Monday, November 12, 2012

Why An Athletic Director At Georgia Tech Would Leave For Clemson

Radakovich trades a gold blazer for an orange one/TimesUnion.com
Dan Radakovich made it a monthly habit of communicating with his fan base during his "The Good Word" column.

Last week was his last as his tenure at Georgia Tech ends on November 15.  After a two week vacation, he will take over as Athletic Director 2.5 hours up I-85 in Clemson.

Radakovich acknowledged this rivalry with the Tigers in his newsletter this week:
"Tech and Clemson will compete frequently and I look forward to those competitions. In this business, it is always more enjoyable to compete with folks whom you respect."

His time in Atlanta can be described as mostly positive  (tons of facility upgrades, largely solid coaching hires) but with a huge blemish (NCAA stripping 2009 ACC title).

The reasons why he left for Clemson are fairly obvious.

1.  Clemson does not have better programs than Georgia Tech, but it is easier to win big.

The Yellow Jackets have a 50-26-2 all-time advantage in the football series.  Most of that series advantage was built prior to Tech's joining the ACC but the Yellow Jackets have certainly held their own in conference play.

But the Tigers have a much bigger stadium with 30k more seats to sell and they fill them up a lot better than GT normally does.  Bigger, fuller football stadiums means more revenue in the future which means Radakovich can do his magic with facilities to give Clemson an SEC type setup.

When you have a 55k capacity and a tepid fan base ceilings are in place.  No ceiling exists at Clemson as to what they can do.

2. It is much easier to recruit at Clemson - recruit players and coaches.

US News and World Report ranks Georgia Tech 36th nationally in their latest rankings.  Clemson comes in at number 68.  Incoming freshman at Tech had an average SAT score of 1340 while the Tigers gave admission to SAT scores of 1217 on average.  On the new 2400 scale the disparity is even greater, Clemson's average is 1800 to GT's 1983.

The Yellow Jackets offer about 25-30 major programs, of which half are Engineering compared to Clemson's normal state university allocation with nearly every major under the Palmetto tree.

It is harder to get into school at Atlanta and they offer less majors.  Throw in new APR requirements and Georgia Tech has its work cut out to say the least in recruiting players to compete at the BCS level.

And when it is harder to recruit players, it is harder to recruit coaches.

3. While his coaching hires have won, his biggest hire is showing signs of weakness. 

An AD never wants to fire the coach he hires, especially when it is a football coach.  Paul Johnson is having a rough year in his fifth season, including a 21 point loss to MTSU, still needing another win to become bowl eligible.  He was 20-7 after his first two seasons, but is just 19-17 since.  The Yellow Jackets are likely staring at another loss to in state rival Georgia, which would be their 4th in a row under Johnson.  

The second most important hire, but a ways down the list, is basketball coach.  It is way too early to draw conclusions on Brian Gregory.  He has recruited well, but he also has a big hole to dig out and his track record at Dayton was mixed.

When head coaches fire coordinators, their leash is shortened.  The same holds true when you move up the chain of command for Athletic Directors and their reports.

Unless Johnson starts to turn around the program, the fan base is going to dwindle which means less people in the seats and less athletic revenue.  Even if Gregory continues his upward trend he will need a raise to be kept around.  To give you an idea how little Gregory and his staff are paid, which has a lot to do with how cash strapped GT is, last season NC State paid its ASSISTANTS more than the ENTIRE Tech staff (this info is from a bball insider I trust).

Radakovich walks into a much better coaching situation at Clemson.

Dabo Swinney appears to be heading up and Brad Brownell looks to be solid.

But even if they falter, the new AD didn't hire them so it is much easier to fire.  And those 30k additional football seats give you the money to fire head coaches.  This is where the SEC has such a huge advantage.  They can fire a mediocre coach at any time because of the football money pouring in.

Update 12/23: Georgia Tech football attendance was down 9% this season while Clemson was up 3% giving more credence to what may have to be tough decision the next Yellow Jacket AD will have to make about the future of the football program.  

4. If you got a 15% raise to go to an easier job there is you wouldn't take it?

This needs no discussion.  I don't care what social workers or teachers think. Radakovich was well paid at Georgia Tech, but is getting over $700k per at Clemson.

And yes, Georgia Tech fans, it is tough to have someone move to a rival school but Dan Radakovich left Yellow Jacket the program in much better shape than he found it.  

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