Yesterday I mentioned (again) the Mark Richt factor in keeping Rodney Garner at Georgia despite overtures from Auburn and Tennessee. That theme came up again in John Jancek’s decision to turn down the opportunity to become a defensive coordinator at South Florida.
Jancek told Marc Weiszer that "we love it here. We love coach Richt and the staff." I grant that coaches in this position often say things that sound like the Bull Durham "I’m just happy to be here and hope I can help the ballclub" babble. Garner didn’t yell "cha-CHING!" after turning down Tennessee and Auburn though he got a nice raise out of it.
Still, you get the sense that there is some sense of loyalty to Richt beyond what you usually see in a very necessarily mercenary business. It’s not that Georgia has zero turnover. More than half the staff has turned over. It’s even encouraged sometimes. When Garner considered leaving for Auburn this past December, Richt seemed anything but obstructive.
"I’m definitely rooting for Rodney," Richt said. "What a wonderful opportunity to be considered at your alma mater in the Southeastern Conference at a wonderful program like Auburn. I think it’s a tremendous honor for Rodney, and I think it’s a great compliment for Georgia, too."
"…You encourage and try to help in every way. Rodney’s been open with me in every opportunity he’s ever had, and this one, I’m more of a cheerleader right now. I want him to realize his dream if that’s possible."
Keep in mind that he was facing the possibility of losing not only a productive position coach but also his recruiting coordinator to a century-old conference rival. But that kind of encouragement and reinforcement to make the right decision is what builds loyalty among those who choose to stay. It’s the same way in which Richt approaches recruiting, and it’s been a consistent and successful approach.
Contrast that with the environment in Tampa. Jim Leavitt sent his offensive coordinator packing for considering a job with Florida. "I’m not going to have my offensive coordinator out visiting with other schools," huffed Leavitt. As the Wiz notes, "assistants have no doubt taken a look at how Leavitt treated Greg Gregory in January."
I’m not going to pretend that everything is always rosy in Athens and that there aren’t occasionally conflicts among the staff. We’ve even seen some of it spill over onto the sideline. Again, coaching is ultimately just a job. We’ve all had those professional conflicts in even the best of situations. Once you separate out the stuff that comes with the territory, you’re still left with people that would rather work with Mark Richt than take more money or a promotion elsewhere.