Assuming the rumors about Kirby Smart and Georgia are true – and at this point they’re so universal it’s almost impossible to discount them – there’s a fascinating dynamic in play that will give us an early indication of who’s in control of the football program. That dynamic (again, assuming the rumors are credible) centers around how much autonomy Smart will be given by Greg McGarity to assemble his staff, particularly, the defensive coordinator position.
You would think it would be something of a no-brainer that an incoming head coach would be able to select the members of his staff freely, but that’s not always how things work. And in this case, there appears (feel free to add that “if” again here) to be some resistance to certain potential candidates from McGarity, whether due to expense or a more basic personality clash.
The tricky part here is that both Smart and McGarity have some real leverage in this situation. Smart knows he’s the first choice, of McGarity and key boosters both. McGarity knows he’s offering a plum job and that if Smart can’t bring himself to shake hands – and that wouldn’t be the first time Kirby’s walked away from Athens – there will be plenty of other candidates willing to step up and take his place.
But there are risks for both, too. Smart’s waited for his opportunity at Georgia for a while, and now Mark Richt is gone. If he doesn’t take the job and Georgia’s next choice turns out to be a good hire, that opportunity may be gone forever. Is that something you really want to risk?
On McGarity’s side, you’ve already got a fan base upset over Richt’s departure; do you want to compound that by irritating the boosters who pushed you to do to fire Richt so you could hire Smart in the first place? Not only that, but what kind of message does it send to other head coaching candidates that you couldn’t close a deal with a defensive coordinator who is also an alum?
I don’t know who wins, but I’ve got to say if I’m Kirby Smart, I’d have to think long and hard before swallowing a deal where the AD gets to dictate who I can hire. Because you know that’s only the beginning of where the lines of operation get drawn. As it is, you’re going to be expected to uphold the Georgia Way in areas you haven’t had to in Tuscaloosa. (Jonathan Taylor comes to mind here. So does Georgia’s drug policy.) Do you really want to cede even more control to the administration? You know the guy you’ve been working for wouldn’t.
UPDATE: Via Emerson,
1. No offers have been made as of last night at 8 p.m., according to a source, nor has a search firm been retained. But the same sources continue to say that Kirby Smart is the target unless he turns it down. Since Alabama is in the SEC championship this week, Georgia may have to wait awhile to nail things down, assuming they will be nailed down.
2. Defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt is still unlikely to be retained on the new staff, the source reiterated on Tuesday. That’s not necessarily because of Smart but because of Pruitt’s strained relationship with UGA’s athletics department. There remains sentiment among players