Over at ESPN.com, Alex Scarborough takes a look at the athletic support staffs of Alabama and Georgia and talks with Dan McCarney about his staff at North Texas.
It should come as no surprise that Nick Saban, with Alabama's tremendous budget and his intense devotion to specialization and attention to detail, has one of the largest support staffs in the business. Every cog in the system has its function and every person has their role, each essential to the growth of the massive organism that is Alabama football:
The "system" is predicated on responsibilities. Each person knows his or her role and is accountable for seeing it through. While the games are being played on Saturdays, someone is cutting up game film for the next week's opponent, analyzing tendencies and strengths and weaknesses. Before assistant coaches ever lay eyes on some prospects, someone will have gathered film and packaged it into a highlight reel. Instead of having coaches work on responsibilities A through Z, the support staff is able to work ahead and cut down the to-do list, allowing coaches to focus on what's important.
That's how it works at your big schools. They hire folks who have a specialized task that they perform, and they knock that task out so that your head coach and his staff are not bothered with the minutiae. And that is how it is supposed to be, because they can afford to do so.
No, it is not fair that guys like Dan McCarney at North Texas are forced to multitask, use interns and string things together to attempt to duplicate what Florida, Texas, Alabama and the like are able to do. But it is also not fair to cut off what schools who can afford to do more are allowed to do.
We've already seen the idea of limiting support staff broached, as the Birmingham News reported back in 2010. We also know that the NCAA already limits the number of true coaches on staff to level the playing field for all parties.
The problem here is that it is not fair.
It's not fair from the side of the haves. It's not fair from the point that it does absolutely nothing to legitimately close the gap between the haves and have-nots. It would be, much like the scholarship cap, coaching staff size limits and inability to give the players a stipend; another measure taken to reward the little guy for being, well, little.
Should situations like Alabama's support staff help push towards a divisional split?
As the revenue stands to grow with the increased payouts from the playoff, this gap is only going to grow. Much like we pointed out earlier today in talking "access," the little guy is not going to improve their standings. More money for smaller schools does not close the gap; it is a bigger total to remain subjugated to the larger leviathan that is the Big Four conferences.
Split the divisions. Allow the North Texases of the world to chase something real. The sport, FBS football, is in need of a massive restructuring. It is bloated at the lower tier, filled with programs that have delusions of grandeur and barely a pot to piss in when compared to the haves in the division.
The situation with Alabama's support staff typifies the true meaning of the gap, more so than just coaches' salaries, stadium sizes or revenue numbers. The Tide staff issue shows just what you can do with that extra cash that you're raking in and how teams are putting it to use to do more than just make facilities look pretty.
The gap is real, and the only true way to eliminate it is to restructure.