Of all the things I’ve written about the Georgia Way, this may have been the most prescient.
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.
Are things on a better track now? Hard to say. Yes, spending on certain things has crept up, but look what it took to get B-M’s collective head out of its ass. And the jury is still out on whether the increase is being spent wisely.
I posted that on November 30, 2015. I only mention the date so you can see how it fits in with something David Ching wrote about recruiting spending over the period of 2012-2017:
Saban’s employer, Alabama, ranked third among NCAA Power Five athletic departments in men’s recruiting spending in the five-year academic period between 2012-13 and 2016-17. In that time, Alabama (which averaged $1,815,354.40 per year in men’s recruiting expenses) won four men’s NCAA titles: two in football and two in men’s golf.
Alabama’s neighbors and fellow big spenders were not so fortunate on college athletics’ various fields of play.
According to spending figures available on the U.S. Department of Education’s Equity in Athletics analysis database, the top four was comprised entirely of SEC programs: Tennessee (five-year average of $1,920,789.80 in men’s recruiting spending), Georgia ($1,897,805.80), Alabama and Auburn ($1,815,354.40).
Aside from conference membership, what those schools joining Alabama on the list have in common is that Saban is their toughest opposition on the recruiting trail. They have to spend big in an attempt to keep up with Saban and his Crimson Tide juggernaut, which just claimed its fifth NCAA football title in the last nine seasons.
What those schools do not have in common with Alabama is anything in the trophy case that justifies all of that spending. Over this five-year period, Alabama’s three SEC cohorts atop the list combined for zero men’s NCAA titles, and two of them (Tennessee and Auburn) were just a shade over .500 in football. Auburn did win the 2013 SEC football championship and play for that season’s BCS title, but that was all the trio had to show for its major sports.
With regard to that last sentence, things changed in the next academic year, as we all know. Which, to reiterate another point I made, is a good indication that (1) Kirby Smart has a clue and (2) Butts-Mehre has finally seen the wisdom of deferring to someone who has a clue. Both are grounds for considerable appreciation.