About that whole dysfunctional staff thing…

Mike Ekeler doesn’t exactly look back on last season in Athens fondly. (h/t)

Despite a powerhouse pedigree featuring some of the most renowned football programs in the nation, one thing mattered above all else to Ekeler.

“I’ve worked at some of the greatest schools history-wise in the game,” Ekeler said. “But what it boils down to is people. You can be at the University of Georgia and be miserable if you’re working with shitty people. I really enjoy my work environment and the players here.”  [Emphasis added.]

I’ve said it before — when they write the book about Mark Richt’s last year at Georgia, it’s gonna be something else to read.


UPDATE:  A carefully worded retraction…


Filed under Georgia Football

83 responses to “About that whole dysfunctional staff thing…

  1. It doesn’t need to be a book. There should be a long-form piece by Dawgnation or someone. There’s so much there, it seems.

  2. Aunt Edna

    Mike Ekeler. Putting the “mean” in Mean Green.

    Guy is rightfully salty I guess. A quick throwback to his comment from earlier this year: “I’m pretty proud of the new record I set,” said Ekeler, speaking by phone during a short return to Athens this week. “I’m the only coach in the history of the NCAA to be part of two staffs that get fired after winning 10 games and finishing with a top-10 defense. I’m pretty sure that’s never happened. I’d be willing to bet it hasn’t.”

  3. illini84

    Wait till Jack writes his.

  4. Bright Idea

    So many career assistant coaches are so used to stuff like what happened at UGA last year that they are numb to it. That vagabond life has to get old but they accept it. Ekeler ain’t on his last stop you can bet.

    • If you’re arguing that last year was same old, same old in Athens, it wasn’t.

      • AugustaDawg

        Jeremy Pruitt wouldn’t know tactfulness if it sat full weight on his face. The bull in the china shop was appalled at his behavior. The cameras caught him getting chippy with Saban on the sideline two weeks ago. Laner just takes that shit.

        • 69Dawg

          I noticed that when it happened. Saban yelled at him and he yelled back at Saban. I think Saban is such a strong coach that he doesn’t get his fi fi hurt by his Coordinators expressing their opinions. It not like he didn’t know Pruitt and his personality. The guy can coach and to Saban that’s the bottom line. Mark would have been better served if he had had a no assistant can speak to the media. Pruitt’s bomb throwing would have been less public. We will see if Pruitt is all we imagined over the next 3 – 4 weeks. Kiffin has certainly earned his pay check under Saban. If he had started his career under him he would have been much better at his HC jobs.

      • Bright Idea

        For guys like Ekeler it is. He admitted to being on staffs that got fired 2X after winning 10. It may not have been the norm for 15 years under Richt but it sure wasn’t peaches and cream for the staffs between Dooley and Richt.

  5. gastr1

    I never get enough of the juicy gossip (as in, really, I don’t hear it). Who were the bad apples?

    • rpcpisme

      My thoughts as well. I dont need to know the issue(s). However, I would like to know who caused them.

    • Russ

      Well, we could assume that Mark Richt was really an asshole despite outward appearance. Or we could go with the gadfly in the system, Jeremy Pruitt. My money is on the latter.

      • Otto

        I don’t see Richt as an asshole, he has more of a passive aggressive streak. On a football team, I’ll take the asshole.

        • Greg

          SO!!!…you knew what went on behind closed doors??

          • Otto

            Just as much as those blaming Pruitt for being an A-hole

            • Greg

              since you put it that way, I see him more of a guy who does not like to throw people “under the bus”. Nor does he yell and scream at them on the sidelines. My guess is, he handles that stuff behind closed doors without the yelling and screaming. Treats them with respect, I do not see that as “passive aggressive” at all. The biggest fault that he had imo…was maybe his loyalty (see WM)….and that is not always a bad thing. I appreciate what he did in Athens, it will be hard to duplicate it.

  6. No One Knows You're a Dawg

    I’m beginning to get the sense that not everyone liked Jeremy Pruitt.

  7. Couple this with Rocker’s mutiny quote last year, the noise after the Florida game, and the one negotiating issue that was a 100% nonstarter for McG….I think you can pretty well piece together what happened last year.

    • The other Doug

      yeah, but there is more to it. There has to be.

      How did the O staff come up with our game plan for the Florida game with a bye week to prepare? It was basically “let’s keep doing what isn’t working, but with a less skilled QB”.

      Why did Richt change philosophies after the Florida game? Seems like he should have done that two weeks earlier.

      I could go on and on and on.

      • My feeling is that Richt stepped in at Florida once he realized BS was in over his head.

        Two new coordinators were coming to town, no matter what.

        But I have no reason to believe BS was the one making things miserable around the program. Once some guys on the team are a couple of years removed, the story will come out.

        I have a theory, but like everyone else’s, it’s pure speculation.

        • down island way

          Hold on now…….the HC hires who he wants, hitches his star to those coaches….overall staff hirings and raises given to those hirings at our beloved institution in the past 3-4 years had serious questions arise, before, during and after said hirings.

          • Oh agreed. Ultimately it looked like Richt didn’t have control of his own ship. Thus, he’s not here anymore.

            I don’t KNOW anything. Just my impression from reading the tea leaves: Pruitt made a back channel run at Richt’s job post-Florida. While the powers that be squashed it, the optics were that Richt didn’t have his own staff in line. Just my thoughts, mostly likely 100% off base.

        • No One Knows You're a Dawg

          This is from a Dawgnation interview with Ekeler 9 months ago

          “I learned a valuable lesson watching Brian Schottenheimer. He came into a situation where he tried to run an offense that was already in place and didn’t run his offense, so to speak. I didn’t want get into a situation like that after watching the difficulties that he had. When you do that – and I watched it happen – as a coordinator, and it’s not really your stamp but it’s your name, that’s not a good gig. That’s why I chose to go to North Texas with a guy I think is a rising star as a head coach and a great friend of mine.”

          That makes it sound like Schottenheimer was told to run the Richt/Bobo offense and he had trouble doing it. Why Schottenheimer’s running of something other than his own offense wasn’t better discussed before he got the job idk.

          Ekeler also thanked Richt for the opportunity Richt gave him (so did Richt hire him?) but pointedly said nothing about Pruitt and instead offered this when asked why he took the DC job at N. Texas:

          “I had a chance to go to another SEC school, a couple of Big Ten schools, the Pac-12. But it wasn’t as sole coordinator. I want to get out front and lead and do it the way I want to do it and treat kids the way I want to do it, and I want to work with people I want to work with. I don’t want to be in rooms with people I don’t enjoy and don’t have much in common with.”

          So Ekeler seems to have disliked Pruitt, but liked Richt and Schottenheimer, even though Richt and Schottenheimer didn’t seem to see eye to eye.

          I wonder what would have happened with the coaching staff if Richt hadn’t been fired.

          • Snoop Dawgy Dawg

            I remember that interview and my confusion then as well. the BS(initials and description) offense never looked like an attempt to run the legacy Richt/Bobo offense. I don’t doubt that Richt gave guidance to BS on things. He’s the head coach. that’s his job. But it just did not look like BS calling the Richt/Bobo offense. it looked fundamentally different while still being a pro style, multiple offense.

            of course, ekeler doesn’t have a reason to lie about it, so I’ve continued to be confused by his statements.

            • Normaltown Mike

              I suspect the playbook and terminology went unchanged but BS was calling plays.

              But let’s be candid…the offense was a hopeless mess b/c of the QB play. If AM had come back and played last year, I’ve no doubt we’d have performed better against UT and UF (Bama,not so much)

            • Will (The Other One)

              There was a halftime interview with Aaron Murray last season and he called it a different offense. As I recall, some the blocking schemes changed going from Friend to Sale.

        • The other Doug

          I find it hard to believe that a guy with Mark Richt’s experience spent two weeks brain storming and trotted out Bauta to run a pro style offense. Richt seems fine at Miami, so I doubt he has lost his faculties. Who thought that would work? Now, if they had gone to Bauta, changed the offense to suit him, and it was a disaster, then it would make sense.

          But then after the WLOCP it gets really ugly behind the scenes, so Richt takes control and we go to an ugly field position offense that eeks out wins. Heck, that’s what McEllwain did at Florida after he lost Greir and his offense started to be a shit show.

          To put this in perspective, if Bobo was there I bet we see Bauta with a lot of wild dawg and trickery. We see Ramsey running some option on 3rd and 4th and short to keep the punt return team off the field. We see some new shit from a team that had 2 weeks off.

          I’m waiting for the tell all book, because this is only one chapter. 😉

          • DawgPhan

            I think that he florida game plan might have been something, but it was going to be a lot more wild dawg with Sony. Sony breaks a long run on the first play, he breaks his wrist and then the play gets called back. Train immediately derails and we didnt really have a plan B.

  8. Bob

    Also from that earlier interview with Chip Towers after he was let go:

    “I want people to know I really, really enjoyed the University of Georgia and really appreciate the opportunity Mark Richt gave me. I did not know those other guys before I stepped in,” he said. “… I knew no one when I came here. I’d never met Jeremy Pruitt; I’d never met Tracy Rocker; I’d never met Kevin Sherrer. Coach Richt gave me the opportunity and I’ll forever be grateful for that. Everywhere I’ve ever been, I’ve learned things, and I learned some valuable lessons (at Georgia). I’ll take away some things that I’ll value.”

  9. ElectroM

    “The Jeremy Pruitt Indoor Practice Facility” isn’t going to happen? Without that press conference the administration probably would still be saying stuff like ‘at the spring meeting we are planning to discuss forming a committee to determine if we should form a working group to explore the possibility of putting together a panel of experts to determine the feasibility of exploring the issues involved in this major step going forward and tentatively preparing a report to be delivered at next years Board meeting, or possibly the year after that if more time is needed. Yadda, yadda, yadda.

  10. Look at it this way: Todd Grantham twice publicly embarrassed the program, plus played footsie with the NFL every year, plus had a horrible unit in 2013, and yet by all accounts, was coming back in 2014 until Petrino plucked him.

    Pruitt was much better at his job IMO, yet regardless of who the coach was in 2016, was almost certainly not coming back. That should tell everyone how bad it was: they could stomach Grantham, but not Pruitt.

    • Bright Idea

      Pruitt made everyone uncomfortable right down to the janitors. He wanted the Bama Way as opposed to the Richt/Georgia Way but he wasn’t the head guy. Perhaps he woke everybody from their slumber and we ended up with a new head coach. After 15 years Richt was on borrowed time under any circumstances.

  11. Scorpio Jones, III

    Maybe the locker room talk bothered Ekeler.

  12. Macallanlover

    For all the positive results we saw on defense, JP was a negative energy, vampire that was divisive as an employee. Many organizations have highly skilled people who are cancers that cause bigger problems than they are worth. If it is a large corporation with strong resources, you can isolate them and still benefit from their skills. In a group as small, and interactive, as as a college coaching staff, there is no avoiding the problem. For Ekeler’s strong, public statement it must have been really bad inside the foxhole.

    • RandallPinkFloyd

      I have a buddy who works at BM. Not going to reveal his job title or the details that would give away his job, but he told me Pruitt tried to fire him on 3 different occasions. And by try, he’d say ‘GD it. This again? Johnny, you’re fired’… in a room full of people after something completely out of his control went awry. He said he learned to ignore him when he did it since Pruitt wasn’t his boss. Dude was a straight up horse’s behind.

      FWIW. He told me in the spring that he really enjoyed working for Richt, but he’s a better person than he is a coach. He readily admitted it was time for him to go and that thus far he was really enjoying working for Kirby. ‘Great guy, best not to make him repeat himself.’

      • 3rdandGrantham

        Thanks for sharing, and this is almost identical to the information I’ve heard as well (sans the firing part — obviously our sources are different). Unfortunately I heard the same re: Richt for quite a few years from insiders — great man, fair to pretty good coach, and yes it was time for a change, as the overall program itself was quite stale.

        As for CKS, from what I understand he generally is liked, but he too can be abrasive at times and basically can wear on you quite a bit, as he’s demanding of pretty much everyone. Basically, if CMR is on one extreme, Pruitt the other, Smart is somewhere in the middle though slightly towards the Pruitt end of the spectrum. Speaking of Pruitt, I said last year at this time that he absolutely would not be retained under any circumstances (I believe I put the odds at 1-2%.) That dude was totally out of control.

        • RandallPinkFloyd

          Sounds about right RE: Smart’s demeanor. Same guy also told me that the Richt/Pruitt blowup at Richt’s house was VERY real. And that Thomas Brown was ready to take him down.

          • 3rdandGrantham

            Yep, indeed. CMR, BMac, and TB were all very close, while Pruitt was close with Sherrer and, well, that’s pretty much it. As mentioned below, Schotty and Ekeler had their own little clique going on. So yea TB would certainly have his back, and IMO would have utterly destroyed Pruitt in a fight (if it had come to that).

            • Yet people still want to complain that Richt got shown the door? If even half of this stuff is true; coaches fighting, coaches firing support staff without authority, cliques forming, it represents a complete lack of leadership and failure of management.

            • Dylan Dreyer's Booty

              “TB ….. IMO would have utterly destroyed Pruitt in a fight

              Ehhh, I don’t know. I saw TB in person once while he was still in school showing a recruit around the Ramsey Center, and I was stunned by how small he actually is. At the time, I was amazed that he could do what he did on the football field at that size. Admittedly, someone that size who plays football well is surely tough. But in my experience, winning fights has a lot to do with attitude, and I think Pruitt’s attitude would match TB’s and Pruitt has a decided size advantage as well. I am glad it didn’t come to that; I really don’t need to find out.

              • 3rdandGrantham

                He is small height wise — I believe around 5-9. But TB is strong as heck, and I think he benched 400+ and squatted 600+ during his heyday. Also a tough dude as well with a mean streak in him if needed. Maybe you’re right, but my money would be on TB.

                • WF Dawg

                  Not just strong, the strongest player, pound-for-pound, in UGA history. At least as of 2006.
                  5’8″ 190lbs. 470 bench, 610 squat.

                  • Dylan Dreyer's Booty

                    I stood right next to him. He might be 5′ 7″. There’s no way he was 190 pounds. But don’t get me wrong – I admired what he could do and he is in the top 25 of my favorite Dawgs – I just don’t think that is the same thing as ‘taking somebody out’. Those weights he was lifting weren’t fighting back. It’s just not the same thing.

                    • 3rdandGrantham

                      Let’s remember who you are comparing him to — Jeremy Pruitt. JP is a rather short guy himself. Dude is quite dumpy looking (sadly like most middle aged American men), and basically just looks soft. Not exactly someone who you would be all that nervous about if he challenged you to a fight.

              • 81Dog

                TB is short, maybe, but he ain’t little. Fighting with him would be like fighting with a barrel of cement, if the barrel of cement was also quick as a hiccup. I’m taking TB and laying the points in that matchup. Pruitt would have found out pretty quickly the difference between being a mouthy redneck and being an actual badass pretty fast, I suspect.

  13. ATL Dawg

    I’ll always be grateful to Pruitt for what he did for our program. I don’t care one bit whether Richt, Schottenheimer, Ekeler, McGarity, etc. are mad at him. The Butts-Mehre Country Club needed to be burned to the ground and he was just the man to do it.

    • 3rdandGrantham

      Mostly agree, though he could have employed a lot more tact overall. He needs to be thanked for moving the construction of the IPF up at least 3-4 years — something CMR failed to accomplish — but again he was way over the top too. It would be akin to a new COO coming in and calling out the terrible structure currently in place while recommending a litany of really smart solutions…then abrasively approaching you/your colleagues privately and calling you a pathetic loser, lazy, idiotic, and basically a worthless employee (whether accurate or not).

      • ATL Dawg

        I agree. I didn’t say I wanted to work with or for the guy, just that I was grateful to him for what he did. And I don’t know that I would ever hire him either.

        Although, if he’s such a cancer, you have to wonder why Saban brought him back for round 2 of having him on staff. My guess is that there isn’t as much incompetence for Pruitt to rage against in Tuscaloosa, so it’s not as much of an issue there.

    • W Cobb Dawg

      Can’t imagine where we’d have been in 2014 and 2015 without CJP.
      – He was easily the top recruiter during his stint.
      – He turned an awful D around in a very short time.
      – We’re getting an IPF because of Pruitt. Nobody else even deserves more than a slight mention when credit for the IPF is discussed.

      Trash CJP all you want. But when his career is over he’ll have far, far more championship rings than CMR or anyone else on the ’14 and ’15 staffs.

      • W Cobb Dawg

        Oops, should have said ‘people can trash Pruitt all they want’. Obviously, I agree with ATL Dawg’s post.

      • 3rdandGrantham

        This is all very true. BTW, let’s not forget that Schotty and Ekeler were very close and are basically good friends, so no surprise that he was generally miserable last year as well.

  14. Uglydawg

    If all of these accounts of the assholeishness of JP are correct, then you have to wonder and possibly admire that Saban either has a way to negate the ill effects JP brings to the program or actually uses it in some positive way. Since the prospects of JP undermining Saban and “the process” are non-existent, one has to wonder if Pruitt’s way fits “the process” to a T and as thus was anathema ( yes I’ve been waiting to use that word) to CMR’s patchwork staff’s un-melded methods and philosophies.
    Perhaps JP detected a sense of lack of focus..or slight confusion..in the program and either tried to fix it with unseemly actions, or execute a coup against CMR. Either way he was out of place, even though he may have been right about the failing tendencies of the status quo.
    Regardless, JP has to know that he is now at his pinnacle job, unless he aspires to succeed Saban one day. I’d say he’s a lot more like NS than Junior is.

    • 3rdandGrantham

      Bama is a well oiled machine with an extremely strong, omnipotent leader; so its only natural that CJP would fall right in line and behave accordingly. However, when things are in disarray and you have a weak leader at the helm, guys like CJP are going to basically run wild and try to rule the ship themselves. Saban knows this, thus he had little qualms about bringing Pruitt onboard.

  15. ElectroM

    From the linked article:
    “With a resume that has coaching gigs at the University of Southern California, Oklahoma University, Louisiana State University, Indiana University, Nebraska University, and most recently, the University of Georgia, there is little doubt Ekeler could have landed just about anywhere in the country he wanted to go.”
    “I’ve worked at some of the greatest schools history-wise in the game,” Ekeler said. “But what it boils down to is people. You can be at the University of Georgia and be miserable if you’re working with shitty people. I really enjoy my work environment and the players here.”
    Paraphrasing the great Tim Wilson:
    “Hell, if you’ve been fired 9 times, maybe it’s you.”
    I think this Ekelar guy is probably a bigger asshole than Pruitt.

  16. tonyqbr

    This guy is Captain dipshit.

    His comment about being the only guy who got fired after fielding a top 10 defense.

    It’s all about ranked teams:
    In 2015, record 0-3
    Defensive scoring ranking in 2015 vs ranked teams- 12th in conference, 49th nationally
    Average points given up vs ranked teams in 2015:

    That will get your ass fired every time.

    • 3rdandGrantham

      Correct, and well said. This also is what ultimately got CMR fired — his rather pathetic record vs. ranked opponents, which was something like 13-27 over his final 5 years. Yet, even today people continue to trot out the tired line of how pathetic is was to fire a 10 win coach…all while conveniently leaving out that, of those 10 wins, exactly zero of them came against teams with a winning record.

      • tonyqbr

        right on, and you can see a jersey change did Mark Richt no good, still gets his ass kicked vs ranked teams.

        • 3rdandGrantham

          Yea but he won his first 4 games at The U by an average margin of 30 points! See?…we made a mistake firing him! Not just our own fans, even Colin Cowherd jumped on that train last week and was espousing such B.S. — conveniently leaving out that they beat app state, FAU, GT, and Fl. A&M. Not exactly a brutal schedule.

          It always comes down to your record in big games and/or your record vs. ranked opponents; padding your record on the UK’s, Vandy’s (most years), and Troy’s of the world means nothing.

          • tonyqbr

            Richt can’t outcoach ranked teams, that’s not ever going to change.

            He will lose to V Tech (the only other ranked team on his schedule) and
            very possibly 1-2 more losses to unranked teams (NC, Notre Dame, NC St).

            His Qb and Rb’s both struggled vs FSU, Miami’s only ranked matchup so far,
            so Mark Richt being the OC didn’t change anything. Glad we didn’t buy that lie.

            • 3rdandGrantham

              Well I’m not quite as pessimistic on CMR as you, and let’s give him a year or two at UM before judging him. I personally wish him well, though I don’t think his stint at UM will go as smoothly as others have predicted.

              With that said, if I had to briefly sum up the difference between CMR and Smart, and why I strongly feel that UGA will be a consistent, major power sooner than later (with a natl championship coming our way by 2020), it would simply be this:

            • Olddawg 55

              I watched the game, fellows, and while both struggled to impose their will equally, let’s not forget it took a blocked extra point to win the game. Additionally, CMR is a first year coach, too! Did you see the Nichols St game??

              • 3rdandGrantham

                Dude, really? CMR is 56 and has been a HC for 16 years. Smart is 39 and has been a HC for 4 games. Trying to compare these two as relative equals is utterly absurd.

              • FSU did play 1/3 of the game without their starting QB too. Manny Diaz had his defense ready to play. Miami’s offense looked meh at best.

                • tonyqbr

                  Miami offense looked pretty bad with Mark Richt as OC vs FSU.

                  2.2 ypc

                  Kaaya’s qbr dropped from the 90’s in the previous 2 games to 63.
                  And Kaaya was sacked 3 times for 15 yards.

                  Also, you don’t expect an experienced Qb like Kaaya to be ranked 7th in the ACC in qbr.

  17. tonyqbr

    North Texas has only played 1 team that’s currently ranked in the top 25, Florida, and they lost 32-0.

    Same ole shit from Ekeler. A new jersey/team can’t change the coach.

  18. You have one guy that is a million dollar mistake.
    You have another guy that is pissing everyone off, not a little, a lot.
    And you have the rest of guys saying all kinds of cra cra.

    Not the best recipe for job keeping.

    • tonyqbr

      Ekeler thinks most of us value a good defensive performance vs Southern U or Ky,
      more than how you play in the big games like Bama, Tenn, and UF in 2015.

      Of course you can modify your stats by beating up on the little guys, but true
      colors come out when you play the ranked teams.

      2012, 2013, and 2015 have sucked royally there.

      2014 was the only year we ranked #1 in def scoring vs ranked teams, and Ekeler wasn’t here.

  19. HVL Dawg

    Misspelled misquoted

  20. lakedawg

    Meanwhile the J. Reid Parker Director of Atheletics is still hanging on somehow.

    • Normaltown Mike

      I know it’s meant to be funny, but I’d encourage people to not use “J.Reid Parker” as a punchline.

      He was an esteemed faculty member in Forestry for decades and survived the sinking of the Leopoldville during WWII.

      • AthensHomerDawg

        Even more to the point that McGarity is in over his head. Has not matched the hires and sucess than none other than Mr Panties himself and wears that title. And I’m sure lakedawg in no way disrespected that esteemed faculty member.

  21. Bulldog Joe

    I’m just glad that shit is over.

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