It’s hard to make a home run hire.

Spencer Hall has a point here.

True.  But only to an extent.  To overcome those shortcomings, Michigan had to shell out almost $50 million to bring back a Michigan man.

The question is, do you think Georgia has the resources, either financially or administratively (not to mention the will), to pull off a similar coup if Richt were no longer here?

77 Comments

Filed under Big Ten Football, Georgia Football

77 responses to “It’s hard to make a home run hire.

  1. JasonC

    I bet they had to take out a second mortgage on their IPF to make it happen.

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    • pitbull

      waste of time to ask that questiion

      what former uga player and coach has been successful in the NFL and is available?

      Even if so, no way we could pay enough to compete with NFL teams who would hire one of our prospective HCs as an nfl HC?

      CMR, if on the market, would be near the top of the wish list for any serious college football program’s HC search

      idiot question

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  2. @gatriguy

    It’s really tough to say as UGA hasn’t been in a coaching search where the obvious hire was there for the taking (I’m too young to remember Dooley/Erk). When Donnan was hired, the can’t miss big name was Gary Barnett, and when Richt, I can’t even think of who it would’ve been. Maybe Frank Beamer at the time? UGA just hasn’t had an opening at the same time a Saban, Urban, or Harbaugh was sitting out there.

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    • Oh, please. Who knew Harbaugh was “sitting out there”? It took Michigan over a month to reel him in – and that was with the biggest salary offer in the history of college football.

      And Saban, remember, was Alabama’s second choice, and turned down the school’s first offer. Mal Moore stayed after him and upped the ante.

      The point is, big name, home run hires don’t come easy. Does Georgia’s administration have the willingness to chase one down?

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      • gastr1

        It took someone telling him that he was going to always be a lousy NFL coach because his abrasive personality would work best on 18-21-year-olds (who move on after 3-4 years), too. I don’t think he’d have gone just anywhere, but by giving him a truckload of money, Harbaugh can make it look like it’s not what it was for Saban and Spurrier–a step down from the top rung because they couldn’t hack it in the pros.

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        • “It took someone telling him that he was going to always be a lousy NFL coach…”

          The Niners went 44-19-1 in their four years under Harbaugh. In the three seasons before he arrived, they had a .438 winning percentage.

          Yeah, always lousy. That’s Jim Harbaugh.

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          • gastr1

            The point is less his record overall than the diminishing returns of the last couple of seasons. Surely you’re not blind to this.

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            • gastr1

              I mean, I barley even follow the NFL and I’ve heard all about Harbaugh’s antics ruining team chemistry. It was pretty well known that the 49ers no longer wanted their 44-19 coach.

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              • Well, I barely follow the NFL, too, and I know that Harbaugh didn’t lack for pro franchise suitors. No one in the NFL media expected him to go to Michigan. No one.

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                • PTC DAWG

                  Whi in the NFL pays 8 mullion for a Coach? Or guarantees almost 50 MILLION DOLLARS for one?

                  This is nucking futs.

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                • CLT Dawg

                  He was making $7MM/year w the 49ers. The Raiders were rumored to have offered Gruden $16MM/year to come back. Don’t kid yourself, the haves in the NFL will pay big money these days for a coach that’s a proven winner when their franchise has sucked for a decade or more.

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      • @gatriguy

        They have an opening, no? And Harbaugh is available, right? That’s all I meant about “sitting there”, nothing more. Although I’d argue it’s been obvious since the beginning of the season that Harbaugh would not be back in SF next year. Not that he might go back to college, but that the 49ers were done with him. Hell, they did try to trade him last offseason.

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        • Most of the NFL media were in denial about Harbaugh going to Michigan until yesterday.

          Any way you want to spin it, UM had to work hard and make a substantial financial commitment to land its man.

          Not sure why I’m getting so much resistance to that.

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          • @gatriguy

            I’m not disputing what Michigan did. I’m simply saying that you can’t necessarily draw the conclusion that UGA wouldn’t act similarly (although I don’t think they would), simply because they’ve never had the opportunity unfurl before them like Alabama, Ohio State, or Michigan did.

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            • IAmAGurleyMan

              Not true. We have had the opportunity. However, instead we have chosen to stick with Richt. At any time, we could have jettisoned Richt for a superior option, just like all these programs chose to do.

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              • Let’s look at the circumstances of each of these home run hires:

                1) Urban Meyer (2004-5) – UF was a mess under Zook (I recognize he beat UGA twice), and Foley had no choice sort of like with Muschamp. The “home run” hire had never coached in the Power 5, so he wasn’t risk-free. CMR had just finished what is the 2nd most successful stretch in UGA history behind 1980-3. Anyone who thought Meyer would be more successful than Richt would have been committed to an asylum at the time.
                2) Nick Saban (2006-7) – Richt won an SEC championship two years prior and had just recruited the best high school QB in the country. Alabama was a mess with Mike Shula, who was clearly in over his head. Sure, we could have jettisoned Richt for Saban at that point, but what had Richt not done at that point to deserve being run out of Athens? Nothing.
                3) Urban Meyer (2011-2) – Richt had just won the SEC East when Meyer was hired at tOSU. People were ready for a change if circumstances warranted. He wins 10 straight pretty much to save his career at UGA. Jim Tressel would still be in Columbus if not for his LYING about Tattoo-gate.

                Everyone knows you have an ax to grind with Richt, but the facts and circumstances flat out dispute your premise that we would be in a better place without him at the time that “home run hires” were available.

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              • Dawgfan Will

                At any time we could have jettisoned [a far more successful coach than any of these programs fired] for a superior [in hindsight] option, just like all these programs chose to do.

                Fixed it for you.

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            • Except for when it did, in the wake of Dooley’s departure, and screwed up Erk’s hire.

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              • @gatriguy

                Yeah, I kinda mentioned Dooley/Erk as a caveat, didn’t I? I was 7, so I can’t really speak with any intelligent insight as to what happened there, except that Erk was 62 in 1988 and coaches exactly 2 more years after that. In actuality, what probably would have happened is UGA would have gotten 3 years from Erk, then been right right back in the coaching market trying to replace two legends instead of one. Or they would have promoted Paul Johnson. The Georgia Way™ for the win!

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                • Erk didn’t walk away from Georgia because he was old. He walked away because they fucked up the process.

                  And I can speculate on the length of his UGA career as easily as you can. The point is B-M doesn’t have a great hiring track record.

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                • @gatriguy

                  Did he Georgia admin make him retire from coaching in 1989 too? Because if you’re hirin a coach in 1988 who ends up retiring from coaching in 1989, I’m not quite sure that you missed a golden ticket there.

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                • How do you know he retires in a year if he comes to Athens? He wanted the job.

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                • Why does everyone seem to think Erk was a home run hire? If he had brought Fish Fry with him, there is no Eric Zeier, no Andre Hastings, and, likely, no Garrison Hearst. That hire was screwed up because Knapp did it on his own with no committee. Dick Sheridan wanted the job, had accepted the job, and backed out because Knapp wanted him not to coach NC State’s bowl game.

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                • @gatriguy

                  Plus he was 68 years old. Is that really what you want to bring in as a new coach? Think Fulmer would have used that in recruiting much? Sort of like everyone is using against Spurrier now.

                  Don’t get me wrong, they botched that hire with Goff as badly as possible, but I just don’t see where Erk was as much of a no-brained as everyone thinks. I think it’s a better argument that they messed up ever letting him leave in the first place.

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      • IAmAGurleyMan

        The final question is the only question. It’s not about having the means. It’s about having the will. McCheap/McGoo has clearly indicated not, up to this point. I’m not sure what would make that change outside of further coaching defections for raises elsewhere.

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        • Scorpio Jones, III

          “That hire was screwed up because Knapp did it on his own with no committee. ”

          Not that it matters, but that ain’t my recollection of the way the Erk fuck up went down…there were, as I recall, problems with Erk’s retirement from Ga Southern transferring to Athens and other things. The Athletic Board probably deserves more blame for fucking up the Erk hire than does Chuck Knapp.

          Erk had already begun putting together a staff… Pat Sullivan as OC (sigh and swoon) and others.

          The nuts and bolts of the contract caused problems.

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          • Scorp, I recall Erk saying he was too old to start over. Maybe that was the public posturing at the time. I didn’t realize the stuff about the contract. If Dooley goes to Auburn in ’81, Erk would have been the right guy. In ’89, it wasn’t the right thing to do given where Coach Russell was in his career.

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    • PatinDC

      Right was hired after Mason, the hot hire, dumped us. Best thing that ever happened to UGA football right there.

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      • @gatriguy

        Not to go all Katie Couric on you, but no. Donnan was hired after Mason changed his mind on Christmas Day (alledgedly because his teenage daughter lost her shit on the flight back from Hawaii and the Aloha bowl on Christmas Eve–which pretty much tells you all you need to know about the state of the UGA program in 1995). Mason wasn’t a home run hire–people were only slightly more interested in him than Donnan to begin with. The closest thing to a home run big name in 1995 would probably have been Gary Barnett who had just taken Northwestern to the Rose Bowl. No one backed out of the job before Richt took it.

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    • Will (The Other One)

      The really big (and beyond unrealistic) rumor at the time of Donnan getting fired was that Jimmy Johnson was going to go back to coaching college.

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  3. Are we sure this is a home run hire? Harbaugh can coach, clearly, but doesn’t he seem like the kind of asshole who will wear out his welcome anywhere he goes?

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    • Sounds like the kind of question people were asking about Saban when he showed up in Tuscaloosa.

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    • @gatriguy

      Well the good thing about A college gig is every 4 years or so the roster turns completely over, plus you have their scholarship you can hold over their heads. There’s no bigger asshole alive than Spurrier, but he works in college for that reason.

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      • Irishdawg

        Yeah, but the athletic director and the boosters stay the same. I don’t know the ins and outs of Harbaugh’s situation in Frisco, but he can’t get along with 49er management; I don’t know if he’s lost the players. But then losing to Oakland makes me think he has.

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        • Saban gets along with the UA administration – you could make the case that he has more power in T-town than the president. The fans love him because he wins big and makes them feel like their state is relevant for something. The players seem to tolerate him for the 1-5 years they are in the program for what he can do to help them to the next level.

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  4. fatman48

    The answer Senator is “NO”, I don’t know if the A.D. is a tight-asshole or just an asshole. The latter I think.

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  5. Michael

    Michigan figured out that the program’s comparative advantage is money. UM doesn’t have a great recruiting base and it’s recent track record is meh, at best. What they do have is massive revenue, so they made the entirely rational choice to leverage that advantage. The funny thing is that the new University President, Mark Schlissel is a polar opposite from Michael Adams. No one will ever describe Schlissel’s office as looking like a sports bar. Schlissel is a classic academic egghead who had no experience with major college athletics, but he used his 180 IQ to figure out the following: (1) Michigan football means a lot to students and alums; (2) Michigan’s athletic department was faced with a budget shortfall if attendance continued to decline because Dave Brandon spent like a drunken sailor and added substantial administrative layers; and (3) spending top dollar on Harbaugh would ensure that the Big House is full, that the AD is in the black, and therefore that Schlissel would not have to spend much time or energy on something that he doesn’t consider to be part of the academic mission. Schlissel and the Regents acted decisively to remove Brandon, who had fucked up the first efforts to bring in Harbaugh, replace him with Hackett (a former Michigan player who has a good relationship with Harbaugh’s dad), and then authorize a salary competitive with the NFL offers that Harbaugh would get. And voila, Michigan fans are excited for the first time in years. They get a coach with an impeccable resume. And now, with apologies to Art Briles and Gary Patterson, the top four coaches in college football sit on opposite sides of the Alabama-Auburn and Michigan-Ohio State rivalries.

    As for lessons for UGA, Georgia’s program is healthier than Michigan’s. UGA hasn’t had to offer any embarrassing promotions to get fans in the door. The recruiting base isn’t experiencing significant emigration. Thus, there isn’t the same pressure to pay through the nose for a top coach. That said, the coaching arms race in the SEC is more pronounced than that of the Big Ten (witness Wisconsin, one of the top programs in the conference, replacing a coach for the second time in three years because of cheapness and meddling by Barry Alvarez), so UGA isn’t really going to have a choice.

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    • No argument here. I just wonder if our administration is willing to see the bigger picture.

      And some of this is going to be determined by the context in which Richt goes. If it’s perceived that his departure was due to ineffective support from the same people tasked with hiring the next head coach, how do you think big name successor candidates are going to respond?

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  6. JRod1229

    I didn’t read what the guy above wrote (needs a TL;DR) so I could be making the same point.. but Michigan is in a much worse place than UGA. They’ve failed miserably on their last few hires and cannot afford another one. They HAD to make a huge move. UGA will not have that same problem.. the SEC is too much of a powerhouse and UGA too much of a recruiting hotbed for coaches to not be banging down the door when an opening is there.

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  7. If Leeburn or any other major donors said, “Make it happen,” it would happen with a stroke of a pen. Otherwise, there’s no way UGA shells out that kind of money for a football coach.

    The question would be whether a home run hire would be willing to come to Athens and deal with the Georgia Way.

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  8. Bright Idea

    Shelling out huge money also means giving a football coach total control and neither will ever happen at UGA.

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    • Bingo!

      Especially so if the perception is that the people trying to hire the big name have a reputation for undercutting support of the football program.

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      • Senator, that’s a pretty significant charge. What groups within the University community undercut support of the program?

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        • Bright Idea

          Nobody undercuts the support but they won’t go whole hog because they won’t get the credit for great success and UGA might look like a football factory. It has been that way since Jan Kemp and it will stay that way. Few in Georgia want to be like Alabama or Auburn where football is all that matters. The big money won’t enjoy a Nat. Champ. like we would so why worry about it.

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          • This is the straw man of the day. It’s either we don’t want to be a football factory or we’ll do anything to win a national championship. I’m not in either camp. Can we win big and do it the right way that supports the overall mission of the university? I think so, and I think there are a lot of people in the Bulldog Nation who feel the same way.

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            • DawgPhan

              how is that working out for you?

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              • What does that mean? I’ve always thought we can support the program financially without being perceived as a “football factory.” You don’t have to be Auburn or F$U to be successful on the field.

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            • CannonDawg

              I would argue that we already are a football factory, we just don’t win big like one. How can we not be a football factory when we send so many players to the NFL? When our brand’s value is almost solely driven by our football results and heritage? When we draw 90K for Charleston Southern? When our players sometimes behave like thugs rather than student-athletes? To the untutored eye, those examples might be the telltale hints of a football factory.

              Our problem isn’t that we don’t know which to choose–football factory vs. support the mission, etc–that choice was made decades ago. Our problem is we don’t win nearly big enough. And by big enough, I mean being in the hunt for SEC and national championships on a regular basis. The choice for UGA isn’t being either Alabama or Vanderbilt. We will never be Vanderbilt. But the fact that we aren’t Alabama gives so many in our fan base the vapors. Can we have it both ways in the cutthroat SEC? Probably not. So, given that we’re already a football factory, why not compete like one? That’s the real issue as I see it.

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              • Dawgfan Will

                We have consistently improved as an educational institution of the last few decades. No, we’re not Vanderbilt, but we are considered a “public Ivy league” school now.

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              • Bright Idea

                We are not a full bore football factory because the head coach does not have total control over the university and the entire state including the local police dept. Yes we put a lot into football but we make just as much of an effort not to put too much into it. That is very clear and I accept it because life is about more than football. Richt is not an underachiever and neither is he an overachiever which it will take for UGA to win a NC more than once. One won’t suit everybody.

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              • What do you mean not be in the hunt for SEC or national championships?

                2001 – we weren’t in it but in transition
                2002 – SEC champions and finished behind 2 undefeated – we were in the hunt – finished #3
                2003 – SEC East champions
                2004 – 2 losses especially a bad loss to UT kept us out of the SECCG
                2005 – SEC champions – two undefeated in the Rose Bowl
                2006 – In transition – not in the mix
                2007 – Finished the season #2 or #3 depending on the poll
                2008 – The head scratcher of all head scratching seasons but finished in the top 10
                2009 – Terrible defense and not in the mix
                2010 – Losing season (reminder -> only one in the Richt era)
                2011 – SEC East champions
                2012 – SEC East champions and 5 yards away
                2013 – Clearly in the mix until the injuries happened
                2014 – In the mix until Missouri won the East

                Clearly we have been in the mix for a championship (SEC or national) in 6 (’02, ’03, ’05, ’07, ’11, ’12) of the last 14 years. Compare that to the 14 years before …

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                • CannonDawg

                  We have been competitive with CMR, as your summary shows, and we’ve been very close at times to winning the MNC. I grant you the point about “being in the hunt” in at least half or CMR’s seasons. But since 1983 we’ve won 2 SEC championships and 0 national championships. That’s 6 fewer SEC titles than UF and 4 fewer than UA or AU. It is, however, 2 more than Vandy. So what exactly is our identity? Some in our fan base are ready to send our AD and HC off to fight ISIL because we lag behind the bigger SEC dogs, while others are seemingly content to “do it the right way” and win something every now and then.

                  I’m saying the evidence suggests that we are indeed a football factory, not like the old “U” of Miami or Switzer’s Boomer Sooners, but a football factory nonetheless. And to me the disconnect is that we don’t win enough championships and spend enough on coaches salaries and IPFs to match that description. So again, what are we?

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                • UGA hasn’t been a win-at-all-cost “football factory” since 1983. The Kemp lawsuit and the university’s response ended all of that. I think we are a program that wants national championships but isn’t willing to sell everything including NCAA sanctions to get it. That mentality comes off as frugal, conservative, and lagging. I don’t agree with the premise that spending = success. UF has won all of its championships without an IPF or throwing tons of money at assistants. They won championships because they found the right head coach and gave him the support needed to win. The key questions up for debate now are (1) whether CMR is the “right head coach” and (2) whether the University is willing to give a coach the support needed to win.

                  At this point, I believe that CMR is still the right head coach to lead the program. I understand and respect that others don’t believe that. Given that Il Duce has only been out of the President’s office for a year, I can’t conclude on whether the administration is willing to give a football coach what’s necessary to win at the highest level.

                  We aren’t USCe, Miss St, Ole Miss, Vandy, UK, Mizzou, or Arky because of our built-in advantages in recruiting, facilities, and alumni/fan support. We also aren’t the Bammers, the Barn, or the Corn Dogs where their whole university revolves around how good their football team is. We are right where UF, UT, and TAMU are – solid universities that have tremendous built-in advantages but where life doesn’t rise and fall based on what happens on 12-15 days per year based on the activities of 85 or so 18-22 year old men. Does that answer your question?

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                • CannonDawg

                  “The key questions up for debate now are (1) whether CMR is the “right head coach” and (2) whether the University is willing to give a coach the support needed to win.”
                  Agree, with (2) being a major area of concern. And that begs the question if it’s even possible to be a perennial, elite football program in the SEC with anything less than a full-bore commitment.

                  “At this point, I believe that CMR is still the right head coach to lead the program.”
                  Agree fully.

                  ” . . . but where life doesn’t rise and fall based on what happens on 12-15 days per year based on the activities of 85 or so 18-22 year old men.”
                  Really? After the USCe, UF, and GT games? And the whole Todd Gurley episode? My impression is that a large and loud portion of the fanbase places quite a lot of emphasis on the activities of those 85 young men. And that being in the middle of the pack in the SEC is simply not good enough, especially given the tremendous built in advantages you noted.

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            • Bright Idea

              You can win big and do it the right way but those in charge don’t have that kind of vision and they fear it will cost too much in both money and perception.

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            • Dawgfan Will

              I think so too, and furthermore, if it can’t happen, I’d rather not win a NC. We are the University of Georgia Bulldogs, not just the Georgia Bulldogs.

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        • Normaltown Mike

          “What groups within the University community undercut…”

          The landscaping crew. And the guy at the roast beef carving station.

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  9. Russ

    I don’t see us doing this when we go to replace Richt. I see us going the way FL has and we did when we hired Richt, namely hiring a top assistant or a winning coach from a lesser program. The only way I see us throwing money at a solution is if Bobo were to be wildly successful and making $6M+, then the pressure might be there to go after him. That was Michigan’s albatross, having coaches fail while a Michigan man is out there winning big. And I wouldn’t have said RichRod or the last guy were bad hires. To the contrary, they were both hot commodities when hired. However, the Michigan administration screwed them both up.

    THAT is the cautionary tale here. It doesn’t matter who you hire if the administration isn’t in place to support him. Does anyone think Saban is as successful here with B-M administration and our rules? Not a chance. In fact, I’d say he’d be less successful than Richt has been here. The head coach is just part of the equation.

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    • @gatriguy

      RichRod is a West Virginia roughneck and was a terrible cultural fit for the bluebloods at UM. But I think he’s a good coach.

      Hoke, I’m not so sure. He’s looked in over his head from day one. Very Ray Goff/Ron Zookian.

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      • Normaltown Mike

        Agree. Rich Rod was the wrong guy for the school but not a bad coach.

        More and more, Meeechigan looks like idiots for canning Lloyd Carr without a game plan and then bumbling around for several years. I think they found a really good coach that will win big and then leave for the NFL in about 4 or 5 years..

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        • Michael

          Michigan didn’t can Lloyd Carr. Carr retired of his own volition. In fact, he was considering retiring after the 2006 season, but the AD talked him into one more season. Carr’s hand-picked replacement, Mike Debord, got increased authority going into the 2007 season and then Michigan lost to Appalachian State, which ended Debord’s chances of getting the job. Michigan then responded by hiring RichRod, which was a good decision that didn’t work out for a variety of reasons (some factors were RichRod’s fault; some were not) and then Hoke, which was terrible decision.

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      • Russ

        That’s hindsight. RichRod was the fashionable hire with his version of the spread. Then Hoke was the hot hire because he made San Diego State into a respectable team.

        Neither worked out at least in part because of the administration there.

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  10. Bulldog Joe

    No “home run hire” would tolerate UGA taking $10M – $15M away from his program every year.

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  11. Cousin Eddie

    So the only way UGA replaces Richt with a “Big” name is for Richt to coach longer than the current BM regime?

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  12. PTC DAWG

    Not sure of why we keep having the discussion about “if Richt weren’t here” what would BM and UGA do…he is here and I see no reason for him not to be…unless someone knows something that is not obvious to the dumbmasses.

    Or is it just pre bowl fodder to help with recruiting? 🙂

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    • DawgPhan

      It is weird that we have 2 actual openings on the staff and instead of talking about who UGA could hire to replace Bobo and Friend, the focus is on what would happen in CMR was fired.

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  13. Cojones

    I’m appreciative of the straight fire back-and-forth debate/positions each of you have expressed. This is the first time I’ve read it all together at one post. Those reminding us all that we are a University (first and foremost) that cares about our team and the coaches are keeping the conversation within the sidelines of good reasoning. Kudos.

    Go Dawgs! Beat Louisville going away!

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  14. Keese

    Well that’s an easy answer… Hells no

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