Georgia Football: Top Five Potential Replacements For Mark Richt

Eric BowmanFeatured ColumnistSeptember 30, 2010

Georgia Football: Top Five Potential Replacements For Mark Richt

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    That face says it allKevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Let’s face it; this season hasn’t been what we all expected. A new athletic director might not be too keen on a mediocre season. And Mark Richt has been mediocre for a few years now.

    No SEC Championship since 2005 and never in the National Title game. He had his chances and he came up short. Some fans can live with that, but can the athletic department?

    There still is a lot of football remaining, but in my eyes it’s going to be really hard for him to save his job. Greg McGarity cannot be happy with Georgia football at the moment.

    So if he does make a move and Mark Richt is let go, here are five potential replacements for him. 

5. Jon Gruden

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    It's been awhile since he's graced the sidelines. Does he make a return soon?Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    He won a Super Bowl, and was a big time NFL coach. Everybody knows his name, which could help in recruiting. He turned down Tennessee after the Lane Kiffin blow up. 

    He did recently extend his contract with ESPN, but loves developing young players. Can he really stay away from coaching this long?

    He started his coaching career as an assistant at Tennessee. Gruden bounced from college to college, went to the NFL, came back to college then eventually became head coach for the Raiders, then won a Super Bowl with the Bucs.

    Gruden is an offensive guru, which could certainly help the woes at UGA. Not to mention bring in the discipline that is needed. Gruden has to be itching to coach again, and there’s lots of talent currently at Georgia and more on the way.

    He may be happy analyzing NFL on Monday night, but for a guy who has coached at both levels for so long it makes sense for him to get back into it. Whether that be Georgia or back in the NFL remains to be seen.

    But why not a challenge Gruden? Come to Georgia and be the main guy. He would clean house and crack the whip on these pups. Georgia would be a dominant force once again with Gruden at the helm. 

4. Gary Patterson

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    Patterson is ready for a bigger and better conferenceRonald Martinez/Getty Images

    Patterson is 88-28 at TCU, and has six 10-win seasons.  He’s given TCU national attention over the past few years. In 2009 he was AP Coach of Year, the first head coach of a non-BCS school to win that award.  He was awarded seven total “coach of year awards” in 2009.

    A few years ago he turned down $2 million a year to coach Minnesota. Georgia would pay close if not more than that to get whatever coach they wanted. Plus it’s the SEC, not the lowly Big 10.

    Patterson will lose some key players at the end of this season. His quarterback Andy Dalton is a senior and the top receivers on the team, Jeremy Kerley and Bart Johnson, are seniors as well.  Four of five starters from the offensive line are seniors, and seven starters on D are seniors as well.

    With that many players leaving, Patterson would have to rebuild. He may to peace out and come to a big SEC team like Georgia. Think about it, would you rather rebuild a TCU team, or come to Georgia that’s loaded with talent? The talent just needs the right coaching, which Patterson can do. 

3. Chris Petersen

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    It's time for Petersen to leave Boise for major programGeoff Burke/Getty Images

    Petersen has only had one head coaching job. That would be Boise State, where he is 52-4 since taking over for Dan Hawkins. He was awarded the Bear Bryant Coach of the Year in 2006 and 2009. He can recruit well and has put Boise in the national spotlight. Perhaps leading them to national championship this year?

    Much like Patterson, Petersen is losing some key players this year. Titus Young and Austin Pettis, the top wide receivers for Boise, are seniors. Kellen Moore is a junior, and could leave early for the draft after his Heisman campaign this season. 

    There are also five starting seniors on defense. Special teams would also take a hit as the kicker and punter are seniors as well.

    Losing that many players come season's end, Petersen may want to jump ship to a bigger more prestigious conference. Georgia would be a good fit for him. He knows how to recruit out West, which is loaded with talent. He’s a fine coach, and I’m sure his recruiting would translate well on the East Coast

    A chance to coach a major program and restore Georgia to the top of the SEC, should be incentive enough for Petersen to move.

2. Will Muschamp

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    He's fired up! You'd see that a whole lot more if he coached at GeorgiaBrian Bahr/Getty Images

    Muschamp walked on and played safety for Georgia in early 90’s. He was born in Rome, GA. And is coach in waiting at Texas…Mack Brown’s contract ends in 2016. Why would he wait that long?

    Muschamp is currently the defensive coordinator at Texas. He played with Mike Bobo so he might stay, and Todd Grantham may stay as well. Or Muschamp can clean house and bring in his people. The choice would be all his, as UGA has a blank check to write for whatever coach they want.

    Georgia would love a former player to come in and restore them to the tough SEC defense it needs to be. Muschamp can lay the law down and make sure these arrests stop occurring. His players respect him, and Texas is well-disciplined.

    He had previous head coaching offers from Clemson, Auburn, and Tennessee but turned them down to stay at Texas. It would be very hard for this Georgia boy to turn the Bulldogs down.

    His wife is from Georgia as well. I’m sure they would love for their two sons to grow up in the peach state. His brother coaches high school football here as well. It would be an intelligent move for him to come to Georgia.

1. Kirby Smart

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    Georgia could use a familiar face on the sidelinesGetty Images/Getty Images

    He also played at Georgia in the 90’s and was a defensive back. Smart is currently the defensive coordinator at Alabama, where he won a national championship in his second year.  Georgia tried to get him to be their DC for this year, but it just ended up getting him a pay raise.

    He’s learning under Nick Saban, one of the best in the country.   He has coached at Georgia twice before, in '99 and in '05. Come 2011 could he be a head coach? It’s the only way he’d leave 'Bama.  Smart’s wife played basketball at UGA, and I’m sure she wouldn’t mind them coming back to Athens.

    Smart has followed Saban from LSU to Miami, and then to Alabama. It’s time for him to venture on his own and be a head coach. No prior experience as a head coach before, but learning from the best I think he would be okay.  He won the Frank Broyles Award in 2009, given to the best assistant coach. People say it’s all Saban at 'Bama, but Smart contributes as well.

    He has a hand in recruiting, despite what people say. After all he did help UGA land Knowshon Moreno. Georgia would love more players like that. He could also help recruit in the state of Georgia, primarily South Georgia, something Richt struggles with.

    Smart is from South Georgia, and is well liked down there. Currently there are 19 players from the state of Georgia on ESPNU’s top 150. Only four have committed to Georgia. Seven are in the top 50 ( six from South Georgia), and none of them have chosen Georgia. Granted there still is time left, but Smart would be able to land these guys much sooner.

    If Richt is to go, McGarity should chose the Smart choice. 'Bama’s doing pretty well, and why not go after who is in charge of the best defense in the country. Bama lost nine defensive starters last year, and they’re still really good. Smart has been a factor in that. Bring him to Georgia and he can restore them to the top.