January 10th, 2011 03:51 PM║ Posted By: John Pennington ║ Permalink
║ Schools: Georgia, LSU
Tags: Ann Arbor, Liberty Bowl, Miami, Ron Seibel
Some call it “staying one step ahead of the posse.” Some say it’s just a matter of “getting while the getting’s good.” Either way, Mark Richt and Les Miles should both have leaving on their minds.
In December, we wrote that Richt should pursue the then-open Colorado and/or Miami head coaching jobs. The Dean of SEC Coaches, Richt has almost worn out his welcome in Athens. His team finished 6-7 in 2010 and laid a major egg in the Liberty Bowl against UCF. Last week his new boss — athletic director Greg McGarity — had to ask UGA backers to keep making donations to the athletic department for the sake of all the Bulldogs’ other programs. In other words, don’t hurt the track team just because you’re mad about the football team.
That’s a bad situation for Richt. Good luck finding another coach not named Paterno who’s lost a comparable amount of fan support only to survive, rebound and become popular again long-term. It doesn’t happen. So at this point, Richt is likely just delaying the inevitable.
Ron Seibel of The Macon Telegraph seems to agree:
“Unless Georgia can get some things done and seriously contend for the SEC East title, things likely will get ugly in Athens at the then end of the 2011 season. A coaching change likely will be forced upon the program should the Bulldogs turn in another mediocre season, and nobody comes out looking good in that situation.
And while very few are saying that Richt needs to leave right now, would it be better for all involved for Richt to take one of the high profile positions that are currently available and leave Athens with his reputation and image intact?”
Seibel mentions a couple of schools that might welcome Richt should he take an interest in them — Stanford and Michigan. Unfortunately, Richt’s best escape route might have been at Miami. As an alum, if Richt had raised his hand it’s likely The U would have tabbed him as its new head coach.
You tell me, who would Hurricane fans have felt better about: Richt or Al Golden?
But Richt elected to remain loyal to Georgia. He’ll probably pay for that next season.
Emerson mentioned the Michigan job as a possibility for Richt, but that job is expected to go to either LSU’s Miles or San Diego State’s Brady Hoke. Both are Michigan men.
If his alma mater tries to call him home, Miles should jump at the opportunity to exit Baton Rouge on a high note.
Despite a rich recruiting base and a gaudy contract, things will never be as good for Miles on The Bayou as they were in 2007. Never. Miles followed up that BCS championship season with a 17-9 two-year stretch. As a result, The Hat found himself on a warming seat entering 2010. A bungled near-loss to Tennessee cost him even more fan support in October.
An 11-2 finish and a big Cotton Bowl win have cooled the anti-Miles wolves for now… but how long before they start howling again?
Unless he expects to beat Nick Saban each year and compete for SEC titles every single season — and that’s tough to do, folks… ask Alabama and Florida fans — Miles should re-start his coaching clock by heading home to Ann Arbor.
In the current environment, coaches can’t afford to spend too many years in one place. It’s become common for coaches to be hired and fired in laughably short three-year cycles. Fans want big victory totals year-in and year-out in exchange for hikes in ticket prices, parking prices and concession prices. So if a successful coach has a chance to move from one good job to another, he should take it. End of story.
Richt blew his chance to go back to his alma mater. If given the choice, Miles should avoid making the same mistake.
(SIDENOTE — We originally attributed the column from The Macon Telegraph to Seth Emerson… as it appeared in a spot usually filled with Emerson takes. However, this particular column was penned by Ron Seibel. Our mistake and our apologies to both Seibel and Emerson for crediting one with the other’s views.)
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