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How to Choose a Starting Quarterback

Last night, I linked to an item at The Cover Two that gave credit to Jim Donnan for appearing at Larry Munson's recent roast. And to think I didn't show up for fear that Loran wanted to kick my tail!

"Loran, whattayagot?" "I've finally got the chance to punch that ex-coach of ours in the mouth, Larry!" (Photograph from

I agree with Jmac that it was a classy thing to do, but, lest the mood of Bulldog Nation towards Mark Richt's predecessor begin to soften, I would hasten to add a reminder of why the 2000 coaching change was imperative.

At this point, I should pause to note that I was an unabashed supporter of Coach Donnan throughout his tenure on the Sanford Stadium sideline. Before he had even coached his first game, I heard him speak at a Bulldog Club meeting, which I attended wearing a vest emblazoned with "G" and Uga logos. From across the room, Coach Donnan got my attention and said, "I like your vest."

I have told that story to dozens of Bulldog fans in the decade since that evening and I have yet to find one who could recount a similarly positive personal experience with Coach Donnan in reply. I, however, was given a favorable first impression and I defended him to the end, writing Red and Black columns in support of him and using the forum of local cable television to argue for his retention.

Impeccable fashion sense, si; good judgment regarding quarterbacks, not so much.

When he was fired, I was the one who turned out the lights at the last meeting of the Jim Donnan Fan Club . . . and I immediately began insisting that, now that the deed was done, Florida State offensive coordinator Mark Richt needed to be the next guy we hired. Once we got the coach I wanted, I put the Jim Donnan era in a box, sealed it with duct tape, buried it in the back yard, and didn't look back.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's most cognitively dissonant lapdog, Mark Bradley, ripped into Bulldog Nation after Coach Donnan's unceremonious ouster, demanding to know how we could fire a coach who won two-thirds of his games. The answer, of course, is: "So we could hire a coach who would win four-fifths of his games, you blithering nancy-boy."

We got the right one, baby. Uh-huh. (Photograph from Georgia Sports Communications.)

In short, I defended Jim Donnan as long as it was possible to defend him, but, having since seen the error of my ways, I make no excuses. Coach Donnan's hiring was a mistake made in desperation and his departure came not a moment too soon. It is to Coach Donnan's credit that he showed up for Larry Munson's roast, but his comments there aren't the only thing he has had to say lately about the state of affairs in Bulldog Nation.

As recently reported at the Dawg Bone, Coach Donnan has made some remarks to his fellow members of the mainstream media regarding the current quarterback situation in the Classic City. As reported by David Paschall of the Chattanooga Times-Free Press, Coach Donnan had this to allow:

In 1998, Donnan had this same dilemma when he chose among junior Jon England, sophomore Mike Usry and freshmen Nate Hybl and Quincy Carter. A fifth contestant, redshirt freshman Daniel Cobb, was forced out of the race with shoulder problems.

"It's a very similar situation," Donnan said. . . . "I think all the talk of buying into the system is overrated. . . . We only had Quincy for three weeks. I'm all for making decisions as early as you can, but I guess every situation is different." . . .

Would Donnan do anything differently now?

"I wish we had gotten a better call against Georgia Tech when we were up and Joe Hamilton fumbled, but I wouldn't change anything about the quarterbacks," he said.

As I reported previously, Jim Donnan has nothing to teach Mark Richt about how to manage a quarterback controversy. The anointing of Carter, whose talent would carry him all the way to the Montreal Allouettes, caused Cobb to transfer to Auburn, Hybl to transfer to Oklahoma, and Usry to transfer to South Florida. We should not wonder why the coach who lost quarterbacks in droves thinks "all the talk of buying into the system is overrated."

Compare Coach Donnan's insistence upon rushing an important decision with Coach Richt's determination to reach the right result. The Red and Black quotes Coach Richt thusly:

I'm usually a pretty patient guy, and I'm going to stay patient until I feel certain and right now I'm not certain.

How have the signal-callers responded to Coach Richt's approach? Matthew Stafford, for one, says: "Whatever he feels is right, he's going to do, and we all have to respect that."

I don't seem to recall Quincy Carter doing a lot of talking about how much he respected Coach Donnan's decisionmaking. (Photograph from Sports Illustrated.)

That sounds to me like someone who is buying into the system while his coach takes the time to make the right decision. When the most highly touted Georgia freshman since Herschel Walker is answering questions that way, we in Bulldog Nation need not worry which quarterback will be taking snaps this fall.

Everyone wants to know which Q.B. will be starting under center for the 'Dawgs, but it isn't even a question. We already know the answer.

The right one will be, of course . . . and the right coach will let us know which one that is in his own good time.

Go 'Dawgs!