Once upon a time, I wrote this.
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 mention that because it immediately came to mind after reading this article about the 25 top revenue producing football programs of the 2015-6 fiscal year. Compare these two paragraphs, this one for Georgia…
As recently as 2009-10, Georgia made a larger profit on its football program than all but one school in the nation; UGa’s $52.5M take came during the salad days of the Mark Richt era, in the midst of a disappointing 8-5 season but after a 21-5 record the previous two years. Sanford Stadium, 10th-largest in the country at 92,746 seats, is still filled to capacity every home Saturday. But Richt had outworn his welcome by the 2015-16 fiscal year with some underwhelming performances by his Bulldogs in big games and some grumbling preceded his evacuation to Miami. It remains to be seen how Kirby Smart fills the void. But Georgia fans remain resolute in showing up.
… and this one for Alabama.
Here we break through to the 9-figure strata with the closest thing to a dynasty college football has. By the way, who remembers Mike Shula? It only seems like Nick Saban has been around Bama forever but he replaced Shula after a 6-7 season a mere 10 years ago. It’s also mostly forgotten that Saban’s first team in 2007 struggled, lost all four November games and only managed a winning record by edging Colorado in the Independence Bowl. Since then, no college program can touch Alabama’s four national titles and appearances in all three years of the College Football Playoff. And Alabama is reinvesting; not only was Saban just re-upped with an 8-year, $65.2M extension, his football program listed a whopping $56.3 in expenses in fiscal 2015-16, easily the national high. [Emphasis added.]
Notice the difference in tone there? Georgia is all about fans showing up and putting money in the coffers; Alabama is reinvesting.
That isn’t how you play catch up.