Mark Richt’s tenure at Georgia ended on Sunday after 15 years in Athens. The Bulldogs went 145-51 under Richt’s direction and finished No. 2 nationally in 2007. According to a release from the school, Richt and athletic director Greg McGarity “agreed that he would step down as head coach.” Richt will coach Georgia in its bowl game.
Georgia is one of the top jobs in the SEC and one of the top 10 nationally. All of the resources and recruiting advantages are in place to win at a high level. Who might replace Richt at Georgia? Here are four names to watch in the upcoming coaching search:
4 Coaching Candidates to Replace Mark Richt at Georgia
Jimbo Fisher, head coach, Florida State
Fisher was widely rumored to be LSU’s No. 1 choice to replace Les Miles if a coaching change was made in Baton Rouge. However, as several reports indicated, Fisher had no interest in leaving Tallahassee. In six seasons at Florida State, Fisher is 68-13 and guided the Seminoles to the 2013 national championship. Florida State won three consecutive ACC titles from 2012-14 and 27-1 from 2013-14. In addition to Fisher’s strong track record as the head coach in Tallahassee, he also worked at LSU as an offensive coordinator from 2000-06. If Fisher had no interest in leaving Florida State for LSU, he’s a longshot to leave for Georgia. However, the Bulldogs have to at least inquire.
Tom Herman, head coach, Houston
Herman is the biggest rising star in the Group of 5 coaching ranks and is expected to be pursued by several programs this offseason. In his first season at Houston, Herman guided the Cougars to an American Athletic Conference West Division title and an 11-1 record in 2015. Prior to taking over at Houston, Herman won the Broyles Award – given to the nation’s best assistant – in 2014 as Ohio State’s offensive coordinator. He called the plays for the Buckeyes from 2012-14 and was a key cog in last season’s title run after injuries forced Ohio State to turn to its third-string quarterback (Cardale Jones). Herman also has stops on his resume as an offensive coordinator at Iowa State, Rice and Texas State.
Dan Mullen, head coach, Mississippi State
Mississippi State is one of the toughest jobs in the SEC, but Mullen has guided the Bulldogs to a 54-35 mark since taking over in Starkville in 2009. Mississippi State went 5-7 in Mullen’s first season (2009) but won at least eight games in four out of the last six years. The Bulldogs went 10-3 in 2014, ranked No. 1 in the first College Football Playoff standings and finished No. 11 nationally in the final Associated Press poll. To emphasize how good of a job Mullen has done at Mississippi State – this program has just three seasons of 10 wins in school history. Mullen also had a nine-win campaign in 2010.
Kirby Smart, defensive coordinator, Alabama
Smart is arguably the frontrunner for this job and is also believed to be in the mix for the opening at South Carolina. He’s a former Georgia player and coached at the school in 2005 as an assistant. Smart has worked for Nick Saban at Alabama since 2007 and has guided one of the nation’s top defenses. The Crimson Tide rank third nationally in scoring defense (14.3 points per game allowed) in 2015. Smart has never been a head coach at the FBS level.