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)…
-- 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…")
-- 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.