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

Falconfan1

January 13th, 2010
1:52 pm

No bs, I have a friend who is a next door neighbor to Van Gorder and he told me that van gorder was going back to the dawgs.

Stallionganglia

January 13th, 2010
1:53 pm

No Van Gordor, for obvious reasons.
No David Pollack for DC, for obvious reasons.
The Air Force DC is an interesting option, however I’d like to see us reach into the NFL and pull a solid position coach. Grantham seems like the logical choice to me.

Oprah

January 13th, 2010
1:57 pm

Everybody gets a raise!

Porty

January 13th, 2010
1:58 pm

A little unbiased journalism for the lunatic fringe here to read:

http://mrsec.com/story/smart-stays-richt-in-trouble

Mike T.

January 13th, 2010
2:01 pm

to coach at a 2nd rate SEC school like UGA?

If you think UGA is 2nd rate. You need to go slap your Mama for bringing
you into the world. Go check where Georgia stands in the all time victory list.Moron.

SOUTHGADAWG88

January 13th, 2010
2:05 pm

750k was too much money

jellybeandawg

January 13th, 2010
2:16 pm

You are right that Richt aiming high for a DC has not hurt the program, however their are many things far more grave that have. Richts overall lack of team discipline, penalties, and an inability to develop and coach up talent are just a small sample of things he has done to hurt the program far worse…

Reality Dawg

January 13th, 2010
2:16 pm

“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.”

Why are some idiot Dawg fans still on about this one? ESPN and Herbstreit had absolutely nothing to do with the South Carolina loss and the Tennessee loss in 2007. Because of those losses the East was tied and the tiebreaker went to Tennessee BECAUSE THEY BEAT UGA THAT YEAR. No East Title, No SEC Title = No National Title Shot. Finished #1? Rankings are updated after those pesky Conference games buddy………………….move on

Rome Dawg

January 13th, 2010
2:17 pm

1. Van Gorder
2. Deruyter
3. Jones

In that order. Get it done Damon!

Sure

January 13th, 2010
2:18 pm

Smashsmeesha Bobeesha

January 13th, 2010
1:11 pm
The SEC power has shifted to the SEC West.

Florida’s stock is going leveling off

??????????????????????????

SOUTHGADAWG88

January 13th, 2010
2:19 pm

I think Richt was pressured to fire Willie and crew.I definitely don’t believe that decision was reached prior to the GT game either.

Smashsmeesha Bobeesha

January 13th, 2010
2:20 pm

“to coach at a 2nd rate SEC school like UGA?

If you think UGA is 2nd rate. You need to go slap your Mama for bringing
you into the world. Go check where Georgia stands in the all time victory list.Moron.”

Yeah, it’s waaaaaaaaaaaaaay behind BAMA!

Minnesota Dawg

January 13th, 2010
2:21 pm

Bill, you’ve got the best blog on AJC. I agree with you on this post. Richt will get his man and we will start winning more games.

Dawg

January 13th, 2010
2:21 pm

123456789 – If you had been paying attention you would have noticed that the lawsuit was dismissed.

Smashsmeesha Bobeesha

January 13th, 2010
2:22 pm

Sure,

Urban Meyer is questionable to coach.

UGA is in turmoil.

TN is in turmoil.

SEC West

Alabama’s future is bright.

LSU is going to be fine.

Auburn is recruiting great players.

Miss St. has FL coaches.

Ole Miss is going to get better and better.

Arkansas will be an offensive powerhouse in the next couple of years.

ClemFan

January 13th, 2010
2:22 pm

what are you talking about aiming high? Clemson took Alabama’s DC last year, so at best he’s trying to take a first year guy who ran Nick Saban’s defense, which really means he did whatever Nick Saban said, And UGA offers him almost double salary and he still doesn’t take it? UGA sucks

Hank Reardon

January 13th, 2010
2:25 pm

At least one AJC writer isn’t spewing doom and gloom about the situation at UGA.

Albert

January 13th, 2010
2:26 pm

“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.”

2002 – Sorry the Gators had to cost you the title game that year.
2005 – Sorry the Gators and Auburn had to cost you the title game that year.
2007 – You got by the Gators, but South Carolina and Tennessee cost you a shot at the SEC Title Game and the BCS Title Game that year.

Hank Reardon

January 13th, 2010
2:26 pm

ClemFan, you’re an idiot. Wait and see how much Alabama coughed up to keep him.

BG

January 13th, 2010
2:27 pm

UF went after 2 coaches who turned them down before they got their NFL DC. So, sometimes a search can take a while.

ClemFan

January 13th, 2010
2:28 pm

Hank just accept nobody wants to go to UGA, I heard Richt is moving to Tennessee

k

January 13th, 2010
2:28 pm

Bring in Tony Dungy for a couple of years to mentor Rodney Gardner. CMR, please do this.

Bo

January 13th, 2010
2:40 pm

Hey, Now serving number 7……..number 7….. – Bud Foster says that GA never talked money and that simply talking to UGA got him a raise. No other media outlets have reported that anyone other than Smart had a K in hand. I don’t understand why everyone at the AJC is saying that at least 3 other people were offered the job. Richt, Evans and all of the other “candidates” have been silent on this issue, yet the AJC is reporting these other job offers as fact. The fact is that no one really knows at this point and I doubt that you do either.

Smashsmeesha Bobeesha

January 13th, 2010
2:41 pm

Albert,

The BCS cost 2004 UNDEFEATED Auburn squad the National Title.

Auburn beat 5 top 25 teams. USC beat 2.

Auburn set an all-time NFL recruiting record that year with 4 players going in the first round.

Auburn had a better squad than 06, 08 FL and 07, 03 LSU.

Smashsmeesha Bobeesha

January 13th, 2010
2:41 pm

“Wait and see how much Alabama coughed up to keep him.”

LOL! Like UGA would not pay a lot for someone.

Hmmmm

January 13th, 2010
2:45 pm

“Richt aiming high has not hurt UGA.” That’s exactly what a Dawg fan in denial woul say.

Paul's Johnson

January 13th, 2010
2:46 pm

Georgia fans need to WAKE UP. Going after these big name guys they had little chance of getting and failing is NOT A POSITIVE. As I stated earlier, I strongly believe that Richt’s marching orders are to hire an established name D/C, and to spare no expense. This entire episode is making Richt look naive at best, incompetent at worst. But since outside forces are obviously playing a huge role in this process, Richt can’t do what he did when he was originally hired, which is to bring in a guy nobody ever heard of (BVG) who turned out to be a helluva football coach. Richt is in a tough spot.

Delbert D.

January 13th, 2010
2:52 pm

Doesn’t “aiming high” mean you’re gonna miss?

ATL Fan

January 13th, 2010
3:03 pm

After the opening for DC at UGA it seems that the other schools in the SEC have had to spend lots of money to keep thier DC’s from coming to UGA. At worst UGA has forced other schools to up the ante to maintain what they have. Meanwhile, Georgia will likely get a high quality defensive coordinator.

Both are positives for Georgia. Georgia athletics is in the best financial shape of the SEC schools and can afford the price wars better than the other schools. The result being an advantage for UGA in recruiting an keeping players as well as top-flight coaches.

With as many very good candidates still available, UGA will be in great shape to move forward after the hire is made.

Tee

January 13th, 2010
3:19 pm

I love the internet! God Bless the internet!! It only takes a few of us typing in our wishlist for DC’s to come to the DAWGS for everyone one of us to make Kirby Smart the smartest man in the world for coming home….right Pollack? And then when Smart becomes the dumbest jerk in the world (next to Kiffin, Kiffin and Oggie – ask the Vol fans who is the worlds’ worst), because he decided to stay and kiss Sabins butt.
Smart would not have been at UGA for two seasons – he’d be offered a head coaching job somewhere.

Here’s one for everyone to consider, and I admit I do not know the guys name — how about the Defensive Coordinator that has just left USC?
Is he going with Carroll to the Seahawks? USC has had some killer defenses over the last few years and I’m sure that he will not want to take a lesser position under old man Kiffin.
What do you think?

Tennessee fans – I can’t stand hearing Rocky Top played — but I do feel sorry for you being treated this way. Kiffin pulled out of town faster than Bobby Petrino leaving the Falcons. Kiffin should be cast as the lead in the remake of “The Shawshank Redemption – Part 2, The Reeming of the Vols!!!! HaHa

AltamahaDawg

January 13th, 2010
4:07 pm

There is no way that BVG is going to come back here and put his 50-0 record as risk.

Guess Who?

January 13th, 2010
4:18 pm

Agree the media hype is just that and UGA should not be embarassed or damaged.

HOWEVER, it is time now to get it done. We cannot afford to wait for UT to fill its spot and assistants and get last pick.

charliedawg

January 13th, 2010
4:19 pm

I saw Willie Martinez at Hartsfield Jackson this morning, he must be going to work for Delta……..what is Delta thinking?

confusadog

January 13th, 2010
4:21 pm

Blogs give every stupid redneck a forum. He’s mine:
Hire Tenuta and beat tech with their discards. He was a pain in the ass to play against.
Van Gorder chose to leave. Let it be.

Jimmy

January 13th, 2010
4:24 pm

Van Gorder–NO.
Kirby Smart is an UNPROVEN DC until he gets out from under Saban’s shadow.
Don’t lament not landing Kirby.
No other coach has been offered…contacted maybe…but not offered.

Richt will make a good hire.
If not…we will know in two years.
If Richt messes this up…he will be gone in two years too.
I believe in Richt.

The ItalianDawg

January 13th, 2010
4:25 pm

Unlike Bradly and Schultz I do enjoy your column, because it is balanced and concised. however, I dont agree with you on Brian Van Gorden, if he really interested to get the job and genuine about it. give it to him because I know from sources he is not interested in head coaching job position anymore, he repeatedly mentioned that going to GSU was one of his biggest mistakes because he finally realized that he is not a head coaching job material but the best D coordinator in the country. BVG is a better D coordinator than Smart, Muschamp and Foster.

Biggdawg33

January 13th, 2010
4:31 pm

Smart did not come for a reason. Dallas loses against Minnesota (hopefully, I am still bitter from 1981) and JJ fires lil Bum and throws an ungodly amount of money toward Nick Satan and Kirby thinks Bama will give him the HC title.

Dawg4lyf

January 13th, 2010
4:31 pm

I don’t think this is that big of a deal. Ritch has aimed high and those guys got paid alot not to leave…this just means he went after the good ones. If Ritch had not tried these guys, everyone would complain he didn’t go after them. UGA is a good place and a good job…just because we didn’t get the first couple doesn’t mean we are now dredging the bottom – it just means there are alot of good ones we haven’t checked on yet…patience will prevail and we will be fine. Mark is a great coach and he’ll find the right piece of the puzzle.

Ed

January 13th, 2010
4:35 pm

Van Gorder would be great. Now, where do we find the next David Pollack?

123456789

January 13th, 2010
4:38 pm

Dawg said:

If you had been paying attention you would have noticed that the lawsuit was dismissed.

If you could read, you’d know that the appeals process has already started.
It will be appealed all the way to the State (even Federal) Appeals Court.
http://www.macon.com/220/story/970089.html

This is going to be a LANDMARK legal case.

And, the UGA-AA is going to lose……HUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUGE.

Ga Gator

January 13th, 2010
4:38 pm

I watche Van Gorder from afar, why do UGA fans think he was so great? How many championship teams did he coach? How many wins did he win against UF, against the Zooker? Just askin

Ga Gator

January 13th, 2010
4:40 pm

Enter your comments here

Saban

January 13th, 2010
4:45 pm

I hynotized Kirby Smart again so he will become the new head coach at Tenn.

I notified Tennessee officials today to offer Kirby the job.

Also I am dispatching a number of Alabama recruiting rejects to join Kirby to help with the annual beatdown of the dogs.

Try to steal my hairdresser will you Richt.

Satan

AltamahaDawg

January 13th, 2010
4:45 pm

I think we can all agree that no matter who Richt had hired, there would be a relentless beat, for months if not years, of “why didn’t we go after Kirby Smart” if he had not tried.

JaxDawg

January 13th, 2010
4:49 pm

hell ya dude give the job to Brian Van Gorden! he is the best DC by far

Cuddles

January 13th, 2010
4:50 pm

UGA hiring Van Gorder would be like returning to your ex-wife, creepy and 99% of the time never works. Please UGA, do not go there.

boog

January 13th, 2010
4:56 pm

why would BVG not be able to coach successfully at UGA again? I don’t get you logic on this one. Has his coaching skills diminished since he left UGA and has spent several yrs. in the NFL …two at DC? I don’t get your thoughts at all. And he most likely would stay as long as anyone who would be highly successful. That’s the risk you take unless they are avg. I agree with you other points however. But your BVH take was nothing more than speculative drivel.

FLDawg

January 13th, 2010
5:07 pm

To Ga Gator, at the time of BVG if we had half the offensive power that we have now you would not have played in Atlanta dome. BVG is a heck of a coach. and now he is even got much better, he knows talent and he knows how to get it out. if he wants the job, give it to him

FLDawg

January 13th, 2010
5:10 pm

what do you mean bringing back BVG like returning to ex-wife, no similarities whats so ever. BVG is excellent, better than Smart

Hopkins

January 13th, 2010
5:11 pm

I think BVG would be a great college DC but not a UGA. Sometimes when you put the band back together it is impossible to create the same magic you had before. Just like what USC just did with Kiffin, Orgeron and Chow. It is too forced and I guarantee it won’t go well. From everything I have heard CMR is a big fan of BVG.