Because this is my last week as a site manager here at Dawg Sports, I will be trotting out for the final time as part of my “farewell tour” some old standards, historical examples of which are available in the site archives. Because NCT rendered yeoman’s service with the first of his twice-weekly editions of Beyond the Hedges, it was not necessary for me to deliver a Sunday Summary, so the first traditional feature we will be reviving this week will be tonight’s version of Kyle Gets Contrary, which debuted here in April 2009.
I know it’s fashionable in Bulldog Nation these days to think and speak ill of the Alabama Crimson Tide in every sport, most especially football, but, while there certainly is ample room for questioning the ethics of Nick Saban’s approach to oversigning and greyshirting, I have to give the Armani Bear his due when it comes to his shrewd use of quality-control consultants with no on-field coaching responsibilities whose sole role is to focus on recruiting. As noted recently (and repeatedly) by Senator Blutarsky, the Georgia Bulldogs take a divergent view: Michael Adams wants to limit such personnel, Mark Richt isn’t complaining about not having them, and Greg McGarity cracks jokes about the issue.
I’m true to my school, just like I am to my girl, but facts are facts: Coach Saban is right, and Coach Richt, Greg McGarity, and Il Duce are wrong, on this one.
Reasonable people may debate the propriety of Coach Saban’s roster management practices, but no one ought to find himself in a moral quandary over his program’s decision to hire as many support staff as the institution believes it needs and is able to afford. I have always thought the NCAA-imposed restrictions on, e.g., the number of assistant coaches a university may hire to be absurd micromanagement. If a head coach wants 27 assistants, and his employer is willing to pay for them, what business is it of the NCAA’s? It sure would solve the debate over whether the Bulldogs need a dedicated special teams coach.
Besides, it isn’t as though Georgia hasn’t taken steps in this direction already. Last May, Daryl Jones was hired as Georgia’s director of on-campus recruiting. Last December, Rodney Garner was allowed to depart without much of a fight, and it appears that the recruiting duties will be spread among the existing coaching staff without a formally designated recruiting coordinator. In a case such as this, where the concerns are purely financial and not ethical, if we’re already in for a buck, why not go in for a bundle?
It isn’t as though we can’t afford it. In a recent illustrative season, Georgia ranked second in the SEC in football revenue---heck, it wasn’t so long ago that Athens brought in more cash from football than any college town outside of Austin---but the Red and Black were just seventh in the league in football expenditures. What are we doing with all that money? Well, we’re taking $30 million of the $68 million in reserve funds we have in the bank and handing it over to a foundation to manage as part of an aggressive investment strategy.
Maybe, just maybe, instead of worrying so much about making money, it’s time to spend a little of that money for the purpose for which it was raised in the first place. Alabama isn’t shy about reinvesting its championship-generated revenue in perfectly lawful and ethical ways calculated to produce more championships. There’s absolutely nothing the least bit wrong with using cash you have on hand to hire staff members you’re permitted to employ who will assist you in the honorable objectives for which your organization was established.
When your competitors are engaged in this perfectly legitimate practice, as well, it is the height of irresponsibility to refrain from making needed hires when there is absolutely no justification for failing to do so, especially when the addition of the proper support staff might make the five-yard difference between bitter disappointment and a national title. In order to beat them, we should join them.