So, James Coley is an Aggie now.
Sure, nobody is going to miss Coley the play caller or position coach. But Coley, the ace recruiter? Yeah, that guy is gonna be missed a little, especially in light of Sam Pittman’s departure.
With regard to Pittman, Kirby Smart benefited from some fortuitous timing in landing Matt Luke. There is no obvious stud recruiter for South Florida currently unemployed, so Smart’s got some shopping to do. I don’t think Buster Faulkner’s hire last week changes the hiring dynamics here; that isn’t to say that Faulkner won’t wind up getting the promotion, only that Kirby won’t rush into a decision quickly because he has the luxury of Faulkner already being on the staff.
The more fascinating question for me here is how much Smart has evolved in such a short period of time, not just in terms of a shift in his offensive philosophy, but also in terms of the relative importance of his staff’s ability to recruit versus their ability to coach. The transition from Chaney to Coley is perhaps most emblematic of that. Smart went from a coach who was brought on board almost purely for his worth as a coordinator to a coach who was promoted to a coordinator position because of his prowess as a recruiter.
It appears that last season has taught Kirby Smart a few hard lessons on how to balance talent on a coaching staff. And while I say that, I don’t know where things have settled in his mind, although I do expect the hire of Coley’s replacement will fill in a few of the blanks in that regard.
That shouldn’t be taken to mean that we can expect a crisis in Georgia’s recruiting as a result of Pittman’s and Coley’s departures. Georgia under Smart is too well oiled a machine in that regard to expect a significant drop off, but that’s not the same thing as saying Smart would prefer to find a way to plug the hole in South Florida recruiting that’s opened up with Coley’s move to College Station. (In that regard, check out Seth Emerson’s intriguing suggestion ($$) for a replacement.) There’s also a valid point to be made that a noticeable improvement in Georgia’s offense this season under Monken would make for enough of a selling point in its own right to make up for the loss of Coley on the recruiting trail.
In the meantime, if you want to engage in a post-Coley thought exercise, take a look at this list of potential replacements that Jake Rowe has compiled, driven by a sort of six degrees of Monken/Smart approach. Don’t assess them by whom you would personally prefer, but ask yourself, in light of what you’ve seen, who is likely to be the best fit, based on what Smart looks for in an assistant coach.