(Updated below with Searels officially accepting the job.)
Reports are flying that Georgia offensive line coach Stacy Searels is closing in on taking a job with Texas coach Mack Brown, who has been churning assistants (and recently lost coach-in-waiting Will Muschamp to Florida).
First thought: Does Searels need a ride to the airport?
Second thought: Is it abandon ship time in Athens?
First, about Searels: He came to Georgia from LSU in 2007 with a solid reputation. But the Bulldogs’ offensive line has been central to their problems, particularly in the running game.
Now, I suppose some of the blame also could be attributed to the team’s oft-criticized strength and condition program (Dave Van Halanger recently was demoted), or to a perceived lack of talent up front, or to coach Mark Richt. But Searels can’t be absolved of responsibility. Coaching the offensive line is his job and he also carries the title, “running game coordinator.”
I’ve already received Tweets from readers asking me if Searels’ departure just two weeks before national letter of intent day would hurt recruiting. I doubt it. Any recruit who is willing to come to Georgia knowing the state of things and amid questions of Richt’s job security is not going to change his mind based on the offensive line coach leaving. That recruit probably is coming for playing time and to be at Georgia.
Onto the second thought: Searels has good reason to look around, as would any Georgia assistant coach. We don’t know where this program is headed. If Richt loses his job after next season, his assistants are out of work.
In particular, head coaches tend to bring in their own offensive line coach. If Searels sees guaranteed long-term employment elsewhere — and certainly at a solid program like Texas — he would be nuts not to take the job.
Searels would be going from a 6-7 team to a 5-7 team. But Texas was in the BCS title game two seasons ago and won the title in 2005. Mack Brown’s not going anywhere.
UPDATE: The Rivals Texas sports site Orangebloods.com reports that Searels has accepted the job. However, Texas has not announced the hiring and the Austin American Statesman reports there will be no announcement tonight. An excerpt from the Orangebloods story:
Sources close to Texas and Georgia have confirmed to Orangebloods.com that Georgia offensive line coach Stacy Searels has accepted the Texas offensive line coaching position. That could bring to an end a nearly two-month-long process in which Mack Brown has replaced six assistant coaches and made changes at two other staff positions.
UPDATE II: Searles was named the Texas offensive line coach Thursday night. Here’s an except of the official announcement, via Tim Tucker’s blog.
“When you’re in this profession, you want to coach at the highest level,” Searels said. “From afar, I had always been interested in The University of Texas because I thought it was one of the premier jobs in the country. You can win a championship, you have great leadership, great players, a great pool of talent to recruit from, and I think there’s no reason you can’t win and win big at Texas, and I want to be a part of that.”
Searels joins the Longhorns after coaching the offensive line at Georgia for four seasons beginning in 2007. He added the duties of running game coordinator in 2009. During his time in Athens, the Bulldogs have ranked in the Top 25 in the nation in fewest sacks allowed three times, including ranking sixth and leading the SEC in 2009 with just 12.
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So Richt would have a key position to fill on his staff, presumably after recruiting.