Where to Turn Now for an Embarrassed UGAA?

There are several choices for the UGAA to consider and after the Matta rejection, it is clearly Amateur Hour.

It’s time to doubt the competence of the UGAA in terms of their ability to fill this Georgia Basketball Head Coaching vacancy.  What the UGAA may be considering and why it is a terrible or good idea is the next step.  There are consequences for every action and they need to be considered, but this is not a group that has handled this vacancy with the proper discretion and secrecy it deserves.

The Alienating Choice:  Tom Crean

You want to make a lot of people angry inside Butts-Mehre, hire Tom Crean.  Tom Crean is known to be extremely difficult to work with and has a reputation of being a serious pill.  UGA Athletics is run by Good Ol’ Boys with an extremely conservative streak, Tom Crean will wear out his welcome very early with alumni and The Powers That Be.  There will be a united front to remove him.

Crean’s known for his teams having a strong offense, but being extremely turnover prone and defensively unsound.  He’s quirky in a way that makes the institution look like a punchline.  The constant clapping combined with pants readjustments that seem borderline pornographic are enough of a visual to not warrant this consideration.

However, this is a group that clearly has no idea what they are doing.  They are doing it for a sport that they rightfully have been accused of neglecting.  The UGAA is looking to throw money at a coach to make the critics go away.  That’s what the choice of Tom Crean is for Georgia.  He’s not a serious candidate and if he is, he’s the cancer that they deserve.  The results will not be mindblowing, but the alienation will be far beyond anyone that has been in Athens.

The Young Gun who is likely Felton 2.0 Choice:  Earl Grant

Earl Grant is five years older than Jonas Hayes.  Earl Grant being the next Head Coach assures that Jonas Hayes will coach at another program.  Grant will have to assemble his own staff from scratch.

Earl Grant coached teams are slow and to compare him against other coaches, it justifies the claim.  The teams have poor ball movement and Grant was highly reliant upon hero ball because the ball movement and movement without the ball was weak.  Grant’s teams have declined in pace of play every season he has been in Charleston.

Grant is an endorsement of the same old, same old in Athens.  It is a playing style that will make everyone wonder, “Haven’t we seen this all before?”  The answer is of course, “Yes.”

Brad Brownell is Earl Grant with more success.  That would be a splashier hire since Clemson is a #5 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

There are those who want to point out Kevin Willard’s issues with Isaiah Whitehead and Tiny Morton as it relates to the FBI Investigation, but the timeline of events does not readily support that Willard had involvement or even that the money was transmitted when Whitehead was in South Orange.  If you have a problem with Willard though, then you should disqualify Earl Grant on similar grounds.  Why?  K.J. McDaniels was named in the FBI investigation as receiving money from Christian Dawkins.  Earl Grant was an Assistant Coach when he was at Clemson. 

If Northeastern did not choke a 17 point lead by trying to play stall ball in the CAA Tournament Final, would we be considering Earl Grant?

The Exciting Brand of Basketball and Pedigreed Choice:  Joe Dooley

Joe Dooley is the Head Coach at Florida Gulf Coast and they were knocked out of the NIT at Oklahoma State last night.  (35 year old Mike Boynton is a very good coach himself, but he would never be considered and that’s a shame.)  Dooley’s teams are exciting and Dooley has a great recruiting track record up and down the East Coast during his time at Kansas under Bill Self.  Dooley adjusts very well to his talent and the style of play would absolutely excite the current roster.

Whether Dooley gets a call is unknown, but he’s 53 years old and this would help his case with Greg McGarity.

The Former Professional Basketball Coach Choice:  Eric Musselman

Yes, this means poaching another Nevada Head Coach.  However, Musselman has a different resume than Mark Fox.  Musselman turned around the Nevada program after David Carter left it in the ditch.  Mark Fox’s Nevada program was on the slow decline while Nevada is now a #7 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

Musselman’s teams play at a brisk pace and have a very robust offense.  The defense is above-average, but the elite offense more than covers it.  Musselman’s NBA experience and ability to attract recruits and transfers to Reno is worth noting.

Plus, his wife Danyelle Sargent-Musselman is from Atlanta.  You might recognize her from being on television as a reporter for ESPN, Fox Sports and NFL Network.  Based on Penn State Football Coach James Franklin’s standards of staffing, Musselman would be the first choice.

The Choice That’s Underneath Our Noses:  Jonas Hayes

Why pursue a young coach when Jonas Hayes is right there waiting?  Inexperienced?  Sure.  He’s never been a Head Coach, but the good news is that with the money saved on hiring Hayes, the money can be ploughed into hiring experienced and connected Assistant Coaches.  With the right mentor in Jonas Hayes’ ear, the ambassador of Georgia Basketball remains and he becomes a rallying point for Bulldog Nation.

The players love Jonas Hayes and the recruits want to play for him.  Hayes would be a radical departure from Fox because he knows that he can do it his way.

Compare this to hiring a Mid-Major Coach like Earl Grant, which is the same formula as the last two hires.  Grant is a defensive-minded coach who plays a slow pace and teams look offensively disjointed.  It’s a continuation of the past.  Why spend more than $2 Million on a coach who will deliver similar results and have to work to rally the base or even fail to rally the base?  This would be a hire that is intended to throw spaghetti at the wall and hope it sticks, a perceived set it and forget it solution.

The choice is right there, an up-and-coming coach who knows what works and what does not.  People will show up to see Hayes succeed.  Hayes will have mentors guide him along the way to avoid the pitfalls that his predecessors experienced.  It’s about getting everyone to buy-in and nobody can do that like Jonas Hayes.

Hayes is not guaranteed to succeed, but there are a lot of things going for him that will prevent him from being another Mark Fox or Dennis Felton.  The Kirby Smart comparison is not apt, but the Courtney Kupets Carter comparison is.


  1. Great for Coach Matta and maybe, in a roundabout way, great for us, too. They are lazy dullards who want to throw money at a problem rather than taking the time to build something that could last. The good news is that I don’t think this is yet a dumpster fire- Crean would be. Agree concerning the humanoid group they’ve hired to select a coach- their criteria shows that their number one goal is risk aversion. No vision.This *might* make the dinosaurs open up their minds a bit- ruling out younger ,brighter minds because they are “risky” is just plain stupid…..unless you are unserious and would prefer losing your own way to changing with the times and getting better results.

  2. I love this site but I couldn’t disagree more with this article. First, Tom Crean is a quality coach. He would bring an exciting brand of basketball to Athens, and has been to a Final Four. Sure, he’s eccentic ,but last time we hired a somewhat cantankerous coach that had been to a Final Four it worked out pretty well. He took us to another one within 5 years. To hire Jonas Hayes is insanity. Why ? Bc he’s a UGA guy and can recruit ? Sounds like Ray Goff to me. Let Jonas go to WCU and if he succeeds there then maybe. At least with Earl Grant(and I would much rather have Musselman or Willard) you get a top recruiter that has head coaching experience. And lastly, I don’t think we have anything to be embarrassed about….yet. We swung and missed. Move on to next target. That’s it.

    1. I agree with you Kevin. Love the site but hate when people worry about being embarrassed. Matta was a no brainer if he was healthy. You had to take a shot. My guess is that after shuttling around Athens and flying back and forth he realized that now is not the time to get back in. I also think Crean is another obvious choice especially if he can keep Jonas. If Crean turns us down then I hope we pump the brakes and interview multiple candidates. I don’t care how long it takes just try to get the best hire you can get.

  3. Tubby Smith is not the answer. He was too eager to leave a few years ago. Let’s find the best person for the position and pay whatever it takes. UGA needs a quality, winning BB program!

  4. What about former Grizzlies head coach David Fizdale? Recently released and has collegiate experience.

  5. My take is Dawgs dodged a bullet when Matta said no. No evidence his back is okay, has 9 million from Ohio State he may lose if he takes another job and may have been burned out when he left Ohio State.

  6. I live in the greater Reno area now and will say, without reservation, that Musselman’s teams are solid and fun to watch. He will not be at Nevada too much longer anyway, but people in the area are getting a little nervous about Georgia poaching another Nevada coach ( who is nothing like Mark Fox in his offensive sets). I am not saying hire the guy but that he ought to be vetted and considered if he is interested.

  7. I vote for Jonas or the Tubby / Jonas combo. I am not so sure on Crean. To bad the AD wont fire himself. Go Dawgs!

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