OFF MY CHEST
ATHENS — I’ve been keeping busy working on the spring football preview series the last week or so. Hope you guys have had a chance to read a few of them. By the end of it, we will have touched on every position on the field just in time for Georgia to take the field for spring practice on March 19.
In the meantime, I’ve kind of stood on the sidelines while a bunch of chatter and debate has been spewing back and forth on a number subjects. Well, I’m going to weigh in today on a few of them in a new feature I’ll just call, “Off My Chest.”
Let’s get to it:
Gran’s telling the truth, sort of
As for the debate over whether Georgia actually offered Eddie Gran its offensive coordinator’s position, the side-taking has been ridiculous. This is a mere matter of logic and semantics.
Yes, of course Kirby Smart offered Gran a coordinator’s position to join his staff. To expect anything different would be ludicrous. At Kentucky, Gran carries the titles of assistant head coach and offensive coordinator, not to mention a contract that calls for an $850,000 salary that’s due to rise to $875,000 this year and to $900,000 in 2020.
At the time Smart spoke to Gran, Jim Chaney had just left for a $550,000 raise at Tennessee. That left the Bulldogs with an opening for a tight ends coach and/or a coordinator or co-coordinator. James Coley, already on staff as co-coordinator and quarterbacks coach, wasn’t going anywhere. Of that, Smart was making sure. So co-coordinator would have been the most UGA could offer Gran.
And, to be clear, Smart needed to offer Gran a title. To believe the narrative that Gran was offered by Georgia only as a position coach would mean you buy two things: (1) That the Bulldogs were willing to pay Gran at least $875,000 to coach tight ends; (2) that Gran would be willing to leave Kentucky for a demotion.
Neither makes sense.
No, the only way Gran would have come to Georgia would be for a raise and at least a lateral move position-wise. Asking him to share the coordinator’s title with Coley is not much of a stretch. In fact, Coley and Gran have worked together in such a capacity before. They were co-coordinators from 2010-12 at Florida State, where Gran also had the title of associate head coach/running backs and Coley coached tight ends.
You know what makes a lot more sense? What Georgia eventually did.
The Bulldogs hired Todd Hartley to coach tight ends for what will be an average of $350,000 a year and Coley was elevated to sole coordinator for $850,000. That’s a $1.2 million commitment as opposed to what would’ve been at least a $1.75 million.
So when Gran proclaims to the UK crowd that he was offered the offensive coordinator’s position at Georgia, he’s not lying. But he would’ve had to share that title with Coley, which he understandably wasn’t willing to do.
Nobody should fault Smart for trying to bring on Gran, or Gran for listening for what he has to offer. At the end of the day, does it really matter?
Georgia will still be Georgia, winners of nine in a row over the Wildcats, and Kentucky will remain Kentucky.
Divisional play here to stay
Here’s another one I need to get off my chest: The SEC is considering the elimination of divisional play.
Ain’t gonna happen.
This is one I can dispose of quicker than most. All you need to know about that is what happened with last year’s SEC Championship Game. And, no, I’m talking about the drama that unfolded in Alabama’s 35-28 win over Georgia.
I’m talking about this: Last year’s conference title game between the divisional representatives was watched by 17.5 million viewers on CBS and earned a 10.1 television rating. That was up 26% in ratings and 30% in viewership from the 2017 game, which saw 13.5 million people watch Georgia-Auburn. That was up from the previous year when 11.1 million people watched Alabama-Florida.
Getting the picture now?
As people often say, follow the money. Television ratings mean money, which means the SEC, the SEC Network and ESPN are very happy with their arrangement.
Last time I checked, the SEC swings a pretty heavy hammer when it comes to college football and the networks. So, no, things are just fine like they are.
Georgia-Florida to stay in Jacksonville
This one bugs me as well: Georgia and Florida are going to abandon their annual game in Jacksonville to play the series home-and-home instead. I hear it every year about this time.
Again, folks, follow the money.
Georgia and Florida just two years ago inked a five-year contract with the city of Jacksonville that will keep the game there through Oct. 30, 2021. That contract happens to be very lucrative for both schools. It pays them about $3 million a year each. In addition, the Bulldogs’ deal includes charter air travel out of Athens, which gets them to the team hotel in Jacksonville in almost the exact amount of time it takes the Gators to bus over from Gainesville. The schools also split ticket revenue.
Now consider: Georgia makes about $3 million for every home game it plays, which it would get every other year in a home-and-home situation with Florida. So the Bulldogs make about $6 million every two years in their deal to play in Jacksonville versus $3 million every two years by going home-and-home.
And that’s right now. Jacksonville reports an economic impact of about $35 million a year for its area by hosting the game each year. So knowing that there’s some consideration being given for the two teams going home-and-home at any given moment, do you expect the city to maintain the current deal or sweeten the pot?
That’s not even taking into account the real benefit of playing the game annually in Jacksonville. It’s one of only two neutral-site, regular-season conference games played in the country, the other being Texas-Oklahoma in the Red River Shootout. It always falls around Halloween and always fills the 3:30 p.m. national slot for CBS. Not sure what the value is for that kind of exposure as opposed to just another SEC regular-season tilt, but I’d imagine it’s considerable.
And I’d say it sufficiently out-weighs the respective coaches’ complaints that they’re losing a home recruiting weekend every other year.
I just had to get that off my chest. Thanks for letting me.