In the wake of Richt’s firing, 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.
The inspiration for that thought was watching the number of support staffers and assistants Alabama crowded into its coaching booth at that year’s Iron Bowl and comparing the attitude behind that with Butts-Mehre’s notorious cheap-ass approach to the Georgia program.
All of this came back to mind after I read something Seth Emerson wrote in his Mailbag post this week.
Back in February 2013, I counted up UGA as having $1.078 million towards the support staff, not including graduate assistants, assistant trainers, team chaplains, equipment managers, etc. There were four staffers (not counting assistant coaches) who were earning six figures. This year the overall support staff figure is a bit under $3 million. And there are 10 support staffers earning six figures.
Three things have happened on that front, in my opinion:
– The administration has signed off on more hires after Smart’s hiring. It’s not that Richt didn’t want some. I remember asking Richt about it around that time, and I actually expected him to scoff at all the quality-control hires by other schools, but instead Richt said he would “do what was best for Georgia,” and left it at that. It left me with the impression that he wanted to hire more, but was being a good soldier by not saying more publicly.
– Smart has come in with the Alabama mentality, which is a sense that you hire as many as possible to help out…
Before some of you get your asses bent out of shape ready to complain about how I’m denigrating Smart’s work, you need to realize I’m offering this as a compliment to Smart.
While I’ve bitched consistently about the lack of thought that went into the process that led to his hire, one thing I ought to concede about it is that there may not have been another coaching hire outside of Saban himself that would have gotten McGarity and the people McGarity answers to open up the checkbook in support of the football program the way Smart has managed. That is entirely to Kirby’s credit and I don’t see how anyone who has watched the growth of the program this season and the likelihood that the importation of the Process has contributed significantly to that can disagree.
I also wrote at one point that Smart had his work cut out for him, not only in meeting expectations about raising the program’s profile, but also in terms of being the only person in the athletic department who had a real clue about what it took from top to bottom to create a success in today’s SEC. That’s a lot to put on anyone’s plate, especially so for someone who had never been a head coach before. That Kirby has succeeded says a lot about the man. Let’s hope Butts-Mehre has the good sense to let him keep on keeping on.