Time to pay the piper

The first moment last season when it really, truly dawned on me that Smart had taken the football program in the direction we were all hoping he would came in the wake of the Dawgs’ evisceration of Florida.  Sure, Georgia had of late won a few more games above the sad rate that had been the case during the run that lasted from Spurrier through Corch, but we hadn’t witnessed a seal-clubbing like that in two decades.  (This one turned out to have a lot more staying power than the 1997 one did, too.)

That revelation prompted two quick thoughts from me.

One“If you’re a little bummed about Kirby’s success rubbing off on McGarity and need something to make you feel better, just consider what this off-season’s negotiations with Jimmy Sexton are going to be like.”

Two“On the other hand, McGarity is probably warming the cockles of his heart with the thought of what he’s about to do with ticket prices and Hartman Fund contributions.”

Now, I’m not gonna pretend either of those observations required any great act of genius on my part, which isn’t to say that it’s not worth noting how prescient both have turned out to be in as short a time as could be expected.  (That being said, it would be amusing to know the exact timing of when those two concepts trickled through Greg McGarity’s head for the first time.  I suspect I didn’t beat him to the punch by much time, if any at all.)

That all came back to me when I saw this post yesterday from Jake Rowe outlining the justification for making Kirby Smart the third-highest paid head coach in the Southeastern Conference.  That’s no little thing, either.

Nick Saban (Alabama) — $11.125 million

Jimbo Fisher (Texas A&M) — $7.5 million

Gus Malzahn (Auburn) — $7 million (reportedly)

Dan Mullen (Florida)  — $6.103 million

Mark Stoops (Kentucky)  — $4 million

Jeremy Pruitt (Tennessee) — $3.8 million

Kirby Smart (Georgia) — $3.753 million

Chad Morris (Arkansas) — $3.5 million

Ed Orgeron (LSU) — $3.5 million

Will Muschamp (South Carolina) — $3.3 million

Matt Luke (Ole Miss)  — $3 million

Joe Moorhead (Mississippi State) — $2.7 million

Derek Mason (Vanderbilt) — $2.72 million

Barry Odom (Missouri) — $2.35 million

Rowe goes into a lengthy dissertation, laying out a logical basis for the raise, based on the accomplishments of each man.  Here’s the key passage:

He’s also one of just two coaches in the conference to lead their team to the College Football Playoff final. Fisher, while at FSU, and Malzahn led their teams to the National Championship game in 2013, but that didn’t require conference championships and first-round playoff wins to get there. Fisher led the Seminoles to the first ever College Football Playoff but they were knocked off in round one against Oregon. Smart and Saban are the only two.

Malzahn has an SEC title and a separate appearance in the game to his credit.  While Mullen did a tremendous job at Mississippi State and took the Bulldogs to heights previously unknown within that program, he hasn’t yet led his team as far up the mountain as Smart did in just 24 months.

With all due respect to Pruitt and Stoops, I think most would agree that it’s a little silly that, as of right now, both are set to make more than Smart in 2018. Stoops, like Mullen at MSU, is consistently doing things at Kentucky that few have but he’s 0-2 against Smart coached teams and hasn’t really challenged for a division title. Pruitt hasn’t yet coached in his first game as a head coach.

At the very least Smart should and, almost certainly will, jump those two. But should he A) stay behind Mullen and Malzahn B) fall between them or C) become the conference’s third highest paid coach?

I get what he’s attempting there, but it’s irrelevant to what McGarity is facing.  First of all, to the extent you’re making the argument that an existing set of coaching accomplishments on the field sets a future salary, that’s actually something that’s been addressed, at least in Smart’s case, with the bonuses structured in his existing contract.

In any event, it’s not the coach’s resume that sets the terms.  It’s the coach’s leverage.  Jeremy Pruitt isn’t getting a bigger regular paycheck than Kirby Smart right now because he sports a better track record.  He’s getting it because Jimmy Sexton was able to exploit a dumpster fire at Tennessee and squeeze a somewhat desperate Phil Fulmer into cutting a generous deal because he knew the AD needed the head coach more than the head coach needed the AD.  (And don’t think that same scenario won’t be revisited in the near future if Pruitt enjoys any greater level of success in Knoxville than Booch did.)

It’s the same dynamic in play in Athens.  McGarity may be happy Richt is gone, but I bet he’s a little nostalgic over how little pressure Richt usually gave him on the contract front.  Not now.  Jimmy Sexton — hey, what a coincidence! — may politely mention 13 wins, an SEC championship, a berth in the CFP, etc., but what he won’t have to say is “you don’t want to think about me exploring Kirby’s options elsewhere” because he already knows that’s in the head of every soul in Butts-Mehre.  That’s what’s going to drive the number that will be inserted into the contract extension.

Kirby’s the one holding the cards.  That’s why it really doesn’t matter what Gus is getting paid.  McGarity will agree to something that’s not based on what Dan Mullen’s done, but on what he fears some other heavyweight program might believe Kirby is worth.


Filed under Georgia Football, It's Just Bidness

51 responses to “Time to pay the piper

  1. Bright Idea

    It would be shortsighted and foolish not to make Kirby the 2nd highest paid coach in the SEC. Go ahead and send the message to the world that Georgia is in the real business of winning football now and we intend to stay. Why set up a future haggle and speculation in the media by doing otherwise?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Got Cowdog

    BOHICA Greg.
    Kirby is on the mother.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Dolly Llama

    $9 million even sounds about right given that list.


  4. The guys on PAPN joked that Sexton will float Kirby’s name for an opening at Texas or USC in 2 or 3 years for him to achieve peak-Saban comparison.


  5. 3rd? Make Kirby the HIGHEST paid coach in the country. That would put Saban and Bama on notice that we are coming after them. 12 mil sounds about right.



    Pay the man.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Derek

    I say 100 million over 10 years and hedge a bit on guaranteed money and buy outs.

    That tells every other college program to fuck off and sends the message that this is going to be a lasting, stable situation.


  8. No One Knows You're a Dawg

    The leverage question is interesting because I can’t think of a coach at a major southern program who’s on the hot seat right now. Maybe have to go with one of the North Carolina programs, but that would be a clear step down from the UGA job.

    We seem set for a least a couple of seasons without the sort of churn and turmoil of the past few seasons. The only possible major opening in the South I could see would be it Saban retired. Outside the South, Harbaugh seems the most likely of the “big program” coaches to get fired, but I don’t think Michigan would seriously consider Smart.

    Ultimately, I agree that Sexton and Smart will get what they want out of McGarity, because the success of the football program is about the only thing keeping McGarity employed at this point.


  9. Chris

    I had a long response planned but typing on my iPhone is a pain. These are the facts – 1. UGA is not a stepping stone job, 2. Kirby is a Uga alum and wants to be here, and 3. we want him here. I’d venture to say that McGarity will sign him to a new contract acceptable to both sides in short order or the the next AD will. It’s that simple. No way the power brokers will sit idly by and allow him to screw this up, as I mentioned above Kirby wants to be here and we want him here. It’s really that simple.


  10. Cojones

    Bonuses will push this year’s paycheck to approx. $5.5M for Kirby this year plus more that we won’t hear about.

    Weren’t we for ending the bidding war in cfb coachs’ corners as recently as last year? Of course we didn’t foresee the strong push that Kirby would make in our program and in his deification when we chastised the rest of the stupid ADs who thought that the higher bid was necessary to hold HCs plus the idiot buyouts that still makes us appear as the stupidest conference waving dollars over our heads to buy loyalty to boot. Kirby’s loyalty doesn’t have to be bought. The word “worth” went by the boards when Saban got to $5M, so that now it’s begun to look showy on the school’s part for having gross amounts of money to burn. Somehow our being in this dollar-waving frenzy makes me think that something of originality should be inserted into the offering other than mo’ bucks.

    ‘Bama attempted to skirt the crass dollar waving by buying Saban a home, but that didn’t hit the “make’em stick” mark because then he had moola to have another home at the beach and on L. Oconee. We can copy part of that by buying Kirby a lifetime membership into the Ritz-Carlton on L.Oconee (it’s more glitzy sounding than “buying a home”) along with a home down here at Bainbridge on L. Seminole, but that still remains unoriginal. Then let’s buy him a little bit of Georgia’s largesse, beginning with a controlling share of a productive gold mine in Dahlonega plus a large acreage of pecan trees in Sowega. Next, we get with the R.J. Reynold’s estate to let us buy Sapelo Island (along with mansion) that would also include the fiat of UGA ownership since we already have research facilities there. Just for kicks and, as well as furnishing a milepost towards deification, why don’t we find a nice underground facility (that mimics what the elected elite get to run to if Trump pushes the button) to insure survival after the Big One? Furniture for all these facilities and homes/properties would include a fur-lined pisspot and a golden throne upon which to collect the fecal deposits to commemorate in a granite and marble tomb reminiscent of Uga’s vaults.

    Let’s show’em that UGA is a rich-bitch school that can run the school’s flag higher than the mouth breathers in neighboring states. Let’s build that gold and diamond-encrusted mansion that has the Georgia flag flying out front and make it suitable for God to move into next door to Kirby. That ought to just about do it.

    Please don’t come back with the supply and demand fiat that dictates all worth to many people. Kirby and his love for Georgia is sufficient to keep him here and, deep down, we all know that he would probably pay Georgia just to coach at his Alma Mater and post historical records that can go well beyond any remuneration we may conjure up. Putting a price tag on that seems unworthy at this moment of celebration for the coach of a contact sport at a state school.


  11. Mary Beth Smart isn’t going let her family leave Athens unless McGarity is a dummy or decides to be too big for his britches or Kirby flames out. The former is definitely the only way the Smarts leave because at this point, I don’t see the program going through a down cycle anytime soon.

    Can you imagine Michael Adams in the middle of this negotiation? Of course, he would have never allowed all of the investments to be made.


    • Napoleon BonerFart

      Money talks. I’m as big a UGA supporter as anyone, but if Auburn or Florida decides they want me to endorse their programs for millions of dollars, then I’m ALL IN!!!


      • That’s my point. The only way this happens is for the UGA leadership to decide for whatever reason that they aren’t going to support the program. I don’t think the Smart family wants to go anywhere. He has worked his entire career for this job. I don’t see him listening to anyone about another job (including Alabama) unless there is a mentality that the admin doesn’t support the program.


        • Napoleon BonerFart

          I guess it’s an issue of semantics. If, by supporting the program, you mean paying him the most money, or money that is close to the highest amount he can earn, then I agree. But I don’t see Smart staying at UGA and foregoing earning millions of dollars elsewhere just because we have hedges.


          • Chris

            I disagree. He wants to be here and we want him here. I think that’s obvious currently by the support he has received and about to be more obvious when we rework his contract. At this point I think a reasonable contract will suffice, say $5-6 mil with incentives (at this time with his current body of work). I think he has proven (notably by the fact that he was so deliberate in leaving Alabama) that is is not solely chasing money, but the right opportunity for him and his family. Not trying to say that we can just keep our hands in our pockets, but we don’t need to think we have to get into a show off bidding war. We just need to do the right thing.


      • TXBaller

        Nap, are you related to Tony Barnfart?


  12. Stoopnagle

    All I can really do is shrug. We’re going to pay the man. But do we really need to reward him for losing the National Championship Game due to a breakdown on the team in his specific area of expertise? Isn’t a little silly to give him National Championship money before he’s actually won a national championship?

    I get it. He’s going to get a raise. Let’s hope he earns another one sooner rather than later.


  13. FisheriesDawg

    The school does have some leverage. Kirby ain’t going to take just any job, even for a significant raise. Given his philosophy, he’d only theoretically jump for a school with a comparable or better talent base. His base is currently $250k than Stoops, but he’s got a MUCH better and more stable situation than Stoops does. I’d bump him up considerably to show the commitment to the program, but there’s no need at this point to start tying yourself to a massive contract without an imminent threat. He’s only got two years of HC experience, after all.

    The only thing I’m certain of is that we’re going to be paying him a crapload of money the day after Nick Saban announces his retirement.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Dylan Dreyer's Booty

    Leverage. Leverage is not only why Pruitt can squeeze a sweet deal out of Fulmer, but also the reason football coaches in general make more than professors or University Presidents. Coaches simply have more leverage. And if you are the person hiring it is hard to know what makes a good coach.
    Bama hired a number of decent coaches before finding Saban; now they are going to keep him as long as he wants to be there. We should do the same with Kirby.


    • Mayor

      Well, while we’re at it professors and university presidents are overpaid too now. The whole college cost thing is way out of whack.


  15. No Axe To Grind

    Smart deserves to be paid at least as much as that SOB Maltzahn. If UGA won’t pay him, rest assured someone will. So far as McGarity goes, he may not be the best thing since sliced bread, as a lot of this site’s bloggers said before his hiring, but he did fire Richt. That’s at least one right move he made. My apologies in advance to the Richt Fan Clubbers.


    • Mayor

      If you think McGarity made the decision to fire Richt I have some beachfront property in Arizona I’d like to sell you.


  16. DawgFlan

    Rationally, it would be wise to peg Smart around Mullen territory to see if he has staying power or turns out to be a one-hit wonder. (We don’t see any indication he will be a one-hit wonder, but how many other fan bases have been there before, say AU with Chizik?) But ration and reason have nothing to do with this, and Smart/Sexton have all the leverage, and UGA/McGarity can’t risk coming across as un-supportive, so he probably gets $7M+ next year with raises that keep him in Jimbo territory and then Saban money if/when he brings home the () trophy.


    • Russ

      That’s a good point about Cheat-zik and Mullen, but have any of these other guys also brought in the level of talent Kirby has his first two years? And it seems to be heading that way again for next year. I’d say recruiting is what separates Kirby from all the other newly successful coaches. For that reason, I say pay the man. Put him up there with Gus and leave room for more after his second NC.


      • Cojones

        Agree on the separation due to recruiting. That’s the most prominent factor for a raise into the future of our program.


  17. Erk's Forehead

    Just for giggles and to piss off the Alabama fanbase, let’s pay Kirby 11.2 million.


    • Otto

      It may come to that when Saban retires to keep him in Athens.

      Smart does have a national title game appearance. Muschamp also went to the SECCG in year 2. I am very hopeful but contract negotiations is a very tricky thing.


      • Russ

        Kirby’s not going to Bama. Impossible to replace follow Saban, no matter how good you are. Plus, Kirby’s building something just as good here.

        My only caveat involves a certain liquor baron and his mistress.


    • Mayor

      That would last for one day.


  18. Hogbody Spradlin

    Yesterday I said ‘something in the $5 million range. I humbly stand corrected.


  19. Got Cowdog

    I understand that everyone here on the blog has wealth beyond measure. Even myself, as I could walk away today and never have to work again until Monday If I chose to do so. But does anyone stop to look at the amounts we are tossing about here? Five million, seven million, 10 million? These amounts are mind boggling at the very least. Shameful, really. What does this say about us as a society?
    And, if I may…… Holy shit that’s a lot of money!


    • What does this say about us as a society?

      That we obscenely overvalue sports entertainment. What’s your point? 😉


      • Got Cowdog

        That we obscenely overvalue sports entertainment?


      • Cojones

        Yeah. I’m in the boat with you and Cowdog. And just because some schools are so stupid to equate $ with that school’s greatness and sign stupid contracts that keep them shoeless after the pregnancy is announced doesn’t mean that we should follow suit.

        Anyway, it oughta be interesting.


  20. The Georgia Way

    Rest assured, his contract already has incentives.

    A deal is a deal.



  21. Mayor

    If salary is supposed to be based on accomplishments Kirby should be paid fifty cents less than Saban. He produced a product on the field almost equal to Saban’s.


  22. artful codger

    I truly believe UGA is his dream job come true ….which brings its own compensation to a certain degree. Unless UGA’s best offer was way off the mark, I don’t see him seriously looking elsewhere. Provided, of course, that all remains good on the actual Win/Loss front and public relations.


  23. AusDawg85

    Jimmy Sexton will look at season ticket prices and demand, look at the reserve fund, and then tell McG & Co. exactly what Kirby should be paid based on ability for future price increases. Figure $8M with incentives for now.