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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Where Do We Go From Here?

After a dizzying 24 hours, I think it's important to take a step back and get a fresh look at this coaching search.

First off, what do we know?

For one, I'm tired. I'm very, very tired. Why does this have to be so complicated? And why does it have to happen right in the middle of spring football? Please, Damon, for my sake, let's get this over with.

OK, enough of my whining.

What else do we know?

We know that Anthony Grant isn't coming here. Georgia apparently never offered him officially, despite the hopes of many fans.

We know that Mike Anderson isn't coming either. If Anderson's agent is to be believed, no official offer came from Georgia on him either, although I have to believe there was a good bit of "preliminary" talking that occurred.

Web outlets reported that offers to both candidates took place, reported specific dollar amounts and reported a decision would come soon.

So how did the information for these stories turn out to be wrong? (Or at least, reportedly wrong, depending on who you talk to.)

A lot of that has to do with how the search has been handled from Georgia's standpoint.

There is good reason for why Georgia would want to be tight-lipped about the process, but what has occurred has been a lot of attention, a lot of interest and very little actual information. Most of the info that sources have had -- both my sources and those belonging to the other reporters, including the ones who have penned stories saying an offer was made -- has come from agents or outsiders, not from Georgia.

So bad info has been floated, the rumors have heated up, fans have gotten into a tizzy over this guy or that guy, and through Georgia's silence, they've lost control of the message. This has become problematic. I remain confident that Damon is going to get the right coach for the job, but from a P.R. standpoint, things don't look great for Georgia right now.

Fans are hesitant to trust that a good hire will be made after a long track record of failure since Tubby Smith left, and this represents the first time Damon Evans has had to make a marquee hire. There was tremendous excitement surrounding Anderson today, and now anything less is going to seem like a disappointment, even if it's actually a wise move.

So, the big question at this point is where do we go from here?

With John Calipari heading to Kentucky, the picture is both clearer and more complex. We at least know who the players are, but with Memphis in the mix (along with Arizona to an extent), there are programs with better historical pedigrees than Georgia and potentially more cash to offer.

Given that popular names like Grant and Anderson have now come and gone, the rest of the pickings appear to be either a.) thin or b.) unlikely, particularly given that Georgia is potentially third in the pecking order for luring the best talent.

That isn't to say there aren't plenty of names being floated out there by everyone from legitimate basketball people to guys on the street who have never seen a Georgia basketball game in person. (And as a side note, isn't it odd how much more interest there is in this hire than there had been in the program at pretty much any time in the past six years?)

So, who might it be? I absolutely caution you by saying that I know no reason to assume these names are likely candidates, possible candidates or even candidates at all. But given that so many fans are about to leap from tall buildings after losing out on Anderson, I think it's a good idea to open the refrigerator door and scan the leftovers for a few minutes to see what we've got.

The Prodigal Son

Tubby Smith -- He's a name people around Georgia will get behind, he obviously can recruit Georgia well (he's still getting them in Minnesota) and it would be a heck of a story to have him come home. Having said all that, I highly doubt it's happening. Tubby has said repeatedly that he's staying in Minnesota, and he has -- to my knowledge -- a rather cumbersome buyout if he leaves.

The Big Names

Tom Izzo -- Sure, his name has been out there, including for the Kentucky job. But while Georgia might have a lot of cash to throw around, they'd likely have to top Mark Richt's salary to land Izzo.

Jeff Capel -- From Day 1 of the search, his name was near or at the top of fans' wishlists, but the general consensus has remained that he's sticking it out at Oklahoma. And if Mizzou has the cash to match a Georgia offer, you can be pretty certain Oklahoma does, too. FOX Sports is reporting that Capel is now back atop Georgia's wishlist, but this also from the site that floated the Capel rumors with little sourcing several weeks ago.

Sean Miller -- He has a long-term deal at Xavier, and while some fires were stoked early on him, there hasn't been much talk in a while.

The Biggest Name

Bobby Knight -- It isn't happening. No way, no how.

The NBA Guys

Sam Mitchell and Reggie Theus -- anything is possible I guess, but while there hasn't been much said by Damon Evans or Michael Adams, they have made a point of saying they want a coach with a proven track record on the recruiting trail, and these guys are pretty far removed from their last recruiting trip.

The ACC Also-Rans

Oliver Purnell, Leonard Hamilton and Frank Haith -- Each of the three names has been mentioned at one time or another, and ESPN's Andy Katz floated Purnell and Haith on Tuesday as potential replacements should the Anderson thing fall through. Of the three, Haith seems the most likely to actually take the job if it's offered, but Damon would have to work some serious public relations to smooth over that hire with a fan base that had expected more.

The Outsiders

Herb Sendek -- He has SEC ties after being an assistant at Kentucky, has recruited the South as a head coach at N.C. State, and has won at a football school at Arizona State. He's got a lot to like, but the name is pretty far out of left field at this point.

Scott Drew and Tim Floyd -- Both candidates have some impressive name recognition and both fulfill another important aspect of the Georgia search -- they've proven they can win at a football school. Floyd reportedly was a candidate when Georgia hired Dennis Felton, so he could certainly be on Georgia's radar again this time. The problem with both candidates is that they come with a certain level of baggage that, given the scars of the Jim Harrick era, Georgia may not be willing to accept.

The Surprise Candidates

Ummm... your guess is as good as mine. Hey, everyone is pretty bummed about the swing-and-miss on Anderson, but Damon Evans is no dummy either. There's just as good a chance that, given the tight-lipped nature of the proceedings thus far, Georgia has another candidate targeted who will come completely out of left field. Remember, the search firm in charge of identifying the next coach handled the same situation for LSU a year ago and plucked Trent Johnson seemingly out of thin air. That could certainly be a possibility again this time, and given the amount of money it appears Georgia is willing to spend, there can't be a lack of candidates willing to sign their name on the dotted line.

So, who am I forgetting?


Chris said...

Would Giliespie even consider coaching in Athens? Just a thought

So. Flo. Haith Hater said...

I don't want him necessarily, but Gillespie would be better than Haith.

For goodness sakes, if we can't get a coach for 2.3 million we might as well just fold up the shop on UGA basketball...

Hobnail_Boot said...

Stevens from Butler, and the coach at Wichita State.

Anonymous said...

Got to agree with Chris and Haith Hater. Gillispie is probably the only likely candidate you missed.

Anonymous said...

What ever happened to the Lon Krueger rumors?

I heard Jerry Tarkanian on the radio the other day. He does not have much going on right now.

Man, Damon has royally screwed this one up. I agree, David, that the silence from Evans on this is deafening. Just give us something to be happy about.

Alabama is looking smarter every day. Why we did not go after Grant is beyond my comprehension. Maybe he will be a failure at Bama, but I doubt it.

At this point, you might want to start looking at lead assistants for big programs, because that is what we are going to end up with.

Mike In Valdosta said...

First of all, So. Flo. Haith Hater, we can get a coach. Andy in Athens said he would do it for 1/10 of that. Second, it appears we offered 2.1m and MO upped it to 2.3m for 7 years counting incentives.

Way too soon for Gillispie. He needs to "re-boot" at a smaller school.

IMHO, our top-tier candidate pool was three. Grant, Andersona and Capel are all hot commodities. There are a lot of proven quality coaches out there, but I believe we are narrowing our search to African-Anerican cadidates. Every name "floated" fits this profile.

I have no problem with that and think it is the right thing to do. I believe Felton and Tubby are the only "minorities" to ever hold head coaching jobs at UGA.

If this holds true, and Capel is unatainable a good list to work from may look like this:

Hamilton, Purnell, Amaker, Dawkins and the First Brother In-Law. Not exactly what anyone is looking for. At this point, I would be happy with Hamilton. Hamilton has recruited he state of Georgia far better thean UGA in recent years.

RC said...

Kruger, Stevens, Gregory would qualify as solid Plan B guys.

From out of left field, totally off the radar? How about P.J. Carlesimo or Rick Majerus?

Ubiquitous GA Alum said...

Mike in Val ...

"Hamilton has recruited the state of Georgia far better thean UGA in recent years."

The same could be said for just about every coach b/w the MS river up and down the eastern seaboard.

Anonymous said...

The search firm is doing an awful job, btw. This same firm recommended Gilispie for the Kentucky job two years ago (and we see how that worked out) and identified Anderson as a potential hire to UGA.

So we made Anderson an offer, and he proceeds to pee on our facilities and commitment to winning before taking a half million dollars less to stay at Missouri. REALLY GOOD JOB by the search firm of identifying an interested candidate.

And, oh yeah, the search firm also managed to p--- off Anthony Grant before he took the Bama job.

The next step needs to be for Damon to get rid of the search firm, or at least stop listening to them.

rbubp said...

Anon 10:34, you know the search firm doesn't recommend candidates. You just know they don't do that.

They negotiate terms and determine interest. That is all. THere is no one who would leave a 2.3 mil salaried position to the recommendation of a team of non-experts.

Anonymous said...

Somewhere this morning Jeff Capel is laughing his fanny off at the prospect of Georgia coming after him. I'm sure he's delerious at the thought of using us like a $2.oo whore to get a fat raise at Oklahoma.

Anonymous said...

Why would we want Gillespie when even our team (the worst in the SEC) beat him (and his far better recruits) at Rupp Arena this year?

Anonymous said...

Kruger, Lorenzo Romar and Rick Barnes.

rbubp said...

Anon 11:05, I thought the same. Jeff Capel is certainly out of the running for us at this point.

Anonymous said...

rbubp - It is my understanding that the search committee identifies candidates who meet a specified criteria and have a potential interest. They determine the potential interest of a coach by speaking with representatives of the coach, usually their agent. They should also evaluate the motivations behind the expressed interest. The firm then presents its findings to the client, again with analysis of how well the various candidates meet the criteria and the level of interest as determined by the firm during their investigation. Clearly, the search firm misread the level of interest and motivation of Anderson, or Damon would never have offered him the job. This represents a failure of the search firm.