Back to the Drawing Board

ATHENS – Mark Richt will have to go back to the drawing board – it is a location he's getting used to.

Nick Saban made a quick statement at a press conference today – saying that Smart would stick with the Tide.

"Kirby is going to be staying here at the University of Alabama with us," Saban said today. And just like that it Saban had squashed the hopes of Georgia finding their next defensive coordinator.

After an aggressive push for Smart, and talking in depth about the position to Bud Foster and John Chavis – where does that leave an empty-handed Georgia? That's becoming the head scratcher of the new decade.

This search seems to be a somewhat similar replay of the basketball coaching search. That search seemed discombobulated – this one has certainly suddenly become the same way – but all coaching searches seem that way… or do they?

Florida and Georgia Tech, both, managed to replace their defensive coordinators in no time. Now, the circumstances were different: Charlie Strong left on his own for another job – and didn't get that job until the middle of December. Virginia could not have shoved Al Groh out the door faster. He was quite available – unlike Smart, Foster and Chavis. Nonetheless, Georgia's two biggest rivals have certainly been more effective about filling that role.

Then again, the timeliness of this hire will not really matter if the new defensive coordinator is in place before spring football. As it relates to recruiting – you don't want to wait forever… then again, picking the wrong choice means the new defensive coordinator and even Richt himself won't be coaching the 2010 class in the future anyway. As it specifically relates to recruiting, Richt can only care so much about this hire. He has to move forward with the coach part… recruiting is secondary for the moment. Besides, Georgia's 2010 class is nearly full, and Smart probably was not going to add any new recruits to Georgia's 2010 class anyway.

Richt needs to hire a coach, and he needs to do it sometime soon. But more important than time – he needs to make the correct choice. Richt set his sights on three of the top or hottest defensive coordinators in the country… all thought about it and all three passed.

It could be time to take a longer look around. There would be nothing wrong with Richt getting on a plane and heading to the coaches' convention in Orlando… there folks he's already familiar with could express their interest in person – perhaps a better way to do business than over the phone. He could also gauge just how attractive the job is – I remember reading how big the defensive coordinator job is at Georgia… so far it's not quite as attractive a spot as some might have thought.

Two years ago no one would have thought about Kirby Smart being the defensive coordinator at Georgia. There is a right fit out there – finding that person became Richt's job as soon as he severed ties with the embattled Willie Martinez. He chose this path – and it was the right one to go on. In the end, Richt's focus must be on the result of the process – not the process itself – leave that, as always, to the crazies (and I include myself in their with the crazies) on the message boards.

Search fatigue has hit the Bulldog Nation. For a moment it seemed like Bud Foster. For a day it seemed like John Chavis. For a weekend it was almost certainly Kirby Smart. Now, after what feels like an exhausting six weeks, Richt is back to the drawing board again… home sweet home.

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