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

Scott

January 14th, 2010
1:06 pm

Why not hire the grad assistants who shut Tech down and pay them both half or less than these “big names” would fetch?

MississippiDawg

January 14th, 2010
1:32 pm

Great article Bill – furthermore – I don’t have any inside info as so many of your bloggers claim, but I can guarantee one thing…when we start the 2010 season we WILL have a DC – and he will be a competent, experienced coach. One more thing – whoever he is, his Defense will be better than last year for two main reasons – the first is the “change” itself…while change is painful – it’s usually good for organizations. The second is the “schedule”…UGA will have a softer schedule and I assure you the UF and UT debacles will not happen as they did in ‘09.

Additionally – thank God CMR is our coach…Kiffy certainly added some perspective here.

MississippiDawg

January 14th, 2010
1:49 pm

Hey THWG – what a pessimistc, un-American point of view…Surely you are NOT a DAWG FAN…BTW – many of your secular and even “scientifiic” experts have concluded that the Universe itself implies an “Intelligent Design”…my sincere advice to you: Try reading a BIble and comprehending the history of the Gospels. Its hard to come to any other “logical” conclusion that Christ IS who he says he “IS”. Also, just imagine if YOU are wrong…..GOD BLESS THE DAWGS and CMR.

JSS

January 14th, 2010
2:59 pm

Bill King, I apologize for coming on your blog with a non UGA athletics matter… I hope that you’ll indulge our effort on this day and this one time only…

Hello Again UGA fans…

As many of you know, there has been a great tragedy in Haiti… Blogger “Ted Striker” and I are asking you to get involved in aiding the victims…

I set up a Facebook cause page for the Haitian Relief effort
http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=426507305332&ref=search&sid=819343849.3665709771..1

Hey all of you in the mighty Bulldawg Nation, take up the challenge against Tech and fans of the other rivals in the SEC and ACC!!! Please step up to the plate!!! Please tell me what you think! If we can improve the site and possibilities of helping to get more bloggers to contribute to any of the worthy charities and NGO’s that are on the ground in Haiti…
Thanks again to “Ted Striker” (he is traveling on business today) and to all of the blog moderators on the AJC staff for letting me post on their blogs…

fayncdawg

January 14th, 2010
3:24 pm

THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU! SOMEBODY WHO WRITES FOR THE AJC WITH THE CORRECT PERSPRCTIVE ON THE UGA DC ISSUE!! HECK, SCHULTZ AND BRADLEY SHOULD HAVE SUBMITTED RESIGNATIONS THE MOMENT KIFFIN LEFT UT FOR WRITING SUCH IDIOTIC PIECES!! I HOPE THOSE TWO UGA-HATER SEE UT’S COACHING SITUATION AS FAR MORE DIRE THAN UGA’S! AGAIN MR. KING, THANK YOU!

Thrashers moving to Quebec City

January 14th, 2010
3:45 pm

You have lost your ice hockey team,again!

Lane Kiffen is RIGHT TO MOVE

January 14th, 2010
3:46 pm

Enter your comments here

Lane Kiffen

January 14th, 2010
3:47 pm

He hates fried chicken eaters!

waynester

January 14th, 2010
3:47 pm

I think Tyler is on the right track with McNeill from Texas Tech. He’s a great motivator as seen in their bowl game when the pressure was really on. His former and current players love him and rallied for him to become head coach, but the school went with Tuberville.

nobody wants to coach your team!

January 14th, 2010
3:50 pm

you filthridden fried chicken eaters!

Anfernee

January 14th, 2010
3:51 pm

Anquon

January 14th, 2010
3:51 pm

D'Brickeshaw

January 14th, 2010
3:52 pm

leBron

January 14th, 2010
3:52 pm

ClassDawg

January 14th, 2010
3:54 pm

How can Richt’s failure to find a DC hurt any more than the poor performances on the field the last two years? We are a good program, and with the leadership issues at UF and UT it is a prime chance to rise up to the level of a great program. I am not inspired by the all-too-public overtures and rejections by Richt and Evans, and I contend that there is more pressure than ever to hire a real stud for the DC position. We have to rebuild, not just reload, and “youth with potential” or “solid background” just ain’t going to cut it with fans, recruits, supporters, or current players.

BamaMama

January 14th, 2010
4:00 pm

Objectively speaking (I’m a Bama fan), the AJC gives Georgia far more favorable treatment than any other major-city paper gives its sports teams, pro or college. I travel extensively in my job, and while I live here in Atlanta, I am an avid sports-page reader. You should expect and appreciate provocateurs in the local press, it is a compliment to your numbers: their success is measured by the number of blogs, posts, responses to their columns, not by the positive or negative aspects of those comments. Real bulldogs (I own two) have thick skins, but the bulldawg variety of fan seems to have very thin skins. Stop whining and hire a DC, you never had a shot at Kirby…he’s waiting on CMR’s job.

BamaMama

January 14th, 2010
4:03 pm

P.S. While Mr. King is a competent writer, Georgia fans would be wise not to confuse a homer’s bias with profound journalism.

Athens: The New Haiti

January 14th, 2010
4:06 pm

Smells bad in here. Oh, it’s a Georgia blog, that’s why.

ClassDawg

January 14th, 2010
4:11 pm

True, I like reading Brother Junkyard Blawg, but just because we share similar perspectives hardly make them CORRECT perspectives. Obviously I think they are right because they are positive about UGA, but it’s a big mistake to ignore other perspectives, even those coming out of Atlanta. If Richt had a few more honest associates to bounce ideas off of he might have made some better decisions. I am not satisfied with just being an “upper middle tier” SEC team, but I have to look at facts and admit that that is what we have been. Now let’s strive for something better….we can’t wear the stars until we earn them, guys, and 8 or 9 wins a year doesn’t earn National championships.

cantondawg

January 14th, 2010
4:15 pm

This is my take on the DC Saga..

I think CMR took a couple of weeks compiling names and resumes of Potential candidates. He tried first to hit the ball out of the park with Foster but knew he would likely not get him. Then i think he settled on two possible candidate (Grantham and Smart). I do not believe Koenning or Chavis was ever offered the position. CMR probrably called Chavis just to gauge his interest but Chavis parlayed that into a better offer. All this time i’m sure CMR knew that it would either be Smart or Grantham. I personally believe politics led to the offer of Smart. Based upon what i’ve heard, I think Grantham has been CMR’s pick all along

Bill King

January 14th, 2010
4:22 pm

TWHG:

First time I’ve been called a “lap dog” for Richt. Generally I get flak for being on his case too much. But in this case I think the criticism over the DC search has just been overdone.

jellybeandawg

January 14th, 2010
4:27 pm

Mark Richt = FAKE JUICE & FAKE TAN

Bill King

January 14th, 2010
4:35 pm

Carty Seay:

Yeah, you cracked the code: Richt ghostwrites my blog. He had a lot of fun by having me say he sounded like a “whiner” a few months back. And all that stuff defending Martinez over the past couple of years was a sham. He really was telling me to write that it was time for a change.

Bill King

January 14th, 2010
4:36 pm

John:

You apparently put a lot of faith in those recruiter service star ratings.

I don’t.

Bill King

January 14th, 2010
4:37 pm

Happydawg:

I’m not saying VanGorder couldn’t do it again at UGA. He was a great DC. But second acts are notoriously difficult. And, like I said, he’s tended not to stay anywhere long, so I don’t know how much stability he would bring to the program.

Porty

January 14th, 2010
6:17 pm

But Bill, you have been called a Lap Gopher haven’t you? What was it like on the set with Murray, Chase, Ted Knight and Foster Brooks? Did you wear the costume at the 30th Caddy Shack reunion?

GO DAWGS!!!

January 14th, 2010
6:40 pm

Really? Several other teams have named DC’s in the time GA has been looking. I’m sure they didn’t hire garbage(FL). Now Diaz is gone to MS. state. And TN will be looking for a DC as well. So let’s just sit around, wait on a D-Line coach from Dallas that may or maynot take the job. Grow a pair of balls and ask him now. It’s a cutthroat business. I sure hope the minds that be know what they are doing, because right now they look like incompetent jacka****

dawgdude

January 14th, 2010
6:47 pm

BVG best DC UGA has had in a long time,a master mind.He would impove the team alot.When he was thier UGA players were hyped up.None of this coach Richt waving his clip board at you to get the fans up stuff.Play’s were made on the field.I was at the vandy game in 2006 when the D let vandy come right down the field and score.KY the D didn’t show up either.Could have had alot better year.Just like the WVA game in 05,good old willie trys again.Under BVG”s D-fence these things wouldn’t have happened.And want if CMR will hire him,Pay the money hire Vangorder,David pollack for DE coach,and since were dreaming David Green QB coach(great QB)would be a great coach.Pay (Junk Yard Dog)Brian Vangorder,(the best choice for the job).

Voyager Dawg

January 14th, 2010
7:02 pm

Mr. King. Once again you are the voice of reason and put the rest of the AJC staff to shame in your analysis. We have had too much “inside” information out here and I think there is only an extremely tight circle of folks around Coach Richt that know the truth about who’s been offered and who hasn’t. I’m glad to see UGA going after big names, but I agree with you that it won’t matter who he hires unless it provides results on the field. The kids that want to come to Georgia will come because of the program, not who’s in place as the defensive coordinator. Coach Richt will do what’s right and get us a quality coordinator. Go Dawgs!

UGA Observer - not Fan

January 14th, 2010
7:02 pm

Georgia is a good football program – just not elite or as great as the uga fans think. Richt might be aiming high, but has missed the reallly big ones. In the words of the Lewis Grizzard, “Shoot Low Boys(Richt) – They’re Riding Shetland Ponies.”

Brian Van Gorder

January 14th, 2010
7:11 pm

Of course I am interested. Life is not always about moving up the corporate ladder. If UGA offers me big-time money, I live very comfortably in Athens and do what I do best-coach aggressive defensive football. The last few years have had many stops moving up the corporate ladder, but at the end of the days I was at UGA longer than any other stop. I have the energy for this job, I have the contacts to hire the best D in the SEC, I get along great with Rodney Gardner and of course everybody gets along with Mark Richt. Mark, in case you lost my cell number it is 706-4TH-&ONE. The ball is in your hands now…

FLA DAWG

January 14th, 2010
7:43 pm

Bill,

All three were long shots!? Then why did we go after them without knowing ahead of time what their response would be? Ever heard of due diligence?

The most basic rule in business is to know the true availability of an asset before going after it. The inept approach by Richt, Evans & possibly Adams is, indeed embarrassing. Especially in the Smart debacle. Why did Athens & Co. wait so long for a negative response?

The only good that comes out of this is that three DCs are at the top of their payscale and they can only go to HC positions, stay where they are or be demoted from there – now a certainty courtesy of Mark Richt & whomever the he!! else is running the asylum in Athens.

Moaning too much? If that’s what it takes to get Richt to do what we’ve been screaming for him to do for TWO YEARS, then so be it.

frank

January 14th, 2010
8:31 pm

Blawg Dawg, you’re comments are right on. Better to get the right person than to pay the price later — even if it takes awhile. I have seen this work out, despite impatience, in business and in the hiring of a church pastor.

TXDAWG

January 14th, 2010
8:46 pm

Got to give Richt time. Many openings out there and only a few qualified candidates.

JDW

January 14th, 2010
9:22 pm

Thank you Bill! Finally a bit of proper perspective from someone at the AJC. The drivel put forth by some of your colleagues has been at once tiresome and predictable. Everyone needs to sit back, relax and let the man do his job. I have every confidence that he will make a great hire if he doesn’t let media manufactured urgency get in the way.

SickandTired

January 14th, 2010
10:41 pm

hey king, is there anything that Mark Richt could do that you wouldn’t think was the smartest thing you’d seen since they put removable wheels on trailers? What about those tornado tie downs. Now that was something that changed the world…..to bad Mark Richt can’t find a DC for you

JESUP

January 14th, 2010
11:18 pm

JESUP

January 14th, 2010
11:19 pm

VIDEO…..Grantham breaking down game film http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XSsx-E7UEHc

JESUP

January 14th, 2010
11:27 pm

Grantham IS THE MAN……..root for the Vikings this weekend…

DawgVoiceofReason

January 15th, 2010
12:30 am

Perspective, people. It is hard right now to wait. But some of you sound like a 7 year old being told to wait until it’s daylight on Christmas morning. And those who are crying about disaster and humiliation for the program are just plain ignorant. As soon as the defensive coordinator is hired and in place, the panic will subside. As soon as we start playing better defense, the worries of now will be forgotten. No one will care.

I’m glad to see Coach Richt went after some of the big time DCs. If it had worked out, that would have been great, but he IS going to get a good coach.

One last comment, those of you who refer to our program winning “8 or 9 games” a season and it not being enough are math morons. UGA has AVERAGED 10 wins a season. 90 wins in 9 years = 10 wins per season. Coach Richt is one of only 7 coaches to do that and it is not something to take lightly.

SickandTired

January 15th, 2010
7:48 am

Brownie you’re doing a heckuva job.

LAST

January 23rd, 2010
8:56 pm

First!!!!!!!!