With signing day coming and going football programs across the country are welcoming the class of 2017. Coaches have spent hours upon hours traveling to ensure they can find top-notch talent to compete for a national championship. One thing is for sure as the game has become more lucrative so has the cost of doing business. While the acquisition of marquee players is key, universities must constantly evaluate whether or not an increased investment in recruiting provides a competitive advantage in today’s marketplace. One thing is for sure we will continue to see this investment in off-field staff.
When it comes to support staff there’s a seemingly endless supply of manpower filling the sidelines and offices of Power 5 schools. If you were following signing day like many in the industry you might have noticed a lot more people are involved than just the head coach and nine assistants. Titles such as recruiting analyst, director of player personnel, and director of high school relations, among many others, fill the organizational chart of most programs.
As a matter of fact, at the University of Arizona Matt Dudek holds the title of General Manager and Director of Player Personnel. The University of Nebraska has taken it one step further employing longtime NFL front office executive and former GM of the St. Louis Rams, Bill Devaney. Michigan State even hired Sheldon White, the former interim general manager and Vice President of Player Personnel for the Detroit Lions, as a consultant.
While talent evaluation and roster management is paramount in college football there are now almost just as many people working on the creative side of recruiting. If you glance at Alabama’s staff directory you will see positions such as assistant director of graphic design and director of football creative. These are all a product of social media’s growing permanence in the recruiting landscape.
Yet one has to ask, is the increase in manpower and title inflation mere optics or necessity? Yes Alabama, Ohio State, and Michigan have the revenue and budget to spend millions on recruiting but the same isn’t true even for fellow Power Five or Group of Five schools. Just like coaches compensation, support staffs are becoming more expensive. In fact, Clemson and Alabama spent nearly $3 million dollars a piece on support staff during the 2015-2016 season.
As off-field staff continue to grow, managing a revenue sport like football is becoming more complex. Having an understanding of the organizational structure and the role of a football administrative team is vital when making decisions. Especially since football is the main revenue driver that supports every sport on campus.
Ronnie Burton Jr., is an emerging professional within collegiate athletics and higher education. Prior to writing for CollegeAD Ronnie worked in administrative and coaching positions at California Lutheran University, Arizona State, and Michigan State. A 2015 graduate of Arizona State’s Masters in Sports Law and Business Program he looks to be an asset for organizations making decisions in the areas of regulation and revenue generation. A former college baseball player, Ronnie’s passions reside at the intersection of higher education and athletics.