Now that Mark Richt has been fired by Georgia, attention turns to who will replace him after 15 years at the helm.
Some could come within the SEC. Others could come from outside the region. It remains to be seen which direction Georgia will turn when it comes to replacing the second-winningest head coach in program history.
Regardless, athletics director Greg McGarity will have to do a fine job of nailing down a replacement based on the fact Richt won 74 percent of his games throughout his career.
Here’s a look at five potential replacements for Richt:
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Kirby Smart, Alabama defensive coordinator
Smart could very well lead McGarity’s list of candidates based on a few things. First, he’s a great defensive coach who has coached under Alabama’s Nick Saban for the past nine years. At least one coordinator from the Saban tree has panned out thus far, with Florida head coach Jim McElwain winning the SEC East in his first year on the job. Smart could provide similar results, although McGarity would be trusting a coach who hasn’t led a program from the top. Smart’s also a Georgia graduate, having played for the Bulldogs from 1995-98, and understands the culture in Athens extremely well.
Tom Herman, Houston head coach
There perhaps isn’t a higher-profile Group of Five head coach than Houston’s Tom Herman. Herman, who took over the Cougars' program after coordinating Ohio State’s offense to a national championship in 2014, led Houston to an 11-1 record in his first season at the helm. Only 40 years old, Herman could bring plenty of energy to a program that certainly needs it. But he would have to re-tool the offense to work with his spread attack. But with how Herman turned around Houston in one year, there’s much to like about his future as a college football head coach.
Dan Mullen, Mississippi State head coach
Mullen has ties to McGarity as the two worked together in Florida before moving elsewhere. Mullen was former Florida head coach Urban Meyer’s offensive coordinator, and McGarity worked under Florida athletics director Jeremy Foley. The two reportedly still have a strong relationship and would be on the same page within Georgia’s athletics department. The risk Georgia would run into with a Mullen hire would be re-tooling the offense, which underperformed in 2015, to a spread scheme, which could take some time given the lack of a dual-threat quarterback on the roster.
David Shaw, Stanford head coach
Considering the success Shaw has had at Stanford and his love for the Cardinal program, this could be a considered a long shot. Then again, perhaps Shaw would like the allure of coaching the SEC and potentially elevating a program such as Georgia’s. Shaw’s offense would suit Georgia’s current personnel, given his propensity for running power sets while mixing in plenty of shotgun sets for pro-style passers. His teams play a brand of smash-mouth football that would fit the SEC.
Mike Bobo, Colorado State head coach
This likely wouldn’t happen unless Georgia strikes out on other potential candidates. But Bobo knows the program as a former player and as a former assistant coach. He went 7-5 in his first season as Colorado State’s head coach, which included wins in the final four games. Long before Richt was fired, there was some speculation as to whether Bobo could potentially succeed his former boss down the road. But with Richt being fired, it is unlikely McGarity will turn to Bobo immediately.