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Where Should the Georgia Bulldogs Turn if Mark Richt Must Replace Dave Van Halanger as Strength and Conditioning Coach?

As I indicated earlier, we are shelving "Don’t Bet On It!" this week and focusing instead on the topic occupying everyone’s thoughts. I wish to repeat for the record that I believe Mark Richt should be and will be the head coach of the Georgia Bulldogs in 2011; I believe Mike Bobo, like Willie Martinez before him, was and is a capable position coach who was promoted past his level of competence; I believe Coach Bobo should be retained as the Bulldogs’ quarterbacks coach, and, even if he keeps the title of offensive coordinator (a post Neil Callaway also nominally held), Coach Richt should take over the play calling duties again. In short, no one should mistake the postings in this series as an indication that this is the sports weblog equivalent of Lyndon Johnson losing Walter Cronkite on Vietnam.

This is what Bulldog Nation is discussing, so let’s have the discussion. If the time has come for changes to be made, what new blood should be brought into the program? I have identified which prospective head coaching candidates should and should not be considered. The more likely scenario, though, is that such sweeping changes are not needed. If, in fact, the Bulldogs’ problems primarily are ones of conditioning, the solution may be as simple as hiring a new strength coach. Which candidates ought to be considered for that post if the time has come to replace Dave Van Halanger?

Scott Cochran (Alabama). Coach Cochran is the ideal candidate. He’s young (31 years old), he’s spent his whole life in the Southeast, and his familiarity with the Southeastern Conference includes stints in Baton Rouge and Tuscaloosa. Coach Cochran was an assistant strength coach for Louisiana State in 2003; a quick look at Georgia’s two games against the Bayou Bengals that season attests to the quality of the LSU players’ physical preparation, particularly as the season progressed. Coach Cochran has helped to make the Crimson Tide physically dominant; a quick look at Georgia’s 2008 meeting with Alabama confirms just how fit his charges are. The 2008 recipient of American Football Quarterly’s strength and conditioning coach of the year award can toughen up the ‘Dawgs, but can he be pried away from Nick Saban? If not, does he maybe have an assistant strength coach who’d be willing to take over the conditioning program in Athens? Please?

Matt McGettigan (Air Force). I think it’s fair to say that there is no school at which strength and conditioning is more important than at a service academy. Coach McGettigan’s time in Colorado Springs has seen a resurgence of Falcon football, and his efforts have been rewarded with a national strength and conditioning coach of the year award from the Professional Football Strength and Conditioning Coaches Society. Currently, Air Force leads the nation in rushing offense, and the team has been in the top six nationally in that category in each year of Coach McGettigan’s tenure. That suggests that the Falcons are the ones doing the wearing down rather than the ones getting worn down.

Kevin Yoxall (Auburn). One of the reasons Georgia fans have become suspicious of the Bulldogs’ strength and conditioning program is the propensity for injury and the lack of dominance exhibited along both lines. The Plainsmen presently are the only team ranked in the top twelve nationally both in rushing offense and in rushing defense; that’s a testament to the Tigers’ durability in the trenches. There’s been a coach exchange program between Athens and Auburn for decades now; let’s make Coach Yoxall the latest to make the switch.

Once again, I think Mike Bobo should stick to coaching quarterbacks and Mark Richt should go back to calling plays. It may be, though, that the Bulldogs need a new strength and conditioning coach, and, if the time has come to replace Dave Van Halanger, the foregoing candidates should be considered for the position. Your thoughts, of course, are welcome in the comments below.

Go ‘Dawgs!