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Monday, January 11, 2010

And Another One Bites the Dust

Well, that was fun, wasn't it?

Kirby Smart will be staying at Alabama, according to reliable source Nick Saban, despite the best efforts of Georgia to bring him back to Athens.

"I'm pleased to announce Kirby is staying here at Alabama," Saban told reporters at a news conference to announce Rolando McClain's departure to the NFL.

According to Bama players, the decision came down just minutes before McClain's news conference -- or at least that's when they were told. So this thing clearly was still up in the air this morning.

A release will be coming from 'Bama shortly, and I'll post that info when I get it.

There are two ways to look at this now:

1.) Georgia made a good run at a very good assistant coach. The money being talked about should have been enough to lure virtually any coach away, and prying one of the top assistants off a team that just won a national title for a lateral move is a tough sell.

2.) They didn't get him -- or Chavis or Koenning or Foster or, through more than six weeks, anyone else.

My guess is, right now, most fans are shaking their heads and wondering what Georgia has to do to get a coach to take their money. And from that end, it does look bad. That's the dangers of Richt's "no comment" strategy.

But while the waiting game was OK for a while, the hope now should be that Richt had a solid backup plan (Grantham?) that he's already moved on to. If not, this starts becoming dangerous ground for recruiting purposes.

ADDENDUM: Just to clarify -- I'm not knocking Richt's refusal to comment on the search. It's the high road, to be sure. But here's the main question I've gotten in the brief time since the Kirby news broke: "Why won't anyone take the job?"

Much like with Tiger Woods' situation, when people start asking open-ended questions, other people start offering all kinds of speculative answers. At that point, the message becomes tough to control.

So I'm fine with Richt's approach, but again, it's not helping to soothe any fears fans may currently have.


Dawg4Life said...

Whats the official process for talking to a NFL coach. Does Richt have to wait until the Cowboys or can he start talking to Grantham now?

Sam said...

4 strikeouts in a row. Richt takes the golden sombrero for his DC search. Lubbock gets a coach in a matter of days and yet no one wants to come to Athens now.

David Hale said...

No permission is needed to talk to an NFL coach, from what I understand. However, that coach could certainly say, "I'm not discussing anything til my season is over."

As for Richt's Golden Sombrero... I agree, it's starting to look pretty bad. But the other side of the coin is, this has been an "Aim High" search from the start. If Richt was willing to just settle for anyone, it probably would have been done weeks ago.

Anonymous said...

Georgia was NOT a lateral move. You saw the same BCS Title game broadcast I saw--it was Muschamp's defense versus Saban's defense. He passed on an opportunity to be his own man, make more money, and live in a better town.

Truth be told, if he's so timid that he needs to live in Nick Saban's shadow, then he wasn't he guy we thought he was after all.

ChicagoDawg said...

David -- I really appreciate all of the work you do but, the "from that end, it does look bad. That's the dangers of Richt's "no comment" strategy" comment is BS and a cheap shot on your part -- IMO. If Richt looks bad for going after the current Broyles Award winner and getting turned -- then he looks bad. It is not great news to be sure, but I am not sure how that makes him look bad. Whatever the case, those who believe this makes him look bad are going to think that one way or the other. Had he brought all of us into the process and given blow by blow of the negotiations, etc., he would be criticized for being so public. So, with all due respect I think you are personalizing this and being a little cheap with that line of criticism.

Anonymous said...

Why would some not run to us?

Perhaps they saw how the offense left the defense exposed so many times and the DC was let go. I am not defending WM but we have not fixed the offensive play call problems.

Check the games we got blown out and see if we scored meaningful points. Second half points when the other team is cruising or special teams do not count as meaningful offensive points.

So Smart gets a better deal at Ala and still can come back if the head coach job comes open later. Lose to the gators two or more times in a row and it may come open.

David Hale said...

Didn't mean it that way at all, Chicago. What I mean is this:

Yes, Richt has aimed high. But from all reports, at least four coaches have essentially used Georgia to get $$ elsewhere.

I respect that Richt hasn't commented on it. He certainly doesn't have to. But the danger in saying nothing is that others begin to form their own opinions on the situation, and right now, it looks like Richt can't close a deal.

No doubt there is much more to it than that, and I am certain that Richt has played every card he could, but in the 5 minutes after the Kirby news broke, I had at least a dozen texts/emails saying that Richt looks awful.

I credit him for taking the high road, but there's a down side to it from a perception standpoint, too.

No hard feelings on my part, I assure you.

Anonymous said...

"So Smart gets a better deal at Ala and still can come back if the head coach job comes open later."

A-ha, no. That'll never happen. Kirby Smart will never be welcomed back to Athens again.

Anonymous said...

This whole process is more embarassing than the Tennessee loss. I have never been of the opinion that Richt was on the "hot seat" or that it was anything other than cold. However, this search is starting to make me a doomsday believer.

Anonymous said...

Not sure how this makes Richt look bad. He tried for the big names, but there are more out there. Georgia football will be fine! I trust that Richt has a solid backup plan.

Anonymous said...

A few years from now we will all look back on this situation and laugh. Worrying about who our dc was going to be will seem silly after some sec championships and theashings of, dare I say it, Florida. Coach will get the right guy. If Kirby didn't want to come to Athens then so be it. Move on. The right man will get here but our impatience will end up making Richt's search look bad. Take a breath, say a prayer, relax.

ChicagoDawg said...

Thanks for the clarification Dave. There is no doubt that the perception is a no-win deal, unless you bag your first choice. It is what it is, fair or not. However, I don't think he would look any better in the eyes of anyone, had he been more public. To the contrary, he would be eaten alive by the press and public for being an amateur in showing his hand and not having everything nailed down before going public. Do you not agree?

The bottom line is this, until he gets a hire, and that hire produces results, he is going to "look bad."

Anonymous said...

Agree, he should never be welcomed back at UGA. I understand the business side of the coaching profession, but to do that to your own flesh and blood. He used us to get a pay other way of saying it. Of course when you work for a money hungry boss what did we expect???

Anonymous said...

I am most upset that it was Saban who made the announcement. Makes it look like Smart is a child who got in trouble. "No, kids, I am sorry, Kirby can't come out and play today..."
I don't like it, Smart should have made the announcement himself

David Hale said...

I definitely don't expect Richt to start naming names, but I think there could be some benefit to at least making a statement that, "Hey, we know what we're doing, we're confident we're going to get the right guy, recruits are still with us and there's nothing to be concerned about."

No specifics, but just a few words to calm the fears.

Anonymous said...

I wasn't Georgia's first choice. Or second, or third.

I am, however, currently doing the best coaching job in the SEC. But oh no, Georgia didn't get Anthony Grant, etc.

Mark Fox said...

Whoops. Forgot to log in with my name.

Anonymous said...

Remember when Alabama had trouble hiring a coach with some high profile "misses" (e.g., Rich Rodriguez) and everybody was saying how it was making AL look like a bad job? Well, nobody cares today and they have another national championship. Relax. When you try something in life, sometimes you strike out. That's not the sign of a failure, it is a sign of a winner.

Trey said...

No doubt Kirby Smart will probably end up being a very good coordinator one day. However, that day is not today. He just completed his first year as Defensive Coordinator and he inherited an extremely talented defense to say the least. To offer an unproven coach the amount of money we did was ridiculous. We would care less about the man if he played college ball anywhere other than UGA. We now extend that kind of money to a guy like Jones or Grantham. That is swinging for the fences. BTW, I really hope Tech hires Al Groh so they can continue to be second rate.

Kathleen said...

Yes, the most important part is that he's going to find the right guy.

In the meantime, I'm all for auctioning it off the way they auction off being a ball retriever or sideline passes. Or opening it up like someone suggested and letting fans vote... "press one for this scheme.."

Anonymous said...

Now someone is flying from Athens to Tuscaloosa and then to Austin, TX...That's kind of far from Dallas?? Surely they're not talking to the other CWM?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

I admit...I looked.

Anonymous said...

If anything it makes Kirby Smart look bad. He has Nick Saban speaking for him and according to David Pollack he had already signed a "term sheet" and then backed out. So, if anyone looks bad it's Kirby. I think it is poor that he let this go on as long as he did. I have no problem with him not wanting to come to UGA, I have a big problem with him hanging his alma mater out to dry. That being said--next!

B Man said...

If Richt looks bad, it's largely due to how nice he has tried to be through the process. He was seemingly only having meaningful discussions with coaches after their respective teams were done playing because he respected the conflict inherent in that (from his own experience with FSU/UGA).

Of course, that has made the wait that much longer and seemingly ratcheted up the embarrassment factor when the date ends in a hug rather than any meaningful action.

My question is whether Richt feels the need to be as respectful of a pro coach (Grantham) as he has been with college coaches. If we have to wait for Dallas to get done playing, I'll be pulling for the Vikings like never before.

Matt said...

I have two issues with Richt:

1) Waiting for this long to make a change. For three years he allowed himself to became blinded by his past success and he convinced himself that we were still competing at a championship level. By doing so, he has seen his program decline and made this hire that much more difficult of a sell.
Make no mistake, whomever takes this job will have a lot of work to do.

2) I get this is defining hire. It will make or break his remaining tenure. If it is the wrong guy, he'll be gone in two years. I understand the deliberation, but 6 weeks has gone by and no end is in sight. You can't let Alabama's NC run or the Cowboys playoff run delay your hire. You must demand an answer, if those are your guys, on your timetable. If they say no, you move on. There are plenty of guys that can do the job. And no matter what herculean efforts they are capable of, there are others out there that can do this job well. You can't let this recruiting class fall apart because of time delays. While it is important to get your guy, if getting your guy, means losing or missing on key recruits that will define your level of success going forward, you've sealed your fate.

At this point, it looks like he doesn't know what he wants, and as a result, he doesn't know how to convince who he wants (on a particular week) to take the job.

A tad frustrating for a fan and alum.

Anonymous said...

Georgia sucks at hiring big name coaches. They've hit the lottery a couple times and ended up with a successful guy, but they always hire somebody nobody has ever heard of. Why should this time be any different? I think Willie is still available. They could get him back again. Somebody is better than nobody as far as recruiting goes. It reminds of when Ted Turner fired Russ Nixon as manager. When asked who he was going to hire, he said, "If I hadn't just fired him, I'd hire him." Shame on Georgia for not having a better plan in place to line up a replacement. This coaching search has been an embarassment to their program.

wabberdawg said...

It isn't like a death sentence, we will get over this and probably thrive. I have had pancreatic cancer and lived to thank God for the experience. You tend to put things in perspective.

Andy said...

Other than the perception that no one wants be Georgia's coach (which we all no isn't true), what is the problem? The fears are from people getting caught up in the hysteria, and are too impatient to find a coach. Two years from now when we have a top 10 defense, no one will remember or care about the details of this search.

I would rather Richt go after the big home runs, because whether the DC is hired this week or 3 weeks from now could only cost us a couple of recruits. A bad hire would spoil those recruits anyway.

There are still plenty of very qualified and promising candidates out there (Grantham!). Being denied by 3 very popular DCs who are already established at other big programs is hardly a reason to be discouraged.

Anonymous said...

"Somebody is better than nobody as far as recruiting goes. It reminds of when Ted Turner fired Russ Nixon as manager. When asked who he was going to hire, he said, 'If I hadn't just fired him, I'd hire him.'"

Yeah, too bad the Braves had to settle on a manager who would then make 14 playoff trips in a row.

EastCobbDawg said...

On the surface it looks bad but look at each case individually.

Bud Foster has been tied to the hip with Beamer forever. He got paid and loyalty probably means a lot to him. Why would he leave?

Chavis has been at LSU for one year. Similar athletes, similar money and facilities. Why move other than to get away from The Mad Hatter? This looked about as lateral as you can get.

Koenning... I'm tired of hearing about him. He's an outlier and even if there was some interest we didn't show him the big money. Never really serious.

Smart... We waited till Jan, gave him a homerun offer and he blinked IMO. He's young and the question mark on him is whether he's ready to stand on his own two feet and I believe we got the answer. He shouldn't take the job if he's not confident he can do it nor do I want him. High risk because of expectations that would come with him.

So rumor is Grantham I guess. He won't be as sexy as a recruiter but I wonder if he won't end up being better with Xs and Os. We'll see. Maybe we'll get Boom a raise from Mack Brown as we fly to Dallas.

Andy said...

EastCobb- Amen! I agree with everything you said.

Dawgs97 said...

I wish Kirby Smart the best. He probably made the best career move by staying in Tuscaloosa and having more time in THAT job under his belt, since he's more likely to get an H.C. job in the next year or two.

That being said, he's no longer welcome in Athens unless it's a Crimson Tide road game in a few years.

I don't hate him like a lot of Dawg fans do (part of it stems from the fact that my dad and 2 of my closest friends are Bama fans and I root for Bama, except when they play Georgia) but he's burned the bridge to Athens.

If Richt were to get fired in a year or two (and I personally think he'll right the ship anyway and be fine) they might go after Muschamp but not Smart after today.

I am not sure Grantham is the answer. Besides, Dallas may win this weekend and then what...we wait ANOTHER WEEK? I say go hard after Air Force D.C. Tim DeRuyter. Available now.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the hard work keeping up with this story for the last couple of days David. Your blog is by far the best of its kind. To the people accusing you of being overly critical of how MR has handled this thing...they must be some serious DisneyDawgs to be happy this situation.

I don't know if Smart was the answer and he probably wasn't worth all that money, but to drag this thing out this long and then publicly strike out yet again just looks bad. So now these same people are going to get excited over an NFL retread like Grantham...that with all the schools looking for DCs already apparently got interest from noone but UGA?? Keep drinking that koolaid peeps.

Hopefully this thing can get dragged out a few more weeks due to the NFL playoffs and Grantham can get himself a raise too.

Anonymous said...


If your Eagles showed up and won on Saturday, this DC search would be over and we'd be out recruiting.

Thanks for nothing Andy Reid.

Go Vikes.

Ant123 said...

David, While Kirby may have been great. I may be wrong, but I have felt all along that Travis Jones is the best choice. I just don't see a real negative with him.

Anonymous said...

He kicked dirt in mama's face so next time around remember he had his chance. He has made his statement abouthis feelings. In the future it is pretty obvious he would have no loyality and would always be looking for the next move. i donot want to hear his name mentioned for any type of position. He has shown his colors.

UGA69Dawg said...

I really think this is just another bit of HC OJT that we have to go through with Mark. He has only gone after one big named coach CSS. He just seems naive when it comes to the way this program and his good intentions have been used and abused by the DC's and their agents. He basically hoped to get a big name DC, Foster/Chavis knowing that the powers that be would accept that. After failing to get them he had to go after the favorite son KS or he would have been second guessed forever. Now that he has that out of the way maybe the powers that be will just shut up and be happy we a DC any DC period.

Anonymous said...

Maybe Richt needs to shoot a little lower. No guarantee about anyone, big name or no. Some unknown may come in and set the world on fire. Reputation means nothing; only results count. Whomever Richt ends up hiring, no matter who it is, better be Coach "Right", because if he turns out to be Coach "Wrong", it really won't matter anyway.

Jameson said...

Bottomline is this: Kirby was placed in an awkward situation and he made a move that he thought was best for HIS career. Think Athens is mad? Think about how Tuscaloosa would feel if he made a LATERAL move for more money. Just saying....

B Man said...

To Anon at 4:06...I'm pretty sure Ted Turner said that about Bobby Cox's first go-round as manager. Turner fired him, he went on to Toronto, found success, and obviously got re-hired by Turner. To my knowledge, nobody ever wanted to hire Russ Nixon again.