Making bank in a time of transition

Andy Staples ($$) recounts the events leading to Jimmy Sexton hosing South Carolina South Carolina AD Ray Tanner making the decision to reward Will Muschamp with a significant contract extension because he’d just led the ‘Cocks to a national title SEC title divisional title bowl game comeback over Michigan.

The date is Jan. 1, 2018. The town is Tampa, Fla. Michigan is playing South Carolina in the Outback Bowl. This is not the Outback Bowl where Jadeveon Clowney hit Vincent Smith so hard that his helmet popped off and then Clowney cradled the ball with one hand like a mama dragon cradling one of her eggs. This is the Outback Bowl that took place five years later, the one you probably half paid attention to while you waited to watch Oklahoma and Georgia tee it up in the Rose Bowl. In that Michigan-South Carolina Outback Bowl, the Wolverines lead 19-3 until South Carolina scores on a 17-yard Rico Dowdle run with 2:25 remaining in the third quarter.

This sparks a blistering stretch during which the Gamecocks outscore Michigan 20-0 in about six minutes. South Carolina adds a field goal late to cap a 26-19 win that runs the Gamecocks’ record to 9-4 for the 2017 season. The Gamecocks have won six of their final eight — losing only to College Football Playoff participants Georgia and Clemson. Of course, three of those six wins (Arkansas, Tennessee, Florida) are against teams that fired their coaches during the 2017 season…

… Muschamp was hired at South Carolina in December 2015 on a five-year deal that started at $3 million a year and included a $100,000 raise each subsequent year. If Muschamp had been on this deal when he got fired, South Carolina would owe him about $300,000. (Which, lest we get too carried away by the figures, is still a considerable sum.)

But Tanner and company got very excited about that furious close to Muschamp’s second season, a season which ran his record at South Carolina to 15-13 overall and 8-8 in the SEC. They also may have been scared that Muschamp might depart for — where?— Arkansas? Tennessee? There were quite a few jobs open during that hiring cycle, but Muschamp didn’t seem a fit for any of them. And even if he was, couldn’t Tanner just find someone else at that price point to go .500 in the SEC?

Apparently not. Muschamp, who already made $3.2 million a year, received a $1 million a year raise. He also was extended through 2023. The buyout remained 70 percent of the amount remaining on the contract.

And here’s the thing.  The reason athletic directors like Tanner routinely get used by agents like Sexton is because there’s so much excess money in the system at the P5 level, since nobody has to pay the hired help anything close to real world wages.  That money has to go somewhere and you can only spend so much on waterfalls and barber shops in facilities.

Sure, it’s wasteful, but Tanner’s peers are doing the same thing and why not?  It’s not like the money’s gonna run out… er, wait.

The pandemic may be a once in a lifetime event — at least we hope so — but you know what’s not?  The possibility, which grows ever stronger, that college athletes are going to get a piece of the pie.  And should that happen, people like Tanner are going to be faced with all these ridiculous ticking time bomb coaching contracts that were made in a different economic setting than the one they’ll be facing.

It’s kind of analogous to what Georgia Tech has had to deal with in replacing a head coach who ran the triple option, a lot of short term pain because the personnel infrastructure left behind is wholly unsuited for the new circumstances.  Except in this case, instead of wins and losses, you’re looking at profits and losses.

This is why the NCAA and its member schools are fighting player compensation, even third-party NIL compensation, tooth and nail.  Once the idea of college athletes receiving payment for their services becomes accepted in the public’s mind, it’s not far at all to realize that the source of such payment will become normalized, too.  And the number of athletic departments built to sustain that in the short run can probably be counted on one hand.  With a finger or two left over.

27 Comments

Filed under College Football, It's Just Bidness

27 responses to “Making bank in a time of transition

  1. gotthepicture

    Didn’t Jeremy Pruitt use the same tactic last year with a similar result?

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  2. What’s the alternative to getting abused by Sexton? I’d like to see someone take a different approach-no, we’re not extending the contract and increasing the buyout. Some places it wouldn’t work. But how much better off would South Carolina be by not extending Muschamp? Find a less expensive and maybe equal or better results

    Liked by 1 person

  3. NotMyCrossToBear

    SC goes from owing $300k to $13 million to the same coach in under three years. I can’t believe I’m reading that right. Malpractice is the understatement of the century. These fuckers are absolutely shameless.

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    • 79dawg

      Malpractice is generally defined as the failure to comply with the prevailing standard of care… In any trial, the testimony would overwhelming be that ADs giving huge raises and extensions to coaches every time they have a decent season IS the standard of care – voila, no breach of the standard of care by SCar and thus no malpractice!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Jimmy Sexton is a wizard. He can truly take chicken $#!+ and turn it into chicken salad.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Coaches get salaries from their universities, right? So are players also going to get money from their schools?

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  6. mddawg

    I know this is splitting hairs, but did the school come up with $13 million or is that from the boosters? Based on some of the past articles I’ve seen here and on other sports websites, it seems that there’s some interesting accounting practices going on in athletic departments across the country. That may be part of the reason they can’t afford to renovate a library or the dorms (just random examples) but they can afford that shiny new stadium expansion. It’s the same way you can furlough professors or facilities maintenance staff, but good luck getting the coaches to take a pay cut in a pandemic.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’m assuming that this is going to be raised from the donors (South Carolina’s version of the liquor barons).

      I don’t know about other places, but at UGA, the athletic association and its fundraising arm are separate entities from the university. Whatever is happening in the broader university environment is less likely to affect athletics. For example, Kirby’s state salary is $500,000 (2019 – open.georgia.gov). That would be the number his state employee pension is based on. Everything else is a combination of what the athletic association and his various endorsements pay him to get to the $6m figure. It’s similar on the facilities front.

      Liked by 2 people

      • 79dawg

        *partially separate, when they want or need them to be…

        Liked by 2 people

      • junkyardawg41

        In the era where boosters are the ones who pay for buyouts of coaches (I find Seth Williams commentary one comparing apples and oranges problematic), I am curious about scenarios when we go down the inevitable road of NIL. For instance, if SBIV gets his scholarship from the UGAAA, and his NIL endorsements from a different arm, would there be boosters who would “pay” for SBIV to not be part of the team anymore? Basically take the HC model and the big boosters decide they have a right to manage the roster and if CKS won’t take the hint and not start a kid, I can force him to go in a different direction? I mean it’s not like B-M won’t still take the dudes money even if he runs a kid off. (It’s a random thought — probably wouldn’t happen — but could it?)

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        • Tony BarnFart

          I’m speculating my ass off here (ass-u-me ‘ ing), but I’d bet an early look-in on that theory would be T. Boone Pickens and Oklahoma State. I don’t know much about that program so I can’t say…… but I’ve always thought he was the college version of Jerry Jones.

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    • PTC DAWG

      The Senator knows full well how contracts work, and where the bulk of the funds that pay Head Coaches comes from.

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  7. Scotty King

    I need Sexton to negotiate my contract at my current job. If I do a poor job and get shown the door, my buyout is $000000000.

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  8. classiccitycanine

    If I were an AD, I would hand out higher annual salaries with smaller buyouts and I damn sure wouldn’t be giving big bumps for mediocre results like Muschamp after that bowl game. Of course, my frugal sensibilities haven’t been dulled by a gusher of cash like the folks in athletic departments. Too much money makes most people do stupid things.

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  9. Well, I won’t be waiting with baited breath for the story of how an administrator got canned for deals like this. Apparently accountability doesn’t scale that far up the pay grade for these yahoos to face consequences for doing bad business. I seem to recall maybe ONE UT dude who was fired for cratering their program. That’s about it.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Texas Dawg

    WE the fans are just as much a part of the problem as the AD’s. Think back to after the Rose Bowl. People were on here talking about how we need to lock Kirby up to prevent him from returning the Bama when Saban steps down. If McGoofy comes out and says this is what our budget is and we will not exceed it, the fan base would be apoplectic. This happens through out sports even when the players are paid. Look at how many baseball players have one good year and they are able to cash in with a long term contract that seldom turns out to be worth it to the team. Sports in general defies all financial logic. Seldom does a GM say you made X last year so we will give you X + a reasonable % increase. No, in sports you have one good year and all of a sudden you made X this year so next year you must be worth 20x for the next 20 years. I you fail to overpay and loose a player/coach the fanbase foams at the mouth.

    Liked by 1 person

    • classiccitycanine

      That used to be true in baseball, but GM’s have gotten much smarter about how they pay players.

      Yes, there’s fan pressure to lock up a coach if he’s winning, but I doubt that Ray Tanner or Phil Fulmer had people banging down their doors to give raises and extensions to Boom and Pruitt when they did. Until the gusher of cash slows down, their won’t be an incentive to be smart with spending. Even if an AD wanted to be smart, the irrationality of the rest of his peers would likely compel him to join in.

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    • rigger92

      Ive always been amazed at how money and sports work. I think it all should be like golf. Win = get paid, lose = get paid less. They ought to be paying a good salary, then rewarding performance on the back end.

      Liked by 1 person