Kirby Smart and second chances

Well, now.  Suddenly the Internet’s abloom with all sorts of chatter about Tosh Lupoi joining Kirby Smart’s staff in Athens, possibly as defensive coordinator.

That would be an interesting development, to say the least.  Lupoi is highly regarded as both a position coach and a recruiter, but it’s worth remembering how he first showed up at Alabama, and why.

Who is Tosh Lupoi? He’s the latest in a line of eventual assistant coaches who started their respective careers at the Capstone as graduate assistants or “analysts.”

In Lupoi’s case, it was the latter, as he joined the Crimson Tide defensive staff as an analyst for the 2014 season after serving in various defensive coaching capacities primarily in the PAC12. On January 26, Lupoi became the youngest member of the Alabama Crimson Tide coaching staff with his promotion from analyst to outside linebackers coach…

After an unfortunate end to his career at the University of Washington in 2013, Lupoi was snapped up by Saban for an Alabama defense in need of a return to its previous level of dominance…

Er, “unfortunate end”, you say?  What’s that all about?

A week before Christmas, Tosh Lupoi was eating dinner with his girlfriend at a Seattle restaurant. It was an exciting time for the 32-year-old Washington D-line coach. The Huskies were preparing to play BYU in the Fight Hunger Bowl.

Lupoi also knew an interesting decision loomed on the horizon. Steve Sarkisian, his former boss at UW, had just taken the head coaching job at USC. Lupoi was well aware that several of his colleagues were headed to join the Trojans staff after the bowl, and that USC’s former D-line coach was paid a reported $1 million a year. Lupoi, though, loved Washington and loved living in Seattle. He was intrigued by the prospect of working with the Huskies’ new head coach Chris Petersen, who was coming from Boise State, where he had a 92-12 record. He knew he had some very good options in front of him.

Then, Lupoi glanced down at his phone and got an alert regarding a story on Twitter about himself. It was a Los Angeles Times report about a man alleging Lupoi had paid him $4,500 for tutoring services and online classes for a former Washington signee (who had never qualified.)

Lupoi was forthright in his defense and was ultimately cleared by the NCAA.  But the incident left his reputation toxic enough that he wasn’t retained by Petersen at Washington and wasn’t hired by Sarkisian, his boss at UW, when he moved to Southern Cal.  Which is how he wound up at Alabama as a highly-paid analyst.  Can you say second chance?  I thought you could.

He’s clean and he’s good.  But he’s got “abundance of caution” written all over him as a potential Georgia hire.  If Smart’s allowed to bring on Lupoi, that will tell us much about the authority Smart’s managed to negotiate for himself as the head coach.  Stay tuned for further developments.

33 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, Nick Saban Rules

33 responses to “Kirby Smart and second chances

  1. Dolly Llama

    If this is the worst skeleton the man has in his closet, bring him on. It’s not like he bought the kid a Camaro or gave six figures to his daddy’s church or anything.

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  2. Goodness….if true, that would have to give us the youngest defensive staff in the country, at least among P5 schools. Rocker is no spring chicken but Lupoi, Sherrer, and Schumann are all pretty young. Not saying it’s good or bad, just an observation.

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    • Argondawg

      I agree and I think it is a very good thing. The younger guys just relate to the kids so much better. Tosh seems like a younger Ekeler.

      Does anyone think that Pruitt already being at UA helps us a little. There might be a coach or two that remembers what an a hole he was. It also gives him a little time to go a little Napoleon.

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  3. When I first saw him on the sidelines at UDub, I thought he was a student. Young and energetic. Hope he did not learn any bad habits from Sarkisian. As Dolly Llams stated this is the worse? Bring him in.

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  4. Bright Idea

    Besides all of that it is now clear that Kirby will be running the defense until he gets Lupoi trained to his liking.

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  5. TMC DAWG

    I think Lupoi is a diamond in the rough. As far as the offence, sounds like no harm no foul so bring him on. The sooner the better for recruiting.

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  6. W Cobb Dawg

    Well, saban’s gonna keep the assistants he wants to keep. He can far outbid us on lateral moves. And he has Pruitt to explain the drawbacks of working with BM. I imagine to get Lupoi we’d likely have to offer the DC position along with plenty of cash. I thought Sherrer was going to be considered for DC. This is going to be interesting.

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    • Turd Ferguson

      “Well, saban’s gonna keep the assistants he wants to keep.”

      Unless, you know, they happen to be adults, who can make decisions for themselves. Some might prefer to stay at Alabama and work alongside Nick Saban. Others might prefer going elsewhere, for a variety of reasons. Pretty sure Saban went after Sam Pittman a couple years back. Look how that turned out.

      I respect Saban’s abilities as a coach as much as the next guy. But he’s not fucking omnipotent.

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  7. Mayor

    At this point I am inclined to give CKS everything and everyone he asks for. This time next year I don’t want him to have any excuses.

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    • Dolly Llama

      Mayor, I wish you were in charge of it. I really do. I’d have more confidence in you and about 60 percent of the posters here than the people who are actually in charge of it.

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  8. Mayor

    Look. Here’s my gripe. Going into this past season I, and a lot of other regular posters on this blog, felt that the Georgia coaching staff was about the best overall in the Richt era if not in the history of the program. However you may have felt about the HC the staff with the exception of the new OC was solid. The team went 9-3 in the regular season a record that many of the more knowledgable posters herein predicted before the season began. So, there were a couple of embarrassing losses and a total collapse to Ut after having led by 21. OK, somebody (it is still unclear whom–and it sure as hell wasn’t that sniveling bagman Greg McGarity) made the decision to change HCs. The guy they hired is an assistant who doesn’t have a staff to bring with him. Someone please explain to me why Georgia has to fire all the good assistants we had particularly on D? Isn’t the way they are doing this akin to throwing out the baby with the bath water? Unnecessarily? This looks more like a slow motion train wreck as each day passes. This is the Georgia Way in spades.

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    • frowertr

      Pretty normal to bring in your own staff when coming in as a HC.

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    • Ozam

      Amen……the product needed to be tweaked, but dang, BM is blowing the whole enterprise up with some untested management.

      This may work out for us, but history suggests otherwise. In a biblical nod to our former coach on Christmas day, let’s hope this isn’t the start of forty years of wandering.

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      • waltondawg

        Who cares who made the call. What “proven” head coach would have shown up and not cleaned house anyway? We’ve been wandering for almost 40 years anyway and the last 15 with CMR, so i am willing to give Kirby time to see. He can’t do any worse than the past 7-8 years anyway. The head coach should always have the best staff in place as possible. You just can’t dismiss a terrible OC hire and claim it was the best overall staff minus the OC. Just looking at the hires Kirby has already made he already has a staff in place as good as or better than the previous staff mentioned. This is a philosophical change whether you realize it or not. Just ask yourself where is the game won and lost? IT is won in the trenches up front on both sides of the ball. Then ask how many OL & DL players did Thomas Brown and BMAC recruit/sign and how many will Pittman and Rocker sign? Who was more important to keep then? Don’t get me wrong they are great guys but BMAC had more success recruiting RB’s than WR’s and TB had every opportunity to stay but he chose otherwise. It was his choice. We’ll always be able to get RB’s. We will be fine.

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        • Gaskilldawg

          You missed his,point. Yes, a proven head coach would have cleaned house but the difference is a proven head coach would already have a staff to bring.

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          • waltondawg

            I got his point. He’s not happy with the coaching transition. Not uncommon or new as a lot of fans feeling the same way. Here’s my point on coaching transitions and hiring a “proven successful coach”. There is no such thing as an easy transition. Any time you fire a coach or loved or otherwise it is still a transition when you bring in someone new – proven or otherwise. The only way you have a smooth transition is if you hire within which we obviously didn’t do. You could say Miami hired a proved successful coach in CMR which they did but when did they fire the former coach – mid October? and did CMR show up with a staff in place – no. How about South Carolina? Has that been easy? Spurrier resigned in October and they didn’t hire anyone until after UGA. Even then, i wouldn’t call Champ a proven successful coach that came with a full staff. He named DC and brought the former OC he had a UF. The others still filling out just as we are. What about Auburn? Have they hired a new DC or even DB coach to replace Champ and Robinson? No. Show me one “proven successful” coach that has made the transition with a full staff in place. Doesn’t exist and one of the biggest misconceptions about this whole process. Missouri has had the closest thing to a smooth transition because they hired within. As for Pruitt, he may have wanted to stay in Athens and it may have been as easy as Kirby asking him but if such as no brainer as Saban has said, i am not sure Pruitt doesn’t bolt for Bama anyway once Saban made the offer. Hell i liked Pruitt like most and you can say he only left because Kirby didn’t ask him to stay but we all know there were issues beyond that with Pruitt that had to come into consideration. The main point of all this is there is no easy transition when so many moving parts. Patience. Coaching changes remain fluid especially this time of year.

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    • Turd Ferguson

      A few things.

      First of all, people need to stop taking the 2015 season out of context. If someone unfamiliar with the Georgia football program read your comment, they’d get the impression that the disappointment of 2015 was anomalous, i.e., an unusual “down year” for an otherwise consistent championship contender. But as we all know, that’d be a mistaken impression. 2015 was simply the latest in a nearly-decade-long series of disappointments. For you to act like this came out of nowhere is either disingenuous or stupid.

      Second, I’d much rather a new coach assemble his ideal staff rather than bringing one with him. For one thing, I’ve heard that Smart and Pruitt don’t exactly get along well. And as excellent as he is at coaching defense, we all know that Pruitt is a proud, stubborn, and outspoken man. My hunch is that he wasn’t too keen on the idea of working under Smart, and I can’t really blame him for that — especially knowing that he’d instantly be a top candidate for the same position at Alabama, the premier college football program in his home state. So it sounds like Pruitt’s move from UGA to Bama was good for both UGA and Bama. And second, Smart is bringing some of the staff from Alabama with him.

      Third, the “Georgia Way” meme has officially lost all meaning, if you think this is the Georgia Way. This is a program renowned for playing things too safe, skimping on payroll, keeping coaches around for too long, etc. For that same program to now — in your own words — “throw out the baby with the bath water,” taking significant risks on a young, new staff, is precisely not what has been “the Georgia Way” for so long. You’re either using the phrase incorrectly, or again, it’s devolved into utter meaninglessness at this point.

      And finally, when you say that this looks like a “slow motion train wreck,” that’s only because you want this to be a slow motion train wreck. You’d love nothing more than for the team to fail in 2016, just so you can scream “I told you so” this time next year. You even said, a couple posts earlier, “This time next year I don’t want him to have any excuses.” Unless that’s a different “Mayor,” those are your fucking words. You want Smart to fail, and you want him not to have any excuses.

      You Richtophiles have become exactly the type of Georgia fan you were all bitching about just a month-or-so ago: rooting for failure so that it can be blamed on the head coach. As it turns out, the Richt-critics were right: you all loved the coach, but not the program. I hope you got some Miami Hurricanes gear for Christmas.

      Meanwhile, the rest of us Georgia fans will continue to feel optimistic about a young, talented, and energetic coaching staff, who inherits an already pretty talented roster, and can recruit as well as anyone in the country. The “knowledgeable posters herein” understand that 2016 may not be an immediate success, but as long as it’s not the same kind of embarrassing failure that had become Richt’s forte, we’ll be happy.

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      • Pruitt wanted to stay, and would have if Smart had asked him to.

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      • The Bruce

        What he said.

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      • Mayor

        There is a reason why your name is “Turd.” Obviously you are too enamored with what you write to read what others write and actually understand it. I don’t give a rat’s ass about Kirby Smart or Mark Richt. I want GEORGIA to be a winner. Even if you are too arrogant or blind to see it, Kirby Smart was/is a bad hire and his hire the “Georgia Way” in spades. We could have hired a top shelf HC with a solid track record and gotten a top quality staff, too. Instead we hired a career assistant who is nothing more than the flunky for the real DC in Tuscaloosa–Nick Saban. An assistant who brings no staff with him and is AWOL still working for Bama when he should be putting together a staff for his new school–which is exactly what all the other newly hired HCs are doing–and at the same time most of the good coaches from the previous Georgia staff are getting pink slips. We’ll be lucky if all the best assistants aren’t already gone before Kirby Dumb finally gets around to putting this staff together. Call me after next season is over and tell me again how great this hire was. I hope I’m wrong but this has all the makings of a disaster. If you can’t see that, then you are deaf, dumb and blind as well as stupid.

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        • An assistant who brings no staff with him and is AWOL still working for Bama when he should be putting together a staff for his new school–which is exactly what all the other newly hired HCs are doing–and at the same time most of the good coaches from the previous Georgia staff are getting pink slips.

          Mayor, no snark intended, but how do you know that’s not happening behind the scenes right now?

          BTW, I don’t think there are many new coaching staffs fully assembled yet.

          You may ultimately prove to be right, but I think your angst is a bit premature.

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          • Mayor

            If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck–it’s a duck. CKS is in Tuscaloosa working on the Tide’s playoff preparations while all the other new HCs are putting together their new staffs. What am I missing? Is Kirby in Tuscaloosa NOT working on the Tide’s playoff prep and calling potential UGA assistants? Is THAT what you are saying? I seriously doubt that.

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            • I guess you’re saying Smart’s not capable of multi-tasking. If that’s the case, he won’t be an improvement on Richt.

              BTW, how many new HCs have completed their staff hirings? It’s impossible to draw conclusions right now, because we don’t know what’s happening behind the scenes. For one thing, Mayor, if Smart is raiding Alabama’s staff, don’t you think it’s likely we wouldn’t hear about it until the Tide’s run in the CFP ends?

              I’m not saying it’s not possible you could turn out to be right. I’m just saying it’s too soon to tell.

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  9. Will Trane

    What does Tarkenton and the north Georgia elites think of this.
    After all they were not man enough to handle Pruitt, but Saban is. Now how many titles has Saban won?
    Does anyone in Atlanta,Athens, and north Georgia get the picture, yet.
    Nope. They live in the land of oz. No. They live with a record of 5-10 against the Gators.
    Oh the whinny pious ones.

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    • Dolly Llama

      Man, you got a fixation on Tarkenton. Pretty soon I’m going to have to start responding with “One Trick Pony” instead of “Mule Train.”

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  10. TnDawg

    Now we are making progress, let’s start getting us some of those open mouth-breathers over here playing ball.

    UGA has always insisted its players know how to read books which has been a hinderence to this point. The only thing a “student athlete” needs to be able to read is a zone defense.

    This strikes me as a good start in the right direction. Tosh is a proven entity in that he has already shown the ability to break the rules while shrewdly covering the paper trail. With a year with Saban under his belt, he has probably learned new and improved ways to channel the cash with a trustworthy crew of bagmen.

    Long live the Alabama Way in Athens! My NC hat from 1980 is threadbare.

    Side note: We still have to get Athens PD under control, we don’t need players getting suspended for smoking dope, slap pin’ hoes or coed rape before a crucial game.

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