Say you’re a college team based in a Power Five league and you’re looking for a head coach. Being a team in a Power Five league, you’re aiming high. Here are the hires made this offseason:
Florida: Jim McElwain, 22-16 at Colorado State.
Kansas: David Beaty, wide receivers coach at Texas A&M.
Nebraska: Mike Riley, 93-80 in two stints at Oregon State.
Oregon State: Gary Andersen, 19-7 at Wisconsin and most recently a 59-0 loser to Ohio State.
Wisconsin: Paul Chryst, 19-19 at Pittsburgh.
See any home runs? I think McElwain has a chance in Gainesville, and Andersen could do well in Corvallis. But I don’t regard Riley as a fit in Lincoln, and I’ve seen nothing to make me think Chryst is even a replacement-level head coach. (As for Beaty: He’s said to be a demon recruiter.)
Michigan has yet to name a replacement for Brady Hoke — latest reports have the Wolverines sniffing around Les Miles — but the Maize and Blue could hire Nick Saban and the greater point would remain: Firing a coach is Step 1 of a two-step process. You then have to find somebody better.
I have no doubt that McElwain will be better than Will Muschamp — how could he not? — but I can’t say I see the new head ball coach at Florida as the next Urban Meyer or Steve Spurrier. And I’m aware that, in the wake of the Georgia Tech loss and the disappointment of getting stuck in the Belk Bowl against Todd Grantham, there’s unrest (again) regarding Georgia’s Mark Richt.
But I also note that Georgia just went 9-3 and that Oklahoma, picked No. 1 in the land by Sporting News and No. 4 in the Associated Press poll, was 8-4. And here’s what Sooners AD Joe Castiglione said to Travis Haney of ESPN Insider about grumblers: “You just want to tell them, people like that, ‘Who are you going to get that’s better than Bob Stoops?’ ”
There’s a part of me that wants to say the same to any disgruntled Georgia fans regarding Richt. There’s also another part — the part that watched Georgia lose to South Carolina but especially to Florida and to Georgia Tech — that believes the 2014 Bulldogs underachieved even without Todd Gurley for half their season. There was no excuse for being routed in Jacksonville. There was no rationale for kicking short with 18 seconds left against Tech.
Not for the first time, I’m struggling to reconcile my thoughts about Richt: I believe he is, in the main, a good coach; I also believe that Georgia loses a game or two it shouldn’t every season. (There will be more along those lines in something I’m written for Sunday’s AJC.) But if Richt were to leave today, I wonder if Georgia would find anyone better — indeed, anyone nearly as good.
(As threatened, here’s the something, via myajc: A tale of two coaches – reward for Johnson, regret for Richt.)