Well I’m glad I was able to vent yesterday on my post about UGA and Mark Richt parting ways. I know, and somewhat respect, most peoples opinions on the future of Mark Richt. The people I don’t are the idiots that pop off dumb ass comments to get a rise and have no knowledge of football. Listen, making a change after 15 years of anything is hard enough, but when you’re talking a Head Coaching change in the SEC… hell that has divided more families than the Ashley Madison leak.
So now that I’ve stated where I stand on the current situation at Georgia, lets move on and “humor” ourselves to see who could be a potential replacement IF, (and that’s a big IF) CMR’s 15 year tenure comes to an end. There are several names that could be candidates but I’m going to tell you about the two that would be the best options and make the most sense.
Jeremy Pruitt – Defensive Coordinator – University of Georgia
Pros: Pruitt is only in his 2nd season with Georgia. He has a proven track record with programs that have won National Championships (Alabama 2011 & 2012, Florida State 2013). Pruitt has great relationships and ties to HS coaches in the Southeast and is know as one of the best recruiters in College Football.
Cons: No Head Coaching experience. Reports of rifts with the Athletic Department and other coaches.
My Take: Personally I think this is you make. Pruitt is waiting for the right Head Coaching offer to come, and it could be any time now. There are 3 main reason he would be great for UGA. First, Pruitt is a proven winner. Yes he hasn’t been the head guy on any of those teams, or for any team for that matter, but there is something to be said for being an integral part in 3 straight National Championships. Two, Pruitt also gives you a different personality. This has been a complaint by Dawg fans for years. We’ve all heard the comments that have been thrown around: He’s soft, too conservative, too nice, not enough emotion, etc. Pruit gives you some more “fire”. He’s still the nice guy off the field like you have to be for parents and recruits, but he shows his emotions on the field. Is that always better? No, take a look at Will Muschamp. But Georgia has to go in with a different personality. Finally, Pruitt knows and has a relationship the current recruiting class. The main reason I keep hearing over and over on why we need to keep Richt is “We’ve got this great class coming in led by Jacob Eason”. Problem solved. Will we lose a recruit or two? Probably. Could we gain a recruit or two? Probably. Will we lose Eason? Doubt it. He’s a hard commit that has been committed for nearly 2 years and has recruited others. As long as there is no drastic change, Eason should still be a Dawg in January. My last thought on Pruitt is if he doesn’t have some “hand shake” deal that he is the coach in waiting, then he will be gone in the next year or two anyways. He’s too hot of a name and too good of a coach. His time is coming and hope it’s not another SEC school.
Kirby Smart – Defensive Coordinator- University of Alabama
Pros: DC of 2 National Championship teams at Alabama. Also one of the top recruiters in the country with Southeastern ties. Voted Assistant Coach of the Year in ’09 and ’12. And we all know he’s a former UGA player
Cons: No Head Coaching experience. Is he and his Defense a product of Nick Saban? Highest paid assistant coach in the country.
My Take:The pros and cons as well as my opinions on Kirby are very similar to Pruitt. He’s a proven winner. Kirby Smart has been the DC at Alabama since 2008 so he has coached 2 National Championship winning teams. Smart has been a hot name for four or five years now with nearly every HC opening. I’m pretty sure he’s just been waiting for the right one and if his Alma Mater isn’t it, I don’t what what is. He’s year in and year out ranked as one of the best recruiters and the talent he has coached and produced at Alabama speaks for itself. I don’t see Georgia losing many if any current commits. Chances are he know these players very well because he’s been recruiting them as well. Again, like Pruitt, Kirby Smart will give you a different more intense personality that I believe is needed. If Georgia waits too long on Kirby then they also could miss out on a great heir to Mark Richt to another SEC school (South Carolina). No doubt that if it came down to Georgia and the other current openings at South Carolina, Virginia Tech, or Miami…he would be a Dawg.
Other Candidates to Consider:
Gary Patterson – HC TCU – He’s long shot but is an interesting candidate that you would have to call.
Justin Fuente – HC Memphis – I think too many uneducated football fans are gonna say WHO? Fuente is 18-3 in the past 2 years at Memphis. His team is currently 8-0 and ranked #13 with a huge win over Ole Miss. He also has a 6’7 QB that might be a 1st round pick. Anyways, I think he will be an excellent HC for a big program but I don’t think he is the right name or guy to replace Richt.
Tom Herman HC Houston – The former Ohio State OC under Urban Meyer is Houston team is currently 8-0 and ranked #18 in the Nation. Oh and it’s his first year as a head coach. But he may fall into the WHO category like Fuente.
Chad Morris HC SMU– Again, a hot name after his success at Clemson’s OC but he’s currently 1-7 at SMU and that shit ain’t gonna fly…not for this job.
Mark Dantonio HC Michigan State – Another long shot but you gotta ask right? Two downsides though…he’s 59 and lacks Southeastern ties for recruiting.
Now I know most people are going to say…”None of these guys are better than Mark Richt”. That may be true. But you can’t always think that way. Mark Richt came into a mess at Georgia and resurrected the program into having the expectations we have today. I get it, “the grass isn’t always greener” and “Be careful what you wish for”. We’ve all heard those cliche’s before and you know what, that might be the case. What we do know is that Mark Richt has done a great job making Georgia the program it is today. But we also know Georgia has shit the bed over and over and fucking over again in big games. The record of 14-26 vs Ranked Opponents since our last SEC Championship speaks for itself. Do I expect to win all those games? Of course not. But what I’m tired of, is going into these big games and dreading the outcome because of what history has taught me.
Again, I’m not saying Mark Richt is a bad coach…He’s a great coach. What I am saying is that it’s time for a change for both CMR and UGA. Trust me I wish this would have worked out in the sense of a National Championship. Unfortunately it didn’t and I don’t see what else he can do to get Georgia over that hump. I don’t know if the replacement (whoever and whenever that is) will be able to get us there but it’s time to find out.
With Jeremy Pruitt and Kirby Smart it’ll soften the blow from separating from someone as successful as Richt. At the same time, with either, you are getting one of the most coveted candidate in the past decade and both are Georgia Guys.