Every once in a while, I think back to something Andy Staples wrote about the head coaching spot at Georgia.
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…
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. [Emphasis added.]
For the sake of argument, let’s say he’s right about that. If so, after dismissing Richt, how easy should it have been for Greg McGarity to survey a field full of candidates with successful experience? Instead, we heard nothing but crickets chirping Kirby Smart’s name.
Purely for yuks, take a look at the list of possibilities being chewed over at LSU to replace Les Miles. (Note that Godfrey is careful to say that it’s compiled “according to multiple sources around the program”.) Jimbo Fisher, Tom Herman, Jim Mora, Dana Holgorsen — all experienced head coaches; there’s not even a thought of giving some hot assistant coach his first crack at the big leagues in Baton Rouge.
The point here isn’t to say that any of those guys are slam dunks, or that Kirby Smart was a bad hire (although Staples whiffed badly on his early call that Smart “walks into a program stocked with talent; after nine years at Bama he should know how to unleash it.”). Rather, it’s that if you’re the one holding the hot commodity, there’s no reason to push the panic button if your first choice talks to another program in the division about taking over there. That’s not how Butts-Mehre’s “sharp athletic director” rolls, though.
Kirby may well work out. It’s way too soon to tell otherwise. I honestly hope he does, and not just because I’d like to see Georgia break through to the next level while I can still enjoy it. If he were to fall short of expectations, the thought of watching Greg McGarity or whomever go through the same motions in choosing the man after Smart is too depressing for me to contemplate. Although maybe this time the folks chomping at the grass is always greener bit will understand my hesitation about making such a move a little better than this past time.
Contrary to what people like Staples think, it’s been a lot easier for the athletic administration to screw the job up in Athens than it’s been to get it right. That’s part of what makes the Georgia Way the Georgia Way. So, please, Kirby, bail those people out.