Sometimes, decisions aren’t all about the Benjamins.
As the LSU Tigers prepare to pay big money to keep first-year passing game coordinator Joe Brady and the Texas Longhorns looking for a new offensive coordinator, Brady has emerged as one of the top two candidates for the position, along with USC Trojans offensive coordinator Graham Harrell.
Currently making $400,000 per year to serve an assistant to Tigers offensive coordinator Steve Emsminger, Brady is in line for a significant raise that has been in the works for several weeks. It’s likely that the contract offer from LSU to Brady will significantly surpass $1.5 million per season, perhaps even reaching $2 million, according to FootballScoop.com.
So while the discussion from the Texas perspective has been about the possibility of athletics director Chris Del Conte and head coach Tom Herman money-whipping Brady to accept the position in Austin, in reality money will almost certainly not be the deciding factor for Brady.
Right now, reports indicate that both schools have the wherewithal to make Brady one of the highest-paid assistants in college football.
So there are multiple factors more likely to determine Brady’s ultimate decision than money, including the future of Emsminger, who is 61 years old and could conceivably step aside to let Brady take over as the offensive coordinator.
Next season, the Tigers will have to replace leading Heisman Trophy contender Joe Burrow, not an easy proposition for any program, especially one with a history of failing to develop signees at the position. Brady’s assessment of the quarterback depth chart in Baton Rouge and the potential ability to land a graduate transfer like D’Eriq King or Feleipe Franks could influence his ultimate decision.
In making the move to Austin, Brady would have the chance to coach Sam Ehlinger for a final season with an overall roster that should peak in the 2020 season, potentially providing the springboard to a head coaching job.
On the other hand, Texas head coach Tom Herman is increasingly on the hot seat and just bet his coaching career with the Longhorns on his ability to improve his coaching staff — if Brady takes the job in Austin and falters, helping contribute to Herman’s termination, his coaching career would suffer a significant setback.
In Baton Rouge, Ed Orgeron is on the verge of leading his team to an SEC championship and the College Football Playoffs and all the job security that comes with those accomplishments. Brady is the beloved architect of LSU’s offensive emergence from the Stone Ages and all the job security that comes with that accomplishment.
Simply put, Brady has a higher margin for error with the Tigers, especially if he spends another season as the passing game coordinator.
Herman is also under a lot of pressure to get this hire right and Brady doesn’t have any track record calling plays anywhere. Harrell has four years of experience with high-level results, including this season at a high-profile Power 5 job. Perhaps Brady has more upside than Harrell, but that perception may simply be a result of the fact that Brady’s comparative inexperience makes him something of a blank slate on which to project an unlimited amount of optimism.
Regardless of money or where Brady wants to end up, Herman will have to decide whether he wants to take a risk on the hottest offensive mind in college football that doesn’t have any actual play-calling experience or extend the offer to Harrell, who actually has a proven track record in that regard.
From Brady’s current position as the passing game coordinator, taking the offensive coordinator job at Texas would represent a promotion, but within the context of where the two programs are at currently and the reality that money won’t be the difference in his eventual decision, it makes sense for Brady to remain at LSU.
And it also makes sense for Herman for bet his future on Harrell.