Because I’m hard-pressed to come up with another reason for the increasing Adam Krohn-like hostility emanating from the pages of that august publication. Seriously, it’s getting that irrational – and in the case of Mark Bradley, maybe even disingenuous.
Start with this Jeff Schultz piece. Schultz faults Richt for failing to haul in a high profile guy as his new defensive coordinator, but not for failing. For looking stupid.
Richt made a conscious decision to go after Bud Foster, John Chavis and Kirby Smart — three of the highest profile defensive coordinators in the nation, none of whom were lacking in job security, none of whom were upset about their current situation, none of whom were looking to leave.
There’s nothing wrong with shooting high. There is something wrong when you’re made to look foolish by three consecutive candidates who play the game publicly but ultimately leverage job offers to get themselves raises at their existing schools.
Once you cut through the business side of things and the emotional tugs and whatever special place Athens may hold in the hearts and minds of some of the world’s defensive coordinators, it really comes down to this: Foster, Chavis and Smart weren’t going any place.
Richt should have known that. Any humiliation the school or the football program has suffered is on him.
Now hindsight, as they say, is 20/20. And in his defense, Schultz isn’t expressing a degree of frustration that’s any greater than what you can find on just about any Georgia message board or blog these days. But with all due respect to Schultz, and knowing a little bit about how the process works, it’s a bullshit rationale.
If Schultz or anybody else thinks that Mark Richt sat around and said to himself, “hmm… these guys sure are good coaches. I’ll keep making offers blindly until one accepts”, I’ve got news for them – that isn’t how it works. No head coach with any sense approaches a high-profile candidate until he’s received legitimate feedback from that direction that his interest will be reciprocated. And if you’ll notice, none of the three candidates mentioned blew Mark Richt’s inquiries off. So, the question is, should Mark Richt have known that he was going to get played by all three men? Schultz indicates that, yes, Richt should have known – but I’d find his reasoning far more convincing if he’d have advanced it before any of the three turned Richt down.
But like I said, that’s fairly mild stuff compared to Bradley, who’s outdone himself with this post today. Talking about the state of the SEC East in the wake of Kiffin’s departure, the ironies abound. Here’s what he says about Georgia:
With so much in motion, the moment seems ripe for a stable program to make a bold move upward in 2010. That program would not seem to be Georgia.
Having searched for six weeks, the Bulldogs don’t have a defensive coordinator or a defensive staff. They’ll enter next season with a new quarterback, the result of having left Aaron Murray to redshirt. (A wise choice in most years, but not necessarily in the worst season under this head coach.) Worse still, there’s a growing feeling across the South that Mark Richt is a year away from feeling the big heat…
Short of landing Bill Belichick, it will be nigh-impossible for Georgia to emerge from this protracted search with a coordinator who will satisfy the majority of Dog-lovers. And it does seem troubling that three men who worked in the South and have coached against Georgia — Bud Foster of Virginia Tech, John Chavis of LSU and Alabama’s Kirby Smart, who’s a Bulldog born and bred — saw greater opportunity in the current positions than anything awaiting them in Athens…
In a great exercise of circular reasoning, Bradley cites this post at MrSEC.com in support of his argument.
From MrSEC.com, usually a clearinghouse of conference links, came this post-Kirby-Smart post from John Pennington, its headline reading: “Smart Stays; Richt In Trouble.” Pennington’s argument isn’t that Richt should be in trouble but that, having been spurned three times now by coordinating candidates, he’s being perceived as “inept.”
Gee, Mark, you know who Pennington blames for that perception? You.
… Let me make this very clear — Richt is in trouble at Georgia. In fact, I believe his days are running out.
I said last summer that I believed he and Les Miles would occupy the hottest seats in the SEC after the 2009 season. I was emailed to death by UGA fans who said they wouldn’t turn on their head coach.
Well, they’re turning. And there’s no question that Richt and Miles sit in the SEC’s hottest chairs going forward.
Here’s how things work: First the media goes, then the fans follow. It’s already clear that many writers across the state of Georgia are anti-Richt at this point.
He was first attacked for not having the guts to whack his buddy Willie Martinez. But then he did fire him. So was there praise for Richt? No, just the message that he’d better hire a top-name replacement and he’d better do it quickly. Well, he hasn’t. And now he’s being attacked for that.
But is it Richt’s fault that he couldn’t lure in the three men to whom he offered the position?
Virginia Tech supposedly matched UGA’s offer to Foster. So why would he leave one job for the other?
LSU reportedly matched Georgia’s offer to Chavis. So why would he leave one job for the other?
Now Alabama is set to match the Dawgs’ offer to Smart. Again, what reason would the coach have of making a lateral move?
The money for each man was about the same to stay in their current positions. And the Georgia position is the exact same as the ones they currently hold. So what’s the draw? Nice Georgia weather? Getting to coach in front of a nervous, jittery fanbase?
Richt’s mistake was going after the best. He should have gone after someone from a smaller school or someone who is not currently a coordinator. Had he done that, it would have been near impossible for someone like — let’s say — Manny Diaz of MTSU to turn him down. Quick hire, done and done.
Of course, had he done that Georgia fans and media would have squawked that Richt hadn’t pursued the best of the best, etc. Writers such as Mr. Bradley would have asked, “How could he not kick the tires on a Georgia alum like Smart?” UGA would have been called cheap, too, unwilling to spend big bucks for a top assistant. [Emphasis added.]
Speaking of the SEC East, Bradley’s high on South Carolina now. Why? Glad you asked…
It has a head coach, which puts it ahead of Tennessee and perhaps Florida, and he has a national championship in his portfolio. It has a defensive coordinator, which puts it ahead of Georgia, and Ellis Johnson is a fine one…
You know what other local school doesn’t have a defensive coordinator right now? Bradley does, but he sure doesn’t seem too bothered about it.
No major news was forthcoming at Paul Johnson’s season-ending media session this morning. He didn’t introduce a new defensive coordinator, but he seemed to suggest that it won’t be long now.
As ever, the session was steeped in entertainment value. (PJ, as you know, cannot say, “Good morning,” without applying the arch PJ twist.) Some snippets:
On Georgia Tech’s search for a coordinator: “It’s going good. We’re going to have one sometime. I just want to make sure it’s the right fit … I’ve got some scenarios in play; it’s just a question of what I decide to do and then finalizing it.”
Ha, ha! That Paul Johnson’s such a card! Scenarios in play and all – the guy’s got it all together. It’s amazing that his “season ending media session” is this sparsely attended.
Can anyone imagine a similar Georgia meeting with Mark Richt offering that, um, easy a choice for seating? And can you say “double standard”? I thought you could.
What really gets me here is that we’ve just seen the kind of hire that Schultz and Bradley would seem to favor, at least by default – Lane Kiffin at Southern Cal. Sure, it was outrageously expensive and, sure, Kiffin wasn’t on USC’s A-list, but, hey, it’s done. Quickly, even. But does anyone really expect either of these two writers to seriously suggest that as a template for Richt and Evans? Of course not – because neither wants to get laughed out of the room.