Sunday evening is going to be busy. Once bowls are announced plans will start to finalize all over the place. We should find out our bowl destination, gain a clearer picture of coaches that will be helping the players prepare for the bowl, as well as which coaches are planning to join Kirby Smart. Specifically, who is staying and who is going? Also, who will be the coordinators and what coaches do they prefer to bring with them and how that matches up with current staff that want to stay.
Whew. And by the way, before we delve into Smart’s potential staff, I’m very happy for Bryan McClendon. Former Richt player carrying the torch for his former boss’ last team in their last game of the season. Of course it would have been nice to see Richt on the sideline one more time in red and black. But it just didn’t play out that way.
Okay. I’ve seen a lot of strong opinions (myself included) over the possibility of Smart wanting Muschamp to coordinate the defense. This doesn’t excite me for two reasons: namely that I don’t recall having a whole lot of trouble with his defense the times we’ve gone up against Auburn. Sure, Florida’s defenses while he was the head coach there were a different story. So maybe I should cut him some slack. But, the guy’s also a little bonkers. I mean there’s such a thing as intense motivational tactics and then there’s out of control hissy fits that can cost the team penalties, yards, and focus.
However, if this is who Smart wants, who are we to judge? Kirby has waited a long time for this opportunity and should fill his staff with people he wants coaching alongside him.
Defense aside, the offensive coordinator is probably Smart’s biggest decision. I heard Coach Donnan talking about the roster Richt left behind. My brief summation of it would be that the defense is full of young talent and the offense has Sony Michel and hopefully Nick Chubb…
Talk about Eason all you want, but if he ends up coming to Athens (and I think that he will) and he evolves sooner rather than later as the starter, he’s going to need time to develop. That’s why I’m hoping some of the transfers that come out of this coaching change (and I’m sure we’ll have a few) aren’t at the quarterback position.
The name that comes to mind first is Faton Bauta. Can’t think of a better player to put on display the work ethic Eason will need to emulate if he’s to become this world beater people have made him out to be. But given the circumstances, it’s hard to imagine not seeing some attrition at the quarterback position.
Changing channels a bit, Smart is looking to bring in a staff (not just coaches, a staff) that can stand up to anyone off the field. Yes, his success as a head coach is yet to be determined. How will he manage the game, timeouts, the referees, fourth down decisions…? Those are things that, for the most part, have been managed and micro-managed for him until next Fall. But recruiting, strength and conditioning, player development, game planning...all areas that Georgia fans should be excited about, immensely.
Now, some names:
- On offense, appears that Thomas Brown is favored to remain and the feeling may be reciprocated. McClendon and Lilly are more of a question that will probably be determined by the coordinator hire. Although it would be a shame to lose either as they’ve been in Athens so long and are established recruiters, again it comes down to guys that are the best fit for Smart’s first staff.
- On defense, Muschamp is interviewing with South Carolina and (as we talked about the other day) Pruitt may not even want to stay. Sherrer has been mentioned as one that Smart wants to retain. Rocker seems 50/50.
- Staff. Cochran would be a huge get for Smart. And it’s being treated as a foregone conclusion that Bama’s S&C guru is leaving for Athens. But like we’ve said, Saban will put up a fight. After all, the only time I’ve seen Nick honestly, genuinely smile, is when he was talking about Scott Cochran. In the end, friendships between the Smart and Cochran families may (hopefully) run deeper than professional respect. And surely (hopefully) the UGA boosters that have put this all in play wouldn’t balk at competing salary-wise. Surely.
- Also, the mysterious Glen Schumann, as Football Scoop describes as the “well-hidden gear in machine” that is Alabama’s defensive dominance. Can Smart lure him away as well? If you’re scoffing at the thought of spending any time worrying about a staff assistant, if Schumann is important enough in Alabama’s defense to Saban to include in the game planning, there’s no question he’d be someone Smart would want by his side as he transitions from coordinator to head coach.
That’s a lot to chew on. And like you, I’m sure tired of all the speculation and back and forth. I was a little surprised Smart is (allegedly) staying with Alabama through the post-season. But I also recognize he’s been there for many years. If Saban wants him to continue, I’m sure Smart is compelled to stay.