Staples on the Georgia job

Andy Staples has fleshed out his statement on the Finebaum show that Georgia is the number one coaching job in America.  See if you can find the flaw in his reasoning:

• I used to consider Texas the best job in the country, but now I think it’s Georgia, followed by Ohio State. Why Georgia? My top criterion is access to players relative to competitors, and Georgia is in a really enviable position. In the past five recruiting classes, an average of 113.6 high-schoolers from the state of Georgia have signed with Power Five schools each year. (Note that we’re talking Power Five, not all of the FBS.) That number is third behind Texas (179.4) and Florida (164.4) and ahead of California (100.4). The competition between state schools in those states is far more intense than it is in Georgia. With Georgia Tech running the option, the schools aren’t really going head-to-head on offensive players because of different needs, and Georgia is the bigger brand name. It’s also in the conference that more recruits consider desirable. Georgia’s situation is closer to Ohio State’s. In Ohio, kids grow up wanting to be Buckeyes. In Georgia, they grow up wanting to be Bulldogs. Ohio State was very good under Jim Tressel, but you didn’t see the Buckeyes take the next step until Urban Meyer came along. Now, they have the most talented team in the country. Meanwhile, the state of Ohio produced 64.6 Power Five signees a year over that same five-year period.

Do Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Tennessee, South Carolina and others come in and poach Georgia talent? Absolutely. But there’s such an abundance of it in the state that Georgia can afford to lose a few top in-state targets and still field a team capable of competing for SEC and national titles. Alabama and Auburn have to invade Georgia. During that five-year period, their state produced 36.4 Power Five signees a year. People talk about LSU’s monopoly in its state, but the numbers between Louisiana and Georgia aren’t even close. Louisiana’s average number of Power Five signees during that span was 38.6 a year.

Add to this great facilities (now that the Bulldogs are building an indoor), great tradition, a sharp athletic director, possibly the best college town in America and the fact that they play in the easier division of the nation’s deepest conference. That’s the recipe for a great job that just about every coach in America would crawl over broken glass to take.

• As far as taking the next step, there are a lot of factors. But let’s be honest. If some things break differently in the 2012 SEC title game, Georgia has a national title under Mark Richt and we’re probably not having this conversation. But the fact is Georgia has been the best team in the East on paper for most of the years since Tim Tebow left Florida and has two East titles and no SEC titles to show for it. Given its advantages and the current state of the SEC East, Georgia should be in the national title hunt most years.

• Mark Richt is on a very short list of coaches I’d want my kid to play for. He is secure in who he is and how he wants to run the program. He clearly cares about his players, and the program he created to help transition to life after football is a prime example. He hasn’t compromised what he considers his mission for the sake of winning. That’s great from a human standpoint and tough from a professional one, because he gets paid a healthy salary to win titles. I know no school president or athletic director will ever say it out loud, but coaches almost always get fired because of their win-loss record—not because they didn’t mold enough men.

Give up?  Here ’tis.

Add to this great facilities (now that the Bulldogs are building an indoor), great tradition, a sharp athletic director, possibly the best college town in America and the fact that they play in the easier division of the nation’s deepest conference. That’s the recipe for a great job that just about every coach in America would crawl over broken glass to take.  [Emphasis added.]

Now granted, we live a lot closer to the situation than he does, but I don’t see how anyone who follows the program can breeze in with an assessment like that, given what was going on at Butts-Mehre just a few short months ago.

Again, my point here isn’t to contest the knocks on Mark Richt that Andy lists with some validity.  But I’ll continue to insist, as I have for a while now, that context matters in this situation.  It matters a helluva lot more than Staples lets on.

40 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, Media Punditry/Foibles

40 responses to “Staples on the Georgia job

  1. Gastr1

    He might (only just now) need to modify that statement to “a supportive administration” and he might still actually be right.

    Time will tell.

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  2. Mayor

    FWIW I agree with Staples’ assessment except for the “sharp” AD comment. That said, things are good NOW because Adams,an albatross around the program’s neck, is gone and Jere Morehead, a guy who gets it, has replaced him. If you look at things objectively, Georgia is in a position similar to FSU in the ACC in that the Dawgs outclass their competition in the SEC East, at least right now, and should win the East every year. That gets them into a one game playoff with the prizes being (1) the SEC Championship; and (2) a playoff spot in the four team playoff for the NC. Face it. That was the position FU was in for years with the only real competition in the Goff and Donnan eras being UT for the East title. I believe Georgia should have inherited that situation but for whatever reason hasn’t closed the deal in the East most years and the two times it won the East hasn’t been able to win the SECCG. If we can just get CMR to change the drug policy so it is more rational (i.e. something like running the stadium until tongues hang out instead of suspensions from games) so UGA isn’t behind the 8 ball against South Carolina all the time.

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  3. You don’t go far enough in rebutting, IMO. The AD thing will be a dead horse soon if it’s not already, though. Staples could at least make an effort to understand the actual issues with our AD if he’s going to rank us as the #1 job. Otherwise he looks sort of clueless, yes?

    Two other points:

    It’s the easier division now but who is to say what the landscape will look like in 3 years (unlikely to change much, maybe), 5 years (meaningful change much more likely, also we might be feeling the “new era” of TV revenue at this point, in ways that nobody wants to admit), 10 years (10 years ago we were at the tail-end of an era of East Dominance, with UGA winning the SEC title game over a favored LSU granted)?
    “Sure, other schools come into Georgia to get players. . .” but it’s not enough that there are 112 or whatever Power 5 signees. It’s not about losing some # of top players. It doesn’t matter if our in state competition is easier than Floridas. MO “schools in the region with big enough recruiting budgets to come visit you” is the overriding factor these days. Oh, look, we have most of those nearby. Ours is a viciously contested recruiting ground, no less so than any other state.

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  4. GaskillDawg

    I caught the AD reference, too. I also disagree with the comment that all HS players grow up dreaming to be Bulldogs. A lot of the South Georgia kids grow up dreaming to be Seminolesallahassee is much closer to them that Athens. Also, there are a lot of suburban Atlanta kids whose families grew up elsewhere did not grow up in Bulldog households. I would bet suburban Atlanta has a lot more transplants than any city in Ohio.

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    • IndyDawg

      Agree. When I lived in the ATL burbs back in the early 90’s, more of my neighbors were from Ohio than Georgia.

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  5. Tommy

    I haven’t lived in state in 18 years (although I visit at least once a year), but the following statement doesn’t seem like the sturdiest piece of foundation:

    “In Georgia, they grow up wanting to be Bulldogs.”

    Do they? A lot of ’em do, but I think that proportion has shrunk over the past few decades, and, based solely on census patterns, I would suspect that the proportion of born Bulldogs in Georgia is smaller than the proportion of born Buckeyes in Ohio.

    I also think he significantly underplays the out-of-state poaching. Tennessee, Clemson, Auburn, FSU and Florida are major Power 5 schools whose campuses are roughly an hour’s drive from the state line. Alabama and South Carolina aren’t much further. If you divided Georgia’s output of Power 5-bound prospects by the number of schools crowded around Georgia’s borders plus UGA (6-8 schools, which excludes Tech because I’ll grant that we lose too few head-to-head recruiting battles with them to include them), you’re talking about 14.2-18.9 players/school.

    Contrast that with LSU, where the closest Power 6 school is Texas A&M, which is just outside of 3 hours from the Louisiana state line. So, if LSU broke even with A&M, the number would be 19.3 players/school. But, sitting in its own talent-rich state, A&M has far less need for Louisiana players than P5 schools in Alabama, Tennessee and South Carolina have for Georgia players. All else being equal, LSU is going to have a far higher conversion rate on its in-state prospects than Georgia is on its in-state prospects.

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    • PTC DAWG

      Agreed, this guy is clueless re geography….Au, Clemson and FSU are well inside an hour to our state line…UF and FSU are much closer to much of S GA than Athens is…and he ignores where much of the growth in our state has come from, like you said, it isn’t from Macon.

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      • JCDAWG83

        The appeal of FSU to the South Georgia kids is partly due to Georgia’s underachieving for the majority of their lives and FSU has been in the NC conversation for most of the same time period. Combine that with the “anything goes” culture at FSU and it is very appealing to the more thuggish of the high school kids. The Atlanta thing is more about the families not being from the state originally. That said, Georgia still has an incredible recruiting advantage over the out of state rivals and the state produces so many top talented high school kids, there is no excuse for talent ever being an issue for a Georgia team.

        I’d say the biggest issue I see is the silly discipline policies, especially for traffic offenses and first time pot usage. Traffic offenses should be of no concern to the university or the athletic department. Let the kid settle it with the proper court or authorities. First time pot use should be internal punishment, stadium runs, early morning workouts, etc. Suspending players for first time offenses is silly and obviously doesn’t stop the real knuckleheads from doing it again.

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        • PTC DAWG

          I do not think talent is a big issue, just saying the competition for it is harder than some believe, we do have lots of sharks roaming our waters.

          Agree totally on the discipline issues.

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        • JTP

          FAMU’s coeds are a big draw to Tallahassee too…

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      • Macallanlover

        Also ignored TN and SC along with Clemson, FU, and FSU. Even Ole Miss is only an extra2-3hours drive for some from their homes. There is no actual barrier to cross so the idea that a state border is more significant than drive time ignores the key consideration for recruits contemplating leaving the state. Heck, I am not arguing, it would be my favorite HC job too, but he acts like these aren’t significant battles. Old Urbie and ND are reaching down quite often too. I like the balnce we are have been getting from within, and outside the state. Staff is really rocking it these days, I doubt we have the top class in the SEC again, but we are closing the gap with what is going on. As the song says, “I’m feeling good” about things these days.

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        • I agree with the state barriers comments. Heck, I just dropped off a kid in Starkvegas, of all places, and had to drive through Tuscaloosa to get there. Go figure.

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          • Silver Creek Dawg

            BD, when I go to games in Starkvegas, we usually stay in Tuscaloosa, especially when Bama is away or off.

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    • AusDawg85

      Agree. Until I read the AD comment, I thought the fault was his math as you’ve pointed-out.

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    • Saxondawg

      Agreed, this was my biggest objection, even with the “supportive AD” jaw-dropper. If he took a couple of years and traveled around the key high schools in the state, he would find kids don’t necessarily grow up wanting to be Bulldogs. Atlanta area is transient, and in the rest of the state, the main cities are too close to a border and another SEC school. All you have to do is read a recruiting site each year to see that relatively few of these kids say, “I grew up a Bulldog fan.” They’re wide open, and we have to fight for the best on even terms, or even lesser terms, with Bama and Auburn and Clemson and FSU.

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  6. I’ve thought that since the explosion of Atlanta that Georgia, LSU and Texas are the easiest places to put a really good football team in the field. Translating that into championships is a little dufferent, but I would think just about anybody could win 9 plus a year at any of those places. Those are difficult places to screw up. The real question probably shouldn’t be “best job” but where’s the place that would be the hardest to fuck up. I’d have to say Georgia would be right up there.

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  7. 80dawg

    I pick the statement re TOSU having the most talented team as a bigger error in facts

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    • Biggus Rickus

      They just cycled through three QBs on the way to a national title. They’re pretty talented.

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    • Will (The Other One)

      Also the “Urban clearly at a different level than Tressel” bit too. They had some luck getting a title in 2002, but it was still a title (plus playing for a couple more.) Urban’s yet to show an ability to stay much longer than after his first recruits have graduated (about 5 years tops) and a ton of this “AnOSU is the best” is based around a small sample size of 3 games at the end of last year.

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  8. JCDAWG83

    The coach lovers who scream “WHO WOULD WE GET?!!!” anytime someone mentions Richt leaving need to print this article and keep it handy. The Georgia job, whether it’s the best, second best or third best coaching job in the country would not be hard to fill. Don’t think for a minute there aren’t dozens of very good P5 head coaches who look at the Georgia job and pray that it comes open.

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    • sUGArdaddy

      Are there? Florida, also a plum job, has had 3 coaching transitions in the last 14 years. None of the 3 (Meyer from Utah – then in the Mtn. West, Boom as DC @ Texas, and McElwain at Col. St.) were head coaches at Power 5 schools. I’m not saying you can’t hit a homerun with another potential hire, but it’s such a different day.

      Coaching salaries have far outpaced inflation. Bielema is the lowest paid coach in the SEC West at $3mil/yr. That means some coach is going to finish last making $3mil+ this season. Coaches at the ‘smaller’ schools make such good money. 25 years ago, it was a no brainer to go from Duke to Florida, but why would Cutcliffe leave now? He makes $2.25mil to live in Durham, NC with no pressure, and is going to Bowls and making people happy.

      The four guys right behind Saban in salaries are all hires from the last 4 years at some of the big boy schools:

      Harbaugh @ Michigan
      Strong @ Texas
      Sumlin @ A&M
      Meyer @ OSU

      No one knows about Harbaugh (though I think he’ll be awesome). Jury still out on Strong. Richt has already proved better in his first 3 years than Sumlin in his (2 Division titles and 1 SEC title vs. zero and zero). Meyer has been tremendous. Harbaugh came from the NFL, Strong from Louisville (before they were in the ACC), Sumlin from Houston and Meyer from his villa, where he spent time laughing at Muschamp jokes. They all make $4.8+. Richt makes $4 mil. But , if you fire a coach who makes $4 mil and has a 73.9% winning percentage, we better be willing to pony up about $6-7mil for the next coach, and that might be modest.

      I’m not saying it’s not a great job. I think it’s top 5. I just believe it is a fallacy that P5 head coaches would be falling over themselves to come here. Most of them all make over $2 mil where they are, and they probably won’t get fired for going 9-3. Let’s hope we never have to worry about it and Richt reels off about 2 nattys in the next 5 years.

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      • JCDAWG83

        All very valid points, my point was that we would not be forced to hire a Derek Dooley or a Southern Conference coach if Richt left. I know there wouldn’t be a stampede at BM of head coaches from top 10 programs, but there sure wouldn’t be a paucity of applicants. The Georgia job is a great job, best in the country according to this article. To those who curl into the fetal position any time someone talks about Richt leaving, I say don’t worry, there will be plenty of good options.

        FWIW; Cutcliffe would be a fool to leave Duke. If he can manage 7 wins a season, the Duke fans would make him university president if they could. He gets to live in a wonderful town, makes over $2 million a year and has almost no pressure at all. Add to that the fact he is close to 70 and I don’t think you have to worry about him going anywhere.

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      • Otto

        I agree ti would be a fallacy that P5 coaches would be falling over themselves to get to Athens, especially with the discipline policies in place. There is the obvious resulting suspension but also in my opinion it gives the program a black eye by making program problems public, and further it takes away from the ability of a coach to earn respect by treating problems as he sees fit. I very much disagree the AD is the biggest (note: I’m not saying he isn’t a problem) problem, Richt could have changed DCs sooner, and he could have changed S&C coaches sooner but he didn’t. I do feel much better this year about the direction of the program and that is thanks to changes that Pruitt seems to have pushed.

        However, the job would still not be all that hard to fill if the resources are opened up. Further, UF has 3 Coaches where we can look at their results. 2 were assistants and 1 was a HC prior to arriving at UF. The one with HC experience left more less on his own terms. UGA could get another coach McElwain was on my short list of possible coaches. I think he would be a better fit at UGA than UF due to offensive scheme. He isn’t a wide open spread guy.

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    • I think you are intentionally or unintentionally misconstruing the issue. The question can not be is there a coach who would take the job? Of course there are. The question is: who will take the job that you absolutely know will be better than what we’ve got? That is a much harder question. The fire Richt crowd acts like that is simple. I’m one who thinks the uga job is a top five job and thinks that cmr has done a pretty good job with it. I’ve seen others do far worse with my own eyes. I think we’ve got a good coach and I’m not sold that just anyone would do better. You don’t fire a guy unless you have to. That also makes the job more, not less, attractive.

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      • Cojones

        Stop the sane talk right now! You are scaring the children who visit from time to time in order to try to play Halloween jokes and get Richt fired. Just stop it!.

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  9. The Dawg abides

    Yep he loses a lot of credibility on the issue with the sharp AD line. The other part I disagree with is his belief that all kids growing up in the state wanting to play for the Bulldogs. That may have been true 30 years ago, but not now. There are several variables involved now, such as the transient state of metro Atlanta and the massive media exposure of other programs nearby. Also, if Andy wants to do a thorough job with this issue, he needs to do some research on all the self- inflicted, institutional limitations imposed upon the program under Adams, or actually during the entire post-Kemp era. That’s why I disagree with every coach crawling over broken glass for the job. Most truly elite coaches are total control freaks and would never come to a place with those built-in limitations. Hopefully, those shackles are slowly being removed and Richt can finish his career strong and leave the kind of program where the broken glass statement will be true.Besides those issues, I totally agree with all the positive assets listed. That is why whenever someone talks about Georgia having a ” natural or traditional state” in the pecking order of college football, it’s total bullshit. The only programs in the conference with more built-in advantages are Bama ( championship tradition and winning football games being the single most important thing in the entire state), and Florida (location, talent base, enormous alumni base).

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    • JCDAWG83

      The Jan Kemp thing has been over, for all practical purposes, since Donnan came. He made it a point when he was being interviewed that most of the most serious challenges be removed if he was going to take the job. About the only things left from the Kemp issue are; progress towards degree, which is laughable in it’s requirements and we don’t take partial qualifiers, which has only been a problem with a handful of kids in the past 10 years.

      The progress toward degree requirement is 16 hours per calendar year, or, a little over one full semester of credit towards a degree. The players have tutors, study halls, all the help in the world and more than any normal student could ever dream of. If a kid can’t complete a single semester’s course work in a calendar year, he doesn’t need to be on a college campus in any capacity.

      Again, our discipline policies are a bigger hindrance than anything from the Jan Kemp affair.

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  10. Dawg in Austin

    I disagree with the premise. Being close to more talented kids gives you a better opportunity to have talented teams. No one can deny that Georgia has had those for many years. But that proximity doesn’t mean you automatically should be contending for the conference championship, let alone national championships every year. It just means that you should be good, which UGA has been.

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    • JCDAWG83

      I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that a team that has lots of talent should contend for championships most years, especially when that team is in the easier division of their conference and their rivals have to come into that team’s state to recruit. That team should be playing for the conference championship more than twice a decade. That’s what I took the article to say.

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  11. Yeah, I’m calling BS on the “they want to be Bulldawgs” statement. 1) Is there another SEC state that has more transplants? 2) If they really want to be Bulldogs why do they sign elsewhere?

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  12. Dawg Vegas

    For the record, Staples went to UF, and for some reason I want to say he spent some time at GTU as a student. I think he also interned at the AJC (and might have been on the staff at one point). None of that makes his opinion any more or less valid, and I don’t detect any anti-UGA axe to grind from him. I just wanted to clear up that he has spent significant time in the region and state. Some of the above commenter may not know that.

    I saw the SEC Network replay of the 1980 Cocktail Party this afternoon, and Staples was on there as one of the commentators, raving about Lindsay Scott and Munson’s call.

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  13. 3rdandGrantham

    I’m a bit late to this and I’m obviously in the minority, but IMO ADGM is a rather sharp guy. Quite sharp to be frank. You don’t get to be the AD at one of the premier institutions in the country by strutting around with a 110 IQ, I can assure you.

    Of course he’s had his blunders; quite a few in fact. And sure he has some intelligence gaps (like pretty much all of us). But in my experience, some of the sharpest people I’ve been fortunate to be around also have had their share of gaffes too. This comes with the territory when you’re in such a high profile position of power, where seemingly every decision you make and every word you utter can be easily scrutinized to no end.

    With all that said, I’m still fairly disappointed in his overall tenure thus far, but I also understand the pressure he’s under with the decks stacked against him from the outset.

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