Once upon a time, I wrote this in the wake of the Richt firing:
… Regardless of where you think Richt falls on the performance spectrum, you cannot deny that for the bulk of his time in Athens, he was not allowed the resources to duke it out with Georgia’s main rivals.
Forget about the IPF. Georgia was one of the last schools to give out multi-year contracts to assistant coaches. (Ironically, the administration got away with that because of staff loyalty to Richt.) Saban bulks up support staff; Richt is forced to come out of his own pocket to pay bonuses to his assistants. Georgia’s recruiting budget was far short of what other conference schools were allocating until this year.
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.
This is what allocating resources to make sure that happens looks like. (h/t Argondawg)
Stadium obtained the NCAA Financial Reports for the 2018 fiscal year for more than 50 FBS schools, most of which play in a Power Five conference. These reports are submitted to the NCAA annually, and they list detailed financial data regarding the operating revenue and expenses for each school’s athletic department.
That includes how much schools spent on recruiting.
Among the schools examined, Georgia’s $2.6 million spent on football recruiting in 2017-18 ranked first, and that spending yielded the No. 1 recruiting class in 2018, according to the 247Sports Composite rankings…
After analyzing annual million-dollar investments into recruiting, recent win totals and historical AP polls, we’re left with a recipe that tells us the surest way to land an elite recruiting class is to:
1.) invest at least $750,000 annually (but more likely at least $1.2 million) in recruiting,
2.) field a football team that has recently experienced high-level success, and
3.) be able to boast about your program’s proven winning culture.
But how many schools can check all three boxes?
Before you ask, yes, Alabama wasn’t included in Stadium’s data collection, but if you look here, you can see that Saban and Smart are essentially neck and neck in spending on recruiting. The apple hasn’t fallen far from the tree, in other words.
While Kirby deserves the lion’s share of the credit for Georgia’s recruiting success, Butts-Mehre’s role in that can’t be ignored. It’s not simply a matter of giving Smart a blank check (admittedly, that’s a change in direction); it’s also a matter of having an athletics administration that’s rowing the boat in a synchronous fashion with its football staff. Having all hands on the same page is something new for Georgia’s athletic department and look where it’s gotten the football program.
Whether that’s the result of desperation, fear, or simple resignation that Smart is better at managing this whole football thing, doesn’t really matter. Georgia is checking all three of those boxes right now, and that’s good enough.