(UPDATED BELOW WITH CHAVIS COMMENT)
(SECOND UPDATE WITH RICHT SAYING GARNER IS NOT A CANDIDATE)
When I posted a blog Tuesday morning about LSU defensive coordinator John Chavis telling one of his players that he was not interested in the Georgia job, contrary to rumors, the last thing I expected was that it would unravel into some inane and profane race debate. After becoming aware of it last night from a reader (while I was covering the Hawks’ dreadful performance), I had to close commenting and eventually deleted about 60 comments.
It’s with that, and some trepidation, that I inform you of one thing and ask another this morning:
♦ Chris Low, the respected SEC football writer at ESPN.com, posted a blog this morning with the headline, “Chavis on Richt’s radar at Georgia.”
♦ If Bulldogs coach Mark Richt doesn’t get the coordinator he wants to replace Willie Martinez, would it be so awful if he promoted Rodney Garner?
First on the Chavis thing. I wouldn’t have brought it up a second day in a row if somebody like Low didn’t report it. (Notice I wrote Low, not ESPN in general). An excerpt from the blog:
In talking to several people close to the situation, Richt has serious interest in Chavis and is prepared to throw some serious money at the veteran defensive coordinator, who headed up Tennessee’s defense for 14 seasons prior to joining Les Miles’ staff at LSU for this past season.
Chavis makes a lot of sense. He’s a proven commodity and knows the SEC well. The Tigers were 12th nationally this season in scoring defense, allowing 16 points per game. They gave up just 18 touchdowns in 12 games. Only five teams nationally yielded fewer touchdowns this season.
Low also pointed out this interesting stat:
Since his promotion to defensive coordinator at Tennessee in 1995, he’s 7-3 against the Bulldogs in Sanford Stadium. That includes LSU’s 20-13 win over Georgia this season.
If Richt has some super secret candidate on his radar that nobody has mentioned, he deserves kudos for being so stealth. There has been nothing to indicate that, however. Chavis obviously would be a strong hire. But the likelihood of him leaving LSU after only one season — when he stayed at his previous school for 20 — would be surprising. If nothing else, Chavis — like so many others — might just get a raise out of this.
Now, about Garner. He is not a coordinator. But the case can be made he is the second most important football coach at Georgia after Richt. Why? Because he’s the recruiting coordinator. He keeps getting raises because other schools keep coming after him because he keeps landing all of those 37-star recruits we obsess about.
After Martinez’s firing, there were a flurry of unsubstantiated rumors, mostly on Twitter, that Garner resigned after learning he was not a serious candidate for the defensive coordinator’s position. Garner shot down those rumors, obviously. He stayed for the Independence Bowl game and, with the aid of only two grad assistants, he directed a strong defensive performance in Georgia’s win over Texas A&M.
The fact Garner has never been the defensive coordinator — or presumably has received a strong offer to call plays for another school — has led to this perception that he is not worthy of that position. If that’s true, here’s my question: Why not? Doesn’t he deserve the chance? It’s a topic that I don’t know has been given the attention it deserves.
(UPDATE: Chavis says nothing to quell speculation)
Our Tim Tucker has blogged about Chavis’s non-denial/denial at a Capital One Bowl press conference when asked about the Georgia job. You can click the link above, but here’s an excerpt:
Asked at a Capital One Bowl news conference in Orlando about his possible interest in the Georgia defensive coordinator job, Chavis said: “Well, we’re excited about what we’re doing at LSU, and my focus has been on LSU and will continue to be on LSU. We have an opportunity to win 10 ballgames, and certainly that is what we want to do. We’ve got an opportunity to be the third team in the SEC to win 100 ballgames in a decade, and certainly that is what we want to do.
“So that is where our focus is going to be. I’ll talk as long as you want to about LSU and about our players. I’ll be happy to do that.”
In other words: no comment about the Georgia job.
Didn’t exactly put that rumor to rest, did he?
Richt told Tucker this morning that Garner is not a candidate for the coaching job. That confirms what most of us thought — that if he was going to get the job, it would’ve happened by now. Richt also said the job search could take longer than expected.
Richt sidestepped a question on Chavis. An excerpt:
Richt would not comment today on his interest in LSU defensive coordinator John Chavis or any other candidates. But he did say that Rodney Garner, the only holdover on Georgia’s defensive staff, is not under consideration for the DC job.
“No, Rodney is not a candidate for the job. He knows that,” Richt said. “We’re just still in the search.”
As for all the rumors swirling throughout Bulldog Nation about the search, Richt said: “I’m not taking any pleasure at all in what people might be going through out there. All I can say is . . . when I do have that decision made and it’s ready for public consumption, I’ll let everybody know. My goal is to get the right man for the job.”
Asked specifically about Chavis, Richt said: “I’m not going to make any comment on these things until we’ve got our man.”