Our first coach rankings (and a poll about Richt, Hewitt)

Mark Richt's Dogs just lost to Central Florida and finished 6-7.

Richt's Bulldogs lost to UCF and finished 6-7.

Paul Hewitt's Jackets have loss to Kennesaw State and Siena.

Hewitt's Jackets lost to Kennesaw State, Siena.

Coaches generally are not always the most popular figures in this city (or maybe any city). But given the general current upswing of the pro sports franchises, there really are only two coaches that would draw a no-confidence vote right now: Georgia football coach Mark Richt and Tech basketball coach Paul Hewitt.

I’m going to ask you a question soon. But first, here’s my rankings of the eight coaches for the four major pro sports teams – Atlanta Dream(s) fans, please stop emailing me – and the four college teams.

Which coach is more likely to turn around his program?

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This is NOT based merely on their overall resume but rather how things are currently trending on their respective team/program.

♦ 1. Mike Smith (Falcons): Has led the Falcons to three straight winning seasons and two playoff berths, with the current team being touted as a Super Bowl contender. He keeps players on an even keel, regardless of whether they won or lost.

♦ 2. Craig Ramsay (Thrashers): Has installed an effective system and motivated and developed a low-budget roster, leading to one of the NHL’s surprise teams. The Thrashers could make the playoffs.

♦ 3. Mark Fox (Georgia basketball): Awakened a dead program and a comatose fan base, engineering upsets in year one. The Dogs could be in the NCAA tournament this year.

♦ 4. Fredi Gonzalez (Braves): Difficult to put him higher or lower because he hasn’t managed a game for the Braves yet, but he was respected for the job he did in Florida by everybody except the Marlins’ owner.

♦ 5. Paul Johnson (Tech football): Two strong seasons (9-4 and 11-3, including the ACC title) were followed by one awful one (6-7, capped by an Independence Bowl loss to Air Force). Big questions include how well he can recruit and will the Jackets’ special teams improve.

♦ 6. Larry Drew (Hawks): A case could be made that he deserves to be ranked higher because he has gotten players to share the ball more than Mike Woodson did. The Hawks are 22-14 despite having injury problems, but they’re 2-4 against three teams ahead of them in the East: Boston (0-2), Orlando (2-1), and Miami (0-1).

♦ 7.  Mark Richt (Georgia football): The Dogs have underarchieved with their talent in the past few years and too often they appear to lack an edge or direction. Other programs in the SEC have passed them by. Richt’s win totals in the past four years have dropped from 11 to 10 to eight to six and this year Georgia went 3-5 in a down season for the SEC.

♦ 8.  Paul Hewitt (Tech basketball): The Jackets are 7-6 and haven’t even played an ACC game yet. They’ve lost to Kennesaw State (which has dropped 10 straight since), Siena (4-8) and most recently Charlotte (8-6). Last season, Tech went 23-13 and got back to the NCAA tournament but won only one game with a team that included Derrick Favors and Gani Lawal.

So there are my rankings. Agree or disagree?

Now here’s the other question: Which coach do you believe is more likely to turn around their respective program: Richt or Hewitt?

I’ve got a poll up. (Try to answer honestly without regard to whether you’re a Georgia or Tech fan, though I realize that may be asking too much.)

Thanks, and I’ll check back for comments.

Follow me on Twitter @JeffSchultzAJC; friend me at Facebook.com/JeffSchultzAJC

383 comments Add your comment

Paul

January 3rd, 2011
11:20 am

Nice job setting Mark Fox up at three. He has definately turned the Dogs’ program around.

Would you agree that Smith is a Distant First?

Jim

January 3rd, 2011
11:24 am

Who’s Fredi Rodriguez? He must be the guy taking over for Barry Cox.

Herschel Talker

January 3rd, 2011
11:24 am

Schultzie:

These rankings are perfect. Well done. And kudos again on a great piece on Mark Richt after that disgraceful performance. It is a disgrace that we have to go through another year of this madness.

HT

ray

January 3rd, 2011
11:25 am

In spite of some rabid bloggers, Mark Richt is still very popular with the UGA fan base. He is perceived as a great coach that has fallen on hard times. UGA would be foolish to send him packing and they won’t unless he does not win 9 games next year, which he will. Richt could run for governor of GA and would be a front runner.

Mark Richt

January 3rd, 2011
11:26 am

I should be a lot higher. I won two SEC titles. Pay no attention to my 6-7 campaign. We’ll make the necessary changes. We’re bringing back Willie Martinez to run the defense and Ray Goff to run the offense.

DawginLex

January 3rd, 2011
11:26 am

Agree with the listing but you could add in GA State and GA southern’s football coaches.

then the list would be:

Smith
Monken
Ramsay
Fox
Curry
gonzalez
Johnson
Drew
Richt
Hewitt

Smith is number one by a landslide and there is a big dropoff to #2 regardless of who is on the list.

GT Dude

January 3rd, 2011
11:29 am

at #8, you’ve got Hewitt ranked too high

Paul H

January 3rd, 2011
11:29 am

If I could predict the future and knew for certain that one of them would turn it around, I would predict Richt. But confidence is shaky on either turning around their respective programs.

Jerry

January 3rd, 2011
11:29 am

I’d rank Richt #1. Especially this year, after he turned it around mid season, 1-4, to 5-2 amazing.

Also, 96 wins in 10 seasons puts him in the top 5 in his profession, he BLOWS AWAY ALL the other coaches on the list.

Not even close.

Dirty Jacket

January 3rd, 2011
11:30 am

Who the HELL is Freddie Rodriguez??? Mark Fox??? What is with the AJC/Fox love affair? Who is he, what has he done? Freddie Rodriguez?? That summarizes the goals and content of this article. Fail.

Herschel Talker

January 3rd, 2011
11:30 am

It’s official: ray is a fool.

Try reading all the blogs, and I’m not talking about the ajc. If you think that 90% of the fan base constitutes “rabid bloggers,” then you are a moron.

Jerry

January 3rd, 2011
11:31 am

Richt went from 1-4, to 5-2 this season.

Did a 2nd time in 2007.

Did it a 3rd time in 2002.

He’s a proven guru at turning around seasons.

Also, he’s finished in the top 10 18 times in 25 seasons as a coach.

Slaw Dawg

January 3rd, 2011
11:31 am

You insult Richt, you insult God.
Obviously, Reverend Mark is #1.

Jonathan Seinboldt

January 3rd, 2011
11:32 am

You mean Freddie Gonzalez???? Come on Schultz

Not Don Waddell

January 3rd, 2011
11:35 am

It’s funny that if this poll were taken in 2004, Mark Richt would have been #1 and Paul Hewitt #2.

My how times have changed.

JDawg

January 3rd, 2011
11:35 am

Oh damn . . . Jerry = Patrick.

I’ll come back later . . .

Archie

January 3rd, 2011
11:36 am

I agree with that order.

Not being sarcastic here, but at what point does Bill Curry get mentioned in these rankings. This is a college football town, and even though they’re only a first year program he did a spectacular job starting off that program on a winning season. That future is bright for Georgia State.

NORCROSS DAWG

January 3rd, 2011
11:36 am

uga has not beat a team with a winning record since 2009 season,,,get rid of richt now,,,,he keeps reading the wrong scripture to his team on sat. morning,,,cant motivate 100 brothers with a sermon on sat. morning!

True Brave

January 3rd, 2011
11:36 am

Fredi Gonzalez, not Rodriguez. Come on Schultz! But, great rankings! I do think Richt can turn the program around at UGA…at least I hope he can.

Ryan

January 3rd, 2011
11:37 am

Freddi Rodriguez? You are a racist. Rodriguez, Gonzalez, Hernandez, meh . . . they are all the same to Shultzie.

Ryan

January 3rd, 2011
11:37 am

Freddi Rodriguez? You are a racist. Rodriguez, Gonzalez, Hernandez, meh . . . they are all the same to Shultzie.

Beast from the East

January 3rd, 2011
11:37 am

Jeff,
Pay no attention to Jerry. It’s really Richt’s old lady….LOL!

Paul in RDU

January 3rd, 2011
11:39 am

Paul Hewitt has shown nothing in the last 6 years to make anyone think he can turn things around at GT (and by “turning things around” I mean a winning record in the ACC).
If by “turning things around” at UGA you mean having a winning record in the SEC then the answer is yes. If you mean winning the SEC East every 2-3 years, the answer is no. Mark Richt should have a better record in 2011 than in 2010, but everyone said that a year ago when comparing 2010 to 2009.

chattadawg

January 3rd, 2011
11:39 am

Wasn’t Freddi Rodriguez a long reliever with the Phils and Cubbiess back in the 50’s? Come on we expect better than this.

SOGADOG

January 3rd, 2011
11:40 am

You are comparing apples to oranges.

Buckeye

January 3rd, 2011
11:42 am

Smitty! Duh.

Mark Fox a distant #2 but he inherited Howard Thompkins. Fox seems like a good egg.

Mark Richt's Tan

January 3rd, 2011
11:43 am

If the GA Governor’s race was any indication how Georgians assess candidates for leadership, I would say Mark Richt has the safest job in the state. Losing season and apparent inability to manage a budget = overwhelmingly qualified. Go Dawgs!

GT Alum

January 3rd, 2011
11:43 am

Actually, Jeff, as a Tech alum and fan, I voted for Richt. Hewitt has lost pretty much all Tech supporters’ confidence. Things have been ugly for Richt, but not nearly as ugly as for Hewitt. The gap between 7 and 8 is almost as it is between 1 and 2.

Brent

January 3rd, 2011
11:44 am

Richt definitely has a better chance to turn things around than Hewitt. At least UGA football has shown some flashes of being competitive, GT b-ball has not even come close. Richt will be on a long leash ( pun intended) where Hewitt is gone as soon as D-Rad gets the money to buy out the lifetime contract.

Mark Fox

January 3rd, 2011
11:45 am

Who’s Howard Thompkins?

Dawghater

January 3rd, 2011
11:45 am

Hewitt’s wife didn’t want to leave Atlanta for the St. John’s job. Wonder how she’ll enjoy Atlanta when her husband’s unemployed and the 2 million dollar buyout runs out?

GT Alum

January 3rd, 2011
11:46 am

ray,

That’s more of a commentary on the quality of the gubernatorial candidates this state has had in the past few years than on Richt’s base of support. Plus, some UGA fans might support him in a run for the governor’s mansion just so they can get a new head coach.

Buzzzed

January 3rd, 2011
11:47 am

Okay, it is looking like Tech will finish at the bottom of the ACC. Will Dan let Hewitt get another raise and extension of his contract?

Paul H

January 3rd, 2011
11:47 am

Jeff, remember when Richt was #1 on the list without question?

Dawghater

January 3rd, 2011
11:47 am

Mark Richt’s Tan is a whiny democrat! Sore loser!

Jeff Schultz

January 3rd, 2011
11:47 am

Jim — Yeah, thanks. Made that fix. Sheesh.

joe

January 3rd, 2011
11:47 am

Richt has gotta be last on the list…losing season, team not showing up in bowl game, fulmer cup winner, recruits not living up to hype year after year, etc. If he loses a good chunk of recruiting commits, he’s gotta be fired…

Beatdown706

January 3rd, 2011
11:48 am

This is Larry Drew’s first year! Therefore, he shouldn’t be on this list. The problem with the Hawks is the Front Office. The ASG didn’t make an effort to get a big man. However, they made Joe Johnson one of the highest paid players in the NBA.(terrible) ASG should manage the Hawks better.

Mark Richt should fire BoBo! They need a high profile OC. UGA football needs to be restored. I am tired of losing to UF.

Thanks,

http://www.the404list.com

Jeff Schultz

January 3rd, 2011
11:49 am

OK, does anybody have a comment on anything other than Fredi Gonzalez/Fredi Rodriguez now that that’s been fixed?

Jim Sutherland

January 3rd, 2011
11:49 am

I LIKE Richt, Go Gators!

Sugar3000pounds

January 3rd, 2011
11:49 am

Pretty amazing Hewitt’s golden contract was devised of a highly improbably NCAA run that relied on a myriad of luck – all games were coinflips, and they could have easily been bounced by the 14 seed.

If Chan Got Fired Why Not Hewitt

January 3rd, 2011
11:49 am

Hewitt thought we played well in the loss to UNCC? GT in the ACC or A-10? Brane-less gave out the roll over contracts but soon keeping Hewitt is going to be laid on Drad’s door step or more importantly the lack of attendance, revenue. Drad the buck may stop with Hewitt but lacking bucks begins and ends with you.

GTBob

January 3rd, 2011
11:50 am

Its a shame that Paul Hewitt could not be put lower on the list. He makes Mark Fox look amazing and Mark Fox hasn’t done anything. As for Richt vs. Hewitt, Richt has a much better chance. I actually view UGA players as playing at about the same level they played at in high school. Hewitt’s players seem to get worse somehow.

windu

January 3rd, 2011
11:50 am

“Jeff Schultz has worked at the Journal-Constitution since 1989. The Associated Press Sports Editors (APSE) named him one of the top 10 columnists in the nation in 2008 among top circulation newspapers. He also has been honored in the past by the APSE, Cox Newspapers and Georgia Press Association, among others.”

Fredi Rodriguez.

I just feel sadness. Sadness for the people of Atlanta, sadness for the people that started the Atlanta Journal and the Atlanta Constitution so many decades ago. Even sadness for Jeff Schultz that he’s a part of the absolute mess that the AJC has become. Dang, I want to cry. I want Atlanta to have a respectable paper so badly, but it just doesn’t seem to be in the cards.

Jeff Schultz

January 3rd, 2011
11:50 am

Sogadog — Apples, oranges? I don’t think so. It’s a simple question: Which one is more likely to turn around their program?

GT Alum

January 3rd, 2011
11:50 am

Dawghater -

If the buyout was only $2M, Hewitt would be gone already. It’s $8M, which is why he’s not going anywhere until he gets fired. He knows he’s got a golden parachute, so he’s going to hang around as along as it takes for someone to push him out.

bart

January 3rd, 2011
11:50 am

Right on, Jeff. I might put Fox #2 and Ramsay #3 however. As a UGA alum and fan, I don’t have a lot of hope that the current football coaching staff can turn things around. I would encourage people to contact Greg McGarity to let their feelings be known one way or the other.

Black Man

January 3rd, 2011
11:51 am

GO THRASHERS!

Jeff Schultz

January 3rd, 2011
11:51 am

GT Alum — It’s hard for me to get an accurate gauge on support/lack of support but I’m inclined to agree that Richt has a greater percentage of defenders than Hewitt.

Jeff Schultz

January 3rd, 2011
11:52 am

Dawghater — I’m not sure Paul really wanted that job either.