Category Archives: Nick Saban Rules

Alabama, where they mean business about business decisions

Another sign of the genius of Nick Saban — if the reality is that college football is the NFL’s free developmental league, don’t run from that; embrace it.

… Why are highly rated draft prospects at Alabama largely staying for their senior years when the national trend is skewing more toward leaving at the first opportunity given the money and risk factors involved?

… It’s clear that Saban’s advice on whether players should stay or leave is a large part of the equation. Though some could view it cynically and say a coach whose $7 million-a-year salary depends on wins and losses shouldn’t be advising unpaid college players to pass up guaranteed money, Saban approaches it as a value proposition.

And when difference between guaranteed salary for first-round picks and those taken in the second round can be millions of dollars, it’s worth careful consideration for those who have the potential to enhance their stock.

“I think the biggest thing we try to do with our players is we try to get them to make a quality business decision,” Saban said. “You can’t improve your value once you get in the draft. It is what it is, and what a lot of people don’t realize is everybody wants you to come out for the draft, but once you say you’re in the draft every team looks for reasons not to draft you.

“They’re making a significant investment, and they want to make sure they’re getting quality for what they want to invest in, so if guys can improve that as college players, that’s certainly something we would like for them to do and we’ve had a significant number of guys that have done that and come back and improved their draft value. We’ve had guys who have gone out because it was the right thing for them to do and they’ve done extremely well. Every case is different and I think our players, because they’ve seen both sides of this, sort of understand the business side.”

Allen, who received a second-round grade from the NFL Draft advisory board last year, is the embodiment of that analysis as ESPN’s Mel Kiper now rates Allen the No. 3 overall player. If he ultimately gets drafted somewhere in that range, Allen’s decision to come back will guarantee him at least $16 million more on his first contract than if he had been an early second-round pick.

The trick isn’t selling your players on the value of staying.  It’s delivering on that message.  How many coaches out there can legitimately do that?

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Coaching against the Death Star

I would really love to hear any SEC athletic director who canned a head football coach over the last two or three seasons coherently explain his plan to win a conference title.  Because “unfathomable” isn’t just a word to describe Alabama’s dominance right now; it’s a way of life.

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“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.

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

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?

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Today, in this is a real thing?

Al.com article asserts that Nick Saban has gained the commitment of a JUCO player at a “position of need”.  Evidently, I do not think that phrase means what I think it means.

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Filed under Nick Saban Rules, Recruiting

What Nick wants, Nick gets.

You may have heard the news that Christmas is coming early for this blogger in that Junior is about to land the Houston job (you’d better have a hefty buyout in that contract, boys).  Assuming that comes to fruition, this will mark the second straight year that Saban lost a coordinator to another school just as the national championship was in sight.

Sooooo… I can’t help but wonder if the Laner has any plans on pulling a Kirby and sticking around Tuscaloosa through the playoffs.  If Phil Savage is to be believed, apparently no such thing is in the works.

Regardless, if Kiffin were to accept another job, Savage said he expects the former Tennessee coach to break ties.

“I happen to think if he gets one of these head jobs he will not stay through the playoffs,” Savage explained. “Last year, we talked about this. When Kirby Smart, who was a loyal lieutenant to Nick Saban, tried to stay through the national championship, there were some ups and downs. It’s hard to serve two masters.

“In this case, there is a built in replacement in Steve Sarkisian. Last year, there really wasn’t a next man up at defensive coordinator.”

Which will beg the question — did Kirby stay out of loyalty to Alabama’s players or Alabama’s head coach?  If it turns out to be the latter to any extent, I hope that McGarity at least got a Christmas card for his kindness.

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Filed under Georgia Football, Nick Saban Rules

Before the Process

Really good article on Rich Rodriguez almost taking the Alabama job after Mal Moore couldn’t get Saban or Spurrier to bite.

The irony of losing RichRod because the hire was handled in such a way that he was able to use it to leverage more out of West Virginia in order to stay while ‘Bama turned again to the Sexton-represented Saban to take the job shouldn’t be lost on anyone.

In the end, this wasn’t a case of rather be lucky than good.  Mal Moore was lucky and good.

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