“It became a treatise on ‘how not to hire a coach.’”

I hope you have a subscription to The Athletic, because Seth Emerson’s piece about the process that led to Ray Goff being hired to succeed Vince Dooley as head coach ($$) is a must read.

Seth politely calls it “topsy-turvy”, but I believe the military acronym FUBAR is a more apt label.  If you weren’t around in those days, it’s hard to appreciate how good we’ve got it now.

Anyway, it’s very well researched and definitely worth your attention.

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52 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football

52 responses to ““It became a treatise on ‘how not to hire a coach.’”

  1. siskey

    Goff was the Coach when I became a Georgia fan and I remember people around town being super upset that he wasn’t fired 2 or 3 years before. The Florida game at Sanford stadium was I guess the death knell even though there was a late push to keep him if I recall correctly.

    Liked by 3 people

    • The death knell with me happened the year before when we were trounced by Vanderbilt at homecoming. The rumors about how that went down made me question Coach Goff’s leadership. He was a dead man walking after the Florida game in 1995.

      Liked by 4 people

      • pedropossum

        Losing homecoming to vandy was the definite low point to me. I knew the dominance of the 80s was over for a while.

        Like

    • Gaskilldawg

      For me the death knell was the 1992 Florida game. We had so much better talent and he still couldn’t beat them. I knew then we would never win the East under him.

      Liked by 1 person

      • siskey

        I was not as confident about Florida that year mainly because we yakked away the Tennessee game earlier that year. But I was 14 and didn’t really understand what the Ga-Fla series had been prior to the last few years.

        Like

  2. Steve Spurrier would have been a great hire who could have led UGA to a crazy alternative universe.

    Erk was really too old for the job at the time, and who knows what becomes of the program if he had brought the Hambone to Athens. He would have gotten the job if Dooley had returned to Auburn in 1981.

    Dick Sheridan always seemed like the guy who would wow you in the interview but really never had the results to back up the impression (he was very good at Furman and very mediocre at NC State).

    Ray … DGD as a player. Not the right guy to lead the program at that time. Finally, Coach Dooley did his successor no favors with the cupboard that was left in 1989 and especially 1990.

    Liked by 3 people

    • gastr1

      I don’t care what kind of success he had or would have had, I’m glad we didn’t hire Spurrier, much less offer him the job. Sorry…I thought he was a dick then, think he’s a dick now, will think he’s a dick forever.

      Liked by 4 people

    • rugbydawg79

      Goff will always be a DGD in my book for the 76 game against the gators. Got thrown into something he wasn’t ready for.

      Liked by 3 people

      • I totally agree with that. He had never even been a coordinator.

        Liked by 1 person

        • whb209

          Mr. EE,
          Goff had never been in a meeting concerning O or D game plans.
          He was a great recruiter, that is the only reason he had a job in football. The article is 90% true. I was in the outer circle of this fiasco. I did every thing I could, I called everyone I could to get them to hire Haffner. This was after the committee showed they could not function. I tried to get them to give him a 3 year contract at his OC salary. Just settle down the stupid search fiasco. If he did not work out start over in 2 or 3 years after all the crap settled. Haffner had 3 nation. champ rings. ND, Pitt. and UGA, he deserved the chance, Coach Dooley agreed with me. Kirby Moore (he was on the committee) called me and he was all for Goff. I think he leaked the Sheridan hire (Sheridan would have been a very bad fit. He worked for a basketball school and did not understand why journalist showed up at every meeting. Of course they did. GA. is a football school nothing is more important. He should have known that. I have no way of knowing if Kirby Moore leaked or not, he was just all in on Goff. That made me feel that he did.
          Knapp and Dooley did not start off as great friends. In fact Knapp told Coach that he did not have the political power to stop him from returning as AD, but he did not need his help in finding a new coach. A friend of mine was sitting in Knapp’s office when that statement was made. SS was never a serious candidate. Everyone knew him and knew what an ass he was.
          Maybe the article is 95% true. It was a very bad time for UGA and the football team.
          In Kirby Smart I trust. Thank the good Lord.

          Liked by 4 people

          • jcdawg83

            Haffner would have been a great choice. Again, I think Dooley thought Haffner might have done as well as Dooley and he wasn’t having any of that. Sheridan checked all the boxes; polished, experienced, won at about the same rate as Dooley outside of the Herschel years and had a winning bowl record.

            I agree Sheridan wouldn’t have been a good fit, especially at that time. The memory of 1980 was still very fresh and Georgia fans really saw the program as much better than it actually was. I don’t think Sheridan could have handled the pressure and expectations for very long.

            Like

    • Sheridan’s NC State teams were actually pretty good—not worldbeaters, mind you, but impressive considering NCSU never exactly had a powerhouse reputation, and had gone 3–8 three straight years before Sheridan came on board. Might’ve been interesting to see what he could’ve done at a place with UGA’s resources and history.

      Spurrier, though…not gonna lie, as much as I loathe the old bastard, I would’ve loved it if he’d worked his miracles in Athens instead of Gainesville. That would be a fascinating alternate history for sure.

      Liked by 2 people

      • jcdawg83

        I’m not sure Sheridan would have been able to do a whole lot better than Goff did. The ridiculous sanctions Georgia put on itself after the Jan Kemp thing pretty well insured that Georgia would have sub par talent compared to the rest of the conference. Our ridiculous admission policies for athletes allowed Auburn and Tennessee to become football powers by taking players out of Georgia that couldn’t be admitted to UGA.

        Liked by 6 people

  3. ben

    The mason situation is the one I remember. I was just a kid when Goff was hired.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Man, what a goat rodeo.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. My favorite Ray Golf story was a coworker asking him to be the pitcher on his softball team. He asked how they’d been doing. He told him they hadn’t been winning much. Golf replied, “they’ll fire you for that”

    Liked by 3 people

    • Here’s mine-

      Bunch of us were going on a mountain bike ride and decided to stop at a friends house on the way to get stoned. We are mid session when the front door files open and Ray Goff barges in yelling “Boy, I told you rent is due on the 1st”. This absolutely scared one of my friends to the point he instantly jumps up and runs thru the back screen door, and vaults over deck railing like a hurdle runner. Goff says “What the hell’s wrong with that kid?” Shakes his head and walks out.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. ugafidelis

    Oh had the blog been around in those days…

    Like

  7. Damn! I didn’t renew my subscription this year when it was up a few months ago. I hadn’t been reading it much so I let it lapse. I’m sure that is a good read.

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    • I remember being so upset when he was named coach. Goff left a bad taste in my mouth when I attended Vince Dooley football camp when I was about 12. My roommate and I somehow got left behind in the dorms by the counselors the first morning waiting to go eat breakfast. We we finally made it over to the cafeteria on our own and entered I was wearing a baseball hat. Goff spotted me and called me over to his table. He didn’t approve of me wearing a hat indoors and told me to get down to do fingertip pushups where he had me go half way down and hold it until he told me to stop. That a-hole had me do that the rest of the breakfast so I didn’t even get to eat before going out for the morning drills.

      Goff also enjoyed pegging kids with a tennis ball if they were talking when they weren’t supposed to be. I thought he was a real dick for doing that crap to a bunch of kids. It was one thing if it was a high schooler, but drilling some 9 year old with a tennis ball hard enough to make him cry was a bit much. To top it all off he was a shitty coach.

      Liked by 2 people

  8. Russ

    Great article.

    Like

  9. jcdawg83

    Dooley claims to have taken himself out of the selection of his replacement but the reality was that he was neck deep in every aspect of it behind the scenes. I know someone very close to Sheridan and they told me the story of what happened with him.

    Sheridan had met with everyone and the agreement was pretty well in place to hire him. He had even told some of his staff at NC State that he was leaving and who he wanted to take with him to Athens. Everything was settled (he thought), all that was left was to sign the paperwork. He went to a meeting at a hotel off of I20 and was ready to finalize the deal. When he went in the meeting he was handed a list of assistant coaches from Georgia he would be required to retain. He objected, saying he wanted to bring his own staff and he had some assistants that he was loyal to and were loyal to him. He was told in so many words “take it or leave it, this is not negotiable and it comes from the top”. Sheridan walked away.

    Dooley made sure the next coach wasn’t going to be as good or better than he was and threaten his legacy. He left because he knew the cupboard was bare after the Jan Kemp debacle (the admin and Dooley, as AD, made sure Georgia football would be horrible going forward with the self imposed sanctions) and he wanted no part of being the coach who had to compete under the new rules Georgia and Georgia alone would have to live by. Goff was a 33 yr old running backs coach who had worked one year at South Carolina as an assistant and 8 years at Georgia. No one with half a brain would think any coach with that resume was ready to take on the head coach job at a major program. Goff was the perfect candidate for Dooley because Dooley could be certain Goff wasn’t going to make anyone forget Dooley.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Derek

      100% high grade bullshit.

      He recommended Erk.

      Liked by 3 people

      • jcdawg83

        I know the Sheridan part for a fact. Dooley was all over the coach search but publicly claimed to be out of it. Dooley plays the part of refined gentleman but he is a big time bureaucrat politician who was always maneuvering for power positions and influence over everything. His wife is the same way.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Derek

          You’re taking quite a few liberties with logic and fact to get to: he wanted georgia to fail in order to make himself look better.

          Liked by 1 person

        • goose44ga

          I was inside the football program starting in the mid 80’s and was “around” Dooley on a daily basis. jcdawg83, I think you hit the nail on the head with your description of the Dooley’s.

          Like

  10. We were toxic after the Jan Kemp affair. Yeah, Erk was old but the best choice to run the program a few years. Admin must have thought/known he was part of the internal problems and let him go. Then Spurrier invents football and our walk through the desert began.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. 79dawg

    Vince presents himself as the kind old man, but he (and Babs) have pretty big egos. He flirted with running, Babs actually ran (a couple of times), and they have been halfway up Kemp’s ass for 5+ years.
    As I said on here approximately 4 years ago, one of the first things that’s going to happen after Kemp wins is that they will finally put Vince’s name on the field….

    Like

    • stoopnagle

      Note also, Kemp purged the BOR of Adams people on day 1.

      Liked by 2 people

    • aim260

      Imagine Vince Dooley having an ego, and getting his name on the field… great analysis.

      Like

      • 79dawg

        The hubris for someone to want to re-name something for himself – after its been named after another guy for 90 years or so – is pretty astounding to me….
        I’m sure he rationalizes it by saying that it should have really only been for 60 years though, because they should’ve named it after him at least 30 years ago….

        Like

    • RC

      They don’t call him Vince the Prince for nothing…

      Like

  12. siskey

    I have heard many of the stories set forth above regarding the coaching search by friend’s parents and old Athens people that are both flattering to Dooley and not so flattering. I moved here in 1991 and my first game was the opener that season against Western Carolina my 2d or 3d game was the win against Auburn that year (which was a big deal then).
    What gets omitted in Emerson’s story is the alleged reason for Vince deciding not to run for Governor. I think he would have not been able to beat Zell no matter because Zell had been involved in Georgia politics back when Vince was still playing at Auburn and ran on implementing the lottery in Georgia. So I don’t know if the rumor is true (btw I heard the rumor back then from a police detective in Dekalb County who used to be friends with my parents).
    Lots of people reference the “recruiting” sanctions that we self imposed post Kemp. Can anyone say exactly what they were. I know that many years later we had the first and only (to my knowledge) SEC Prop 48(?) qualifier in Leonard Pope, but what who were we turning down that subsequently went to Auburn, FSU, etc.?

    Like

    • Migraine Boy

      I think ol Vince was afraid his, ahem, “indescretions” might come to light during a Governor run and tarnish his image in the state

      Like

    • jcdawg83

      The biggest impediment was that we would not take any partial qualifiers. We pretty well shut down remedial classes for athletes. We also implemented the “progress towards degree” rule that cost us more than a few players after they had been here a couple seasons. Players had to be on track to graduate or they were gone.

      I used to be able to name some players but it was more a case of we weren’t even able to recruit some because we knew they wouldn’t be admitted. There were lots of stories of blue chip players who said Georgia had always been their dream school but they weren’t even recruited.

      It has been a while but I remember it was really bad. Donnan got the rules relaxed some and Richt made it a condition of his taking the job that we didn’t have stricter rules than the rest of the SEC.

      Liked by 3 people

      • olddawg22

        Can you imagine how many times others schools brought up that “progress towards degree” mandate in recruiting visits!? The professors were also highly scrutinized on all grades given to players, it was a hot wet mess!
        I still remember the rumors were that Russell said no because there were caveats on number of years he would stay as head coach and bringing in a coach in waiting (Pat Sullivan) I think. I can also believe as the article stated they just didn’t go after him with the gusto and smoozing required! I have a signed by all, picture of VanGorder, Richt, Dooley and Erk! Sure wish three instead of two had been our head coach.
        PS I hope UGA decides to throw its weight behind the push to get the 10 yrs as a head coach requirement waived so Erk gets into the Coaches HOF!

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  13. munsoning

    That Pat Dye quote is a gem. Erk ‘had guys who would cut your throat and drink your blood.’ Those were the days when coachspeak and adminspeak weren’t the only two options when talking to the media. And the media had folks like Grizzard in it, who knew a good quote when they heard one.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Comin' Down The Track

    I was a student then. It was the worst thing to happen to UGA football in my lifetime up to that point. He nearly ruined college football in general and definitely ruined my college experience vis-à-vis college football. I know some of y’all older Dawgs have fond memories of RG in school, but to us (then) youngsters he was nothing but a terrible, terrible football coach.
    I, at least, got Coach Dooley’s final season. (For some synchronicity, my parents’ final year was his 1st season). Aaaaaanyway, I had almost completely stopped watching the Dawgs after that until Jim Donnan won that wild 1996 DSOR game that I just happened to be watching all by myself.

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  15. PTC DAWG

    Not sure why this needs to be addressed every 5 years or so. Goff is a DGD.

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  16. 69Dawg

    Well I was at UGA in the 60’s so I was a season ticket holder at the time that Dooley decided to dabble in politics. Ray Goff actively campaigned for the job. He told all of the assistant coaches he would keep them ( in those days the Asst Coaches had 1 year contracts), so they started to campaign for Ray. I also hired a former Bulldawg great olineman and had long talks with him. able the situation. He said Ray was not exactly the most energetic Head Coach. He left most of the coaching to the asst coaches. Back in the old days, even under Dooley an Asst. Coach was assigned to scout the upcoming opponent and present a game plan. This was one of the reasons UGA could play like champs one week and step on it’s D the next. Ray also was the perfect foil for SOS. He let him rent space in his head for free. Ray won the job by default and the rest as they say is history.;

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