get’s to allocate it the way he sees fit according to MickyG’s previous statements. Ergo – case closed.

    BTW – McClendon did get a bump to $400K or more.


  10. W Cobb Dawg

    We currently have one (1) verbal OL recruit who has the grades to gain entry to UGA. With less than 3 weeks to go til signing day, CMR’s 15th recruiting class might be his worst for OLs. And the past 14 OL classes haven’t been anything to write home about. We actually may end up signing/enrolling 6+ DEs, but only 1 offensive lineman! I wish Sale luck. Much of our future success seems to have been laid entirely on his shoulders.


    • PTC DAWG

      We have 17 returning OL, per the roster…but always good to get more..


      • AlphaDawg

        Of those 17 OL on the roster 4 will be senior/5th yr SR next year, of the remaining 13, 5 are walk ons, so we really only have 7 scholly O-linemen. We signed only 3(really 2 one year because Seymore didn’t qualify) OL each of the last 3 years and 6 OL 4 years ago. Only signing 2 (counting Seymore) gives me plenty of worry. The linemen we sign this class will contribute in 2 years. We need more big uglys and need at least 4 every recruiting cycle.


  11. Keese

    The guy is unproven. Has ZERO experience recruiting and more importantly evaluating talent in the SEC.

    Mark my words, this is how you foster feelings of resentment and misgiving among a coaching staff. It makes ZERO sense.

    McGarity said Richt has control over how salaries are divided up within the staff. My best guess is that the defensive coaches salary increase played a part.


  12. rchris

    What about Lilly, Ball Ekeler et al.? Doesn’t this impact the way they look at their compensation?


  13. i will add one more comment to the discussion. A long time ago is wanted to hire a person who was very sharp and would have done a great job. I wanted to offer her a very good salary to get her. My boss said to me “you pay the job, not the person”. She may have been outstanding in that job, but that position just did not pay that much. So if OL coaches make about 400K in the SEC, that is what Sales should make. If he were so great that he would justify a million a yr then he would qualify to be an OC not an OL coach. If you could get away with 250K then he probably is not qualified to be an OL coach in the SEC. I realize there are always exceptions to this.


  14. A long time ago I wanted to hire


  15. It’s great to see a University President who’s a “Georgia Man,” without the added agenda to become NCAA President. Now, let’s GATA!!!


  16. HobnailedBoots

    Maybe that’s what the price is to get an assistant to come ride a sinking ship these days.