Over at Lucid Idiocy, Travis surveys the Georgia basketball program and doesn’t like what he sees. So he turns to the obvious question and ponders what it might take to get better.
How do we improve? It seems obvious that some combination of smart decisions and throwing money at the problem is called for. We’re paying Mark Fox $1.7 million a year. Should he fail to earn that salary next year, why not pay someone else double, see what happens?
Count me within the school of thought that hiring a great head coach is far and away the best thing you can do for a college athletics program, and if it takes a stupid number to do it, so be it.
Count me in his school of thought. Here’s the thing, though. When it comes to Georgia athletics, there are competing priorities that can best be summarized through the prism of the athletic director’s primary role.
- For the fan base, job one is hiring/employing the best coaches available.
- For the major higher ups, job one is running the athletic department in the most fiscally favorable manner possible.
- For the athletic director, job one is keeping the job.
That isn’t to say there aren’t other priorities in play. Nobody on the Board of Regents is going to object to Georgia having winning athletic programs. Nobody in the fan base wants to see Georgia operate like Rutgers. That being said, I feel safe in saying our school of thought isn’t theirs.
In the wake of Richt’s dismissal, I once wrote that,
If you manage an SEC football program, there’s a difference between being committed to winning and being financially committed to winning. Everybody wants to win. The hard part is figuring out how to allocate resources to make sure that happens. And, no, that doesn’t mean spending money like a drunken sailor. (We’re looking at you, Tennessee.) It simply means that if you think your rightful place is among the Alabamas, Floridas and LSUs of the world, you’d better take a hard look at what they’re doing and make sure you’re giving your coaching staff the opportunity to keep up with them.
I don’t see how anyone who’s observed the way Butts-Mehre has operated over the past quarter century can objectively state that the athletic department has done its job figuring out the hard part there, which is one big reason I’ve always had a reluctance to go overboard on coaching changes. If Smart succeeds, for example, it’ll be in spite of his bosses, not because of them.
And for all of you who clamor for a change of athletic directors, who’s to say that will make a difference? After all, the ultimate decision makers and their priorities aren’t going anywhere soon.
I used to think I’d quit blogging when the college football postseason changed so much it would rob me of my passion for following the sport. I have to admit that of late I’m beginning to think it’ll happen because I can’t tolerate any more mediocrity, both in terms of results and administration, from Georgia athletics. Hope I’m wrong on both counts, but I wouldn’t put any real money on either.