CRAWFORD | Jurich doctrine: Spend for the program you want, not - WDRB 41 Louisville News

CRAWFORD | Jurich doctrine: Spend for the program you want, not the one you have

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Louisville athletic director Tom Jurich. WDRB photo by Eric Crawford. Louisville athletic director Tom Jurich. WDRB photo by Eric Crawford.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The question has come from various places over the past couple of days: Why would University of Louisville athletic director Tom Jurich decide that now is the time to make football coach Bobby Petrino one of the 12 highest paid in the college game?

Petrino isn't going anywhere. (Insert your joke about his nomadic past here.) Nobody, as of yet, anyway, is clamoring for his services. His foundation is headquartered here, with one of his daughters running it. He hired a son as an assistant coach this year, and quickly promoted him to quarterbacks coach.

And frankly, even if Jurich's hunch pays off and Petrino catches fire and takes the ACC Atlantic Division by surprise, it's still going to be likely that Jurich will have to give him another pay raise and an extension of years (which, in that happy event, Jurich would gladly grant).

Jurich's own explanation of the "Why now?" question sounded like this: "I wanted to show everybody the confidence I have in him, the job that he’s done and the job that he’s doing."

I'm sure that's the case. But in looking at this, you can't help but believe Jurich also is trying to show everybody something else.

The best way I can put it is this: All my life, I've been told, "Dress for the job you want, not for the one you have."

In this case, you might lay out something we could call the Jurich Doctrine: Spend for the program you want, not for the one you have.

That's why, just hours after the handshakes had been completed on a budget deal in Frankfort that would cut state appropriations to colleges and universities by 4.5 percent, Jurich rolled out and, in the space of 20 minutes, had talked about $85 million or so in investments in the football program.

Spend for the program you want, not for the program you have.

The program Jurich wants is one that is competitive with Florida State and Clemson, the twin mountain peaks in the Atlantic Division.

Florida State won the national title in 2013 and reached the playoff in 2014. Clemson went to the title game last season.

Clemson coach Dabo Swinney just got a six-year deal worth $30.75 million, plus retention bonuses. In January of last year Jimbo Fisher of Florida State signed a deal worth $5 million annually.

Jurich, for anyone who knows him, does not take his eye off the ball when it comes to football. He's passionate about all the sports in his department -- take a look at the coaches and facilities he has hired, if you're looking for proof. You can't say he hasn't built a broad-based athletic program.

But football is king. Make no mistake. Run the time-lapse on Papa John's Cardinal Stadium and its additions. Indoor practice facility and practice field upgrades. UPS Flight Deck. New upper-deck expansion on the East side, with premium club seating. The Thornton's Academic Center built into the stadium's South façade. And now, proposed and nearing the halfway point in fund-raising, a "Coming Full Circle" campaign to close the PJCS bowl with a North End Zone structure that will add 10,000 seats, making the stadium the largest in the state. As part of that, the football complex will be expanded by 40,000 square feet, adding lounge space for players, expanded office and film room space, and an expanded weight room.

If you're going to spend all that money to try to move up to the Cadillac programs in college football, you better make sure the driver is taken care of, too.

Spend for the program you want, not the program you have.

It's as much about the position as the man, really. It's not meant to send a statement. Jurich wanted to be clear on that. It's about retaining the guy he believes in, and putting the program in position to compete.

"I would hope this wouldn't be done to send a statement," he said. "This is to ensure Bobby's well-being here. This is a very competitive business. There's a very, very small handful of great coaches in this country. I think that's very self-explanatory. It's obvious that we have one of them. So I'm going to do everything in my power to make sure that he stays with us, that he finishes his career with us. . . . But as far as sending statements, I hope we did that in 1997 when we were hired, because we haven't veered off course one bit since then. We've always tried to be the best."

None of this is money from the university, or taxpayers, or student tuition or fees. Even so, is this the right thing to do? Is now the right time to do it? Does this Monopoly money type spending send out the right "optics" in the current climate.

You could argue that it doesn't.

But if what you want is a football program positioning itself to run at those perennial powers ahead of it in the ACC Atlantic, and to be able to do that every year, then as breathtaking as Jurich's moves are, it's best to heed them.

Spend for the program you want, not for the program you have.

In case you had any question, Jurich wants a program that is among the best of them. Whether Louisville can attain that, we'll just have to see. But it won't be for lack of willingness to spend.

What Louisville is putting into football -- from coaching salaries to facilities -- isn't what the biggest programs in the nation are spending. But for what he has built and the time he has taken to build it, Jurich is in the same neighborhood, at least.

And he's hoping to ring the doorbell of an even more elite club.

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