As Clemson and Alabama lined up to face each other in the 2016 College Football playoffs final, it wasn’t just the players and coaches who dressed for battle. An army of highly paid consultants, by some estimates, in excess of 7 million annual between the two teams also threw on their school’s gear and began to prep for the game. These are not coaches. Instead, this was to pay the army of consultants that helped both teams get to the point that they were at.
In college football the NCAA allows a program to have 9 coached plus the head coach, that’s ten. But there is no limit on paid consultants that can be on staff. This fact shines through at staffs of programs like Florida State, Ohio State, Alabama and Clemson. With a simple look along the sidelines or in the play calling booth, it is easy to see the evidence that these staffs have swelled to well over 40 members. In last night’s Oklahoma versus Ohio State game, the play calling booth for Ohio State was so packed full, it looked like a nigerian bus depot.
These consultants can’t coach on the field or directly meet with recruits in the recruiting process, but other than that they can help in anyway possible. And the list of titles is a creative exercise in permutations. With words like Director, player & Facility used in as many ways as possible: Director of player personnel, Assistant Director of Player Personnel, Director of Recruitment Facilitation, Advisor to Defensive Coordinator and… Graphic Designer.
ESPN reported that when Kirby Smart went to Georgia one of the first things he did was go to the athletic director to seek approval to create a graphic design position. People say defense wins championships be graphic design that actually wins championships.
According to ESPN, in 2012 there were 146 non coaches on payroll in the athletic department.
For perspective, around the same timeframe, The University of Memphis had 36 non coaches on payroll in the athletic department.
This influx of consultants has become another way, along with spend of facilities, that financially strong programs can gain competitive advantage over other schools though spending money. It seems obvious but maybe spending money is what wins championships. Like Tom Herman of Houston says, “If the budget were there, I’d take an army”