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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

From the Mailbag: Making Up For Lost Time (Part 1)

Let's crack open the ol' mailbag…

David in Athens writes: Dear Dave, just curious if your work email has been fixed yet. Seems like it's been broken for an absurdly long time. It's probably awfully difficult for you to do your job properly -- communicating with readers, tracking down leads, etc. -- when you can't check email. Oh, and did anyone ever tell you that you're a very handsome man?

David: OK, so I wrote that one. But it's a pertinent question (and a very accurate sentiment at the end, I might add). The answer, of course, is no, my email is not working yet. In fact, I've essentially been ignored in trying to get it fixed. I'd happily just stop using the account and set up another one, but the problem is that this account is the one listed in the newspaper and the place where nearly all the press releases, etc. I get from various schools and conferences are sent. So it's sort of a necessity to have the account active. So the battle rages on.

I do want to take a moment, however, to thank all of you who have written during the past couple of weeks and apologize if I haven't gotten back to you. I've tried to spend some time each day responding when possible -- which has been rare -- but there are more I haven't gotten to. So, as a gesture of my appreciation and a means by which I can avoid email altogether, let's get to a bunch more of your questions here.

And since we have so many stored up thanks to my email hiatus, this is going to have to be a two-part mailbag...

Chris writes: David, as a reporter it must drive you nuts to have to battle the "close ranks" of players and coaches. There are so many story's to be written if Georgia would grant those interviews. I feel the University does a disservice to our Alumnus and Donors by not being more accommodating to members of the media. After all the team is not even practicing this week, so why not?

David: I wouldn't say it drives me nuts because it's expected, by and large. But it certainly does make life a bit more difficult for me. The bigger problem, however, is all the rumors that get started, and as a reporter, I have very few avenues for proving or disproving them. And in a time when any message-board poster can create a rumor that Georgia is interested in one coach or another, if I'm not careful I can spend days at a time on one wild goose chase after another. Of course, the flip side of that is that some rumors sound odd -- like Mark Fox, for example -- and turn out to be completely true. So it's a balancing act. But as I've said before, my philosophy on this coaching search -- and any others -- is to report what I know when I know it and try to leave most of the speculation to the message boards and talk radio (or in the case of utterly absurd guesswork, to ESPN's "rumors" page).

jferg writes: This is like the sadie hawkins and waiting to see if anyone will pick you. Hopefully the torture ends soon and with the prom queen.

David: Now this is just about the best analogy I've heard for the situation -- although I'm not sure I had heard the term "Sadie Hawkins dance" in about 10 years. The analogy is even funnier if you think about Willie getting the job the last time. "Bottom line, Bel Biv Devoe is playing, and we've just got to execute some tight moves on the dance floor. Bottom line."

Anonymous writes: Smart isn't a slam dunk as a success, but more importantly, if he is the real deal, we would only have him 1 to 2 years max. He is too hot at this point and additional success would only intensify the situation. Kirby Smart might be the very worst choice we could make at this point. UGA needs someone who will not spend all their time interviewing for the next step on the ladder.

David: This is another question that probably hasn't been raised enough about Smart -- or really any coach. It's a double-edged sword, really. Much has been made about the lack of turnover on Richt's staff prior to this year, but that's both a good thing and a bad thing. Yes, there has been consistency, which helps recruiting, but at the same time, what does it say when your assistants aren't in high demand. Now, to be fair, Martinez and Jancek both turned down other jobs in the past two years -- as has Rodney Garner and Stacy Searels -- but virtually all of them were lateral moves. Meanwhile, Florida has had its OC and DC both hired as head coaches in the past two seasons.

I'll make the comparison to newspapers actually. I've worked in a few smaller towns, and I took those jobs with the idea that I wanted them to be a stepping stone to something bigger. The work I put in was extensive because I knew I needed to show what I could do to get a better job. Luckily for me, I've had bosses who were happy with that arrangement and wanted to see me succeed.

That said, there are also plenty of editors of smaller papers out there who want to hire people who have no intention of ever leaving, and the work they get from those employees typically shows why there isn't much upward mobility for them.

I'm sure Georgia doesn't want to be hiring another DC in two years, but if you want the best, you have to be willing to accept that they may not be around forever. It's a price I think Georgia should be willing to pay, assuming that the other assistants on the staff are being trained to step into a bigger role, too, when a need arises.

Anonymous writes: If richt and evans are making a large financial investment we would already have either smart or foster. They are bargain hunting and it's not working. Best thing richt could do I'd have smart name his price ($600k) and have a handshake agreement in place to sign after the texas game. richt and evans are going about it all wrong.

David: I just don't get this sentiment at all. Richt went after the hottest name among assistants in Kirby Smart and a guy in Bud Foster who has been at Virginia Tech for two decades. The fact that either has seriously considered Georgia should say a lot about what the Dawgs have to offer.

What you have to understand is that Georgia isn't hiring a head coach. Richt is hiring a defensive coordinator, and if you want to bring in a name with experience, chances are you're going to be asking that person to make a lateral move. Hiring the best defensive tackles coach in the country isn't exactly aiming high. So if you're asking someone to make a lateral move from DC at one school to DC at Georgia, they would be doing it for one of three reasons:

1.) Money. Georgia is no doubt offering a good bit of it, otherwise they wouldn't have even picked up the phone to call Smart or Foster. But what we're seeing is exactly what we should have expected to see: Other big-time teams can and will match what Georgia is offering. Bama makes just as much money from football as the Dawgs do and if they want to keep Smart, they can afford to.

2.) Better opportunities to showcase themselves. This is probably the best argument for Smart coming to Georgia -- the idea that being DC in one place isn't quite as high profile as being DC at Georgia. As long as Smart stays at Bama, he'll be overshadowed by Nick Saban. Mark Richt, on the other hand, is notorious for working as a program's CEO and letting his assistants do their jobs (and get credit for it). But the flip side of this is just what we discussed in the last question -- any coach taking a job for this reason is clearly angling for a better job down the road.

3.) Ambiance. Hey, Athens is a great town, Richt is a good guy to work for, and the SEC is the best conference in the country. If you want to prove yourself at a high level and do it in a great place in a pleasant work environment, Georgia is as good a destination as any. But when we're talking about an elite few coaches making an awful lot of money, it's fair to say ambiance isn't exactly the swing vote all the time.

Regardless, the bottom line here is that Richt and Damon Evans seem to be making the right phone calls. Now it's a matter of closing the deal. Richt is awfully good at doing that with recruits, so I think we should all remain confident the same will happen here.

UGANewt writes: The thing that struck me most about Richt's comments after coaches were fired was the length of time he'd been contemplating the decision. It sounded like it went back to last year, and it wasn't just a reaction to the disappointment of 09. Something tells me that every aspect of the program is getting the same thorough examination, it's just that not everything will be as obvious as a coaching change to those of us outside the program.

David: I'm glad Newt brought this up -- can everyone who has criticized Richt for being too nice during the past two years please offer an apology now? Fans are able to make knee-jerk reactions and not have to worry about the consequences. Richt took a cautious approach, gave his assistants every opportunity he could to prove themselves, then when it became clear that a change needed to be made, he made what was no doubt a painful decision, and he made it decisively and emphatically. Richt handled this situation exactly how you would want a leader to handle it.

WillQ writes: The problem with comparing Richt to Saban and Meyer is that he is going on the 10th year of his stint. Saban has had one crappy year and two excellent years, but get back to me when he rounds out a decade at the same program. Meyer has had even more success, but he also had his Herschel at the time. Let's see how he adjusts to losing a once-in-a-lifetime player (two, actually if you count Harvin as well).

David: Another great point about Richt. In this business, the message does tend to get stale after a while, so I do understand why coaching changes are made. But anyone who spends 10 years at any job is going to have their bad days -- or in Richt's case, bad seasons. And in an environment as competitive as the SEC, it's pretty impressive that Richt has been as consistent as he has been for so long. Obviously some changes needed to occur, but the fact that Richt has started identifying and rectifying those issues is a big step in the right direction, and when you consider that a lot of the key pieces to the puzzle at Florida are going to be elsewhere next season, there's every reason to believe that it'll be Corch Meyers facing criticism next year, not Richt.

Herring writes:
Do you think that Richt fired Martinez et al on his own or do you think he was secretely forced to do so? I am curious as to your opinion.

David: This was 100 percent Richt's decision. The fact that he axed Fabris and Jancek on top of it simply goes to show that he was willing to do whatever it took to revamp the defense.

Casey writes: I came up with a name that I haven't seen anywhere for DC, and therefore it's probably crazy, but what about Ron Zook? I don't know that he'll still be at Illinois after this season, and he's got DC experience, and I don't know that he'd be a candidate for a good head coaching job. On top of that, he's a good recruiter, which you can never have too many of. That gives some insurance in case Garner leaves, or adds another recruiter to the staff if he stays. Also, his fiery temperament would provide some spark on a coaching staff that seems to have problems with getting players up for big games.

David: Perhaps not the worst idea in the world, but Zooker is staying at Illinois for at least one more season. But I will say, at least Ron Zook is qualified to replace Willie in the "This guy needs to be fired" category. He's got tons of experience with that.

Jeffrey writes: Vic Koening rumors?

David: Now that's a concise email, Jeffrey!

Koenning, currently Kansas State's DC, remains a legitimate candidate, and from what I've been told, there has been some contact from UGA. But I continue to think that he's a backup plan -- or at least he was on the backburner while Georgia waited on guys like Smart and Foster to make decisions.

But here's the bigger issue -- there's a good chance Koenning isn't going to wait around on Georgia. There are other offers out there.

Anonymous writes: With all the attention toward Kirby Smart, I don't think many people in the media have considered Richt may be giving Garner a test run in Shreveport. It will be interesting after the game to find out who is calling the defensive alignments and adjustments.

David: I would have no problems with Garner getting the job, but something tells me that if it was going to happen, it would have by now. I think Richt pretty clearly wants a departure from the previous administration in terms of style and approach, and Garner wouldn't be that. My guess (and it's an educated guess) is that whoever gets the job will approach things with a much different style that what has been used in Athens for the past nine years.

Bob M. writes: Congrats, you made it to the number 1 result on google when you search for "David Hale." It used to be some painter.

David: Wow, this is a proud day for me. Just a few years ago I was well behind David Hale the painter, David Hale the economist (that one hurt since I have an econ degree, too), David Hale the hockey player, David Hale the NFL player, David Hale the pitcher, David Hale the judge in the Whitewater case and David Hale the former U.S. ambassador to Jordan. Now that's a group I'd like to party with.

Ben Rockwell writes (in reference to the Georgia QB of the decade): No reggie ball? Shameful.

David: If anyone won more big games for Georgia than David Greene, it was indeed Reggie Ball. Point taken, Ben.

Barstool69 writes: So they're making Teenwolf into a type of Twilight spinoff. The majority of people that see this movie will have never seen the original. I swear to god if they try to remake Topgun...

David: OK, this leads to a good question -- what '80s movies should be completely untouchable for remakes? I think there are a few rules for an untouchable film:

1.) The original cast has to have remained relevant. If the original film stars people who no one has seen in 20 years, it's primed for a remake.

2.) The special effects can't be outdated. This is the old standby for any remake -- update the special effects and call it a brand new film.

3.) The storyline has to be universal. If it was done right the first time, there are fewer reasons to do it again. A werewolf playing basketball, however, well I'm not sure Scott Howard was exactly in the same "every man" category as Holden Caufield.

4.) It has to be a movie that is loved more than it's enjoyed. If it's a movie people liked when it came out but haven't watched in years, it'll get remade. But if it's a movie people still hold near and dear to their hearts, they'll reject a remake based strictly on principle.

So, with that, here are my top 10 movies from the '80s that should never be remade:

(*Note, I'm not including sequels like "Empire Strikes Back" since the original would obviously need to be remade first -- and I assume eventually George Lucas will decide to sell out enough to actually do that.)

10. The Lost Boys. Vampires are all the rage, so I'm sure a remake is in the works, but if you don't have at least two Coreys lined up for it, it shouldn't be made.

9. Stand By Me. No doubt they'd want to Disney-ify this where instead of looking for a dead body, they'll be looking for tickets to a Jonas Brothers concert, and everything will turn out just dandy in the end.

8. Ferris Buehler's Day Off. I can see why someone would think they could do this movie better -- there are, after all, some continuity questions about the timing of the film, and no doubt there's a director somewhere eager to have a studio pay for him to rent a Ferrari for a few months. But they would no doubt cast some pretty boy from "Twilight" and put Jim Carray in the role of the principal and… well, I suppose they could probably still land Edie McClurg. Still, I'd be utterly furious if this were to happen.

7. The Breakfast Club. This is so primed for an awful remake I'm surprised it hasn't happened yet. But of all the movies that defined a generation of high-schoolers in the mid-80s, this one probably had the biggest impact, and it would be sacrilege to update it with Miley Cyrus and Zac Efron.

6. Top Gun/Cocktail/Risky Business/Days of Thunder. Remember when Tom Cruise wasn't a joke? Can we please honor that memory?

5. The Karate Kid. They're already talking about it, so no doubt it'll happen. I blame Jackie Chan.

4. The Princess Bride. There's only one Andre the Giant, and the movie cannot exist without him. That said, somewhere Shaq's agent is on the phone with Warner Brother pitching the idea.

3. Scarface. The best part about Scarface is that it is generally considered a good movie, but it's still so quintessentially '80s that it resonates well beyond the good parts and endures for all the over-the-top absurdity of it, too. And no one will ever do a bad Cuban accent as well as Pacino. Plus, every rapper and athlete to appear on MTV's "Cribs" would then have to go out and get a new poster framed.

2. Caddyshack. Ted Knight would roll over in his grave.

1. Field of Dreams. Imagine it: Tyler Perry as Terrence Mann (although the character will be changed to an overweight grandma instead). A washed-up Robert DeNiro as Moonlight Graham and Keanu Reeves as as Ray Kinsella.

Voice (played by Morgan Freeman, of course): "If you build it, he will come."
Keanu: "Dude?"
Voice: "If you build it, he will come."
Keanu: "I am an eff-bee-eye agent!"

Anonymous writes:
What obvious problems did you gloss over in your preseason coverage? How could you have dug deeper to investigate them? Did any of those problems have to do with morale and discipline?

David: I actually still maintain that morale this year was as good as it's been, all things considered. Obviously it would have been better had the team won 10 games, but given all they went through, it's impressive how much the team stayed together and fought on.

That said, I think I severely underestimated how big the losses of Matthew Stafford and Knowshon Moreno would be. I think I overestimated the impact that strong leadership would have. I think I made too large of an assumption that the O line would be great, a theory based in large part on assuming Trinton Sturdivant's knee would be healthy after significant surgery. I probably expected too much out of a couple of linebackers who hadn't yet proven they could succeed consistently and I definitely was too bullish on Richard Samuel and Carlton Thomas at tailback. And two words: Bryan Evans.

In my defense, those were all arguments that were sold with great enthusiasm by the team and coaches, but a calmer, more objective stance probably would have indicated that all should have remained bigger question marks than I probably made them out to be.

Obviously I don't expect to have a perfect track record, but this was probably a season that should have been approached with more skepticism than I allowed.

Richt Flair writes: Don't lie ... I know you are looking forward to the "This offseason has been our most intensizt evR!" quotes

David: Exactly! This season is going to be great. Hard work, enthusiasm, and finally Georgia is going to be rid of all those accomplished veterans who have been weighing the team down! (And this is definitely going to be the year Carlton Thomas breaks out!)

OK, check back tomorrow for Part II of the mailbag...


Anonymous said...

Scarface should never be remade? Really? You mean they should never remake a movie from the '80's that was already a remake? Cause that what the Al Pacino-Brian DePalma '80's "classic" was a remake of the 1930's Howard Hawks film.

If anything they should be working on a Scarface remake now that involves any of the following plotlines - roving dance gangs, internet crime, terrorism, viagra, and the Snuggie.

Chuck said...

"4. The Princess Bride. There's only one Andre the Giant, and the movie cannot exist without him. That said, somewhere Shaq's agent is on the phone with Warner Brother pitching the idea."

As a former musician, the score to that movie needs to be redone with real instruments. The original was done with synth and sounds awful.

Also, check out this incredible cover for the anniversary edition: (hint, look at it upside down)

Anonymous said...

Slap it up, flip it, rub it down. Oh no!!

do not resuscitate said...

What, no Back to the Future? (only the first two though). I mean, it would be impossible for anyone to replace Michael J. Fox in that role...impossible.

T-Rey594 said...

The thing that bothered me the most about this season, (aside from the obvious) was all of the fans who constantly said, "Richt needs to be more like a Saban, A Meyer, a Les Miles." Least we all forget, his personality was never an issue when we were winning 10 games or SEC championships. His faith and demeanor made us proud to have him as our coach. Personally, I don't want to see Richt embarrass his players on the sideline on national TV. Thats why we hire a DC that will.

Anonymous said...

A Karate Kid remake is filming right now with Jackie Chan and Will Smith's son.

Anonymous said...

Let's hope the Vic Koening rumors are just that. I don't want a friend of a friend (Bowden Family) leading my defense any longer.

kwame said...

How jealous Lane Kiffen must be of Tiger Woods for getting all this attention...Lane needs to get out there and start putting it in the mashed potatoes.

Anonymous said...

David, did I miss something or am I misreading your language here. In talking about this post with a friend it sounds like Smart has been offered the position and turned it down. Has that ship sailed and I missed that news completely, or am I just misinterpreting what I'm reading?



Anonymous said...

i know you're tired of this DC search, and by goodness i'm tired of following it. However, do us one favor: give us an updated handicap of the field at this point in time. you can give us numbers with no commentary, and you can put as many qualifiers on it as you want, tell us it's pure editorialization (with perhaps a few hunches/tips used to help you get there), etc. We all need something, and we're tired of the "my cousin's uncle has a friend who coaches in the ACC, and he said..."-nonsense. Let's hear it...

Dawgfan17 said...

About your answer saying that to get the best we have to risk the guy wanting to leave in a couple years, I am all for that. If we get the best and he does get a head coaching job in a few years it is probably because he did a great job turning around our defense around. If this does happen it will also make the job very attractive to other top guys who are on their way up. If it becomes a stepping stone to head coaches that is fine by me as it means the guys we are hiring are having great success.

dawgjammin said...


Anonymous said...

Dawgfan17, I think you misunderstand, we aren't alking about "a few years" with Smart. He may get a HC job before next year. If UGA does well next year (and along with SC with look pretty formidable in the East),k it is VERY likely he leaves after 1 year. If he does a good job, there is no doubt he would be gone in 2 years. The only way he would be here for several years is if UGA tanks on defense, in which case he would have been a bad hire.

NM said...

Not to get the rumor mill started on another school's coaching staff, but...

Butch Jones is apparently going to get the Cincinnati job (replacing Brian Kelly for the second time in three years...). Jones was previously at Central Michigan, as head coach or assistant, over the last ten years or so (except for a couple years at West Virginia, including the 2005 Sugar Bowl season).

Willie Martinez and John Jancek are both CMU veterans, and both would've been on staff with Butch for a number of years.

David, any guesses (or information) as to whether CWM or CJJ gets a call to be position coach or even DC at Cincy? I guess that's not technically the UGA beat but I'm sure most fans would like to see them end up with jobs elsewhere. (Unfortunately, I don't suppose either of them can provide much guidance if Jones coaches the bowl game...)

js said...

David I hope you read my comment on your Bud Foster post. Why is no one giving attention to Garner for DC?

David Hale said...

NM -- I'm thinking Cincy is a very likely landing place for at least one of them.

JS -- I mentioned Garner is this mailbag.