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

DILLIGAF

January 13th, 2010
10:55 am

GT51:

“uga should have went after east carolinas dc. would have been an easy hire and he would have improved the defense”

I agree. I think Hudson would have been a great fit at UGA. He’s going to make a name for himself at FSU.

Big L

January 13th, 2010
10:56 am

This is just so much fun. Hey, at lesst UGA gets a break for a few days. Maybe everything die down til Cowboys lose to Vikings. Then we get Grantham and just keep makin fun of UT.

How2fish

January 13th, 2010
10:58 am

Can’t help but think the rumors about the Dallas guy are true..if CMR was looking at another college guy I think its a done deal. How long will it take if it is him..do you have to wait till the Cowboys season is over?

AltamahaDawg

January 13th, 2010
10:58 am

I’m looking..I’m looking…..nope. Can’t find a single thing that I disagree with.
I’ll add that we have lost recruits on signing day with our full staff on the phone with them, and picked up commitments late with other teams staff doing everything possible to convince them otherwise, so timing is not the big issue.

I am starting to get the sense that some of our fans are Jonesing for a name to resume blaming thier own personal problem on however. That’s got to be a drag not knowing who is going to be carrying your nutsak all this time.

Grantham/Travis

January 13th, 2010
11:00 am

I say go out and get both of them. They both have experience and Travis has experience at UGA and recruiting. I am just not sure what will happen to Garner. He has been incredible, so I dont want him to leave.

cherokee

January 13th, 2010
11:01 am

GT51 ……….Tech has it’s own problems on defense. Go post over there.

daddydog

January 13th, 2010
11:02 am

Coach did exactly right going after Smart. If he gave him a contract to take back and smoke over I disagree with that(make deal face to face) We need to go ahead and get a DC from a smaller school, who has done an excellent job with talent available to him(Air Force DC seems to fit this bill). Another good option is someone in NFL who in past has been a successful DC either in NCAA or NFL.

Starring Kam Fong as Chin Ho

January 13th, 2010
11:02 am

Thank you Bill for calling out J Schultz for his “humiliated and damaged” comments. Coach will hire the new DC not pundits or bloggers. By game one next year, this search will be forgotten and life as we know it will go on. Thanks for what you do and good luck to the hated Vols in their search for a real head coach. To all Vol fans, just think of the money y’all will save not buying diapers for that baby you had as coach

Dawg Nation

January 13th, 2010
11:03 am

Travis Jones sounds like the best candidate to me if he is interested. I also like the sound of DeRuyter as well.

Fladawg

January 13th, 2010
11:06 am

You are a little late with these important and correctly written comments. Where have you been when Bradley and Shultz and team have written like j-a’s? I think true UGA fans and Ritch supporters will remember who the loyal are in time to come.

Without-a-clue

January 13th, 2010
11:07 am

Aren’t all of you grateful for Techies like GT51 who give of their break time at Wendy’s to come on here and share with us their expertise? ‘Course they frequently have typos but greasy little fingers will do that.

True Dawg Fan.

January 13th, 2010
11:09 am

L-Dawg

I agree with you.

Go Dawgs !

Porty

January 13th, 2010
11:09 am

Scott “Last Call” Hall…..I second that nomination. And you guys should thank Lame Kitten for taking the target off your backs, as this is becoming a regional issue. Getting turned down in public 3 times when the bank has been thrown at them is an issue for UGa. Don’t kid yourself.

Dave

January 13th, 2010
11:10 am

I for one was reminded last night how lucky we are to have coach that has made our program his own, and leads it with integrity, class, and passion. I know our program isn’t perfect, but I’d rather be where we are than where some of these other programs are right now. Keep the faith, Dawgs, Coach will find us a good DC.

How2fish

January 13th, 2010
11:11 am

Without-a-clue now Dude that’s funny I don’t care you you are..

Without-a-clue

January 13th, 2010
11:12 am

Hey Porty, is your last name Potty?

Topp Dogg

January 13th, 2010
11:13 am

Johnson or Withers in that order.

Its taking a while

January 13th, 2010
11:16 am

Anyone is an upgrade over Willie Martinez. Absolutely sick and tired of watching the same base 4-3 defense when the opposing offense is in a 3 receiver set(no need to try and make the quarterback read the defense), the defense miss a million tackles a game, and all the other blunders of Martinez. How can you call yourself a defensive coordinator when your defense allows Johnathan Crompton to have a career day?

Precious Hedge

January 13th, 2010
11:18 am

Who can spend more money or offer a longer contract , UGA or Jerry Jones?

Its taking a while

January 13th, 2010
11:20 am

What is Sly Croom doing these days? Never had an offense at Miss State, but the defense was always stout. Plus it would make for great irony.

animaldr

January 13th, 2010
11:22 am

go get van gorder and travis jones

The Grinch

January 13th, 2010
11:23 am

Porty Potty

January 13th, 2010
11:09 am

If it’s a problem for UGA, then what do you say for USC which was turned down by 3 coaches prior to getting Kiffin. Is USC in trouble?

AceDawg

January 13th, 2010
11:23 am

Dude I’d still hire Van Gorder. He’s one jumper I’ll forgive because of how well he did. It’s worth trying if he’d give it a go. That said, I like him with the Falcons and hope the Falcons can get enough defensive talent for things to work out. Hard to coach a team that isn’t physically good enough to shut down good NFL offenses.

Porty

January 13th, 2010
11:23 am

No, without a clue. Are you 6 years old or just act like it?

Mark it down...

January 13th, 2010
11:23 am

Muschamp will be the next UT head coach, and he will bring along his buddy Kirby to be the D-coordinator there. What a slap in the face that would be from Kirby…

coachx

January 13th, 2010
11:24 am

VanGorder would be welcomed back with open arms.

Make David Pollack a position coach so he can hit the recruiting trail for us. He would be one of the top recruiters in the country. The man can relate to young men, in a positive way, like no other.

coachx

January 13th, 2010
11:26 am

I like the thought of Sylvester Croom.

Good thought “Its taking a while”

The Grinch

January 13th, 2010
11:27 am

Its taking a while

January 13th, 2010
11:16 am

Here’s something scary – I got a call from a friend in Athens who says rumors are starting to surface that Willie may be rehired as a defensive backs coach.

ToccoaDawg

January 13th, 2010
11:27 am

Coach Richt is doing a fine job. Stop with the whining. 90 wins in 9 years says all there is to say. oh that’s with Willies D

Sorry

January 13th, 2010
11:28 am

123456789 – we can pay your boy Bryant over and over and still be just fine. But he isn’t going to win his case so it doesn’t matter.

Observe & Report

January 13th, 2010
11:29 am

What about the Bama LB coach, Sal somethin or another? I heard his name a lot early on but nothing since. Surely he would be interested.

Sorry

January 13th, 2010
11:30 am

The Grinch – Who ever gets the DC job will have control of the defensive staff. So saying we would rehire WM as a secondary coach before we hire a DC would not make any sense.

P. Bull Terrier

January 13th, 2010
11:31 am

How many recruits are really going to leave because it takes a few weeks to hire the right DC? Where would they go – Tennessee? Florida? GA Tech?

With coaching staffs throughout college football in a state of transition, the only thing a smart recruit (no pun intended) can do is sit back and wait for all the chips to fall.

Sammy d

January 13th, 2010
11:31 am

This article suggests that we have some lack talent on D. TALENT has nothing to do with it. It is just coaching. We’ve been killing in recruiting. We some of the best D players in the nation, top level guys. If VanGorder came back he would have plenty of talent. We know what he can do. We have all seen it. Why would it be any different now? The NFL and the NCAA are not the same monster. We would be good to go. Unfortunately, I don’t see it happening.

The Grinch

January 13th, 2010
11:32 am

Sorry

January 13th, 2010
11:30 am

I hope you’re right. I agree that a DC SHOULD have the final say, but I feel Richt will control final input.

Sorry

January 13th, 2010
11:33 am

Mark it down… – wishful thinking for somebody who is jealous of UGA. But it won’t happen. Go think of another scenario that would make you feel good about your pathetic team.

UGA-72

January 13th, 2010
11:34 am

A lot of ignorant postings here. I, too, agree that CMR will find us a big name DC and all will be well in the Bulldawg Nation. Nothing worthwhile happens quiclky; it takes time and I’m glad CMR is taking the time to get this right.

Bremen Dawg

January 13th, 2010
11:35 am

Richt will get someone good, I don’t think that the D has no where to go but up. You are right about VanG, Georgia’s best years on defensive was with Donnan’s recruits. Heck, even the offense was better during Richts first 4-5 years with Donnans’ recruits.

P. Bull Terrier

January 13th, 2010
11:35 am

The Grinch

January 13th, 2010
11:23 am

“Is USC now in trouble?”

Yes, as a matter of fact they are.

However, I agree with the point you were trying to make. (I think.)

murfdawg

January 13th, 2010
11:36 am

GT51….you should have “went” to English class .

Bill,
You sound like sour grapes, when you say KS would be gone in 2-3 years. We got turned down and Saban stuck it to us again. All we need is a good grad student and NEVER run cover two. The defense will be better because WM and RJones are gone.

DTC

January 13th, 2010
11:37 am

Everybody needs to understand that Schultz is a putz and a GA Tech oriented sports writer. He does not write from a neureal perspective – if he even has a perspective.
Has it turned out in the way that Mark Richt wanted it to? Of course not. However, these sports writers and the University alumni, and these bloggers have said, go after Smart, go after Chavis, go after Foster – and he did – and now these same idiot bloggers and GA TECH sports writers are fussing about him going after Foster, Chavis and Smart.
It seems to me that the people who are the ones with the problems are the ones who “think” they understand what they are venting or writing about. Richt does understand the process. Trust me when I say – he understand the process ‘even more now’ than he did before he fired the defensive guys.
I am starting to wonder how long it will be before some of you nuts start advising CMR to go back and rehire the nuts he fired. That will be the proof that none of you are GA fans – I think most of you ARE GA TECH FANS IN DRAG!
I am still wondering about the Army DC. Don’t remember his name.

DawgBuzz

January 13th, 2010
11:39 am

I’m glad CMR is going after the top Defensive coaching talent out there. He will land a quality guy soon. No doubt about it.

DTC

January 13th, 2010
11:40 am

dawggirl – you speak the truth.

'Simple' Logic

January 13th, 2010
11:42 am

Yeah right.

Drink the Kool-Aid, Homer.

BWAA HAAA

Bremen Dawg

January 13th, 2010
11:42 am

Guys, he is right that Smart would have been gone in 2 -3 years. Heck, he might be gone from Bama in the next few weeks if Tennesse, TT, or South Florida talks to him. Remember, its a business now. Colleges are not loyal to coaches and coaches are not loyal to the colleges. All about money and who win pay me the most. Its not a lifetime dream to coach at so and so university anymore, its to get a HC job and who will pay me the most.

P. Bull Terrier

January 13th, 2010
11:43 am

Mark Richt is the most powerful man in sports!

As soon as he started feeling a little bit of heat from his DC search, he arranged to whole “Kiffin to USC” situation to take some of the focus off of the DC search at UGA.

McDawg

January 13th, 2010
11:45 am

i agree /more important t get it right than to have a guy in place ASAP

NASH

January 13th, 2010
11:46 am

after and unbeleivable four no i have to ask my self why did coach richt make sucha an impulse move? they never had a back up plan in place natioal signing day is like to weeks away and uga does not have a dc and jobs are opening up left and right maybe everyone should have stayed in the dark and this should have been a hush hush move

Relax, Remain Calm, Don't Worry, Be Happy

January 13th, 2010
11:46 am

Bill-

Finally some sanity here. You’re exactly right. Richt is not about style, he’s ALL about substance.

From a substance standpoint, no one in the SEC can touch him, 90 SEC wins in 9 seasons, he’s the one and only active coach to do that. Richt’s program has also sent more players to the NFL than any other SEC program, 2nd only to Miami. Richt is a tested, proven guy who, over the last 9 seasons, has navigated through staff changes with terrific results. 2002 & 2007 were Natl Champ years, that’s a Natl Champ type fo year every 4 or 5 years. At FSU, Richt as OC helped get them to 5 Natl Champ’s. So, that’s 7 Natl Champ type of years in his career SO FAR.

Additionally, in 2001 and 2006 when Richt had an 8 win season, he had his 2 best years after that in 2002 & 2007, should have been invited to the Natl Champ both times, 2002 finished 13-1 & won the SEC, 2007 finished #1 ranked and was dropped to #4 after Kirk Herbstreit lobbied against Georgia, the team that beat Herbstreit in his Bowl game at Ohio St.

Even Richt’s bad years arn’t like a Sban, Saban had 5 6 or 7 win seasons, one at Bama. Richt’s NEVER had a 6 or 7 win season.

Only 7 coaches in HISTORY won 90 games in 9 seasons.

Bremen Dawg

January 13th, 2010
11:47 am

By Richt going after the top guys just shows that the nation knows who the Bulldogs are. When your running a top ten program over the last 10 years, then your going to have things like this happen. Forgot the DC now, I want to see UGA 8.