Tastes great vs. less filling

Here’s a good thought piece, inspired by the Athlon rankings of college football coaches, from Rocky Talk Top Top Talk.  The question he asks is whether it’s better to have a head coach who’s an elite recruiter, or one who’s an elite tactician.

Of course, as he notes right off the bat, we’d like our man to be both, but there simply aren’t that many of those types out there.  Second place?

Perhaps the best strategy is to have an elite recruiter – as we’ve seen, it’s almost impossible to win a title without elite talent – and make your coordinators the expert tacticians.

And as I think about this question in the context of Georgia football, Smart comes in with a clean slate.  What do we think we’re getting in him?  Early indications appear to show he will turn out to be one of the better recruiters in the country, but as far as directing traffic goes, we won’t know for sure until game time.  And some of that will no doubt be built based upon how good his staff is tactically.

Is Smart the master recruiter good enough by himself to bring Georgia a conference championship?  (I don’t think anyone would argue that Smart the master tactician would be without a sufficient talent base.)  Before you dismiss that thought, consider what Les Miles has accomplished in Baton Rouge.

Honestly, and at risk of sounding like a broken record here, I’m not so much looking for a master tactician as I am someone who’s focused enough to stay on top of the details.  If Smart can handle that better than Richt did, and bring in the elite talent, I think we’ll be fine.



Filed under Georgia Football

42 responses to “Tastes great vs. less filling

  1. UGA85

    That last paragraph sums up my hopes nicely. But I also believe our offensive assistant coaching staff, in particular, has undergone a massive upgrade. Bringing in Chaney/Pittman may be CKS’s best decision yet, freeing him up to better help with the defense. Optimism abounds for me, as usual, this time of year.

  2. The other doug

    I agree that Saban’s secret sauce is having a significant talent advantage. I think Kirby has to land a consistent top 5 class if we are going to compete for the SEC and the a National Championship on a regular basis. I know that is asking a lot, but that’s what he needs. He seems to to see it the same way.

    It’s early, but I like his choices in coordinators and coaches. The defense is loaded with guys he has worked with and the offense is full of guys he has coached against. It doesn’t appear that he hired anyone because of friendship.

    btw, Where does Richt fit on the spectrum?

    • With regard to Richt, my thoughts are that he was a mediocre recruiter (he went hard after the skill guys, but was weak in recruiting big uglies), and he was rather poor as a tactician. I think his main strength was his strength of character, which he excelled at. That strength of character made you feel proud of the way the program was perceived, but didn’t put many W’s on the board in the big games.

    • 3rdandGrantham

      CMR definitely wasn’t an elite tactician — his philosophy was to out talent you while running a sound, yet predictable offense (similar to his many years at FSU). How many times over the years did we hear opposing coaches say after a game something like, “they didn’t do anything we didn’t expect or anything that caught us off guard…we just couldn’t stop them (or we were able to, depending on the outcome). With that said, CMR wasn’t a poor tactician by any stretch either.

      Richt, IMO, was a very good, yet painfully shortsighted recruiter at the same time. In terms of skill position players and the like, CMR was/is one of the best at reeling them in. But when it came to the big uglies and the important details of roster management, he was quite lacking unfortunately.

      Since way back in 2005 when Pollack came out and was drafted in the first round, we’ve had zero DL taken in either the 1st or 2nd round of the NFL draft, and only ONE OL taken in either the 1st or 2nd round since ’05…and that was Cordy Glenn taken in the 2nd round back in ’12. Quite pathetic, IMO.

      • I believe John Jenkins was a 1st round pick in the ’13 draft (I may be wrong about that). Point taken, but I would also say since we changed over to a 3-4 base since ’10, we’ve had a ton of guys selected early as outside linebacker/weakside DEs as opposed to hands in the dirt DLs.

        The offensive line recruiting and development have been pretty bad (although I will say Will Friend was underrated as a position coach) if you look at the top of the draft as the measuring stick. As I mentioned last week, Trinton Sturdivant would have been a high 1st round selection if his knee hadn’t fallen apart in ’08.

        • 3rdandGrantham

          Jenkins was a 3rd rounder. Since ’10, we’ve only had two LB’s selected in the first two rounds — Ogletree and Jones in ’13, with Jones basically falling into our laps as he was insanely discarded by Kiffin/USC and thus decided to come home. Regardless, having zero DL selected in the first two rounds since way back in ’05 is beyond shocking. Even beyond the first two rounds, we’ve had a few go in the 3rd round over the years, with the rest in the very late rounds. As for the OL, that was even worse — just a very few picks in the top 5 rounds overall, with again only 1 going in the top 2 rounds.

          • Got it – couldn’t remember about Jenkins. I know at one time he was considered to be a top 2 round prospect.

            Floyd in ’15 but your point is taken.

          • Debby Balcer

            Justin Houstin should have been taken higher. Where you fall in the draft also depends on what the nfl teams need.

      • The other doug

        Richt had a lot of solid recruiting classes. Looking back, his problem was hiring solid coordinators. Van Gorder was good, but then we had Willie and Grantham. Pruitt was turning things around, but Schotty was a disaster.

        • Brandon

          Solid recruiting classes… sure by the recruiting ranking standards… But solid recruiting is more based on depth and recruiting positions of need which Richt was very poor at to say the least. Our “class rankings” were also heavily inflated on skill guys with little to no skill or depth on the LOS as is mentioned above.

      • lakedawg

        Are not our last 2 three star centers playing in the league? Is that just blind luck or did recruiting and coaching help them along.

      • Cojones

        Disagree with holding Richt responsible for recruiting “the best” outside of RB and QB. He has had other coaches whose names appeared beside those recruited in other positions and I feel they were the talent evaluators that Richt depended on. Using this imagined standard for Richt and applying it to all other coaches makes it all “mox nix” (macht nichts).

        Richt was a superb recruiter who is personally responsible for bringing many great athletes to our school. Saying he is or was not a good recruiter is egotistical horseshit from those who consider that they could have done better. I didn’t hear these complaints from anyone when he was here, not even B-M.

        • Mayor

          I agree Ballsy. CMR recruited skill position talent well. His problem was he didn’t use all his available scholarships and he didn’t get the big uglies.

  3. Smart, the recruiter – A+
    Smart, the day to day manager – A- (I still don’t like how he handled Turman but love how he put together the staff)
    Smart, the PR man – A (he got 93,000 to show up for a controlled scrimmage)
    Smart, the game time leader – we’ll find out in the Dome and the first time there’s a big decision to make in a close game. To a man, most 1st time coaches say this is the part no amount of preparation can get you ready for. It’s OJT in front of 90,000 in person and millions on TV.

    You’re right … If he gets the details right, we could be in for a fun ride.

  4. ApalachDawg

    Goff = great recruiter, great Georgia Bulldog but didn’t produce enough W’s
    Spurrier = so/so recruiter and a helluva in game coach

    do we really want a great recruiter again?

    • Spurrier was a damn good recruiter early at Florida and surrounded himself with great recruiters. Later in his career, SOS could have cared less about recruiting.

    • JCDAWG83

      I’d say Donnan was a much better recruiter than Goff or maybe even Richt but he couldn’t maintain discipline of get the wins he needed and his assistants weren’t very good. Spurrier had loads of talent at Florida and really upped the talent level at SC for his first 7 or so years. After Lattimore, Clowney, Shaw and Jeffries all left and he didn’t have a championship to show for all that talent; I think he sort of lost interest and the final 3 years recruiting and results showed it.

      • ApalachDawg

        Agree with you about Donnan.
        I’ll say this about Goff, I put the ’92 UF game on his shoulders. However we should have beaten UT and played Bama for the SEC… Who knows if we would have beaten the more sophisticated cheaters from north alabama but i would like to have had a shot at them… But again Goff lost his job at the ’92 UF game, we just didn’t know that we’d be in the wilderness until ’97.

  5. AugustaDawg

    Dabo ain’t no Bill Belichick.

    • JCDAWG83

      Dabo is a great recruiter and his recruiting ability got him a $2.5 million raise. Without Watson, Clemson would have had another 9-3 season and Dabo might have started feeling some heat. Dabo is also smart enough to hire great coordinators. In fact, I would say Dabo is the poster boy for the head coach as great recruiter and assistants as great tacticians model.

      • Bobby Bowden did it best until he replaced Richt with his son.

      • This is exactly what I was gonna say. Nobody is gonna ever mistake Dabo for a tactical genius. I’m not sure most people even realize it, but he’s never even been a coordinator. He pulled off the rare feat off landing a P5 head coaching job without ever having been a coordinator. His first two years, he wanted to meddle in play calling because he had never been able to so he hired Billy Napier (now at Bama) as a very young OC, and tried to handle some of the play calling himself. I have a good friend who played at Furman with Napier and is still in touch with him, and let’s just say there were some interesting stories on the offensive side of the ball those first 2 years.

        Dabo was smart enough to make the decision to get out of his own way after those 2 years, went out and hired some top notch coordinators on both sides of the ball, used his enthusiasm and demeanor to tear up the recruiting trail, and the formula clearly has worked. Dabo is not a great tactician, but he has turned out to be a very good coach, from the standpoint of building a program and surrounding himself with the right people.

        • Dabo has surrounded himself with good people, and he’s also a good face for the program and recruiting. As a game day coach, he may be top 20 but nothing more. When you have the IPTAY crowd behind you, recruiting takes care of itself … It’s Auburn with a lake.

  6. DawgPhan

    They should do 2 sets of recruiting rankings. Getting them on campus. Keeping them on campus. I feel like UGA is a top an annual top 5 getting them on campus team and probably a top 15 keeping them on campus school.

  7. Derek

    I’ve always thought that the best description of a great coach goes something like this:

    Beat ALL the teams you’re supposed to beat
    Beat HALF the teams you aren’t supposed to beat
    Beat your in-state rival 90% of the time. (If you’re UF or FSU you might crank that back to better than 50%)

    Not too many guys have been able to check those 3 boxes. If Kirby can, it’ll be a lot of fun.

    CMR’s biggest failure was the first box IMHO. I thought he did pretty well as an underdog, especially in the early years. CMR’s best area was the third box.

    • JCDAWG83

      For the first 5 years, Richt did pretty much everything he was supposed to do. After that, the only box he could check was the third and much of the reason for that is because tech has so many built in disadvantages. Richt’s best stat, to me, is his record against Auburn.

      • I would agree … I would also throw in his record vs. Tennessee. We had lost 9 of 10 to the Vowels when CMR put his hobnail boots on in 2001. I would suggest Mark Richt is a main reason Phat Phil was unceremoniously shown the door in Knoxville.

      • Derek

        The losses to UF in 2002, 2003 and 2005 were “first box” losses and all were in the first five years. So was the 2005 Sugar Bowl.

        On the other hand he did start 3-0 vs. Alabama with our only two program wins in Bryant-Denny: 2002 and 2007.

      • Mayor

        CMR’s problem was HOW his teams lost, particularly the complete failure to show up for big games at times. Then there was the brain meltdown at the end of a close game that flipped a W to an L–that happened so many times I lost count.

  8. stoopnagle

    What I hope Kirby brings is great recruiting (I think he’s proven that at Bama, so I feel pretty good about his recruiting chops) along with organizational management. Whether he did or didn’t mastermind Bama’s defense really isn’t as important to me (FWIW, I don’t think he did, but I think he was integral to their defensive success). If he closes the deal on the top flight players, keeps his staff and players on task and focused, then his tactical abilities or liabilities won’t hold us back (relatively speaking).

  9. W Cobb Dawg

    Most games are won or lost before the kickoff. Rather than simply attributing it to recruiting, I’d argue it’s more ‘total preparation’ and recruiting is a huge part of being prepared.

    Some coaches couldn’t win with the best talent in the world. Some good tacticians can do well with mediocre talent, but that’s unusual. Cutcliffe and sos come to mind with offenses. BVG and Chavis with defenses. They require(d) top talent to win the really big games.

    • Cutcliffe really hasn’t beaten anyone of substance at Duke. Has he exceeded expectations? Yes, but those expectations are a bit different at Wallace Wade than they are at Cameron. BVG didn’t do squat when he was put in total control of a program, and Chavis has never run a program.

      At the OBS’s peak, he could beat you with his players then turn around and beat you with your players. He was an incredible game day coach when at his best.

  10. Comin' Down The Track

    Or maybe Rocky Top Talk?