Quiet. Quiet! Shhhhhhhh!
Listen closely. Can you hear that? Georgia football coach Mark Richt just made another statement. By now it ought to be coming through loud and clear.
Despite constant and often unbridled criticism of his coaching staff — and his defensive coaches in particular — by some of the more vocal members of the Bulldog Nation, Richt continually answers quietly and subtly through his actions. His message is, “I don’t agree with you.”
Not only has Richt retained all his assistants from the “disastrous” 10-3 season just past — Doc Eason’s move to administration and Bryan McClendon’s promotion was long in the works — he has given all of them raises and several of them promotions. The latest came Tuesday when he made linebackers coach John Jancek co-defensive coordinator. The new title was a reward for Jancek’s decision to forego this week an offer to become South Florida’s defensive coordinator.
This should in no way be viewed as demotion for current defensive coordinator Willie Martinez. Richt, who wasn’t available for comment, made that very clear and was specific about it in the official news release he had prepared. “Willie Martinez is our defensive coordinator and as co-coordinator John has been and will continue to be instrumental in our game planning on the defensive side of the ball.” In other words, Willie’s still the main man on defense.
Richt was at Lake Hartwell Tuesday and not available for interviews (but he will available via a teleconference on Wednesday). But, in reality, Richt had already said as much when he gave Martinez a $15,515 raise to $325,815 after last season. That figure grows another $10,000 with a retention bonus that kicks in for remaining another year. This was how he reacted to what was unprecedented criticism of his defensive coordinator.
Offensive coordinator Mike Bobo also caught some flak this past season, despite the big numbers Georgia’s offense rang up. All Richt did was give Bobo a $57,500 raise to $325,000 (not including a $10,000 retention bonus).
I don’t get paid to give you my opinion — we have excellent columnists that are highly skilled at doing that — and I’m not here to defend any of these coaches. They are well compensated and sufficiently jaded for that. Yes, I am aware of how Georgia’s defensive numbers have crept up each of the last few years under Martinez. And, sure, I’ve seen some redzone calls by Bobo that have left me scratching my head. But sooner or later don’t you have to let the head coach be the head coach and make those determinations?
Hey, I’ve gotten umpteen mileage and thousands of page views here from people complaining about “Soft Willie’s defense” and “BooBoo’s offense.” But every time I turn around I keep hearing Richt say, “I don’t agree,” in not so many words.
HERE’S AN UPDATE OFF OF CMR’S PRE-SPRING TELECONFERENCE CALL:
On how roles might change: “Well this is really a situation where his role is not going to change a lot because he really has been very involved in game-planning with Coach Martinez, as all are coaches do. But he’s had an awful lot of input the years he’s been here, so it’s not going to change really at all. Just to make it clear, Willie Martinez is our defensive coordinator. It’s not like two co-coordinators on an equal basis. Willie is the tip of the spear defensively, so to speak. He’s where the buck stops and he’s the leader of the group. But John has been very instrumental to this point in formulating our defensive plan and he’s gonna continue to do that. We’re just basically making public notice of it.”
Asked if a raise would come with Jancek’s new title: “I’ll just say this, the way I feel about salaries, I feel like salaries are a private matter. If it was up to me everybody’s salary wouldn’t be published. I’d never make any public comments on guys’ salaries.”
On keeping the whole staff together: “It means an awful lot. Number one, I think we’ve got a tremendous group of assistant coaches that do an outstanding job and have for quite some time now. To keep the continuity I think that’s extremely important. When it comes to recruiting I think it’s important; when it comes to our current players having the peace of mind knowing they don’t have to start all over, it’s important. I remember when I first came to Georgia and Brian VanGorder became the defensive coordinator, he was the fourth defensive coordinator in four years. Neil Callaway was the fifth offensive line coach in four years. It’s tough to be good, it’s tough to get anything going when your kids are constantly having to learn a whole new coaching staff or a whole new philosophy or a whole new way of calling a defense or an offensive line blocking scheme. To be able to continue to keep the same staff, especially when they’re as good as the one we have, is fantastic.”