So here’s an observation from Seth Emerson in today’s Mailbag:
I am a huge believer in the “culture” of football programs shaping success. That is largely led by coaching staffs and coordinators, and sometimes strong player-leaders. Have you noticed a big culture shift from the Bobo/Grantham era to Pruitt/Schottenheimer? If yes, in what ways are the inner workings of the program different than years past?
– Scott C. Davis
Well, the culture of the offense was just fine under Bobo, as the results show, and he and Pruitt were in sync on a lot of things. So thing can’t be quite grouped together like that.
But there was definitely a cultural change, along with big changes in how things were done behind the scenes, after Pruitt’s arrival. I think Bobo had wanted to do things a certain way – more the Alabama way, for lack of a better term – and Pruitt was able to reinforce that and push Richt that way. That meant some changes in the way practice was structured, the addition of more quality-control and recruiting staffers, and recruiting in general.
The bigger question going forward is how much Schottenheimer could change things, if at all. It’s still hard to get a read on him, as it’s early, plus he hasn’t been made available to the press since January. He comes from the NFL, as many years as Grantham. But unlike Grantham, Schottenheimer enters a situation where the emphasis is on him fitting in, rather than him changing the way things are done.
So far I’ve just seen small, subtle changes from Schottenheimer – such as double-repping quarterbacks at practice – while otherwise he’s doing his best to fit in, and Pruitt remains the bigger power behind the scenes.
We’ve all given Mark Richt his fair share of grief over the years for being slow to change things that obviously weren’t working right, and deservedly so. But if he’s earned crap for not being nimble enough when things are crumbling, he also deserves credit for the times when he does finally adjust. Firing Willie Martinez may have been the hardest thing Richt ever had to do as head coach, and he waited a year too long to pull the plug, but in the end, he did it.
And so now we seem to be in the middle of another key period in flux for the program, and Seth’s right that it’s not really about Schottenheimer, who’s not expected to be an agent of change. Instead, it’s about consolidating the way the program started going about its business after the arrival of Jeremy Pruitt. It’s noteworthy that Seth sees Pruitt as someone who was able to validate what Bobo wanted to do and that both were able to convince Richt (and Richt, in turn, to convince B-M) that it was worthwhile to chart a new course.
I get the feeling after reading Emerson’s observations that Bobo’s gonna do alright in his new gig. But I wonder if Pruitt will be as convincing on his own as he was when he was part of a tag team act with someone who clearly had Richt’s confidence after being a part of the program for so many years. My guess is that if this season goes well, when Pruitt talks, Mark Richt will have no problem listening.
In any event, it should make for an interesting program dynamic to watch play out this season.