Even after you weed out all the “agile, hostile and mobile” red meat comments for the fan base, there’s still a lot left to chew on from what Richt and Grantham had to say during yesterday’s teleconference. Here’s my take on what we heard:
- Anticipation… is making me wait. Remember all the finger wagging we’ve been doing in Mark Richt’s face about how the DC hire may be the most important decision of his career? Well, guess what, people? Mark Richt thinks so, too. Combine that with a personality that’s by nature thoughtful and deliberate and in retrospect it’s not hard to see that this pick was never going to be a rush job. Richt had his time frame in mind from the get go (i.e., this weekend) and a process that he wanted to follow. Unless something dropped into his lap unexpectedly, that pace was never likely to be changed. Which leads me to my second point…
- We may not have taken Damon Evans seriously, but the coaching community did. Pretend you’re Bud Foster for a minute. Mark Richt calls to talk about his due diligence on Todd Grantham. After speaking for a while about the candidate (who, by the way, is seven years younger than you and coached under you at VT), you learn that under the right circumstances the University of Georgia is prepared to make somebody the third highest paid coordinator in college football. Unless you’re brain-damaged or insane, what are likely to be the next words coming out of your mouth upon hearing that? And once that happens, how does Mark Richt ignore the interest of established guys like Foster and Chavis? Short answer: he doesn’t, but he doesn’t let his time track for the hire get thrown off, either. Those guys had their shot, they squeezed the opportunity for what it was worth and Richt moved on. What I find most significant is that we’ve heard of only two guys that got the maximum offer from Georgia. One of the two stayed in Tuscaloosa. The other is the new defensive coordinator. It’s hard to fault Richt for that.
- Mark Richt has a place for Rodney Garner as long as Rodney Garner wants it. Todd Grantham has never met Rodney Garner, but has “heard good things about him”. Todd Grantham will also be coaching linebackers. That’s a message from Mark Richt, not just to Grantham, but also to Damon Evans. There’s probably nobody happier about the size of Grantham’s contract besides Grantham than Garner. And why not? Everyone notes that Mark Richt is now the dean of SEC coaches, but is there a current assistant coach in the conference who’s been at his present school longer than Garner? Toss in the way he’s held things together in the most turbulent season of the Richt era and it’s hard to begrudge the man. On the flip side, there’s a lot of good in Athens for Garner. He gets to absorb line coaching in a 3-4 scheme; that’s got to be a plus for the resume. And you’d think he’s counting his blessings that he resisted Lane Kiffin’s overtures last year.
- The real process starts now. Forget about the job search. Think about what’s left on Mark Richt’s plate. Recruiting. Filling out the rest of the coaching staff openings. Personnel evaluation. Installing a totally new defensive scheme. More personnel evaluation. Lather and repeat. Make no mistake about this hire – it represents the most significant change in the program since Richt’s start. My personal feeling is one of great excitement. I think the program was in need of some new energy and needed to be shaken up, but none of us knows if Grantham will prove to be the right man for the job. But I do know this: if I start seeing kids learning proper technique, tackling consistently, playing their assignments, pass protecting the middle of the field, I’m gonna be one happy fellow. That’s a process I can look forward to watching play out.