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Virginia football coaching search: Is Mark Richt Tubby Smith?

Don't put the cart before the orange-and-blue-clad horse

Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

I was talking to my dad Sunday afternoon. I got to break the news to him that Georgia had fired Mark Richt. We broke down the positives and negatives for a few minutes (spoiler: like 90% positives). Then just as I was getting ready to go, he said, "Well, he sounds great. Just wonder if it's Tubby Smith all over again."

Brian had a great piece yesterday on expectations for the end result of this coaching search. But dad's comment made me think about expectations for the search itself.

In 2009, once Virginia had shown Dave Leitao the door, all eyes turned to Tubby. The Hoos had gone after him in 2005 during the search that yielded Leitao as Kentucky fans had grown discontent with a seven-year Final Four drought (poor things). He had won 20-plus games in each of his first two seasons in Minnesota, and Virginia fans saw the answer—THE GUY to turn around a suddenly moribund basketball program.

March 30th, 2009, then yielded what is perhaps my favorite UVa sports-related headline of all time: "UVA hires someone other than Tubby Smith."

Now that "someone other" has won back-to-back ACC regular season titles, while Tubby has been fired from Minnesota and taken the job at Texas Tech.

Hindsight, of course, is 20/20. And there are enough differences between the worlds of college basketball and football that the parallel isn't exact. But misplaced expectations have gotten more coaches fired than turnovers, penalties, and clock management combined. They're the only reason Richt is on the market, and the only reason Bo Pelini and Les Miles found their heads on the chopping block the past two years.

Be hopeful that Virginia finds their gridiron Bennett. Tell us why your favorite candidate is that guy. But don't write off the eventual hire if it isn't Richt, at least not solely for the reason that it isn't Richt.