Category Archives: It’s Just Bidness

“So what is Alabama’s secret?”

You can, if you like, buy into the New York Times’ myth making and chalk it all up to Nick Saban being the college football epitome of Mr. Small Stuff, or you can take the prosaic approach and believe it’s more about the remarkable sums of money Alabama pours into its football program year after year after year.

From the 2014-5 fiscal year, here’s what each school in this year’s college football playoffs spent on football:

  • Alabama:  $48.3 million
  • Clemson:  $27.3 million
  • Ohio State:  $29.2 million
  • Washington:  $29.1 million

That’s a helluva spread, especially when you consider that Ohio State typically generates more athletic department revenue than ‘Bama does.  Ultimately, this is why I have a hard time believing that the importation of the Process into Athens, Georgia is going to be seamless.

Sure, it’s not that UGA doesn’t have the money to compete.  Georgia pulled in $116,151,279 for the same fiscal year, good for 15th nationally.  And if you’re looking for a positive note from that, keep in mind that Jon Solomon has this for you:

Since 2005, no school has won football’s national championship while ranked outside the top 20 in total athletic revenue.

But when it comes to spending money on football, Georgia hasn’t been in the keeping up with the Joneses department, let alone the Sabans.

For starters, check out the football operating expenses, including the cost of scholarships per scholarship football player, for Alabama and Georgia, over the last four seasons data has been reported:

  • 2011:  Alabama — $363,722; Georgia — $275,701
  • 2012:  Alabama — $376,320; Georgia — $279,480
  • 2013:  Alabama — $465,127; Georgia — $318,965
  • 2014:  Alabama — $347,050; Georgia — $293,724

The gap has narrowed between the two programs, but that’s still the financial equivalent of Mark Richt’s roster management snafus.

From 2009-14, Georgia’s football spending per player increased 21%.  That’s less than the SEC median (27%).  It’s also less than the median for all FBS programs (31%).

Now, you can spend money wastefully, of course, and you don’t have to look very far afield for examples of that.  But if you aren’t going to keep up on the spending front, you sure as hell better have the smarts to build a better mousetrap than the expensive one they’ve got in Tuscaloosa if you expect to show up in Atlanta for a conference title game.  That hasn’t been the case for a while now.

Now the obvious caveat here is that we’re two seasons past the data available, and one of those is Smart’s first season in Athens.  It’s reasonable to expect that we’ll see a narrowing of that financial spread when those spending numbers come into view.  What remains to be seen is whether the dollars Butts-Mehre spends are enough to keep up with Saban on the field in the coming years.  A couple of years from now, we should have enough information to assess both.


Filed under Georgia Football, It's Just Bidness, Nick Saban Rules

The biggest reason for having a conference?

Sharing the wealth.

Nearly four months after the conclusion of the 2014 football season, South Carolina athletics director Ray Tanner received a letter from the SEC accompanied by a check for $729,343.70.

It was the Gamecocks’ share of bowl revenue from the conference, which had compiled slices of each member team’s bowl takes and distributed them throughout the league. It allowed USC to make a small profit off its Independence Bowl appearance, which had initially cost the school over $1 million in expenses. The same process will likely keep the Gamecocks in the black as they head to Thursday’s Birmingham Bowl against South Florida.

Although exact figures for the Birmingham Bowl are not yet known, within the SEC bowl structure the game is on the same tier as the Independence Bowl, in which the Gamecocks defeated Miami to close the 2014 campaign. A review of USC’s expenses for that trip shows the significant amount it takes to send a team and support personnel to even a mid-level bowl, and how conference revenue sharing ensures against losing money on the trip.

It’s just something else to keep in the back of your mind as college football continues the process of rearranging the postseason in the era of playoff expansion.


Filed under It's Just Bidness, SEC Football

We built this city.

Boy, you’d figure if anybody out there would be at the forefront of decrying the move by players to skip playing in postseason games to get an early start on a pro career, it would be Nick Saban.

Eh, not so much.

Then again, who knows better about making business decisions than he does?


Filed under It's Just Bidness, Nick Saban Rules

“The athletes are not a property of the university.”

Good piece from Pete Thamel exploring the decision of players like Fournette and McCaffrey to pass on playing in bowl games in an era when there doesn’t seem to be an end to expanding the pool.  And why is that?  C’mon, you know why.

That corporate sprawl offered another reminder—if you needed one—just how much cash is at stake. There’s a reason ESPN televises 38 of the 41 games and owns and operates 13 of them. There’s a reason that 27 of the 41 bowl games didn’t exist 30 years ago.

In a suite high above FAU Stadium during the second quarter, American Athletic Conference commissioner Mike Aresco recalled his time as an executive at CBS when they televised an Indiana-Butler game in 2012 that ended in an overtime upset of the No. 1 Hoosiers. Aresco was thrilled until he saw the Gildan New Mexico Bowl—between Arizona and Nevada—crush it in the ratings by 1.9 to 1.5. “That’s when I realized,” he said, “football had become king.”

If you’re ESPN, December is berry, berry good to you.

But bowl games have undeniably become the December background noise at your company holiday party, your December treadmill sprints and those cold nights when the Potato Bowl is more comforting than leaving the couch. Americans like watching football, as evidence by the 2015 Russell Athletic Bowl—between non-traditional powers Baylor and North Carolina—doing the same rating (2.6) as the top-rated regular season college basketball (UNC-Duke) last year. The December bowl orgy is annually one of the most flush ratings runs for ESPN every year…

Forget school spirit.  What about us couch potatoes on a cold weekday night needing the kind of fix only the Boca Raton Bowl can provide?

So, remember, kids — at least those rare and few of you gifted enough to have a chance to play on Sundays while being relegated to a lower-tier exhibition game for one last hurrah — if you’re not motivated to stick around for your teammates and dear old U, do it for all the college football junkies out there.  Otherwise, we’ll be stuck watching meaningless regular season college basketball games.  The horror!

ESPN and its advertisers are counting on you.  Don’t let them down.


Filed under College Football, ESPN Is The Devil, It's Just Bidness

More help for the reserve fund on the way

Kirby’s gotten more support staff.  So has Greg McGarity.

Who’s this Borman fella? Welp,

Butts-Mehre is always looking for new and creative ways to separate donors from a few more dollars.  You guys can expect to hear from Mr. Borman soon enough.



Filed under Georgia Football, It's Just Bidness

Motivation for me, not for thee

I was just thinking it’s a funny world we live in where Kevin Butler is ready to drop the financial hammer on any player who has the audacity to skip an exhibition game in pursuit of a professional career…

… while Georgia dishes out incentives to the coaching staff for appearing in an exhibition game.

Although, to be fair, I’ve been told I have a strange sense of humor.


Filed under Georgia Football, It's Just Bidness

Banged for the bucks

Jon Solomon hands out the price per win ratios for every P5 coach here.  The story in the SEC?

SEC Coach Price Per Win 2016 Record
Derek Mason, Vanderbilt $426,146 6-6
Will Muschamp, South Carolina $500,416 6-6
Mark Stoops, Kentucky $501,943 7-5
Butch Jones, Tennessee $513,750 8-4
Jim McElwain, Florida $533,541 8-4
Nick Saban, Alabama $533,800 13-0
Kirby Smart, Georgia $536,229 7-5
Barry Odom, Missouri $587,500 4-8
Gus Malzahn, Auburn $591,188 8-4
Bret Bielema, Arkansas $592,143 7-5
Kevin Sumlin, Texas A&M $625,000 8-4
Les Miles, LSU* $626,510 7-4
Dan Mullen, Mississippi State $840,000 5-7
Hugh Freeze, Ole Miss $940,700 5-7

Man, those SEC West wins don’t come cheap. Then again, who’da thunk Nick Saban would turn out to be a better deal than Kirby Smart?


Filed under It's Just Bidness, SEC Football