If this was Richt’s game plan, it’s blowing up in his face

Mark Richt has won his share of games, but his search for an assistant has caused embarrassment.

Mark Richt has won his share of games, but he has led an embarrassing job search.

Mark Richt is trying to fix his football team. There’s nothing wrong with that. But a guy needs a plan. If this was Mark Richt’s plan, he has serious deficiencies as an administrator.

Richt made a conscious decision to go after Bud Foster, John Chavis and Kirby Smart — three of the highest profile defensive coordinators in the nation, none of whom were lacking in job security, none of whom were upset about their current situation, none of whom were looking to leave.

There’s nothing wrong with shooting high. There is something wrong when you’re made to look foolish by three consecutive candidates who play the game publicly but ultimately leverage job offers to get themselves raises at their existing schools.

bud-fosterOnce you cut through the business side of things and the emotional tugs and whatever special place Athens may hold in the hearts and minds of some of the world’s defensive coordinators, it really comes down to this: Foster, Chavis and Smart weren’t going any place.

Richt should have known that. Any humiliation the school or the football program has suffered is on him.

Maybe this all turns out OK. Maybe after hearing from Smart, Richt’s next phone call went to his next logical candidate: Todd Grantham, the Dallas Cowboys’ defensive line coach and a Bud Foster disciple. And maybe Grantham says yes and he fixes the Bulldogs’ defense and Georgia makes it back to a bowl game that isn’t considered a punch line of December.

john-chavis-lsuBut for now, all we have is damage. People are now wondering, “Why doesn’t anybody want to coach at Georgia?” Fans are upset. Players are in limbo. Recruits – who knows about recruits.

As a football coach, Richt has been drawing up game plans for years. This one failed. In a different time, maybe he could keep his long-shot pursuit of high-profile coaches quiet, so even if he were rejected, he could be spared some humiliation. But that’s just not possible anymore.

Why would Foster leave Virginia Tech? He has been attached at the hip with Frank Beamer and is his heir apparent.

Why would Chavis leave LSU? He has been there for

Bud Foster (top), John Chavis (middle) and Kirby Smart all said no.

Bud Foster (top), John Chavis (middle) and Kirby Smart all said no.

only one season and his resume doesn’t suggest he’s a job-hopper.

Why would Smart leave Alabama? The glory of coming back “home” shouldn’t and wouldn’t be the priority at this stage of his career.

Spare me the assaults from Bulldog nation on Smart’s character. He’s not a Benedict Arnold  for saying no. He’s a capitalist. He’s also smart. Maybe he was emotionally torn about the job offer. But when he thought about it, it made little sense to move. Why leave a national championship program for the same job? Why leave a school that may win the title again next year? If the objective is to be a head coach one day, isn’t Alabama the best jumping off point?

Tell me you wouldn’t be thinking that if the situation was reversed.

And by the way, if Smart really does love Athens that much and is making it his career objective to return there one day, why not just wait until the Georgia head coaching job opens up. That could be more sooner than later.

In the end, all Richt has accomplished is getting everybody raises. When he leaves coaching, maybe he should be an agent.

When Smart announced he was staying in Tuscaloosa, coach Nick Saban said: “You expect guys like Kirby to get lots of opportunities to do things. We want to continue to help him develop his career here so that when he leaves here, it’s going to be as a head coach and probably in a very good situation.”

Even Richt should know, that’s only logical.

995 comments Add your comment

RB

January 12th, 2010
2:47 pm

ReidAdair

January 12th, 2010
2:47 pm

Very well said, Jeff. There’s nothing wrong with aiming high, but when you start getting shot down (especially repeatedly), people start to have doubts.

asa

January 12th, 2010
2:48 pm

HOW DID YOU EVER GET A JOB YOUR PITIFUL

coachKR

January 12th, 2010
2:49 pm

First! I don’t think Kirby was the right choice at this time. Just waiting to see who is!

Maddog

January 12th, 2010
2:49 pm

So who should he have approached, Jeff, if he knew Foster, Chavis and Smart would not come? How do you KNOW they would not come?

TechDan

January 12th, 2010
2:51 pm

Did anybody that is not a UGA fan really expect any different?

BurningRedBleedingBlack

January 12th, 2010
2:52 pm

First and this sucks!!! We need to really hurry up on this job search, I couldn’t agree with you more this plan has really blown up in his face. Come on Coach Richt lets get someone worth a damn in there.

nemov

January 12th, 2010
2:52 pm

Much ado about nothing… Richt will get Cowboys’ Grantham. Grantham BTW was Saben’s first choice for DC when he took the Dolphins job.

http://espn.go.com/blog/sec/post/_/id/8165/richt-zeroing-in-on-cowboys-grantham

Dawg Trainer

January 12th, 2010
2:55 pm

So, you can say Smart was being smart?

GMoney

January 12th, 2010
2:55 pm

Either bring in the guy from Air Force or Bob Shoop from William and Mary.

SLP

January 12th, 2010
2:55 pm

From now on leave the media out of the search process.

Spence

January 12th, 2010
2:56 pm

Jeff, you are the TMZ of reporting. Have you ever reported or written anything but the cheap and easy angle? I know you like being snarky and think that you’re very funny. But come on man, please offer us some insight other than the same old same old that is being spewed everywhere on the radio and on the internet.

At least random internet message boards have leads and do something more akin to reporting than what you do. You’re the Chelsey Lately of Atlanta sports without the humor or the looks. I’m sure that’s what you wanted to be when you were little.

Peadawg

January 12th, 2010
2:56 pm

D-Coordinator from Air Force!!! Grantham was already fired from his D-Coordinator job w/ Cleveland!

RxDawg

January 12th, 2010
2:58 pm

“Why leave a national championship program for the same job? Why leave a school that may win the title again next year? If the objective is to be a head coach one day, isn’t Alabama the best jumping off point?”

That was my thinking about Kirby Smart this whole time. It just didn’t make any sense. I agree with you there.

I however do not agree with you that Richt and UGA is some collosal failure when it has come to our D-coordinator coaching search. This is what I’ve concluded. Richt and staff has kept this entire search close to their chest. They have not given the media and fans any hints into what their are thinking and doing. This has lead to the media making assumptions and accusations instead of reporting facts. Most people buy it…this dawg fan doesn’t. We’ll get our guy, he will be good, and UGA will still field a competetive football team next year.

T-MAN

January 12th, 2010
2:59 pm

Jeff,it’s sad and disappointing for all dawg fans…but you have to ask yourself what’s going on in the decision making process that’s causing these letdowns..too many leaks and what ifs,find a coach and keep it on the downlow until you’ve reached an agreement.

reality check

January 12th, 2010
3:00 pm

Smart made the right choice and Georgia is better off that he did. Smart is a fine DC but he will be a head coach soon, probably after next season. A guy like Grantham has a similar skill set and is more likely to be around a while, unlike Smart.

Dave in Buford

January 12th, 2010
3:00 pm

The only way Kirby Smart was going to move to Athens was if Richt had made it plain that he was planning on retiring in less than five years and he, Smart, was the coach in waiting. Otherwise it wouldn’t have made any sense.

I find it very hard to believe that Mark Richt didn’t know all this … anybody who is already a DC in the SEC isn’t likely to move laterally. The Bud Foster attempt I can buy … it might have been a big enough payday and he might have wanted to try the SEC, but Smart and Chavis weren’t gonna happen unless something like the head coach slot was waiting at the end.

The next Georgia DC is (and ought to be) at a basketball school, like UNC, or a second level conference, like the Mountain West, and there’s nothing wrong with that … Van Gorder came out of Northern Illinois and there’s more like him out there. The question is gonna be, did Richt prepare for that part of the search or not?

A little perspective...

January 12th, 2010
3:00 pm

CMR probably did not expect any of these coaches to come, but it was worth asking them.
What I like about CMR is that he doesn’t care about what you, or pretty much anyone else, think about him.
UGA is only humiliated if WE let ourselves be humiliated.
CMR isn’t humiliated.
I would rather have a coach who will risk being rejected by these coaches than one who chooses not to ask because of that possibility.
People need to chill out about this.
It is ridiculous to think that UGA has lost it’s reputation as a great football program because of this search for a D coordinator.

J Dub

January 12th, 2010
3:01 pm

While I agree with your premise Jeff that this plan has definitely produced some perplexing feelings for GA fans, this is the same tired article that Bradley wrote yesterday. If Richt had not gone after Smart, Chavis, or Foster, surely you would have written about how he is not going after the right hires. This is a big decision. You don’t just go after the first guy you think will take the job. You usually don’t go into a bar and take the first chick home either. You aim high and you usually get shot down a time or two. Let’s just hope we get one of the decent looking chicks before its closing time and all that’s left are the two-baggers.

man boobss

January 12th, 2010
3:02 pm

promote gardner

Jeff Shultz

January 12th, 2010
3:02 pm

I’m only embarassed when I pick up my paycheck ….

Hey Dawgs

January 12th, 2010
3:02 pm

Dave Womack is available and is cheap.

Big Fat Alligator

January 12th, 2010
3:03 pm

I agree with Schultz, Smart will replace a failed Richt in a year or two. More mediocrity to come for the mighty Bulldogs.

Dawg Fud

January 12th, 2010
3:03 pm

Jeff,

agreed that Kirby made a sound business decision to stay at Bama. everything to gain by staying and getting an HC job.

HOWEVER, do not belittle Richt’s attempt to go after him. it showed me that he is serious and that the UGA program is FINALLY getting serious about top asst coaches.

i respect your journalistic effort allow let Richt, a professional, to do his job before you go bashing the plan. i think Richt knows a little more about this business than either one of us.

GO DAWGS!

ChattaDawg

January 12th, 2010
3:04 pm

The guy from Air force is Tim DeRuyter. He might be a good fit for us. He is young (46). Runs an aggressive 3-4 defense and stop some of the best spread offenses in 2009. Imagine what he could do with our talent.

Go Dawgs!

anotherdawg

January 12th, 2010
3:04 pm

This is the same way we went about hiring a basketball coach. That worked out well, so maybe this will too.

dawgface

January 12th, 2010
3:05 pm

None of the misses are embarassing for the reasons outlined – there’s no reason for those guys to make a lateral move. The search however is becoming a little embarassing from the cumulative effect of being turned down several times. The length of time the search is taking is also taking a toll.

Burdell

January 12th, 2010
3:05 pm

You can’t “right” better comedy than some of the posters on this blog –> asa in particular.

Good luck to UGA and Tech in the search for replacement DCs.

Minnesota Dawg

January 12th, 2010
3:05 pm

There’s nothing wrong with Georgia nor in the way it looks for a defensive coordinator. Sometimes y’all look for symbolism over substance! Just wait till we find the right fit and start winning again. All this arm chair quarterbacking will cease and reality will rule! Go Dawgs!

gatorman

January 12th, 2010
3:06 pm

nemov,

Then why didn’t he offer the job to Grantham in the first place, unless he is waiting for the Superbowl to be over? But that is not if, he said that he would have one in place by this week. I am not a DAWG fan, but I don’t want to see them implode either.

smokie joe

January 12th, 2010
3:06 pm

I BET YOUR A GREAT COACH TOO JEFF. WAIT I BET YOUR WERE A BAD GEEK WHICH WOULD VALIDATE WHY YOUR A TECH FAN! WHY DON’T YOU TALK ABOUT HOW TECH CAN’T BEAT ANYONE OUT OF THEIR OWN CONFERENCE AND THE FACT THAT THEIR TRYING TO HIRE A 100 YR. OLD D-COORD. YOUR A JOKE!!

nemov

January 12th, 2010
3:07 pm

“Grantham was already fired from his D-Coordinator job w/ Cleveland!”

Cleveland also thought Quinn was a franchise QB. Saben and Butch Davis struggled in the NFL and they’re great coaches. Grantham would be a fantastic hire.

TheAntiMe

January 12th, 2010
3:07 pm

I don’t think it hurts to try to get the best person for the job. It’s a no-win situation as if Mark Richt gone after the DC from Hooterville Jr. College all of the pundits would have criticized Richt for not aiming high enough.

Where there is smoke, there is...fun.

January 12th, 2010
3:08 pm

if this all u got say jeff go fishing with t.moore…or whatever he is doing.

jack bull

January 12th, 2010
3:08 pm

i’ll say it again, how has this blown up in his face?? kinda like wooing a girlfriend, you aim high, real high, and yes you will probably be shot down, several times, but, you tried,,,nothing wrong with that. nothing has blown up in anybody’s face, besides, according to most of you, the DC at West Georgia Universtiy would be better than what we had, right? so, no, nothing has gone wrong in this search..if i’m looking for sports reporter, particularly for football, i start with chris berman, then james brown, i probably end up with someone from the AJC, but at least i started at the top..nothing wrong with that, is there?

one more thing, Mark Richt isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, so the “sooner than later” comment was WAAAAYYYY out of touch with reality….

ridiculous

January 12th, 2010
3:09 pm

you have no cluse what your talking about. stop writing about uga football and stick to the count

tw3a

January 12th, 2010
3:09 pm

I don’t think it is looking foolish, I think it is showing you are not scared to shoot for the top

Dawg Fan

January 12th, 2010
3:10 pm

This is so dumb. No one will care at all about who said no if we get the right guy to say yes. Florida got turned down twice for their DC position. USC has been turned down several times for their HC position. Yes people are upset now but to worry about that is missing the big picture. I know you are caught up in the 24 hour news cycle but CMR is not. This hire is more important than immediate gratifiacation or even losing a recruit or two this year. Richt is trying to put the best team possible together to run our D. Good for him.

Iron Dawg

January 12th, 2010
3:10 pm

I’m still in the camp that says CMR should look at B. Green at Navy. If he can help Navy get to a better Bowl than UGA then think what he could do in Athens. Look at the folks that have been successful at an Academy and some of the successed they’d had after leaving. Heck, I don’t know if he’d leave Navy for UGA but we’ve got a better chance there than these “Pie in the sky” choices that are long-shots to begin with.

Billy Goat

January 12th, 2010
3:10 pm

beginning to beat the subject into the dirt, eh?

Dawg Fud

January 12th, 2010
3:11 pm

Jeff,

perhaps a nice follow up article to this would be how many HC offers Bama extended before they landed Saban.

worked out pretty well did it not?

not bashing you, just think the article is a bit sensational

Sick and Tired

January 12th, 2010
3:11 pm

I am really sick and tired of all these so called journalist for the AJC. Makes me sick. Why do I even read these idiotic blogs?

Ted Striker

January 12th, 2010
3:11 pm

I don’t have a problem with Richt going after the guys he pursued. I DO take issue with leaving an open offer on the table when a leak about an offer hits the press.

1) If it comes from the UGA side, there should be immediate consequences (and to my knowledge, nobody has been disciplined or fired).

2) If it comes from the side of the party being offered, the offer should be immediately rescinded.

If affairs were this poorly handled, Tiger Woods would have been exposed 2 weeks after he was married.

nemov

January 12th, 2010
3:12 pm

gatorman,

I don’t think offering the job to Smart is a mistake. It was worth a shot and Smart almost accepted. It’s hardly the end of the world. Richt’s backup plan is Grantham who is also a great coach.

anotherdawg

January 12th, 2010
3:12 pm

This is not the first time it took a while to get the right coach. In fact, it took the Gators, Falcons, Alabama, etc. quite a few years. And we’re just talking about getting assistant coaches, not a head coach.

Bob Dider caught here

January 12th, 2010
3:12 pm

This whole damn soap opera is starting to make me ILL! This has been going on for close to two months now!! I am really starting to lose patience with this whole process. At this stage I just say hire Garner and get the whole thing over with. We proved at Shreveport that RG could run a Defense with positive results. KS could have ended all of this about a month ago but yet he continued to play his alma mater for more money. Nothing wrong with that I guess but I imagine that KS has probably burned his last bridge into Athens.

Once again if CMR is going after Grantham then he is going up against some deep pockets in Jerry Jones. If the Cowboys even make it to the Superbowl then you can count on ole “plastic face” tripling any offer that CMR extends to TG.

Sorry but I know have to go and puke this has all just been so nausating!

Bubba Ganoosh

January 12th, 2010
3:13 pm

He did exactly what we dawg fans wanted him to do. If that deems him looking silly, then ill jump ship with him.

RedandBlack

January 12th, 2010
3:13 pm

You are absolutely correct with this article. Now Coach Richt may have to wait until after the Super Bowl before he completes his defensive staff. Forget the NFL guys at New Orleans and Dallas. Georgia should hire the DC at the Air Force Academy now. Go Dogs!!

Minnesota Dawg

January 12th, 2010
3:13 pm

Enter your comments here

PMC

January 12th, 2010
3:13 pm

They are using a search firm. Quite obviously the inside perception and the outside perceptions of the Georgia program are on different levels. That said, I’m not sure they were really suprised by any of the canidates either. I think they knew and expected this to be a difficult hire if they couldn’t steal someone like Foster or Smart. There is a list and eventually they will get someone. Recruiting will take a backseat to fundamentals for this next coach early on anyway. They can get lots more out of the current crop than they have.