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.
Once 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.
But 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
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.