There are two ways to look at the apparent departure of Georgia offensive line coach Stacy Searels for the Texas Longhorns. And for once it seems that the more fiery elements of Georgia’s fan base, the ones who want major shakeups across the board on Georgia’s coaching staff after last year’s embarrassing 6-7 finish, are taking the glass-half-full view. They see the Dawgs’ declining run production over the last couple seasons — which in 2010 had a lot to do with the line’s inability to control the trenches — and don’t find anything in Searels’ body of work to get particularly worked up about. Have a nice life, they’re saying, and we’ll go out and get someone better.
The other side, though, looks at a coach bolting to take a lateral move — at a team that had an even worse 2010 season than Georgia did, no less — and smells trouble. Is Searels leaving because he was frustrated with Georgia’s subpar strength and conditioning program and wasn’t enthused about the choice of Joe Tereshinski Jr. to take things over? Or does he simply see Mark Richt as being a potential dead man walking and wants to move to a more stable program while there’s still time? Neither casts the security of the Richt regime in a particularly positive light.
The truth probably has more to do with money than anything else — Texas is one of the few programs in the country with the cash on hand to pay their OL coach substantially more than Georgia — but there are also personalities at play here. It’s not exactly a closely guarded secret that Searels’ relationships with a number of his fellow assistants were prickly at best, with offensive coordinator Mike Bobo being just one of the people he didn’t see eye-to-eye with. Take the opportunity for a salary increase, add the personality conflicts, and throw in the fact that, yes, Mark Richt’s job situation isn’t exactly cushy right now, and you have a career jump that, while unexpected, seems perfectly reasonable.
So what now for the Dawgs? Well, they need a new OL coach, and it just so happens there’s a pretty good one who was serving as Vanderbilt’s head coach up until a few weeks ago. Robbie Caldwell seems a likely candidate for the Georgia shortlist, and oh, what a wonderful world it would be if his awesome sound bites and incomparable turkey-breeding skills managed to find a home in Athens. However, Mark Richt would do well to take a look at Caldwell’s own OL coach, Herb Hand, who has worked with the high-flying offenses of both Rich Rodriguez and Gus Malzahn and has some interesting sound bites of his own to boot. Either way, while the Georgia line coach search probably won’t make quite as many banner headlines as last year’s defensive coordinator search did, it may not be all that far off, either. Stay tuned.