Dan Mullen is getting a new Defensive Coordinator. Peter Sirmon is likely heading to Louisville, and the Bulldogs have hired Louisville DC Todd Grantham to take his place as reported by Sports Illustrated. While Mullen should get lots of credit for bringing in a well established defensive coordinator, this says a lot about the direction John Cohen is going to drive his athletic department.
This piece isn’t about whether or not Todd Grantham will be a good defensive coordinator. Whether or not he will be is certainly up for debate, but there is no denying he is an upgrade over Peter Sirmon.
This is a piece about John Cohen’s vision for the Athletic Department and how hiring Todd Grantham shines a light on that vision. Todd Grantham was making $1.3 million while at Louisville. We haven’t gotten details of what Grantham will make in Starkville, but I would imagine he didn’t come for the same or less money. John Cohen opened up the check book for Dan Mullen in a big way to get Grantham.
When Scott Stricklin was the Athletic Director for the Mississippi St. Bulldogs, he demonstrated a clear pattern of hiring up-and-coming assistants for head coaches and assistants typically came from smaller schools. This allowed the school to save money on the initial hire and let them earn higher salaries through the performance of their teams. The obvious exception is Ben Howland, but his circumstance is certainly not the rule.
Dan Mullen is a perfect example. His salary started at just under $1 million dollars when he was first hired in 2009. He now makes over $4 million. Mullen has done well for himself, but the same could not always be said of his assistants.
There have been a number of reasons people have suggested why Mullen has a hard time keeping coaches on his staff. Of the many suggested, at the top of the list is the fact MSU has never paid the assistants very well to begin with.
Peter Sirmon was the highest ranking member of Dan Mullen’s staff and he was paid a salary of $635,000. His salary was 43rd in the country among assistants but only 21st in the SEC. The combined assistant salaries for Mississippi State last season was $3.3 million. This was 13th in the conference, but in all likelihood it could be 14th as Vanderbilt does not have to provide numbers since they are a private institution.
Allowing Mullen to make this move tells not just Dan Mullen, but every coach in the Bryan Building that Cohen doesn’t want salaries to be a reason the teams are handicapped on the road to success. Make no mistake about it, there is no way I would ever believe Scott Stricklin would have allowed Mullen to make such a hire as it would have been too costly to do so.
Scott Stricklin was an amazing AD, but he came from the world of business and finance. He wanted to compete with the rest of the SEC, but he always had his eye looking at the bottom line when making decisions regarding the programs at Mississippi State.
John Cohen wants to win. This is the first sign we have been given that same fire Cohen displayed on the baseball diamond will be on full display as an AD. Cohen still has lots to prove as a marketer and fundraiser, but this is a bold and aggressive move and it should excite Bulldog fans about what might be in store for MSU athletics in the years to come.