Daily Archives: November 27, 2016

Today, in athletic department leadership

Oregon football’s fallen off a cliff since Chip Kelly left, finishing 4-8 this season.  You’d think the fate of its head coach would be front and center right now for the AD, but Stewart Mandel suggests he’s got bigger fish to fry.

I have no idea if that’s meant to be comforting, but if I’m Mullens’ boss, and things really are in limbo coaching wise, I think I’d be making a polite suggestion about looking into conference calling.


Filed under BCS/Playoffs, Pac-12 Football

Money doesn’t make you smarter.

I like a lot of what Dan Wolken writes, but this piece of his I read yesterday while at the game strikes me as coming off trying too hard to make something out of not much.

Maybe coaching searches just aren’t what they used to be.

In the last 12 months, there have been three mega-openings in college football with another on Saturday when Texas parted ways with Charlie Strong. And here is a snapshot of how those transitions played out:

►Southern California, with all of its cachet and unlimited resources, hired two-time interim Clay Helton with no full-time head coaching experience.

►Georgia fired Mark Richt after 145 wins in 15 seasons and immediately went to alum Kirby Smart without conducting a real coaching search.

►LSU, with two months to get its ducks in a row, settled on interim Ed Orgeron, who was a spectacular failure at Ole Miss less than a decade ago.

►And Texas, which three years ago had its sights set on Nick Saban, is likely to hire a coach in Tom Herman who lost this season to Navy, SMU and Memphis.

It’s apparent now that a market correction has arrived in college football. The explosion in salaries for head coaches and top assistants has had a two-pronged effect on the coaching search industry.

First, whereas it may have cost a school $3 million or $4 million to get rid of its coaching staff five years ago, it’s now often a $10 million-or-more proposition, which is enough to make boosters and administrators balk.

Second, with the gold-plated contracts coaches are now enjoying, it is simply quite difficult for any school to put together a package attractive enough to get an established, successful coach to move. In the last five hiring cycles, only eight Power Five schools have been able to poach from another Power Five program, with the most notable examples being Arkansas’ hire of Bret Bielema from Wisconsin and Nebraska luring Mike Riley from Oregon State.

Okay, he does qualify that with a “maybe” at the beginning, but look at those examples he lists.  The first three are idiosyncratic:  Helton was hired by Pat Haden, whose run of bad choices to succeed Pete Carroll was remarkable; the Smart and Orgeron hires were driven more by booster preferences than dollars (remember that LSU’s first tack was to throw money at Jimbo Fisher in an attempt to lure him back from FSU).

Further, it appears from the general scuttlebutt that Alleva’s search turned to keeping Orgeron after becoming peeved that Tom Herman wanted to play LSU off against Texas.  Similarly, McGarity swung hard for Smart after the latter began a flirtation with South Carolina over its coaching vacancy.  That, too, is more about ego than money.

As far as Herman goes, Texas opened the checkbook much as it did for Charlie Strong, who, it should be noted, is leaving Austin with a whopping buy out.  So there’s still plenty of money out there, at least with college football’s wealthier institutions.

Where I do think Wolken’s on more solid ground is with his last point.  In an era when big school college athletic departments are awash in money, it’s not hard to come up with enormous compensation packages for top coaches.  Urban Meyer and Nick Saban aren’t going to leave for greener pastures because there aren’t greener pastures than the ones they already graze in.

That being said, there aren’t that many Meyers and Sabans out there to chase in the first place.  What’s going to happen isn’t that somebody’s going to offer Nick Saban $10 million a year to leave Tuscaloosa.  Somebody’s going to offer a mid-major hot name like Tom Herman half that to leave Houston and then bump him up if he turns out to be a success so he won’t be poached down the road.  If it doesn’t work out, it’s not like Texas can’t afford the buyout.

Similarly, Kirby Smart in his first year is being paid almost what Mark Richt was making after fifteen years on the job.  There’s plenty of money out there and athletic directors are still dealing with the likes of Jimmy Sexton.  That’s some market correction, if you ask me.


Filed under College Football, It's Just Bidness

Setting the tone

Well, I see this morning that several Gamecock players had their fee-fees hurt by some of Clemson’s actions towards the end of last night’s blowout.

The 56-7 loss stung plenty for the South Carolina football team.

The way Clemson acted in the final minutes, including late timeouts and showboating, was a step too far, USC players said.

Multiple Gamecocks players directly expressed their displeasure at the way the Tigers finished out Saturday’s Palmetto Bowl. The word “classless” was thrown around, as several South Carolina players said this one will stick in their craws for a while.

“I feel like they kind of disrespected us at the end,” safety D.J. Smith said. “Holding the ball and doing all that showboating. I feel like it wasn’t really classy, but it is a rivalry game. It’s going to stick with all of us and we’re going to remember.”

Wide receiver Terry Googer was visibly upset coming off the field, having to be directed to the locker room before coming out to sing the alma mater.

“Classless is not a strong enough word to describe the actions!” Googer tweeted.

The Gamecocks were on the wrong end of a 56-7 score. Clemson started pulling starters with more than 18 minutes to go. The Tigers used back-to-back timeouts to give seniors and departing juniors a curtain call as the game wound down.

“That last couple minutes was pretty disrespectful,” tight end Hayden Hurst said. “We’ve got a year to think about that and let it sink in.”

Running back A.J. Turner said coach Will Muschamp in the postgame told the team he didn’t like what Clemson did.

Did he now.  I wonder how the team took Boom’s classy act before the game’s start.

“Tensions higher”? Color me shocked.


Filed under 'Cock Envy, Agent Muschamp Goes Boom, Clemson: Auburn With A Lake

Where I’m at, 2016 season edition

Some of you got the point I was making in my last post of the day after yesterday’s game, but plenty of others didn’t.  I thought to be fair, it might be worth spending some time fleshing things out so maybe you’d have a better understanding of what I was getting at.

For starters, I write a fan blog about Georgia football.  It should go without saying that I’m a supporter of the Georgia football program.  Kirby Smart is Georgia’s head football coach; therefore, I’m a supporter of Kirby Smart.

What I am not, though, is emotionally attached to Smart’s future at Georgia.  That’s a disease Mark Richt cured me of several seasons ago.  Nor do I see the school’s head football coach as the personification of Georgia athletics.

Some of you, like many fans I’ve known over the years, do accept one or both of those points of view.  That’s totally cool with me.  It’s your financial and emotional investment to make, after all, and it’s not for me to say you’re wrong about that.  All I ask in interpreting my remarks about the program after yesterday’s disappointing loss is for a little reciprocity.

With that in mind, here’s what I meant last night, broken down into small bites.

  • After his first full regular season as a head coach, Kirby Smart remains a blank slate.  I’ve seen nothing from the way the season played out to suggest that he’ll be either a flop or a raging success over the longer haul.  With regard to the first point, it’s true that he’s battling certain structural flaws, some generated by Richt, some by Butts-Mehre, that were never going to make 2016 an easy time.  With regard to the latter, it’s hard to look at what happened yesterday and sense that he’s unequivocally got the program turned around and headed in the right direction.  He’s a first-year head coach who, in his own words, is trying to turn around a battleship.  On the job training is generally a messy business even in the best of working environments.  It’s simply too soon to tell how much Smart’s learned from his initial experience.
  • In my mind, it has been from the very beginning prudent to take the approach that Smart’s hire is a different beast from the process that led to Smart’s hire.  (If you don’t believe me, take a little time to go back and read a few posts here from the week following Richt’s dismissal.)  I don’t see how anyone can argue with a straight face that a timeline that included outright panic by the decision makers over Georgia athletics when it came to light that Smart was discussing the opening at South Carolina indicated that the decision to make Kirby Smart Georgia’s next head coach came as the result of patient and thoughtful analysis of how to improve the status of Georgia football.  If that’s not problematic for you, I can only believe that’s because you’re so enamored with the twin decisions to fire Richt and hire Smart that the means to those ends simply don’t matter.  At least not for now.
  • Greg McGarity, as I warned at the time, has yet to make a slam dunk coaching hire in any sport.  If you’re going to be optimistic about Smart’s future, I don’t see how it can be as a result of McGarity’s track record to date.  Further, in many ways, Butts-Mehre remains the same kind of place that fostered the stagnation that generated the coaching change in the first place.  In a time when every SEC school is rolling in TV dough, why is it that McGarity can’t move on a host of major improvements, things Georgia sports need to remain competitive, such as baseball facilities and an IPF, without first demanding supporters pony up most of the expense as a condition for proceeding?  What kind of message does that send about the athletic department’s priorities?  How many of you know that on many things regarding the football program, Smart doesn’t report directly to McGarity, but to another person in the athletic department?  Vince Dooley set the template at B-M, and it’s worth considering that each of his two successors as athletic director both trained under him.
  • Finally, what appalls me the most about this year is the cynicism of the people who run the athletics department.  A bunch that can’t bring themselves to move on a host of issues that are fan-friendly concerns, like stadium facilities and the on-campus tailgating experience, find themselves able to move at light speed to capitalize on the honeymoon Smart ushered in with the state legislature for a law that makes it easier for McGarity to ignore the outside world and, of course, with the fan base by jacking up the cost of attendance.  Give the man credit for knowing to strike while the iron was hot, as I doubt he’ll get the same reception from either group in 2017.

As I’ve said before, Kirby Smart is on his own.  The people who hired him only know enough to make their own jobs and responsibilities easier.  He’s got to carry the weight himself and that’s a daunting prospect for someone who hasn’t operated in that sort of environment before, let alone someone who’s shouldering the responsibility of running a major college football program for the first time.

Like I began with this post, he’s got my support and my sympathy.  For what that’s worth, anyway.  As far as his bosses go, if things don’t click and fan apathy starts settling in to the point where the checkbook feels threatened, they’ll just resort to the tried and true formula of lather, rinse and repeat.  That’s the Georgia Way, after all.


UPDATE:  Tyler Dawgden provides the tl;dr version with this observation.

I’ve said all along, it is impossible to write the story of Kirby Smart’s success until we see if he’s learning to be a head coach. On the job training on national television sucks. We can debate if we are a program that should be doing that, but we made the decision that we are a program that does that. Ignore the noise about what Mark Richt was or what Georgia was or blahblahblahMuschamp.

That is until we are still doing those things above in year three.


Filed under Georgia Football

On politics and GTP

I hate doing posts like this, but after last night’s shit storm it’s unavoidable.

Listen — there is a time and place for political observations here.  Sometimes politics and college sports intersect, usually in a regrettable manner.  That’s fair game.  And sometimes resorting to a political analogy to make a point is a reasonable thing.  (In my opinion, that was the innocent start that set some of you off yesterday.)  I’m not going to censor or boot people who want to discuss politics simply because… well, politics.

Unfortunately, for some of you, the introduction of any political topic is an invitation to wallow in the personal and lay in to others for the sin of disagreeing with your politics.  I’m guilty of tolerating the bad behavior to some extent because I don’t like intruding on people’s politics, but it’s past the point of getting out of hand.  It’s rude and it’s boring.

So here’s the deal.  If you can’t read something here that makes a political point without feeling an overwhelming urge to go after another commenter on a personal level, before you begin tickling your keyboard with what you perceive to be a witty response, my suggestion would be for you to step away and take a walk outside, play with the family dog, see what’s for dinner or any number of other things that would lead you to cool off.  Because otherwise, if you can’t help yourself, you’ll have to take it somewhere else besides this blog anyway.

There’s going to be enough grumbling over the football program this offseason to keep us occupied.  I’m not looking for any more trouble than that.  Please respect my wishes and we’ll all be happier for it.

That’s only my first point here.  Regrettably, we were visited by someone last night by a first-time commenter who some of you took as a troll and others as a comrade-in-arms.  He is neither.

He was banned as soon as I saw what he was posting and had the chance to backtrack to his blog.  I want to be clear on one thing here.  I’m as big a believer in freedom of speech as you’ll find, but I’m not going to put up with any form of outright bigotry here.  Anyone who engages in that in the comments section will suffer the same fate as he did.  If you don’t like that, tough.  There’s a difference between speech and behavior. I look at the comments section as a place for guests to mingle and converse. I wouldn’t let you show your ass like that if you were at a tailgate or party I was hosting and I don’t see any difference simply because we’re not face to face here.

As for those of you who have a problem comprehending the difference between outright prejudice and a mere political point of view, I don’t know what to say, other than, just damn.  Wake up.


Filed under GTP Stuff