At least in one way, the Process has come to Georgia.
Georgia’s football support staff expanded considerably during the final years of coach Mark Richt’s administration, and it has continued to grow under new coach Kirby Smart.
According to personnel records obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, there are now more than 40 individuals directly involved with full-time support of the football program. The number increases sharply from there when positions that have indirect involvement are included.
And it likely will increase. Smart has said he may continue to hire support personnel depending on whether he identifies a need he hasn’t already anticipated.
“The support staff is a continual process,” Smart said. “It’s not something that’s just, ‘all right we’re going to be done by this date.’ …
And they’re spending some money to do it.
According to documentation provided in compliance to a Freedom of Information Act request, UGA is spending about $5.6 million annually on football support personnel. That’s up from $5.2 million a year ago and comes after losing two significant positions the last two years.
John Eason, who was director of player development, and Dave Van Halanger, who was director of player welfare, have retired. They earned $356,479 a year between them. But Smart quickly wiped that out between internal promotions and external hires.
They don’t want to brag about it, though.
Georgia lists 50 individuals under “football staff” in its 2015 media guide. That includes Courson, three other assistant athletic trainers, two interns, two unpaid chaplains and a grounds supervisor.
The list will be longer in the 2016 guide, as has been the trend the last three or four years.
Keep those FOIA requests coming, boys.
As McGarity notes, this reflects a trend that started with Richt. Or, perhaps more accurately, when Jeremy Pruitt showed up.
“You saw a change in our numbers around 2013-14,” Georgia Athletic Director Greg McGarity said. “We had some turnover in our coaching staff. We had some new staff members coming on that saw various needs that we hadn’t seen before. That brought about a level of support that had not been seen before on campus. Mark made those recommendations and we got it done.”
Georgia’s in the process of finding out if it takes a village to raise a football program.