Author: Rick Davis (page 3 of 3)



High Fives to LSU head football coach Les Miles!

LSU’s Les Miles took time out of preparing for this week’s game against Western Kentucky to talk running backs and eternity with a Mountain Brook teen who is now home from the hospital under hospice care. Click HERE to read the article.

If you have any questions or comments, you can reach me on my cell (561-662-3251) or my office (205-874-0368) or you can email me at or you can reach Jonathan Shugart on his cell (334-559-6906) or his office (205-874-0396) or you can email him at web page monitoring .



High Fives to J. B. Grimes, offensive line coach at Auburn University!

J.B. had surgery to remove a cancerous spot on his tongue and his lymph nodes on a Wednesday, and was on the field the following Monday for the start of football practice in August. Here’s the article – take a minute and read the impact J.B. has had on his players.

If you have any questions or comments, you can reach me on my cell (561-662-3251) or my office (205-874-0368) or you can email me at or you can reach Jonathan Shugart on his cell (334-559-6906) or his office (205-874-0396) or you can email him at


What’s In Your Contract?

Samuel Jackson is well known for his “WHAT’S IN YOUR WALLET?” Capital One credit card commercials. Occasionally we’ll take a look at specific provisions that are common in coaches’ employment agreements and when we do, we’ll play off Samuel Jackson’s commercial and our question will be “WHAT’S IN YOUR CONTRACT?

Whats in your wallet

Employment agreements can be terminated “with cause” (neglect of duties, violation of NCAA or conference rules, etc.) or “without cause” (primarily not winning enough games) and the main difference between the two is the employer doesn’t owe the coach anything when he is terminated “with cause”. Today we’re going to look at what happens in the event a coach is terminated “without cause”. The language in the agreement dealing with termination “without cause” will vary from contract to contract but here’s an example of a provision that could be in your employment agreement (it’s called an “off-set” clause):

If the employment agreement is terminated “without cause” prior to its expiration, Employer shall be obligated to continue to pay Coach all monies due for the remaining term of the agreement. Coach shall have a duty to mitigate his contractual damages by seeking other employment and Employer’s obligation to Coach shall be reduced by any income earned by Coach between the date of termination and the end of the term of this agreement. Note – some agreements say that if Coach takes any job (no matter how much it pays) Employer does not owe Coach anything for the remaining term of the agreement!

Let’s look at an example of how the “reduction” or “off-set” plays out in the real world:

  • You’re the head coach at State U and you have a five-year contract paying you a total of $500,000 a year (and your contract includes the above-referenced “off-set” provision).
  • At the end of the second year of the contract, State U hires a new athletics director and the new AD decides to make a coaching change and he/she terminates your contract “without cause”. When that happens, State U still owes you $500,000 a year for the three years left on your contract.
  • Two weeks after you leave State U you get a call from East College to be the offensive coordinator and they sign you to a three-year contract paying $300,000 a year.
  • With the above-referenced “off-set” provision in your contract State U gets to reduce what it owes you ($500,000/year) by what East College is paying you ($300,000/year) – so instead of having to pay you $500,000 a year for the next three years ($1,500,000) State U only owes you $200,000 a year for the next three years ($600,000). That’s a difference of $900,000!!!

Obviously State U wants the “off-set” provision in your contract (or even better, the provision that says if you take a job they don’t owe you anything) and more than likely the “term sheet” (if State U uses one) or the initial draft of your employment agreement will have one of those provisions (or something similar) in it. Like anything else in the “term sheet” or the contract, though, this is an item that you can attempt to get your employer to change. Will they? It depends – how much leverage do you have, how hard are you willing to push, or how badly do you want the job.

Ellis Johnson is a client of ours and several years ago we worked with him when he was named the head coach at Southern Miss. We knew the contract of the previous head coach at Southern Miss contained an “off-set” provision and from the very beginning we told Southern Miss we would not agree to any “off-set” in relation to termination “without cause”. Southern Miss agreed to remove that provision from Coach Johnson’s contract. Unfortunately, Ellis was terminated “without cause” after his first year. While we were disappointed with the decision made by Southern Miss, Ellis was hired as the defensive coordinator at another program at a salary higher than what Southern Miss was paying him … and Southern Miss remained obligated to pay Coach Johnson the total amount owed for the final three years of his Southern Miss contract ($700,000 x 3 years = $2,100,000). This isn’t confidential – here’s an article discussing the situation. LINK TO ARTICLE

Usually only a head coach will be able to get the “off-set” provision taken out of their contract but I have seen situations when an assistant coach (coordinator) was able to have it removed. As I said earlier, how much leverage do you have, how hard are you willing to push, or how badly do you want the job.

If you have any questions or comments, you can reach me on my cell (561-662-3251) or my office (205-874-0368) or you can email me at or you can reach Jonathan Shugart on his cell (334-559-6906) or his office (205-874-0396) or you can email him at




High Fives to the University of Alabama, Coach Saban and Director of Player Personnel Jody Wright!

Alyson Wigal and her five children enjoyed a rare treat this past weekend in memory of Alyson’s husband Stephen, the family’s sole provider who was killed in an automobile accident on June 15. After learning of the Wigal family and their love for Crimson Tide football, the University of Alabama invited Josiah and Seth Wigal, players on the Satsuma High football team, to the Alabama – Arkansas game as recruits. Here’s the article – take a minute and read it.

If you have a question or comment, you can reach me on my cell (561-662-3251) or my office (205-874-0368) or you can email me at or Jonathan Shugart on his cell (334-559-6906) or his office (205-874-0396 or you can email him at

What Makes Someone a Successful Coach?

Take a look at these three teams (one NFL, one college basketball and one college football) and the difference a new head coach had on the program:

Green Bay Packers                 131203180248-vince-lombardi-jerry-kramer-nlc-00123-single-image-cut (2)

Pre-Vince Lombardi           1950 – 1958      32-74-2             0 championships

Vince Lombardi                     1959 – 1967      98-30-4             5 championships

UCLA                                        Wooden


Pre-John Wooden              1921 – 1948       266-279                0 national championships

John Wooden                        1948 – 1975      620-147                10 national championships

Alabama                                   Bear


Pre-Paul Bryant                   1955 – 1957        4-24-2             0 national championships

Paul Bryant                             1958 – 1982       232-46-9        6 national championships

What was it about Vince Lombardi, John Wooden and Coach Bryant that changed the culture at Green Bay, UCLA and Alabama from one of losing games to one where they were competing for and winning championships? Several years ago best-selling author John Maxwell wrote an article titled Characteristics of Successful Coaches where Maxwell says despite their different personalities and coaching techniques, “great coaches share a common set of characteristics that make them successful”. I think you’ll agree with the points Dr. Maxwell makes. Click HERE for the article.

After you finish Maxwell’s piece, I would encourage you to read a great article Ivan Maisel wrote for ESPN in 2013 about Coach Bryant in honor of what would have been Coach’s 100th birthday (September 11, 2013). Here’s a quote from Coach Saban that’s in the article – “I think the one thing I’ve learned about him (Coach Bryant) that makes me appreciate him more, because it’s something that means a lot to me as a coach, is how many stories his former players tell about lessons that they learned in life. They talk about the discipline, the toughness, and all those kinds of things that really have helped them perservere [through] a lot of circumstances and situations in their life. So that, to me, is the ultimate compliment to a coach.” I had the opportunity to play for Coach Bryant (1971-1974) and he pushed us to be winners on the field (regular season record of 43-1, 4 SEC championships and 1 national championship) and, as Coach Saban said, in life. I understand how important it is to win – if you don’t you won’t keep your job. But I played for a man who won championships and was also concerned with preparing his players for life after their playing days were over. You can do both. Wooden did it at UCLA and Lombardi did it at Green Bay. That, in my opinion, is really what makes a coach “great”. Click HERE for the article.


If you have a question or comment, you can reach me on my cell (561-662-3251) or my office (205-874-0368) or you can email me at or Jonathan Shugart on his cell (334-559-6906) or his office (205-874-0396 or you can email him at

Welcome to Coaches’ Corner


Welcome to Wallace, Jordan, Ratliff & Brandt Coaches’ Corner. Since this is our first blog post probably a good way to start is for us to tell you who we are and what we’ll be doing in this blog.

My name is Rick Davis and I lead the sports management practice area at the law firm Wallace, Jordan, Ratliff & Brandt in Birmingham, Alabama where we represent college and professional coaches and administrators. I’ve been representing coaches and administrators since I began practicing law with the late Robert Fraley in 1983.

Rick DavisRobert Fraley

Robert and I had been teammates at Alabama (we were freshmen in 1971) and while I was playing in the NFL Robert had gone to and graduated from law school. Robert encouraged me to go to law school when my playing days ended and our plan was that when I graduated we would start our own firm. Well, I followed Robert’s advice. I graduated from law school in December 1982 and moved to Orlando, Florida where Robert and I started our firm. In January 1983 we jumped right into the business of representing coaches.

Ray PerkinsCoach Bryant retired at Alabama after the 1982 season and Ray Perkins was named the head coach. Robert and I didn’t know Ray but we had friends who did and they were able to set up a meeting for us with Ray. Robert and I thought the fact that he and I were teammates and had played football at Alabama for Coach Bryant would score some points with Coach Perkins since he had also played in Tuscaloosa for Coach Bryant. Well, something worked because despite the fact that Robert and I had never represented coaches before (I don’t remember if that came up in our initial meeting with Ray or not!!) we were successful in convincing Ray we could handle things for him. He gave us that chance and we had our first coach as a client!

bryantpaulbioThere have been tremendous changes in college and professional sports, both on the field as well as from a business standpoint, since Robert and I first began working with Coach Perkins in 1983. What I’ve learned from those experiences, and what I learned as a player at Alabama and in the NFL about what it takes to compete and be successful in college and professional sports, have put us in a unique position to provide counsel and advice to college and professional coaches and administrators. In Coaches’ Corner we’ll review specific situations we’ve been involved in so the people who read our blog can hopefully learn something from those experiences. We’ll also talk about a wide range of topics that we think you’ll be interested in – things like evaluating job opportunities, preparing for interviews, dealing with search firms, and important issues in employment agreements. Those of you who know me know that I like to share motivational and inspirational information and materials I’ve found and been exposed to over the years that might help you at work and at home. Because when it’s all said and done, our primary goal is for Coaches’ Corner to be a resource to help make you a better husband or wife, mom or dad, son or daughter, coach, administrator and teacher.

We’re excited and look forward to sharing our thoughts and experiences with you. If you have a question or comment, you can reach me on my cell (561-662-3251) or my office (205-874-0368) or you can email me at

*Photos courtesy of the Bryant Museum

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