I wanted to start today with a comment, posted anonymously:
"why oh why have we not hired a DC yet...this is so annoying. now ESPN's rumor central says it could be mid January before we announce and they are proclaiming it will hurt recruiting...ANNOYING."
First off, if you only keep one New Year's resolution this year, let it be to stop reading ESPN's rumor board. Remember when they said Mark Richt was getting fired so Georgia could hire Charlie Strong? Or remember when they said there was an 80 percent chance Mark Stoops was getting the DC job, even though they simply misread a story saying that about the Florida State job?
Trust me, they know less about what's going on than you do. All they're doing is combing through stories on other sites and either drawing outlandish conclusions or, potentially, just making things up.
I'd also recommend avoiding FootballCoachScoop.com as well. Perhaps the least integrity of any site I've ever seen that professes to actually cover sports.
Secondly, I hate to sound like Mark Richt when I write this but... the coaching hire will happen when it happens. There's really no point in fretting over the when part of it, because it will do you no good.
Besides, what's the worst case scenario? Georgia misses out on one, maybe two recruits? That's probably unlikely, but even if it's true, isn't that much better than dropping close to a million bucks and several years of games wasted on the wrong coordinator? Yes, we'd all like to see this happen sooner than later -- particularly me, who would LOVE a vacation -- but the most important thing is that Richt finds the right person for the job.
Besides, signing day is still six weeks away, and while the new DC might be another carrot for Georgia to dangle, that's all just sizzle. Mark Richt is the steak. He's why recruits come to Georgia, and he's no doubt doing a thorough job of convincing his guys that he has their best interests at heart when making this hire.
Of course, it does behoove Richt to get something done in the next week to 10 days, both to get the rest of the coaching staff in place in time to make some in-home visits before signing day and to talk to players like Rennie Curran and Reshad Jones about their NFL decisions. But again, those are short-term issues, and Richt is making a long-term hire.
The other two major concerns I've heard from fans are these:
1.) The media is overplaying the angle that Richt has been turned down by too many potential assistants.
2.) Richt looks like an idiot because he's been turned down by too many potential assistants.
While the two statements seem like they're mutually exclusive, there's probably a kernel of truth to both.
On one hand, the Bulldogs' DC search is really the big news around Georgia (which should frustrate the heck out of Tech fans, right?) and the media is bound to be covering it as extensively as possible. But Richt isn't talking about it, so that leaves two other possibilities for reporters, bloggers and TV and radio types -- they can track down leads from other places or they can speculate endlessly.
There have been some solid leads tracked down, and some of those leads -- from Bud Foster to Vic Koenning to John Chavis -- have turned out to be pretty accurate. At least as far as we know. Again, Richt isn't talking, and what we know about hearing from the potential hires is that it is but one side of an often complex story.
In the cases of Foster and Chavis, both got new deals out of their dalliances with Georgia, so it behooves them to talk up the level of interest UGA had. I'm not saying they're lying -- in fact, I'd probably argue that most of what they've said has been accurate and professional -- but again, it's their version of events. In Koenning's case, he wanted to come to Georgia, and Georgia had at least moderate interest in bringing him in, but because the Bulldogs were slow to move, the situation was complicated by what happened at Illinois.
So what do we have? We have lots of speculation, which would be fine if so much of it wasn't digested by fans as if it were more substantive than that. We have at least three coaches who were approached about the job who have wound up with new contracts from someone other than Georgia. And we have Mark Richt, still waiting silently.
So yes... the dire developments have been a bit overstated.
And yes... from the outside, Richt is looking a little silly right now. After all, it's one thing to have a short list of candidates. It's another to have a wish list. It at least appears like it has been more of the latter so far.
But again, that's all the more reason not to rush to remedy the situation. Because if Richt looks bad now (and I'm not sure he should -- after all, he's aimed high), he'll look far worse if he brings in someone who can't handle the job. The headlines this time next year will be all about how he failed to bring in a real DC like Foster or Chavis or Kirby Smart.
What behooves Richt, regardless of the current public perception, is to make sure he has the right guy in the end. Because if Georgia's defense shaves 10 points per game off their total from 2009 next season, no one will even remember that Foster and Chavis and Smart were discussed at all, and the 2011 recruiting class will be looking at UGA as a destination for big-time defenders.
Now, on to some links...
-- The Leather Helmet Blog takes a closer look at a couple of the potential DC candidates now coaching in the NFL.
-- Dick Bumpas' name won't seem to disappear in the coaching rumors, but Macon Dawg thinks that maybe it should.
-- Marc Weiszer looks at the best records during the 2000s in college football and sees Georgia comes up ninth. That's pretty solid, but what jumps out at me is this: Of the eight programs ahead of UGA, two play in mid-major conferences (so presumably, Boise State and TCU wouldn't have enjoyed quite that success playing 10 years in the SEC); Of the top 10, the SEC has three teams. The Big 12 is the only other conference with more than one (2 - Oklahoma and Texas); And other than the non-BCS teams, every team ahead of Georgia on the list has a national title in the 2000s.
-- If I had a criticism of Mark Richt after the 2007 and 2008 seasons, it's that he put a bit too much stock in the team's strong finish. Hey, the Sugar Bowl was a big win, but Hawaii was hardly a worthy adversary. And 10 wins is generally a good thing, but it still constituted a disappointment a year ago. I think Richt allowed those things to cloud his judgment about some of the underlying problems.
This year, he's talking up the end of the season again. The difference is that he made changes that needed to be made anyway, and that's extremely commendable.
-- This is from a few days ago, but it's a great photo essay of the Independence Bowl from Friends of the Program. It really gives you a sense of the excitement that is Shreveport, La.
-- Da'Rick Rogers didn't exactly light it up in the Under Armour All-Star game.
-- I enjoyed Every Day Should Be Saturday's thoughts on the Sugar Bowl... and Brian Billick really didn't suck. Which was a surprise.
-- Hunker Down Dawg has the perfect analogy to the Mike Leach situation at Texas Tech.
-- Get the Picture tries to make sense of everything that's happening at Texas Tech right now, and this section sort of jumped out at me...
"Picking a fight with ESPN is a risky strategy, as we’re all seeing right now."
I'm not arguing with the Senator -- because he's probably right -- but is that really what's going on? Is this really a fight that involves ESPN? I've only been following the story in bits and pieces, but it does sort of feel that way, right? First because the primary player involved is the son of ESPN's Craig James. Second, because ESPN is covering the story so extensively.
But really, is ESPN picking sides? Is this about fighting ESPN? And should ESPN be "fighting" in a story it's covering, regardless of whether or not Leach is trying to pick a fight?
I don't know the answers, but I think think the fact that we're asking them -- and the fact that many fans are openly rooting for Leach simply because they dislike ESPN -- goes to show what happens when a network that size starts shirking its journalistic responsibilities in favor of ratings. ESPN is the single biggest purveyor of sports news, and the vast majority of the people I talk to simply don't trust much of what the network reports.
-- I don't watch "Saturday Night Live" often anymore, but I will make it a point not to miss Charles Barkley as host.
-- I have seen the future for me, and it doesn't end well. So long, Washington Times sports section.
-- Here's a look at some commemorative stamps the postal service will be releasing this year. I like the impressionist artists and the Negro Leagues ones quite a bit.
-- The new "Ghostbusters" film will start shooting next summer. Woo-hoo! (I think.)
-- Focus offers the 11 best businesses on TV.
-- Ever wonder what happened to '90s alt bands The Verve Pipe and Presidents of the United States of America? You'll be surprised.
-- And finally, I am mother friggin' tired of these mother friggin' snakes in this mother friggin' trailer!