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What the Urban Meyer moves means for Georgia
The biggest news in the college football world came out of Columbus, Ohio on Tuesday, as Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer announced that he was stepping down from his position. We know that this space is reserved for information and topics pertaining to Georgia football, and we think the Meyer news certainly will affect Georgia in some way.
For starters, this move, in the short term, will make Georgia’s quest for a national title in 2019 a little easier. Ohio State isn’t going to be a trainwreck next season, but it is fair to think that it will take a slight step back given that new head coach Ryan Day has never been a head coach before. Even on a team as loaded as Ohio State, it’s not an easy transition going from coordinator to coach, as Georgia fans well know from Kirby Smart’s 8-5 debut campaign.
As Day grapples with the struggles of being a first time head coach, that should move one national title contender off the board. If Ohio State loses Heisman Trophy finalist Dwayne Haskins to the NFL draft — some have pegged him as a first round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft — it will be hard to see them being a real threat for the College Football Playoff next year. That should improve Georgia’s chances, even though the Bulldogs will still first have to focus on winning the SEC East and beating Alabama.
There’s also the recruiting front. Georgia and Ohio State are two of the three best recruiting programs in the country. Over the past four seasons, Ohio State is one of two teams to sign more blue chip (4 or 5-star recruits) prospects than Georgia. Georgia freshman Brenton Cox was a longtime Ohio State commit. Safety Richard LeCounte had the Buckeyes as his number two program before picking Georgia. The Buckeyes second highest rated commit for the 2019 class is 5-star center Harry Miller, who is from Buford, Ga.
While the Meyer news won’t likely shake up too much of the 2019 commitments, there are a number of 2020 prospects that both of these schools are battling for. There’s 5-star defensive end Bryan Breese, the nation’s top 2020 prospect. There’s also 5-star offensive guard Justin Rodgers, who both Ohio State and Georgia are recruiting very hard. With Meyer now out of the picture, it should make things easier for Smart and his assistants. While Ohio State will still be a recruiting power, Meyer was one of the nation’s best recruiters, and that’s not something Day will be able to replicate right away.
We already saw the first recruiting domino fall on Tuesday afternoon, as 2020 safety Lejond Cavazos announced his de-commitment from Ohio State. Georgia was recruiting Cavazos very hard prior to his commitment back in June.
Please respect my decision… pic.twitter.com/xU3YyIcqkE
— Lejond Cavazos (@lejondaryy) December 4, 2018
Meyer was a long-time pain for Georgia going back to his Florida days. He dominated the Georgia-Florida rivalry before stepping away from Florida, and then eventually ending up at Ohio State. While Georgia and Ohio State have only truly overlapped these last two years in terms of competing for College Football Playoff berths, Meyer in a way did impact the end of Georgia’s 2017 season. Say Ohio State doesn’t inexplicably lose to Iowa last season, 55-24. The Buckeyes would’ve finished the season 11-1 and almost certainly made the College Football Playoff over a non-SEC champion Alabama. If that happens then maybe Georgia wins the national title after beating Ohio State or Clemson in the national title game.
Georgia fans, along with many other college football fans, should be happy to no longer have to deal with Meyer, given that he’s won three national titles. But he was very unpopular with fans outside of Columbus, especially after his handling of the domestic violence situation regarding former Ohio State assistant Zach Smith.
The Bulldogs will still have to keep the main thing, the main thing in 2019 and beyond, but the room for college football’s elite programs just got a little less crowded thanks to Meyer’s exit.
Please let Georgia Tech hire Ken Whisenhunt
Another coaching situation that Georgia fans should be keeping an eye on is the one at Georgia Tech. It was reported on Tuesday that the Yellow Jackets had offered current Los Angeles Chargers offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt the head coaching job. If that’s the case and he were to accept the job, Georgia fans should be thrilled and maybe even offer to pick Whisenhunt up from the airport.
Whisenhunt reportedly interviewed for the job on Monday. He is a Georgia Tech alum, but Whisenhunt’s coaching record is very spotty. The last time he was a head coach was for the Tennessee Titans during the 2014 and 2015 seasons. He lasted 23 games, and went 3-20 in those games. He did lead the Arizona Cardinals to the Super Bowl in 2008, but was fired just four years later. He has just two winning seasons in his eight years as a head coach at the NFL level.
And there’s the fact that he hasn’t been a college coach since 1996, when he worked at Vanderbilt. Last offseason, Arizona State made a similar move with it’s coaching hire, as the Sun Devils hired Herm Edwards, a long-time NFL coach who last coached in college in 1989. Arizona State outperformed expectations this year, going 7-5.
But for every Edwards, there’s a Brian Schottenheimer, another long-time NFL assistant with limited college coaching experience. Georgia hired Schottenheimer to replace Mike Bobo as offensive coordinator before the 2015 season and it was a disaster for the Bulldogs. The offense plummeted from 30th to 83rd in total offense, and the offensive struggles were a big reason UGA ended up moving on from Richt and Schottenheimer after the conclusion of the 2015 season.
Georgia fans know that if Georgia Tech hired the right coach, the Yellow Jackets could become a real pain for Georgia and it’s aspirations. But if the Yellow Jackets hire Whisenhunt? Well, Georgia Tech fans might soon be longing for the days of the triple option offense, while Georgia fans continue to enjoy big wins in the rivalry.
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