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

Bremen Dawg

January 13th, 2010
11:52 am

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

You have to have a little luck on your side like Bama did when Colt got hurt. We just haven’t had any luck on our side and the media (ESPN) has always been against UGA and Richt. Yes we did have NC capable teams in 2002, 2005, and 2007. So looks like 2010 or 2011 should be the next great year. Trust Richt and all of us need to support him now on this.

Brian Van Gorder Fan

January 13th, 2010
11:55 am

True, in the LONG TERM, BVG might not be the first choice due to his opportunisitc personality, in the SHORT TERM, he might be the best choice. Richt needs a big year in 2010. Richt cannot make a mistake on this hire. BVG is a proven commodity in the SEC.

Richt targeted first REALLY LOYAL guys, Foster to Beamer, Chavis to Fulmer, Smart to Saban, it was a LONG SHOT, but the RIGHT STRATEGIC LONG TERM MOVE. But their loyalty was a hindrance to their hiring. So now that he exhausted all those options, he’s going to have to take a chance on someone with less loyalty or less pedigree in his background. I am guessing Richt will opt for less pedigree this time, we’ll see if loyalty is a value Richt is willing to compromise on, or not. Richt has not been willing to compromise on it so far. I admire that. He might be able to get both a short term solution AND a loyal guy if he hires 2 big names on the D side.

1eyedJack

January 13th, 2010
11:58 am

Faint Heart never won Fair Maiden.

Josh

January 13th, 2010
12:00 pm

Gt51, unlike your sorry team, we have the ability to RELOAD at each position. Tech will be writing the next chapter in their book of mediocrity next year.

VinceVanGo

January 13th, 2010
12:05 pm

Bill, Here’s some food for thought and a few more names to discuss. I got on a College Football site and looked at Power Rankings for Defensive Coach’s in 2009. They listed the top 25 in order. They had the pre and post National Championship Game rankings. Yes familiar names like Everett Winters(N.C.#14), Tim DeRuyter(AirForce#18), and Kevin Steele(Clemson#21) were on there. But there were also a couple of others that might be considered. Dick Bumpas(T.C.U.) was #2, Justin Wilcox(Boise State) was #10, and Phil Bennett(Pittsburgh) was #16. Georgia would definitely be an upgrade from T.C.U., and the DC’s from Boise State and Pittsburgh might want to get into a power conference. But there was also an unkown(to me) sleeper in the top 20. Greg Hudson from East Carolina was listed as #20. His defense held Ryan Mallett of Arkansas to a 15-36 passing performance this year. And he is on the coaching staff of Lou Holtz’s son, Skip. Maybe he is someone to check out. And up and comer who may stay for several years. By the way, for all of the Georgia faithful, the Power Rankings listed Mike Bobo as the #23 Offensive Coach in the nation in 2009. Thanks for the time Bill, and good luck Mark Richt. I know you will get the right man for the DC job. Vince.

Ken

January 13th, 2010
12:09 pm

As a Georgia grad- all of you who trash coach here should be ashamed of yourself. We could end up with someone like Kiffin or even back to Goff. Give Richt a break. He’s a good coach with a good heart and we can be proud of the example he sets. Sit down and be quiet.

Turd Buster

January 13th, 2010
12:14 pm

Porty
You got that sorry arse kicked by again . Your are quite pathetic.
You never learn it , you just aren’t bright enough. Big try as
you might you just can’t run with the big dogs . Amateur hour is
all you got but and that porch is so lonely over there at the Tech blog.

AugDawg

January 13th, 2010
12:14 pm

AMEN Bill. Perspective is not very common around the ajc. Both writers and readers (most not all) are fairweather. They certiainly are not TRUE Bulldawgs.
CMR is still the man for the job and will get a very good dc. He played the cards he was dealt so to speak by going after the big guns. It was best move he could make. IF he doesnt take those shots fans, press, AA, AD everybody would second guess. Now, he can proceed fully knowing he gave it his best and get someone with less curb appeal but perhaps more value.
And, if the kiffin affair has not shed perspective on the integrity, consistency, character and overall quality of CMR then screw “our fans “. God bless CMR for putting up with some of the worst “fans” ever. And ROMANS 8:28 is still in the Bible. Thank God for CMR and his relationship with Christ. It will get him and us through this for the best outcome possible

jack bull

January 13th, 2010
12:19 pm

well, i’m glad all of the lunatic fringe got their way with CWM.. just think, UF is in disarray, not knowing if their coach will be back next year(i’m saying no he wont just from his wife’s expression after the sugar bowl), their DC leaving. now UT gets stiffed by lane kiffin and takes ole ed o. with him…and to think, if we still had everyone in place, the recruits would be pounding down the door to come.. maybe that continuity thing actually means something.. but oh well, we got what we wanted, didn’t we???

RedandBlack

January 13th, 2010
12:20 pm

Way to go VinceVanGo. You have performed more research on your own initiative than Bill King here and any other sports writer on the AJC or sports talk jock here in Atlanta. Was it that difficult? Did it take that much time?

Maybe you ought to speak with the editor of the AJC and ask him for a job since no one at the AJC sports department has been doing their job except for chasing rumors… Good job. Something new and definitely news worty. Go Dogs!!

Ron Mexico

January 13th, 2010
12:20 pm

Just heard a rumor that if the Cowgirls lose this weekend that Saban is gonna go there and be the new coach. And Smart will take over Bama.

JMar

January 13th, 2010
12:21 pm

FINALLY someone said it. “What matters isn’t the journey but where we end up.” I’m not sure why asking various coaches, getting turned down over $200,000 raises, and then ending up with DC X is “humiliating”, while simply asking and ending up with DC X is not. By September, the search will be an afterthought; by 2011, forgotten.

How2fish

January 13th, 2010
12:28 pm

123456789..dude change that channel !

59bulldawg

January 13th, 2010
12:30 pm

I’d still like to know why he was coaching running backs when he was on Richt’s staff . . . considering he’s such a defensive genius.

Gary

January 13th, 2010
12:31 pm

Thanks, Bill, for taking Schultz to task for that completely off-the-wall insane blog yesterday. Maybe has a toothache.

Ole Chicken Neck

January 13th, 2010
12:36 pm

Good article Bill. Bradley could learn a lot from you!

PHIL

January 13th, 2010
12:37 pm

Thanks for a well Written article with an actual idea of the truth. Just try to keep this up.

jerry

January 13th, 2010
12:41 pm

I, for one, never said all those faux pas hurt the program, just that it made Evans (mainly) and Richt look like nincompoops. And so what if I did. This ain’t China, Mr. Mao Bill.

santa cruz dawg

January 13th, 2010
12:42 pm

Nothing Can Stop the US Air Force!!!!!
DeRuyter to UGA

Not A Happy Day on Old Rocky Top!!!!!!!!!!

Gordon

January 13th, 2010
12:43 pm

What is “ungentlemanly” about listening to an offer and then deciding not to accept it? You assume that these guys never had any intention of leaving their current jobs. If the schools where they work didn’t want them, they didn’t have to give them raises. It was UGA who approached them, not the other way around.

Gordon Gecco

January 13th, 2010
12:44 pm

Paul’s Johnson is spot on. CMR is in the untenable position of being a Head Coach who is looking for the “best man for the job” of DC, but the requirements are being dictated by EVERYONE but CMR. boosters, alums, and fans want A-List candidates (ask Tennessee how that worked out when they searched for a Head Coach last year). The Bud Fosters and Kirby Smarts of the world are not in play, were they to be serious candidates, THEY would have reached out to UGA. CMR needs to find a “sleeper”. he needs to find a proven winner who views the DC job at UGA as a career opportunity. The guy is out there, but he’s probably not “scheming” at a BCS conference school. CMR needs to look under the radar, not on the Sports Page. and I don’t even like UGA or the SEC.

Buddy Curry made every tackle

January 13th, 2010
12:46 pm

Until the head man instills some discipline: on the field, on the sidline, and off the field, we will be second tier. Until our staff makes our team mentally and phsically tougher, we will be a second tier team. If CMR played Saban and Urban M. 50 times, he would have 5-10 wins. Can anyone argue that point?

DILLIGAF

January 13th, 2010
12:46 pm

VinceVanGo:

“Greg Hudson from East Carolina was listed as #20.’

Greg Hudson was named last week as FSU’s DC.

cantondawg

January 13th, 2010
12:47 pm

Hell no for Van Gorder. After the sh$4 he pulled at Georgia Southern i would never want him coaching the dawgs again.

Buddy Curry made every tackle

January 13th, 2010
12:47 pm

Sorry, physically

jerry

January 13th, 2010
12:48 pm

Bill King has missed the entire point. It was not WHO they went after, it was HOW they went about it. Damn!

Cuz

January 13th, 2010
12:48 pm

The more I read about Grantham, the more I like him. He could be the sleeper DC.

Gordon

January 13th, 2010
12:48 pm

The market price for a good DC just keeps going up. The top 3 programs in the SEC East are now looking.

Cuz

January 13th, 2010
12:49 pm

BVG’s train has left the station.

DILLIGAF

January 13th, 2010
12:53 pm

Everett Withers @ UNC would be a great fit. Their defense is going to be brutal next season and will have them winning the ACC championship.

EW

January 13th, 2010
12:56 pm

Sure would be nice to land a DC in the next day or two. We’d look like the class of the conference if ANY good news came out compared to the disarray other programs (yes UT that’s you) are in.

EW

January 13th, 2010
12:57 pm

I am starting to think a big time name isn’t gonna work. We just need a solid coach who can motivate and keeps his word. Stability will go further to help the program than a two or three year stint by a big name.

'Simple' Logic

January 13th, 2010
1:00 pm

DILLIGAF: wrong! Mark Stoops is DC @ F$U

Smashsmeesha Bobeesha

January 13th, 2010
1:08 pm

“I EXPECT GREAT THINGS IN 2010!!!”

Alabama does too!

Here’s to a 14th National Title!!!!!

Smashsmeesha Bobeesha

January 13th, 2010
1:11 pm

The SEC power has shifted to the SEC West.

Florida’s stock is going leveling off.

TN is in chaos.

GA…..well, they’ll choke as always.

Alabama, Ole Miss, LSU, AU and even Miss St. will be the dominate teams in the SEC for a while.

nole

January 13th, 2010
1:16 pm

Mark Stoops is the DC at FSU and Hudson is Linebackers and assisstant HC for defense. Essentially 2 DC’s. A new strength coach that has the same strength program as Alabama. Lookout for the Noles!

William

January 13th, 2010
1:18 pm

I AM for hire for the DC and I promise if I am selected UGA will learn how to tackle. I know I know these players have been playing since they were 8 years old. See,they were bigger and faster in their middle schools and highs schools so they could just bump the other kids and knock them down. Not so much in college because everyone was good in their high schools. So I will teach them to tackle the first year then we will work on pass coverage. That could take a couple of years. However, I will do all this for 1.2 million a year but I promise at least seven wins a season. NOW THATS A GOOD DEAL.

Another C'ville VA DAWG

January 13th, 2010
1:20 pm

Finally a voice of reason in a sea of hysterical bs.

Luckily the postings of your AJC counter parts are not considered journalism, just opinions meant to stir up the crowd not logical or experienced enough to know the reality these top tier coaches live and work in. Shooting high for successful, secure coaches is going to be a tough strategy with several ‘not in my best interest’ responses. This process is no different than a successful organization’s external search for good executive talent. Also luckily, CMR doesn’t pay attention to the masses and continues on his search that will end with a great hire for UGA stakeholders.

Bill, keep this torch of reason and reality burning brightly so the sane ones in the group have some reason to keep coming back to the webpage!

William

January 13th, 2010
1:26 pm

“Also luckily, CMR doesn’t pay attention to the masses and continues on his search that will end with a great hire for UGA stakeholders.”

How long did he keep Willie Martinez after the masses got involved? Are you one of those CEO’s or mangagers who awards bonuses for failure or incompetence?

Papadawg

January 13th, 2010
1:27 pm

Good article. Have I missed something or did the guys who turn the job down did so because they didn’t want to come to Georgia or because they were happy where they were. Big difference

DawgDayAfternoon

January 13th, 2010
1:29 pm

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.

Based on his screen name I’d say it’s more like “welcome to Walmart”.

DawgsForever

January 13th, 2010
1:30 pm

The primary question that we need to be concerned with is whether or not UT can actually hire Muschamp away from Texas! Most of us Dawg fans feel he will be our coach after next season but this probably will not happen if he is hired at Tennessee. Please say NO to UT!!!

DawgsForever

January 13th, 2010
1:30 pm

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Papadawg

January 13th, 2010
1:35 pm

Kirby, your Greyhound Bus Ticket is being sent from Knoxville as we speak

Smashsmeesha Bobeesha

January 13th, 2010
1:37 pm

“Most of us Dawg fans feel he will be our coach after next season but this probably will not happen if he is hired at Tennessee.”

Well, most Dawwwwwg fans “feel” that their team will win the NT every year. Never happens.

Why would Muschamp leave Texas, a school with more talent and more tradition, to coach at a 2nd rate SEC school like UGA?

59bulldawg

January 13th, 2010
1:40 pm

BTW one rumor has the Kansas City Chiefs in possible competition for Grantham’s services should Romeo Crennel end up there since they both worked together in Cleveland. I like Grantham but if this is true I say look elsewhere. Whoever we offer next we need for that person to accept and get on board as quickly as possible.

South Ga. Dawg

January 13th, 2010
1:45 pm

What about David Pollack? He is a great motivator and loves the DAWGS!!

SOUTHGADAWG88

January 13th, 2010
1:51 pm

Grantham was fired for backstabbing Crennel so there is zero chance of those two working together.

Papadawg

January 13th, 2010
1:51 pm

Quit slamming the Dawgs cause Muschamp ain’t going nowhere. He wants and will have the Head Coaching job at Texas and of course Texas will increase his pay to keep him