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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Fleeting Thoughts: Coaching Search Edition

"Ya see, Coach, we got out-speculated, out-rumored and
out-offered. Bottom line, we just need to execute."


A few thoughts from a dispassionate observer of the situation (OK, so I'm actually fairly passionate about getting an end to this story, but you know what I mean)…

Regarding Georgia...

-- I'm not sure that missing out on Kirby Smart is the end of the world. At this point, I don't buy the argument that we don't know whether or not he's really a good coach -- Mark Richt and Nick Saban aren't going to throw around that much cash on someone they aren't sure about. But it's pretty clear that Smart has a bright future, which may come sooner than later. I don't think Georgia should be trying to hire someone who has exhausted his upward mobility, but for the sake of the stabilization of the program, I'm not sure they need someone looking to bolt in a year or two either.

-- I've said all along that getting the right guy is not just the top priority, but really should be the only priority. I still stand by most of that, but we're getting to the point that Georgia needs to find an answer soon or there will start being some negative consequences.

-- For recruits, the two biggest factors they're usually looking for is their relationship with their coaches and their fit in the scheme the team runs. Right now, those are both mysteries for anyone considering Georgia, and signing day is fast approaching.

-- Two things that fans were rightly worried about before all this began: 1.) Would Georgia aim high? 2.) Would Damon & Co. spend the money it took to aim high? Both of those questions have been very much answered in the affirmative, which should give you plenty of confidence that this will still end well… eventually.

-- The question most fans probably want to know now is, why won't any of these guys take the job? That's one I'm still sorta shaking my head about.

-- Of course, the other side of that coin is this:

* Bud Foster has been at Virginia Tech for a quarter-century and still said Georgia had made a very appealing offer.

* John Chavis just got to LSU and still considered leaving.

* Kirby Smart just won a national championship and nearly bolted for Athens.

* Vic Koenning probably would have preferred to end up at Georgia, but the timing of things sent him to Illinois instead.

It's not like anyone is dismissing Georgia outright. But it would probably help if Mark Richt could bring Mariano Rivera in for the final negotiations.

-- Or maybe we need to take away Mark Richt's coffee.

-- Either way, you've got to hand it to Richt… in a bad economy, he's making a lot of money for people. Perhaps Obama should be giving Richt a call to head up the Treasury Department. ("Yes, that's right, Georgia has offered the auto industry $12 billion to become the defensive coordinator…")

Regarding Kirby...

-- First off, I think fans are potentially being a bit too harsh in their reactions to Kirby Smart's decision. Keep in mind, he wasn't "leading Georgia on" as so many people have written. If he was Georgia's top choice and he had told Georgia he might be interested, Mark Richt would not have offered the job to numerous other coaches.

The best synopsis of events that I've gotten is that, while there may have been some initial discussions, nothing substantive ever occurred between Richt and Smart until last week. When Georgia made the offer, it was for more money than most were expecting. Combine that with Smart's ties to UGA and I can completely understand why it was something he had to consider.

Still… if you make a pros and cons list of the reasons to stay at Alabama and the reasons to leave for Georgia, pragmatically speaking there's little question he made the right choice. The best reasons to leave would mostly have been emotional or environmental ones. I can empathize with someone torn between a practical decision and following your heart.

-- And for all those fans who think this was all about the money, imagine for a second that you're a 'Bama fan and Kirby had left. Wouldn't you have been saying the same thing?

-- In coaching searches, someone always gets their feelings hurt.

-- Bottom line: In sports, it's almost always about the money. Odds are, it would be for you, too.

-- All of that said, if he signed an offer sheet and then backed out at the last minute, that qualifies as a pretty dirty move.

On some other candidates...

-- Will Muschamp would be taking a pay cut of roughly 15-20 percent if he was offered what Kirby was offered, so those of you still holding out hope for him are going to be disappointed.

-- Here's a thought I've heard shared by a few readers, in particular, Texas Dawg: "Time to start hyping Tim DeRuyter before Texas A&M gets him. Amen.This is our guy. DHale, get it out there. He's going down to A&M to interview this week. We need to get to him before he commits to them. He's turned two dead last in their conference units (Ohio and Air Force) around in very fast time. He has an MBA. Sharp dude. We don't need another recruiter. That's taken care of. We need a tactician. DeRuyter's our dude. Get on it."

-- I already stated my case on why I thought Todd Grantham would be a strong hire, and I could be sold on Travis Jones pretty easily, too. I think there is a real upside to bringing in an NFL guy -- particularly when you consider that Florida just did it.

-- Given the fact that Richt has remained quiet throughout this whole thing is a sure indication that he's not worried about how this plays from a PR angle, and I would never suggest that he should make a hire for any reason other than that he think he's hiring the best available guy for the job. Having said that (h/t Larry D.) at this point in recruiting season and with as long as this has dragged on, making a splash in the headlines wouldn't hurt.

The bottom line, as Willie would say, is that Richt doesn't get a free pass on all this. The process hasn't played out perfectly, and the deals haven't been closed. So that's not good. But the search will ultimately be judged by the results -- both in terms of what coach gets hired and, potentially, what opportunities were missed.

The best-case scenario is that Richt learned some valuable lessons after being spurned by Foster and Chavis, and a back-up plan was already in place this time around. If things move quickly in a new direction, kudos to Richt. If the search sputters along for another week or more and the recruiting season closes with a whimper at Georgia, it better end up being one heckuva hire.

But again... before anyone jumps out a window, that final grade is far from being set.

ADDENDUM: Here's a quick correction pointed out anonymously...

"You are very much misinformed...Coach Richt has made only 1 formal offer."

OK, I stand corrected. I'm just going to quit reporting on any of this and I'm sure I'll be told when an offer finally happens.

Look folks, Richt was specifically asked what constitutes an "offer" and his response was, "I don't know."

It's a subjective term, and if we're going to debate what an offer really is in the most technical of senses, then reporting anything until someone's name is on the bottom line of a contract is useless. (And heck, maybe it is. I'd personally love to take a vacation until then.)

Did Chavis or Foster or Koenning have a contract put in front of them to sign? Maybe or maybe not. But if any one of the three had said, "Yes, I'll take the job and become your defensive coordinator," every bit of reporting I've done says the job would have been theirs. That, to me, is an offer. If you don't want to see it that way, that's fine, but you might as well just sit back and wait for the press release announcing the hire.

14 comments:

jferg said...

I would like a Grantham and Jones combo. I think NFL experience in a few key assistants could really improve team.
However, I am just ready for all of this to be over and for us to move forward.
Remember my old analogy of waiting for a girl to pick you for the Sadie Hawkins dance? Well, for all intensvive purposes the dance is the first week of Feb (signing day) and we are dangerously close to not being asked out.
If nothing else, Richt knows how to build the suspense. If he hits a homerun, the collective explosion of emotion that has been building over that past month could be dangerous! Tech fans...you may want to stay home that day! hahaha

Anonymous said...

1. We have only OFFERED ONE PERSON the job. Why does it keep getting said that Foster, Chavis, etc, were OFFERED. They were not. Kirby was.


2. Look up Joe Whitt, JR, and write something about him here, please. It seems that CMR is only content with old farts who have beeen around, or guys with whom he is very familiar.

I think it is about time to go find the next up-and-coming coaching star. Whitt, Jr has had a pretty meteoric rise. He went from an Auburn G.A. to Louisville's recruiting coordinator in 2 years. 2 years later, he was the DB coach for the Green Bay Packers. Say what you will about vets, but Charles Woodson just had the best year of his career, at 33, under a coach who is 2 years his junior.

The kid was born and bred Auburn, says he wants to be the head coach there one day. Hmm, thinking Vince Dooley, Erk Russell, Stacy Searels here...just google Joe Whitt Jr and read about what Dom Capers and Charles Woodson have said about him.

I do not think that UGA fans would be excited about him initially, but reading all of Whitt's quotes, it is clear that he has a drive and passion that our coaching staff has lacked for years. I am tired of old farts who are resigned to being defensive coordinators until they make retirement. I want a young dude with passion, hunger and the drive to dominate the world. I think Whitt has those things.

Anonymous said...

Want more money, but hate the hassle of packing up the living room and enrolling the kids in a new school? Now you can have the best of both worlds!

Apply today for membership in the Mark Richt Golden Rewards Club! Simply call the University of Georgia, and see the paycheck at your CURRENT job swell immediately!

Hurry, though, time's limited! Eventually he's going to find a warm body to coordinate his defense, and the gravy train will be stopped in its tracks! Call today!!

And, back by popular demand this fall, we're bringing back the UGA Open Field Bonus Rewards Program for Mediocre Quarterbacks and Tight Ends! The program was so popular with SEC offenses last year, we couldn't give it the boot(leg)!

Anonymous said...

I don't know what constitutes an offer, either, but it's kinda like that famous quote from some politician about porn... something along the lines of, I don't know how to tell you what it is, but I know it when I see it.

I don't know how many people have been "offered" this job, and the spin machine can do what it wants, but Bud Foster was offered this job. Maybe Chavis, too. David's absolutely right... during the conversations with UGA, if either man had said "yes" at some point during the conversation, the end result would have been a hiring. That's an offer.

KC said...

Look guys, what's done is done. Maybe we offered all those guys before Kirby, and maybe we didn't. The fact remains that it is January 12, and we still don't have a DC, and Richt's focus should be on getting the right guy ASAP regardless of what has happened until this point. The only question I want answered is who does Coach Richt want to win this weekend's game between Dallas and Minnesota?

Davis said...

I am beginning to think that this might be an athletic dept problem as a whole. Mike Anderson last year and now this debacle. People may just realize that Damon is not the best AD to work for. There have been rubblungs from Butts Mehre that the administration is very difficult to work for. Many people have complained about the micro managing that goes on. I may be missing the point but it deserves some consideration.

Hunker Down said...

I like Air Force's Tim DeRuyter. Check this out:

Against Navy's triple option (hello PJ) - held them to 209 total yards and lowest point total of the season at 13 in regulation.

Against Utah's spread (hello Urban Meyer) - held them to their lowest scoring output of the season at 16 in regulation.

(Both of the above games went into OT so I didn't count the 10 points allowed in OT)

Against Houston's air show (hello 5600 passing yards) - held them to lowest scoring output of the season at 20.

Also held TCU to their third lowest scoring output at 20.

Air Force played some pretty potent offenses of all styles and held their own with service academy defenders. This guy knows what he is doing.

NCT said...

Re "porn" analogy above: It's not the teat, it's the tumidity.

Joeski said...

I personally will just reiterate what I have said before: Smart would've been the crowd-pleaser as well as a good choice, but I trust Mark Richt. After all, when he hired BVG for his staff originally, every Dawg fan was scratching his head (and if you say you weren't, you're a liar).

I can't imagine that the recruiting is going to suffer as much as everyone seems to think it will be. These kids are not stupid: they know that Richt is going to get somebody, that UGA puts a lot of defensive players in the NFL, and that there is plenty opportunity for playing time on the defensive side of the ball coming up.

About the only reason I really want this search to get over with is so I don't have to keep reading loudmouths who for some reason think they have more coaching acumen than Richt complaining on the comments section of blogs.

gene said...

Once again, good job all round Dave. I really appreciate your style, efforts and committment to keep us all informed of the topic du jour.

Paul Westerdawg said...

I'll say it again: Fuck You Kirby Smart.

Billy D said...

hahah ABC... That's why you are the best DH. Classic.

Breakdown said...

First off...You aren't getting Grantham and Jones together...For one, it's more than likely they at least one of them is going to be in the NFC Championship...And possibly the Super Bowl since no one wants to put a chokehold on the NFC..

2...They are both NFL Defensive Line Coaches that have very respecatble front lines...One gets to become the D/C while the other becomes a second fiddle? I don't think that will happen at all..Even if New Orleans and Dallas get beat this weekend...

It's one or the other and I'd take the guy that has extremely deep UGA roots..DeRuyter is an interesting choice if New Orleans and Dallas wins this week...

UGA *CANNOT* wait until January 23rd/24th for one of those teams to be eliminated so we can then go through the process of hiring a coach which won't be final till midweek (27th-28th)..That leaves what? A little more than a week and a half till signing day?

It comes down to DeRuyter/Jones/Grantham with Grantham in a far first. But if Dallas wins (which is extremely likely since Minnesota is falling off a cliff) and New Orleans win, then UGA *NEEDS* to push for DeRuyter for all the reasons that has been explained before. He's locked down triple-option, spread and pass-happy offenses with "sub-par" recruits (well hell, are they truly recruits since they are signing up for the military?).

Keese said...

Guys relax....we'll get a good one. And I'm with DH on this one. NFL guy with playcalling experience. With a NFL guy, it's possible they could bring more NFL position coaches as well. There are far to many intangible benefits to having this advantage beyond schemes or playcalling.