Daily Archives: March 3, 2022

Kirby Smart’s best coaching job?

Now and then, I think about something I posted when Mark Richt was fired by Georgia.

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.

That wasn’t the Georgia Way of doing things.  Here’s something AirForceDawg posted at a message board I frequent:

While UGA’s Football program is in a very good spot now, it wasn’t supported well under President Adams (1997-2013), AD Damon Evans (2004-’10), and AD Greg McGarity (2010-’20) until 2016.

In a 1998-’99 letter to donors, UGA Athletic Administration promised a full-sized $12M Indoor Practice Facility (IPF) “soon”. It took 18 years to finally build one (last in the SEC).

On 30 June 2004 President Adams forced AD Vince Dooley’s retirement despite the athletics program ranking #1 in the SEC and #5 in the nation per NACDA for the 2003-’04 season (success the athletic department hasn’t realized since then).

On 18 September 2004 Richt stated his #1 priority was a full-sized IPF, but AD Evans said UGA couldn’t afford one (despite the athletic department being in the black financially since at least 1997 per Adams). 21 months later UGA’s Athletic’s Department was declared “national financial champs” after earning a $24M profit the preceding year. Not bad for a 501-c-3 non-profit entity.

In 2009 UGA assistant S&C coaches were paid the conference’s lowest avg. salary (i.e., $39,405.25). Not surprisingly, later that fall former NFL 3x All-Pro OL Randy Cross stated after analyzing a UGA game: “There’s no excuse for not being a very tough football team. There’s no excuse for looking weak and I mean weak. They don’t look very strong.”

On 28 December 2009 UGA reneged on its traditional bowl bonuses to coaches citing “difficult economic conditions being experienced by the university”, despite the UGA Athletic Association transferring $16M in profits over the previous four years to the school. To fill the void, Richt paid his assistants and staff $63,556.50 in bonuses/compensation out of his own pocket. Since no good deed should go unpunished, on 20 December 2011, CMR, his assistants, & several staffers received a Letter of Admonition from AD McGarity.

On 18 February 2011 President Adams and AD McGarity asserted, “We will not oversign at Georgia.” This contributed mightily to CMR’s roster management issues through the remainder of his tenure (i.e., next five seasons) at UGA. Richt was only allowed to sign an equivalent # of those that graduated and/or entered the NFL Draft. Adams/McGarity failed to account for post-NSD attrition (e.g., transfers, dismissals, medical exemptions/hardships, academic casualties, non-qualifiers).

In 2010 one of our wide receivers said UGA Football’s temporary S&C facility was a “dungeon”. In 2011 UGA Football operated w/ 3.5 S&C coaches (i.e., JTII, Keith Gray, Thomas Brown, and John Kasay [part-time employee]) while some SEC teams operated w/ as many as 12 S&C coaches. On 1 August 2012 the NCAA limited teams to a maximum of five S&C coaches, yet UGA only employed four from May 2012 – January 2015. During that time ADGM felt UGA could fill the fifth position w/ an intern, if necessary. In 2014 UGA Football’s S&C program was so inadequate 19 of our players supplemented their workouts at GATA Training in Duluth, GA.

In fiscal year 2015 (i.e., 1 July 2014 – 30 June 2015) UGA Football’s operational expenses ranked #7 in the SEC.

In 2015 Richt’s salary ranked #12 in the SEC, despite UGA having earned a 146-51 record (74.1%) and two SEC Championships (the first one breaking a 20-year drought) under his leadership.

The Georgia Way was more than just Greg McGarity, as I noted in another post, written well into Smart’s tenure.

While Georgia claims it is more financially stable than its counterparts, it still remains to be seen whether this will translate into winning. Georgia’s athletics programs had one of its worst runs in quite a while during the 2016-17 season.

… It’s hard not to notice that the losses that have piled up play a part in the notion that the athletics department isn’t spending money on upgrading facilities at a fast rate. And until the wins start adding up, fans will be wondering what more can be done to fix the situation Georgia athletics has found itself in.

“I know our program is not reaching its full potential,” McGarity said.

Gee, Greg, I wonder why.

Tucked along the west side of Stegeman Coliseum, there’s a dark stairwell. It leads to a narrow hallway that smells a bit of mildew and leads to a small room stuffed to the walls with weights and workout equipment. It’s a gym that would be substandard for most successful high school football programs, but for the Georgia Bulldogs, it’s home — for now.

Affectionately called “The Dungeon,” by Georgia’s players, the room features benches with torn padding, worn weights and dingy walls. During last week’s storms, the room flooded, and by Thursday, large dehumidifiers were taking up valuable real estate in the cramped quarters.

“There’s no windows, and it’s basically a dark broom closet,” wide receiver Kris Durham said. “But it’s what we have, so we’re taking it the best we can and we’re going to work hard there.”

The sad thing about that article was that it went on to pump Georgia’s state of the art new facility, which included this white elephant:

The most noticeable addition is a multi-purpose room that can be used to hold banquets and camps but also will serve as a de facto indoor practice facility. The room is two stories high and will house a field that is 20 yards wide and 60 yards long. A curtain will be outfitted along the roof that can split the room in half, allowing Georgia’s offense and defense to hold pregame walk-throughs in the facility.

Yeah, that worked out well.

Maybe the program wasn’t reaching its full potential on the field, but, shoot, it was at the bank.

As recently as 2009-10, Georgia made a larger profit on its football program than all but one school in the nation; UGa’s $52.5M take came during the salad days of the Mark Richt era, in the midst of a disappointing 8-5 season but after a 21-5 record the previous two years. Sanford Stadium, 10th-largest in the country at 92,746 seats, is still filled to capacity every home Saturday. But Richt had outworn his welcome by the 2015-16 fiscal year with some underwhelming performances by his Bulldogs in big games and some grumbling preceded his evacuation to Miami. It remains to be seen how Kirby Smart fills the void. But Georgia fans remain resolute in showing up.

Georgia is in a happier place now, primarily because Kirby Smart figured out how to hack the Georgia Way.  Per AFD,

– UGA Football recruiting expenses:
— FY2014: $717,091 (HC Mark Richt)
— FY2015: $1,340,000 (HC Mark Richt)
— FY2016: $2,195,966 (HC Mark Richt/HC Kirby Smart)
— FY2017: $2,270,960 (HC Kirby Smart)
— FY2018: $2,626,622 (HC Kirby Smart)
— FY2019: $3,676,858 (HC Kirby Smart)
— FY2020: $2,738,389 (HC Kirby Smart) – note: COVID-19 impacts
— FY2021: information hasn’t been released yet

But here’s the thing, before some of you go on the usual tack that Richt wouldn’t have known how to spend the extra money if it had been there all along:  Richt with his hands tied behind his back, fiscally speaking, was doing pretty well on the recruiting front, anyway.

Again, as AFD notes,

CMR’s recruiting classes avg. 8.8 nationally from 2001-’14 per Scout/Rivals. On the day he was fired, 29 November 2015, UGA Football’s 2016 recruiting class ranked #1 in the country per the 247Sports Composite (including 5* QB Jacob Eason and 4* OG Ben Cleveland; 5* TE Isaac Nauta and 5* ATH Mecole Hardman, Jr. were “silent” commitments at the time per “insiders”). Thus Richt wasn’t slacking as he neared the finish line and left Kirby Smart w/ some good pieces.

The point isn’t that Smart hasn’t done a better job running Georgia’s football program than Mark Richt.  He clearly has; the proof is in the national championship pudding.  The point is that as much as they tried to talk otherwise, Butts-Mehre was never committed to winning, at least not in the college football world Nick Saban wrought, until they got desperate enough to listen to Smart.  In the SEC, a head coach isn’t going to grab the brass ring without an administration’s full backing.  Richt never got the chance Smart got and we resolute Georgia fans suffered as a result.

But having a chance isn’t everything, as Graham notes.

Winning begins at home.  Just ask Kirby Smart.  And Mark Richt, for that matter.

74 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football

I love the MAC in the spring.

Damn, fellas, you were so close to starting a trend I could get behind.

Too bad this didn’t have legs.  I would love to watch spring games between two schools.  Make ’em FBS vs. FCS, if you like, and charge a little something to pass on to programs that need the funding.

(h/t)

5 Comments

Filed under It's Not Easy Being A Mid-Major

Tattoo you

Christ, don’t you people have anything better to do with your time than this?

State lawmakers are urging the NCAA to reinstate Ohio State University’s football team’s 2010 record and wins that were vacated because of “Tattoogate.”

The resolution is sponsored by state Rep. Brian Stewart, R-Ashville, who is a two-time OSU graduate.

Even though it was 12 years ago, it seems just like yesterday OSU fans were riding high after a 12-1 season, winning the Big Ten championship and the Sugar Bowl.

Players Mike Adams, Daniel “Boom” Herron, DeVier Posey, Terrelle Pryor and Solomon Thomas were suspended for five games in the 2011 season after they sold personal memorabilia in exchange for tattoos. OSU vacated its wins and record for the 2010 season and was placed on a two-year probation. Coach Jim Tressel resigned.

Stewart said the NCAA’s scrubbing of the official record of the 2010 season unfairly hurts the players, fans and coaches who had nothing to do with what happened.  He also mentions the recent NCAA rule change allowing college athletes to earn money off their name, image and likeness. Players are now making hundreds of thousands of dollars, some even making millions. This resolution is a way to officially remember that season.

Yeah, if you can’t remember officially, it’s like it never happened.

“This resolution does not say anything about the sanctions,” Stewart said. “This resolution says enough is enough. The NCAA’s view of what is permissible for players has changed drastically in the last twelve years.”

You sure about that?

However, according to OSU’s current name, image and likeness guidelines, athletes cannot sell team-issued equipment and apparel until NCAA eligibility is exhausted. This includes items such as shoes, jerseys and helmets. It also states athletes can sell institutional awards such as rings and apparel once athletic eligibility is expired as long as it does not become a regular business practice.

This means that if “Tattoogate” happened under the new guidelines, it still would violate NCAA rules.

I tell you what, fellas.  If you can figure out a way to get us back the four games the NCAA took away from A. J. Green and the four from Todd Gurley, feel free to knock yourselves out afterwards.

8 Comments

Filed under Political Wankery, The NCAA

If at first you don’t succeed…

I’m not sure this is the swell argument the folks pushing it think it is.

… But on the ground floor, a 12-team model would have benefited a bigger swath of the SEC schools.

Among SEC teams that have never qualified for the playoff, Florida and Texas A&M have the most victories during this era. A 12-team format likely would allow them to become playoff participants on a semi-regular basis. Same for LSU, which has a single playoff appearance.

Teams like Auburn, Ole Miss, Kentucky, Arkansas and Tennessee would have the opportunity to realistically contend for a playoff berth in strong seasons, too, amid a 12-team format. The Rebels, for instance, would have been a playoff qualifier if the playoff included 12 teams last season. Instead, they went to the Sugar Bowl.

And playoff access for the SEC’s second and third tiers will become more coveted after Oklahoma and Texas join the conference by 2025, creating a scheduling gauntlet.

“An expanded playoff, when you’re trying to build a program and trying to catch programs like an Alabama, like a Georgia, like Texas A&M and those programs, the more opportunities you have, the better it is for a school like Arkansas,” Razorbacks athletics director Hunter Yurachek told me last week.

If you want to catch programs like Alabama and Georgia, why not simply beat them in the regular season/SECCG when you face them?  Or am I missing something here?

13 Comments

Filed under BCS/Playoffs, SEC Football

The hole is deep and wide.

Considering the source, this is remarkably putrid:

Geoff Collins, Georgia Tech: Collins enters 2022 with a six-game losing streak and the lowest winning percentage (.265) of any full-time Georgia Tech coach in history. “Less branding, more coaching,” Collins said in December.

Buddy, when you’re looking up at Bill Lewis, you’re in a bad, bad place.

Does that mean if Tech actually wins more than three games this season — I know, but work with me here — that Coach 404 confessed to not doing his best before?  Were I Tech, I’d be asking for a refund.

And, on a related matter

Jason Semore had been on Collins’ staff in 2019 and 2020 as a defensive analyst before going to Valdosta State to be its defensive coordinator last season. He has taken over the linebacker group, which Thacker had coached since coming to Tech with Collins from Temple.

“I think he’s an elite coach, I think he’s an elite man and a lot of the guys inside of that (football) building were excited about that hire,” Thacker said. “Very unknown to the outside world, but there are a lot of guys that had good relationships, really respected him.”

Hey, Kirby Smart said “elite” a bunch before last season and look where it got him!  I’m not sure that “Less branding, more coaching” theme has sunk in on the Flats quite yet.

14 Comments

Filed under Georgia Tech Football

Today, in cannon shots

South Carolina recruiting, in a nutshell:

That hasn’t stopped the hype from engulfing South Carolina fans. Rattler is the first five-star prospect on the roster since defensive end Jadeveon Clowney’s three-season run ended in 2013.  [Emphasis added.]

That’s like Vanderbilt recruiting without the academics excuse.

12 Comments

Filed under 'Cock Envy

Feels like home

George Pickens says he’s NFL-ready because he was NFL-readied at UGA.

He ain’t lying.

16 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, The NFL Is Your Friend.