Options for Georgia if it decides to replace coach Mark Richt
It’s not hard to find an opinion on the future of Georgia coach Mark Richt these days.
I don’t think we’re particularly close to a decision on his status, but just in case all the smoke around the program leads to his firing — or he walks away to go coach his alma mater, Miami — here are six potential candidates to replace him in Athens, in no particular order (after the first name, that is):
1. Kirby Smart — Is there a coaching search list that the Alabama defensive coordinator isn’t on? All of the big name schools will be lining up for him. To date, Smart has turned down all suitors. But one wonders what he’d say if his alma mater came calling. He’s an outstanding defensive coach with ties to the school and enough sense to hire an offensive-minded guy to run things on that side of the ball. In the “Georgia needs a new coach” scenario, Smart should be the first call.
2. Doc Holliday — He’s probably done all he can at Marshall, which was bring that program back from the dead and into the top 25 discussion every season. He’s 48-26 in his sixth year with the Thundering Herd and is a spotless 3-0 in bowl games. He played linebacker for West Virginia but is also an excellent offensive coach and top-notch recruiter. Plus, he has a cool name.
3. Greg Schiano — OK, his NFL stint with Tampa Bay was a disaster, but he rebuilt a Rutgers team from a doormat to a team that reached five straight bowl games and earned its first national ranking in 30 years. And he never had access to the recruiting pipeline and facilities he would at Georgia. He’s a good college coach, and I think he’d do well for the Bulldogs.
4. Bill O’Brien — It seems he’s about to flame out in the NFL as well, but the job he did at Penn State in the wake of the sex scandal was simply amazing. He was 15-9 in two seasons with the Nittany Lions despite a postseason ban and a reduction in scholarships. He’s a bright offensive mind with a good pedigree (Bill Belichick coaching tree). And he wouldn’t be overwhelmed by the scope of the Georgia job.
5. Justin Fuente — Another hot name on most coaching lists, the Memphis coach is having his best season at exactly the right time. His Tigers are unbeaten in 2015 and have won 18 of their last 21 games. He’s a young coach with a good offensive mind (from his days as an Oklahoma quarterback) and lots of energy. He’s going to be wearing some other polo shirt next fall, and he might be worth the risk in Athens.
6. Chip Kelly — Hard to imagine that a guy that’s 23-16 in his first two-plus seasons in the NFL might be in trouble, but that’s exactly where the former Oregon coach finds himself in Philadelphia. He’s an offensive mastermind that won big at Oregon, and if the Eagles miss the postseason again, he may be looking to pull the ripcord on his professional venture this winter. This is a selfish entry, really. I’d just love to see how that offense would play week in and week out in the SEC.