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

bali smith

January 13th, 2010
5:14 pm

the best article i have read concerning georgia s attempt to hire the new d co ordinator. Do not really know what the big deal is about the tree men who turned georgia do year swn. Georgia needs someone who is going to be there for years and who is happy to be where he is.I believe it will take awhile to get the d back to where it needs to be.Take your time Mark and get the right guy that will serve you and UGA best.

Mike T.

January 13th, 2010
5:21 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!

Just because we trail don’t mean we do not have a respectable place on the list.Certainly not 2nd rate.

AltamahaDawg

January 13th, 2010
5:26 pm

Actually I would argue that BVG coached at a time when UGA had a much more steady offense. I’m betting if he had to choose he would not have traded for our offense in tha past few years.

charliedawg

January 13th, 2010
5:35 pm

Interesting, I just listened to Pat Forde from ESPN say that you do not rush a coaching decision for the sake of a recruiting clase…….hmm…..maybe he can come write for the AJC!

dap01

January 13th, 2010
5:57 pm

It seems Bradley and Shultz do not try to look at the big picture when throwing out articles. They favor quantity instead of quality. Or perhaps they have agendas.

Western Dawg

January 13th, 2010
5:58 pm

People who are successful in life always take risks. Risks are considered a proving ground for gut instinct. You can remain safe and remain average the rest of your life. CMR wants to be the best and time will prove him right by trying the get the best Dc possible. That does not mean he failed. It simply means he’s a risk taker….and that’s a good trait to have as a leader. Patience is a virtue!!

CHARLOTTE DAWG

January 13th, 2010
6:06 pm

Great article and it is the truth! This girl tells it how it is.

I also don’t feel sorry for his recruits. Not one bit!

http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/commentary/news/story?id=4822352

tnugadawg

January 13th, 2010
6:48 pm

Brian VanGorder comming back to UGA.That’s the smartest thing I’ve heard in a long time.It’s not the players comming in that is the problem,it’s how they have been coach the makes them unprepared for Pro,s.Thus the later draft picks threw out the years happens.Richt need’s to go to BVG and beg his to come back.If you look at the recruiting class,BVG had worse talent,he just devoloped the into what they needed to be.Wille has had all world talent and made them worse then when they came in.BVG neededs to be back,sor fork the money out or it’s one more year.

DawgVoiceofReason

January 13th, 2010
7:03 pm

Bill,

I couldn’t have said it better myself. Dawg fans just need to be patient. It will all work out in the end. Coach Richt will make the right hire.

Reality

January 13th, 2010
7:05 pm

2 sad programs, UGA and Tenn….UGA will take a back seat to Tenn on hiring new coaches, afterall Tenn is a top 10 program and UGA is a 2nd tier SEC program.

Froggy the Gremlin

January 13th, 2010
7:47 pm

It’s plainly embarrassing & humiliating to be rejected this many times for this kind of $$. What does this say about your coach & your program?

Guess Who

January 13th, 2010
7:47 pm

KIRBY AND HIS WIFE WILL BE ON A PLANE HEADING BACK TO ATHENS AFTER THE SEC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME. BOOK IT1

Billy Boy

January 13th, 2010
7:50 pm

What a stupid viewpoint. You should go back to selling Hot dogs or programs or whatever you sold at Sanford Stadium. The manner in which this has been handled most certainly has hurt CMR and UGA’s image. The fact they will have to settle for Grantham or possible blogs about Air Force or William and Marys DC is evidence enough. Lame. Georgia can have a better mouthpiece than you Billy Boy!!!

VanGorder

January 13th, 2010
7:54 pm

He ain’t comming back. He has already said it. Something has never been revealed as to why he left in the first place. I do not think he and CMR have a strong relationship. Forget about it!!!

Richt to UT

January 13th, 2010
7:58 pm

Just In Mark Richt is headed to Tennessee to take the head coaching job.

Guess Who

January 13th, 2010
8:02 pm

BOOK IT ANYWAY!

CLEVON LITTLE

January 13th, 2010
8:11 pm

VanGorder , maybe not. And while I would like to see him turn the UGA Defense around, I’m not sure if he would be the long term solution. However, don’t underestimate his & Richts’ friendship –his son walked on at UGA.

Froggy the Gremlin

January 13th, 2010
8:12 pm

You fools should have kept CWM. He’s as good as your second rate program is going to get. BOOK IT.

Tyler

January 13th, 2010
8:13 pm

How about Texas Tech’s Ruffin McNeil?

CLEVON LITTLE

January 13th, 2010
8:13 pm

Richt to UT, yeah, and Coach Pajamas just took the south Florida job.

CLEVON LITTLE

January 13th, 2010
8:14 pm

Froggy the Gremlin , and what rate is Tech??

Happydawg

January 13th, 2010
8:22 pm

Sorry Bill, I would take Van Gorder in a heart beat.

TXDAWG

January 13th, 2010
8:48 pm

RICHT WOULD NOT GO TO TENN. HE WOULDN’T DIGNIFY THAT FOOTBALL PROGRAM.

renegade#1

January 13th, 2010
8:48 pm

Imagine that; Mark it down created the most hideous scenario. Muschamp and Smart at Tenn. Good God ya’ll. Never lose til you die. I hope them guys ain’t that good or that devious. It would be the apocalypse in the SEC! Other than that you guys don’t worry. Mark’s going to right by us.

Reality

January 13th, 2010
8:52 pm

Richt will not interview for Tenn…that would be a promotion…he does not deserve it.

Happydawg

January 13th, 2010
8:54 pm

TX DAWG, could agree with you more! I really think that Tennessee will be hiring Steve Spurrier as their head coach, he has such an ego and could care less about fallout at this late stage of his career. Ole ball coach is from Tennessee and great place for him to end his career.

renegade#1

January 13th, 2010
8:56 pm

John

January 13th, 2010
9:28 pm

“considerably by talent he inherited from the previous coaching staff”

Bill, it’s past your bedtime,or time to take your meds…What inherited talent? Pollack was a 2 star high school pick, Thomas Davis wasn’t even rated when VanGorder recruited him, Greg Blue was a 2 star player as well. All were “coached up” by VanGorder. Georgia needs coaches that can get the most out of the abilities of any player recruited.

Carty Seay

January 13th, 2010
9:34 pm

Oh my Gosh, I just figured it out. Bill King is the antidote for Mark Bradleys articles. Bradley brings some objectivity to Bulldog football and Bill comes it to to tell all the Dawg homers that being turned down three times in a row should make you feel good because you’re that much closer to getting the “right” coach. Bill says he has to go, Mark Richt is texting him a rough draft of tomorrows copy.

Slick Willie

January 13th, 2010
9:46 pm

Kirby Smart is going to be the next Head Coach at Tennessee, trust me.

Since Vince

January 13th, 2010
10:47 pm

huh ? ” 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.” What is this blind homer smoking ? Have you seen what the national pundits are saying ? Wow Bill King…. way to blow smoke up our rear ends when Florida not only out plays the dawgs on the football field but getting clobbered in recruiting as well. UGA has problems and some of blind loyalist who thinks everything will be fine are te same ones who defended Willie M. If you daeg fans are happy then get use to going to Shreveport. Be happy with playing toe to toe with Vandy year in and year out. Yeah right… we should all feel better because of the Tenn. situation but hey Lane Kiffen sure did spank my Dawgs huh. Im sorry Bill KING but wake up UGA , CMR and Damon Evans have egg on their face whether you believe it or not.

dan

January 13th, 2010
11:04 pm

UGA is what it is, a good football program but not a great one. Hell I’ll say it right now, Saint Vince was overrated. Take away 3 years of Herschel and the guy was really pretty average. Want to know how many wins Dooley averaged the last 5 years of his career? 8. Want to know how many wins Mark Richt has averaged the last 2 regular seasons? That’s right, 8. UGA is an 8 or 9 win program. Nationally they’re viewed in the same light as Wisconsin, Auburn, Oregon, Texas Tech and Iowa: teams that might go 11-1 every once in a while but they’re still considered second tier programs.

djawjuh

January 14th, 2010
12:42 am

I am atonished with the posts that refer to “I believe, I trust” CMR to hire the “right” candidate. Based on what? Yes, he had a great five years at the outset.

Richt, y’all must have forgotten, however, is the same person who hired WM as DC. Richt is the same person/coach who watched the program sink deeper and deeper to where we are now fourth in the SEC E and haven’t won an East title in the past four years.

CMR needed another year to give to buddy WM because he hadn’t seen enough decline yet. What was CMR smoking that caused him to move to a wait-and-see attitude when most everyone thought that WM should be given the door?. Did any of you faith/trust merchants think about that?

Just circle the wagons whenever you hear a negative remark about this man who is Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde what with his first five years and his last four. Scoring defense gets worse each year beginning with the hiring of WM as DC. What did CMR see that convinced him WM would turn it around?

So what is the basis of this “trust” that CMR will hire the “right” person to coach the D? For one thing, we have a decimated defense so nobody is going to step into that situation without job security up front. If that person doesn’t right the defensive ship he and Richt will be out the door right fast. Because it IS all about money and contributions to UGA. And why shouldn’t it be? Does UGA come first or does CMR? UGA does with me.

If he can’t get the job done, he should be fired just like any other CEO that fails. 90 wins in 9 years is impressive. But when one considers that he is competing with Meyer, Miles, and Saban, an ugly fact appears. It goes like this: National Championship. The first three coaches have won a NC in half the time that CRM has been at UGA. CMR hasn’t won one yet nor has a UGA team competed in the Championship Game.

Trust, faith, etc.? Those are relilgious concepts not football ones.

UGA ‘54, ‘57.

UGAJAG

January 14th, 2010
3:54 am

….I say hire Manny Diaz and be done with it. Imagine the recruits we could steal from south Florida with him on board. He has an aggressive defensive approach that us Dawg fans would love.

Radly Dawg

January 14th, 2010
7:15 am

Bill, you’re the only AJC sportswriter who seems to be in touch with reality. Thank God for your common sense and grounded points of view. Everything you said, or conjectured made perfect sense. My grandfather owned a hometown newspaper for 50 years….my Dad was Associate Publisher, and I also worked there while growing up. Back then journalism was, for the most part, respectful, factual, annnd, as you put it, “gentlemanly”. In these days of “materialism” those considerations in journalism are long gone!!! I know Mr. Henry Grady would be sickened by the present state of affairs in journalism!! Keep offering up the truth and Go Dawgs!!!!!

RADLY DAWG
Metter, Ga.

FLA DAWG

January 14th, 2010
8:25 am

I just took a look a next The Dawgs schedule for 2010. What an opportunity! Louisana (Rajun Canjuns – not LSU), SC, Arkansas, Miss State, Colorado, UT, Vandy, Ky, UF, Idaho State, Auburn, GT.

With the UT & UF confusion The Dawgs could really do well – if they had a decent team.

Regrettably, with a redshirt freshman QB who has not taken even one game snap, the early loss of some very good talent to the NFL, Offensive Playcalling by Bobo and our own confusion regarding DC which has made our commits nervous and caused some wandering eyes at least, we may have blown what is a Golden Opportunity to win the SEC East.

Maybe some things will fall into place in our favor and we can make a run at it. But the picture isn’t pretty right now.

kenfuller

January 14th, 2010
8:30 am

Its time already ! Do it now . The continuation of no news day after day is depressing and makes UGA look like an undesirable place to coach. I know its not so but it surely looks that way to young recruits and their families. Frankly , I am of the opinion that no decision is more harmful now than a wrong decision . MAKE A DECISION .GIT ‘ER DONE.

SC Dawg

January 14th, 2010
9:09 am

Common sense… we should be looking to provide upward mobility, or greater opportunity, not throwing money at premium DC’s with little interest. Look at Boise St or TCU to offer a greater chance at the national title. Pick off a DC from a jilted major like USC(west), etc. Point is that we should be dwelling down into greater long-term potential.

WPH

January 14th, 2010
9:57 am

Brian Van Gorder would be my first choice. He is someone I know personally and he is not only a great Defensive Coach and Hard worker but more important he is a man of faith and someone I would want coaching my Kid. He has worked wonders with an undermaned Atlanta team. Hire him if you can get him.

Dawgs73

January 14th, 2010
10:48 am

Bill, I have to completely disagree with you on this one. To say that Richt going after big names and getting turned down at every opportunity is good, is horsesh!!! It sounds like you are just patting Mark on the back for effort, but this is big time college football where the meek are eaten and swallowed. This isn’t high school football, this is a “big boy” league that pays coaches handsomely to produce results. There is no in between or grey area to be confused here, you either close or you will be closed. It’s not to say that Richt has to “break any moral codes”, but he is paid top tier money to represent the University and sell the UGA brand.

By no means am I devaluing or degrading Mark’s past accomplishments, but it is critical to his career that he produces high end results with this hire. He can certainly still “salvage” the situation and restore order, but time is ticking and he needs to make some noise quickly.

tnugadawg

January 14th, 2010
10:51 am

(The real junk yard dawg)=Vangorder hired yet by CMR?If not here’s how, big money (at least as much as kirby smart would have gotten ,even though kirby is not as good as BVG,lots of begging= Vangorder=Very good D-fence (even with players leaveing)=beating UF,and UT every year, lots of BSC championships(raises for CMR),or CMR could hire one of the other guy and go to UT in 2011.

David

January 14th, 2010
11:31 am

Everyone makes a big deal about the DC position. All Georgia has to do is what Alabama did this year win every game and then the national championship game. Whoever they get, if they follow that plan will be alright with me!!!

OZZFEST

January 14th, 2010
11:46 am

YOU ARE WRONG. YOU SEE, THE POLLS ARE MADE UP OF PEOPLE’S OPINIONS….AND THE FOSTER/CHAVIS/SMART DEBACLE INFLUENCES PEOPLE’S OPINIONS.

THE VOTERS THAT PUT US IN THE BOWLS ARE NATIONAL, NOT REGIONAL…AND RICHT HAS LITTLE TO NO STAR POWER NATIONALLY…ESPECIALLY COMPARED TO MILES, SABAN, AND SPURRIER…AND THAT IS JUST WITHIN THE DUDE’S OWN CONFERENCE.

heyberto

January 14th, 2010
11:47 am

At last! A voice of reason on the AJC website.

huelly

January 14th, 2010
11:50 am

need to look at Dick Bumpas at TCU. He has been a finalist for the Broyles award for the last 2 years. His defense was ranked well this year.

quadriple option

January 14th, 2010
11:53 am

Paints on the ground! Looking like a fool with your paints on the ground.

quadriple option

January 14th, 2010
11:55 am

Brian Van Gorder left Georgia Southern high and dry. He is a weasal. UGA does not need to go down that path. What about the Cowboys D-line coach?

THWG

January 14th, 2010
12:03 pm

Billy, seriously you need to stop being a lap dog for Mark and tell it like it is. Aiming high? :) :) You must be really drunk of that UGA kool aid.

There is a big difference between aiming high and being realistic. This is not kindergarten where everyone is constantly lied to, by being told “you can be president of the U.S.A when you grow up.”

I know you can do better Billy. Mark Richt showed just how stupid he is rather than aiming high as you put it.

Why would Kirby Smart leave the best program in America, where he has a chance to win back to back sec titles as well as a nc, to clean up Mark’s mess so that Mark can take all the glory?

He was dreaming instead of being realistic. This is what tends to happen with people who believe in god. The resort to “god will handle it,” rather than taking the steps to handle it themselves.

This is why communists abolished religion. it is a big lie, a scam of immense proportions.

massachusetts DAWG

January 14th, 2010
12:31 pm

Enter your comments here

Gen Neyland

January 14th, 2010
12:45 pm

THWG : You a commie..?