Richt aiming high has not hurt UGA

Mark Richt has shown he's serious about upgrading Georgia's defense. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

Mark Richt has shown he's serious about upgrading Georgia's defense. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

Time for some perspective. You want to see a college football program damaged by a coaching search, look at the University of Tennessee and what their successful but misguided pursuit of Lane Kiffin last year has yielded.

But spare me the wailing and hyperbole about the state of the program in Athens. The idea that Mark Richt’s unsuccessful pursuit of three high-profile defensive coordinator candidates has inflicted humiliation and damage on his program might make for lively blogging, but it’s far removed from reality.

The fact that Bud Foster, John Chavis and Kirby Smart all were long-shots with no reason to leave their present jobs needs to be kept in mind. Maybe in a more gentlemanly era they wouldn’t have used Richt’s interest as public leverage to pry some more bucks out of their current bosses, but that’s unfortunately the way it’s done these days. And at least Richt and Damon Evans have put to rest the notion that Georgia is too tight-fisted to go after big names.

Sure, the protracted uncertainty about the DC might prompt some of Georgia’s recruits to look elsewhere. But odds are that was going to happen anyway in the wake of Willie Martinez’s firing. And depending on who the new DC is, the Dogs could attract a player or two who initially wasn’t leaning toward Georgia. One defensive recruiting class isn’t going to make or break the program.

It’s a turbulent era in college coaching, and while luring Smart away from national champion Alabama would have generated some feel-good PR, I’m not sure it would have done much for UGA in the long run. Chances are he would have been gone from Athens in a year or two when he got offered a head coaching job. That’s the problem with going after a hot young name. Call it the Tubby Smith Syndrome.

What matters isn’t the journey but where we end up.

The bottom line on Richt’s search won’t be evident until the new defensive coordinator is in place and we see how much (or if) Georgia’s defense improves. Whether it’s an assistant from the NFL, a relatively unknown DC from a smaller program or some biggie whose name hasn’t yet surfaced, it won’t matter a lick if Georgia’s scoring defense doesn’t get better.

And if the defense does once again become a strength for the Dogs and Georgia returns to contention for the SEC East title, no one is going to care or remember how long the search took or who said no along the way.

Humiliated? Damaged? Hogwash.

A couple of other thoughts on the defensive coordinator search:

Rumors are again circulating that Brian VanGorder might be interested in returning to Athens. I think that would be a mistake on both sides. The odds would be against VanGorder being able to recapture the “magic” of his era at UGA (which was helped considerably by talent he inherited from the previous coaching staff). And his job history in recent years doesn’t indicate he’d be likely to stick around very long anyway. Rehiring him would not be a step forward. …

Remember all those folks with “inside” information or “close ties” to Richt who kept assuring us all through the dalliances with Foster and Chavis that the hiring of Smart was already a “done deal” or that he was “signed and delivered” and just waiting for the BCS game to be over to make the announcement? Keep that in mind the next time someone offers up the “inside” word.

292 comments Add your comment

sarfdawg

January 13th, 2010
10:02 am

First? Is that how this game works?

sarfdawg

January 13th, 2010
10:05 am

VanGorder would really be a mistake? Really? He’s the most successful D coordinator Georgia had since Erk, and the defenses lack of success since he left is even more of an indicator. The Falcons defense has been well below average, and Georgia/VanGorder would be a very comfortable fit. That said, I’d still be surprised if it happened. Lot of pride on that man’s end.

Dawg Stephen

January 13th, 2010
10:06 am

Bill, my inside source told me at the Tenn Tech game that every defensive player was gone except Garner….thats a pretty good head start on when it actually happened.

This same source told me it was KIRBY, but Kirby changed his mind. Im sticking with my source, when I hear something, I will let you know that was you can report it before the others.

StuDawg

January 13th, 2010
10:06 am

WELL SAID! I agree 100%.

dap01

January 13th, 2010
10:06 am

Kirby: It’s not that you turned up down, it that you strung us along.

WonderDawg

January 13th, 2010
10:06 am

keep telling yourself that.

StuDawg

January 13th, 2010
10:07 am

The recruits that really want to be a DAWG wont be turned off anyway, and those are the only players we want on our team!

CLTDawg

January 13th, 2010
10:08 am

The problem is we are trying to get a DC from schools that are currently better than we are. Why would Kirby leave the defending national champ for us, just because he is an alum does not mean he has to come back to coach. If that is the case, why are we not going after Muschamp as well?

We just need to get someone on board who can motivate the team and get the defense playing better. It could be worse, at least we aren’t going thru what Tennessee is. Kiffin is a punk!

Go Dawgs!!!

L-Dawg

January 13th, 2010
10:08 am

GLORY GLORY TO OLE’ GEORGIA!!!!

WELL SAID BILL.

I AM SICK OF THE CHILDREN OF AJC, BRADLEY AND SCHULTZ, WANTING TO DO NOTHING BUT STIR UP UGA FANS THE LAST SEVERAL MONTHS.

WE WILL BE FINE. I EXPECT GREAT THINGS IN 2010!!!

GO DAWGS!!!!!!!!!

Dawg in Grovetown

January 13th, 2010
10:14 am

I think it does say a lot that Smart, Chavis, and Foster got huge raises for staying in the respective locations instead of going to UGA. If they weren’t any good their employeers would’ve been happy to let them go. They are valued commodities to their universities. I say that we should’ve been aiming high. I don’t care if Shultz says Richt’s strategy has blown up in his face, he’s doing the best for Georgia Football. We’ll get a good coordinator, I really do believe that. Go Dawgs!

Jerry Royster Fan

January 13th, 2010
10:14 am

Personally, I’m more interested in talent than a “marquee” name. Remember where Van Gorder came from? Western Illinois. No doubt, there were many UGA fans disappointed with the hire and that we were not bringing in a bigger “name.” But it worked out rather well for the 4 years he was with us. But, I’m not saying let’s bring him back, I’m saying let’s go get us the next small school defensive coaching talent.

Thanks

January 13th, 2010
10:14 am

Can you please explain this to Mark Bradley? He doesn’t seem to understand.

Calm Dawg!

January 13th, 2010
10:16 am

It is going to be okay! CMR will get the right guy in place. We will be better, and the East is ripe for the picking

collegeballfan

January 13th, 2010
10:18 am

Bill, I do not often agreed with you, but on this column you are right on. Watching sausage being made is not an appetizing experience, but the end product is wonderful.

There was a day, we old timers remember, when these coaching searches could be done on the QT. Those days are gone and the present system is rather ugly.

But Richt will end up with a solid DC and the results will show on the field next season. And all the turmoil of the past weeks will be a dim memory.

Suches Dawg

January 13th, 2010
10:20 am

Bill , I agree with your comments regarding the DC search. All the naysayers should answer two questions : 1)Is there any other NCAA school that could have persuaded these three guys to become their DC ? ; 2) What would all the pundits have said if Richt had NOT gone for high-profile hires ?? (I can just hear the AJC boys now…”You would think a program of UGA’s status could attract a high profile candidate.”) Mark Richt will get his man and we can thank our lucky stars he is our HC and we have the most stable program in the SEC.

Zeus

January 13th, 2010
10:20 am

Just like I said, Kirby ain’t coming.

DILLIGAF

January 13th, 2010
10:22 am

Thanks Bill, for the CORRECT observation into the hunt for a DC and how it pertains to the program.

You often present the right slants in your articles while the other two “hacks” present rear mirror reflections with no real content. i guess that’s why they’re still at the AJC and not writing for a more elite publication.

Dawg

January 13th, 2010
10:23 am

Shultz needs to worry about his Tech Buddy CPJ’s search and not worry about the Dawgs, we’ll be fine!

DawgGirl32

January 13th, 2010
10:24 am

Thank you, Bill, for putting the respectability back in journalism, unlike your colleagues Bradley and Schultz. They represent the US Weekly of journalism. I am absolutely ecstatic at the way Mark Richt is handling the search. Aiming high like he has is proving that he is dedicated to getting our defense back on track. The fact that Foster, Chavis and Smart even considered our offers when they had no reason to leave their current schools says a lot about the prestige of our program. I am more than confident that Richt will find someone great. It’s times like these when everyone needs to take a step back and look at what’s going on with other schools and be thankful for Georgia’s wonderful head coach.

North Georgia Dawg

January 13th, 2010
10:25 am

TRAVIS JONES – NFLexperience, UGA Grad & Good Recruiter. This is our guy! We need to shout it from the roof tops! Richt hire this guy!

Now serving number 7........number 7.....

January 13th, 2010
10:25 am

Heard some disturbing news this morning, and my question is how involved is Damon Evans in this mess. Here’s the rumor:

* Foster was Richt’s #1, but the limit was $650K/year. VT upped the ante.
* Koening (spelling?) initially got a whopping $300K but that was upped to $400K. Had already signed with Illinois and a lawsuit was threatened.
* Chavis was initially offered $500K, but that was later increased. LSU exceeded UGA’s offer.
* Smart – everyone knows about that debacle, but the offer was $700K/yr.
* Tyrone Nix was offered $250K, but that is now up to about $400K.
* Grantham will take in excess of $800K.

These salaries are all over the chart. If this is correct, then who in the hell is in charge of setting the pay for this position? Is it Richt, Evans, Adams, or some combination? This is turning into a joke.

Randawg

January 13th, 2010
10:27 am

-I agree with you on this one Bill…BTW,will you guys PLEASE get rid of that Kirby Smart picture on the main page…we’ve seen him enough and it’s not relevant anymore!!

Hank Reardon

January 13th, 2010
10:29 am

GT51

January 13th, 2010
10:30 am

ugas defense will stink no matter who the dc is next year. 3 d linemen gone, leading tackler gone, most of secondary gone. not that good anyway. defense will give up an avg of 30+ pts next year

And while you are getting rid of the...

January 13th, 2010
10:31 am

…Kirby Smart picture, how about getting rid of the picture of the Trade School preparing for the Orange Bowl!

GeoffDawg

January 13th, 2010
10:31 am

I don’t think Van Gorder’s coming back but I have to disagree that he’d be a mistake if he wanted to. He is a tireless planner and an excellent coach and motivator. Just look at what he’s done with practically no talent on the Falcons D for the last couple of seasons. If I thought he was actually a viable candidate, he’d probably be my top choice, even if it’s only for a few years.

dawggirl

January 13th, 2010
10:32 am

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you for the great article!! I was about to stop reading the ajc because of those retards: Bradlye & Schultz. They shouldn’t even be allowed to write about UGA anymore!

I competely agree…the only thing that matters is that WHOEVER comes in here can coach and make the D better. Then he will be great, no matter the name!

GO DAWGS!!!!!!

thomas

January 13th, 2010
10:33 am

HALLELUJAH – A POSITIVE WORD FROM THE AJC ABOUT MARK RICHT – UNBELIEVABLE! http://www.wedgeorgia.com

The Grinch

January 13th, 2010
10:33 am

GT51

January 13th, 2010
10:30 am

A tech fan talking about a team with a lousy defense? BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!

DirtyDawg

January 13th, 2010
10:33 am

I still believe that Kirby Smart was the only one of the potential candidates to whom a formal offer was made. The others consisted of talking to agents to determine the level of interest and salary range. That’s the way it’s done when your casting about for top talent. As for Kirby, yeah, ‘Commin’ Home to Momma’ was the draw – along with doubling his salary, which AL did anyway. But I’ll bet ya’ that Georgia didn’t use the one thing that could have given him ‘pause’ – namely, that Georgia was asking him to come back this one time and one time only – don’t expect to get asked again. Might not have made any difference, and I’m not necessarily saying that they should have tried it, but it would clearly be the only way he would have disrupted his situation in Tuscaloosa – -plus he got the money anyway. Selah.

GeoffDawg

January 13th, 2010
10:34 am

If we’d gotten Kirby Smart, he probably would’ve only been here 2-3 years before leaving for a HC job himself.

GT51

January 13th, 2010
10:34 am

grinch

thats why i know one when i see one.

GT51

January 13th, 2010
10:35 am

i also know what losing 3 d linemen does to the rest of the defense.

The Grinch

January 13th, 2010
10:35 am

GT51

January 13th, 2010
10:34 am

Haha. Touche.

GT51

January 13th, 2010
10:37 am

uga should have went after east carolinas dc. would have been an easy hire and he would have improved the defense. instead cmr tried making a big splash and all he has accomplished is making a big splat

Bob LeBlah

January 13th, 2010
10:38 am

Bring Van Gorder Back!!!!!

dap01

January 13th, 2010
10:39 am

Perhaps the other AJC writers could actually have a goal of contributing and not just stirring things up.

Dawg in VA

January 13th, 2010
10:39 am

I just sit up here in Charlottesville steaming at the UGA “fans”. The same ones moaning, whining, and complaining about all the things going on at UGA will be the same ones saying “we” are the best,”we”, “we”, “we” next year if UGA win the SEC and goes to a BCS bowl game. I am here at the home of University of Virginia whose football program SUCKED last year (not to mention they are in the ACC).

I’m not totally convinced that CMR really wanted Smart or did he feel the pressure from the fan base. Because we all know more than CMR (note sarcasm). Let the COACH pick the man then support him and the boys on the team. GO DAWGS!!!

WIndale

January 13th, 2010
10:42 am

I’m with Dawg Stephen… Kirby did say yes only to change his mind. I know this as fact.

JB

January 13th, 2010
10:43 am

I would bet my 401k ( what’s left of it) that Kirby went to bed that night and turned to his wife and……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….
Apologized.

Fleischman in Chi Towns Bed

January 13th, 2010
10:44 am

Dawg Stephen – my inside source told me UGAg is irrelevant.

RTR

Evansdawg

January 13th, 2010
10:45 am

Anytime some d-bag uses the words “done deal,” I consider it to be garbage.

VanGorder, Schmanorder...

January 13th, 2010
10:46 am

…he is just like Kirby, a product of his head coach being the real brains behind the defense. Yes, he was good the first time around in Athens, but as Bill pointed out, he did it with players recruited by someone else. And the old saying is true – you can never go home again! At least Kirby was smart enough to know this!

Big time?? Yes

January 13th, 2010
10:46 am

Kudos Bill. Please tell the Mark and Jeff to focus on reality (and all you bumblers)

Scott "Last Call" Hall

January 13th, 2010
10:47 am

I nominate “The Grinch” for biggest d-bag poster on the AJC.
CONGRATS!

Wes Stansbury

January 13th, 2010
10:47 am

Bill you are right on! AJC should FIRE those clowns and hire You!!!

The Grinch

January 13th, 2010
10:50 am

Scott “Last Call” Hall

January 13th, 2010
10:47 am

If you were man enough to consistently post under the same name then someone might be able to nominate you for a similar honor, but alas, you’re not. BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!

Paul's Johnson

January 13th, 2010
10:53 am

I agree that where the search ends is more important than where it begins. But other than that point, I disagree with 100% of what you wrote, because its spin from a true believer.

My theory from the beginning is that Richt undertook these moves under pressure and mostly against his will. He gave in and dismissed said coaches when it was obvious that his job would eventually be in jeopardy if he didn’t. And this coaching search is the proof in the pudding. Because if this were a carefully calculated move, thought out well ahead of time, I believe that Richt would have already found his D/C. But this throwing Hail Mary’s at big name D/C’s smacks of a top-down administration dominated approach. Instead of going after a lesser name who might be the next big D/C, Richt IMO is being forced by his administration to go after a big name “proven” D/C to placate fans and big donors. I happen to think that Richt is more competent than this, but his hand is being forced by outside forces. To me its the only thing that explains this fiasco.

123456789

January 13th, 2010
10:54 am

How high has Richt “aimed” in his efforts to help Decory Bryant ??

Will there be ANY money left after Braynt is awarded
a multi-million dollar by an appeals jury against the UGA-AA??

Why no mention of the Decory Bryant case, JY Blwag ??

Sanford Drive

January 13th, 2010
10:55 am

I’m all for getting some new, young talent. It’s tough to get current DCs from a top program to make a lateral move.