“We’re gonna continue to do what we do offensively,” Richt said. “As far as we’re gonna be very serious about running the football, we’re gonna be very serious about play-action pass, we’re gonna be very serious about being able to drop back and throw the ball as good as anybody. We’ll still have the ability to use fast tempo. All those things will be in place.
“The skill sets that we’ve recruited for, they have nothing to worry about, because we’re gonna use them to their fullest.”
So Richt has his man, Brian Schottenheimer, an NFL coach with nine years’ experience as an offensive coordinator with the New York Jets and St. Louis Rams. So how do I feel about the news of Georgia’s next offensive coordinator? Honestly, I’m not sure.
That’s not meant as a reflection on Schottenheimer, at least not as much as you’d think. It’s more about the circumstances behind his hire. Unlike the defensive side of things, the OC slot on Richt’s staff has been the epitome of stability, first, with Richt handling the duties himself, then with Bobo groomed on the job and eventually maturing into a first-rate coordinator. Bobo’s departure doesn’t come as a relief, as Martinez’ and Grantham’s did. So I’m a little deflated, and I would probably feel that way regardless of who the new coach might be.
The other part of my ambiguity stems from my admitted lack of familiarity with the NFL. I haven’t followed the pros in a long time, so I’m not in a real good position to judge Schottenheimer’s body of work. Fortunately, I know a couple of guys who do and I’m going to take the opportunity to share a conversation I had with them on Twitter when the news came out.
It started with a joke from Chase Stuart.
But in response to my serious question…
… I got some good answers from Chase and Chris Brown.
Which led to a follow up from me.
And got me this in response…
You can see what I’m getting at here, right? Schottenheimer’s time in the NFL most recently has been at two stops where his head coaches essentially gave him the keys to the car and left him to his own devices. I don’t expect Richt to operate in a similar way, both because of his background and because he’s got very definite ideas about what he wants his offensive coordinator to do. And I would be shocked, quite frankly, if Richt didn’t make that clear during the interview process and if he didn’t hear something in response from Schottenheimer that convinced him Schottenheimer couldn’t manage Georgia’s offense in that capacity.
That, of course, is no guarantee that things are going to work. There are pluses and minuses Schottenheimer brings to the job and we’ll have to wait and see how they play out. A few concerns:
- Recruiting. The man hasn’t been in the college ranks in well over a decade. And Mike Bobo he isn’t. That’s nothing he can help, but the question is how much of Georgia’s recruiting water can he carry? The good thing is that he’s surrounded by a staff that is very good on the recruiting front. And the Schottenheimer name carries some weight to it – just ask Jacob Eason’s dad.
- Compensation. Not his per se, which I assume is going to be fairly hefty, but rather how the rest of the staff is treated in the aftermath. My guess is that this won’t be a big deal, as Butts-Mehre continues its remarkable 180 over the last week or so with coaching salaries. It’s worth watching until we know, though.
- The NFL record. It’s nothing exciting. How much of that is on him and how much is on the talent he had to work with is something we’ll know a lot better a year from now. One thing’s for sure… relatively speaking, he’s got a lot more to work with in Athens in comparison with the opposition than he did at either New York or St. Louis. And about that whole he’s-been-a-longstanding-coach-in-the-NFL-so-he-must-be-good thing? That’s probably what Ray Goff said about Marion Campbell. Georgia’s offenses have performed better as of late than Schottenheimer’s have, so let’s hope the program rubs off on the coach.
- The experience. This one’s more on Richt than on Schottenheimer, but, really, doesn’t this almost feel bi-polar? Grantham’s hired and we hear all about how great getting a coordinator with NFL experience is. Then Pruitt comes in and suddenly it’s all about having the high school background to be able to teach kids. Now we’re back where we were. Granted, if you want to run a pro-style offense, you’re going to find more guys who know it if they have NFL experience, but it’s still a little back and forth to me.
On the other side of the coin,
- Work ethic. Whatever qualms Chris Brown has about Schottenheimer, working hard isn’t one of them.
- Motivation. It’s not money, because it’s unlikely he’ll be making more in Athens than he was in St. Louis. He’s not out of work; Fisher had already announced he was being retained for another season. It strikes me that Schottenheimer has ambitions of being a head coach someday soon. He’s already applied for openings on the college and pro level. A man who wants that isn’t coming to Georgia to show up Mark Richt by either failing to work with him or taking an offense that’s been very successful and submarining it.
- Staff continuity. I don’t think you say something like this upon your hire – “I’m thrilled to be part of an elite program with such national tradition and a great staff already in place” – unless you’ve been told the staff is staying and you’re satisfied with that.
It’s a crap shoot, but what big hire isn’t? Perhaps the item that makes me most comfortable right now is the Belk Bowl. If Georgia could go out and eviscerate a nationally ranked defense with a temporary offensive coordinator who was on the job for a week, you’ve got to think there are plenty of pieces in place for Schottenheimer to make do with. We’ll see if that’s enough.