Hey, it wouldn’t be a normal August without some member of the punditocracy placing Mark Richt on a preseason hot seat list, would it?
Category Archives: Media Punditry/Foibles
Andy Staples has fleshed out his statement on the Finebaum show that Georgia is the number one coaching job in America. See if you can find the flaw in his reasoning:
• 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. In the past five recruiting classes, an average of 113.6 high-schoolers from the state of Georgia have signed with Power Five schools each year. (Note that we’re talking Power Five, not all of the FBS.) That number is third behind Texas (179.4) and Florida (164.4) and ahead of California (100.4). The competition between state schools in those states is far more intense than it is in Georgia. With Georgia Tech running the option, the schools aren’t really going head-to-head on offensive players because of different needs, and Georgia is the bigger brand name. It’s also in the conference that more recruits consider desirable. Georgia’s situation is closer to Ohio State’s. In Ohio, kids grow up wanting to be Buckeyes. In Georgia, they grow up wanting to be Bulldogs. Ohio State was very good under Jim Tressel, but you didn’t see the Buckeyes take the next step until Urban Meyer came along. Now, they have the most talented team in the country. Meanwhile, the state of Ohio produced 64.6 Power Five signees a year over that same five-year period.
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.
• As far as taking the next step, there are a lot of factors. But let’s be honest. If some things break differently in the 2012 SEC title game, Georgia has a national title under Mark Richt and we’re probably not having this conversation. But the fact is Georgia has been the best team in the East on paper for most of the years since Tim Tebow left Florida and has two East titles and no SEC titles to show for it. Given its advantages and the current state of the SEC East, Georgia should be in the national title hunt most years.
• Mark Richt is on a very short list of coaches I’d want my kid to play for. He is secure in who he is and how he wants to run the program. He clearly cares about his players, and the program he created to help transition to life after football is a prime example. He hasn’t compromised what he considers his mission for the sake of winning. That’s great from a human standpoint and tough from a professional one, because he gets paid a healthy salary to win titles. I know no school president or athletic director will ever say it out loud, but coaches almost always get fired because of their win-loss record—not because they didn’t mold enough men.
Give up? Here ’tis.
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.]
Now granted, we live a lot closer to the situation than he does, but I don’t see how anyone who follows the program can breeze in with an assessment like that, given what was going on at Butts-Mehre just a few short months ago.
Again, my point here isn’t to contest the knocks on Mark Richt that Andy lists with some validity. But I’ll continue to insist, as I have for a while now, that context matters in this situation. It matters a helluva lot more than Staples lets on.
You may have noticed the migration of the Atlanta paper’s online Georgia coverage to a new Dawgnation site. Today, Bill King lets out one somewhat distressing bit of news (in this solid post about “no-show” games) – distressing at least if you’re on troll patrol.
The most noticeable difference for longtime Junkyard Blawg readers, besides the new address, will be a change in the commenting, which now will be limited to those who have Facebook log-ins. If you want to have your say here, you’ll either have to join Facebook or put something in the Junkyard in-box by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Crap. One less outlet for the obnoxious. I just hope they don’t migrate here.
I get it. A head coach is the face of his program, for better or worse. So when the media looks at Athens, it looks at Mark Richt. And when Georgia doesn’t excel, that’s how you get to the ubiquitous hot seat meme. And when it becomes apparent that, for whatever reason, Richt’s seat simply isn’t that warm, you fall back on the underachiever label.
Andy Staples does a nice job of mashing up the two with this.
Now to be fair to Andy, whom I like generally, he doesn’t come right out and say where he’s pointing his finger. And given that he’s made solid points before about Georgia’s drug policy, it may be that he’s being nuanced by referring to the program and not just the head coach. If that’s the case, I can’t argue with his sound bite.
But even so, I think Andy’s missing the bigger picture here. Not that he’s alone in that. Other than Mark Schlabach, I really can’t think of too many in the national media who commented on the dysfunction surrounding the program at the time of the bowl game.
I’m aware I sound like a broken record on this subject, but the program is in a much different place now than it was seven months ago. And I don’t know how you can judge Georgia in August, 2015 by Georgia in December, 2014 standards.
If, as Andy asserts, Georgia is now the best job in college football, it’s a very recent development. Because I don’t know too many people who would savor working at a place where the higher-ups are undercutting you in the media and controlling the purse strings in such a way that your defensive coordinator is forced to come out and publicly complain about how that’s negatively impacting recruiting.
This isn’t to predict everything’s going to come up roses for Richt, or that people shouldn’t be held accountable for substandard performance. (I can hear the cries of “Richt apologist!” already.) But to me, the place to start here is whether Richt can successfully reinvent himself as the man running the show for the second time since 2009. As I posted here, there aren’t many programs I can think of that have dramatically remade themselves the way Georgia has since 2013, while retaining the head coach.
Ironically, I’m back at the same spot where Staples started. I agree it’s put up or shut up time. It’s just that I feel that way about the program as a whole, from top to bottom, not just the head coach. It’s a complicated tale that deserves more than simply citing a couple of stats about how much high school talent the state of Georgia produces year in and year out.
If this is a story with a boom or bust conclusion, it’ll probably get told in 2017 or 2018, based on how things shake out. But it’s worth telling now. Anyone want to give it a shot?
So there’s that, anyway.
It’s August, so it’s time to hear the shit anonymous coaches say to preseason magazines about other programs.
As I’ve said before, this isn’t nearly as enjoyable an exercise as it used to be when Tommy Tuberville coached in the SEC, but there’s not much you can do about that.
Here’s what Athlon shared about impressions of Georgia:
“They’re the most talented, best team in the East without question.”
“The quarterback situation is a big unknown. Who’s the guy? How will they use him? Will he be a guy who has to make plays or a guy they ask to just not get them beat? I’m sure Brice Ramsey is the guy they’re counting on, but he hasn’t played a lot of meaningful snaps. Is there a Plan B if he can’t get the job done? I’m not sure.”
“I don’t understand why people there gave Mike Bobo a hard time. Look at the numbers. Offense wasn’t their problem.”
“Nick Chubb is phenomenal, and he’s a great young man, by the way. Brian Schottenheimer will come in and build it around him. I don’t expect they’ll change much philosophically.”
“I think Jeremy Pruitt does a great job with their defense. They were a little bit inconsistent, but they were significantly better than the year before. You could see his DNA starting to impact the way they played.”
“Lorenzo Carter has a big-time future. I thought he was a very impactful linebacker as a freshman, and I expect him to have a breakout year. He could be a difference-maker for their entire defense.”
“I was surprised Leonard Floyd came back. He should be an All-SEC guy without question.”
“They lost some solid linebackers, and they finally got Damian Swann to play to his potential at cornerback last year. That’s a lot of experience to lose at key positions, so how they replace them will go a long way in determining how dominant they are.”
Meanwhile, over at Sports Illustrated, which pegged Georgia as its number eleven team in the preseason, here’s what they coaxed out of somebody:
Brian Schottenheimer is going to be great for them. There’s no substitute for coaching pro football and having to deal with young quarterbacks, and they have to find and develop a quarterback this season … They’re going to have two of the top five running backs [Chubb and Michel] when they both come out in the draft. I’m not sure Chubb has the same home run speed that Todd Gurley had, but he’s so hard to wrap up and tackle … They play two-back or three-wide, so they’re pretty vanilla. They just rely on the talent to make plays … They’re going to miss David Andrews at center. In fact, they’re probably concerned about their depth at offensive line. But Chubb makes them a good line anyway, because he doesn’t force them to hold their blocks that long.
See what I mean? This is fairly bland stuff. Tubs would have had some advice to serve up, or at least used the “u” word.
You shouldn’t be afraid to tell a magazine the same kind of stuff you’d dollop out on the recruiting trail, guys.
Is it just me, or does Matt Hayes seem particularly fixated on Mark Richt’s latest raise?