Nov 1, 2014; Atlanta, GA, USA; Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets quarterback Justin Thomas (5) looks to hand off to running back Synjyn Days (10) in their game against the Virginia Cavaliers at Bobby Dodd Stadium. Georgia Tech won 35-10. Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports
According to Dan Mullen, new Florida head coach Jim McElwain called him on Monday to discuss his interest in defensive coordinator Geoff Collins. By Tuesday morning we learn Collins had accpeted the job, and by practice later that morning Collins was already gone. So that was a quick transaction.
Should Geoff Collins have stayed for the Orange Bowl? I saw quite a bit of displeasure among State fans who said he should have had the decency to finish what he started.
My question is: was he given the chance to stay?
As disgusted as Coach Mullen was during interviews on Tuesday, I have a hard time imagining a scenario where he was welcoming of Collins staying for the bowl game. After all, he didn’t take a head coaching job, he took the same position at a school in the same conference. Albeit for more money and at a program with a better winning pedigree, but still a lateral move in today’s day in age of college football.
On the other side of the token, consider these circumstances:
- Florida has a brand new head coach
- MSU is not in the college football playoff
Jim McElwain wants to get his new program off to a good start, and that means hitting the recruiting trail. He doesn’t want to wait another three weeks for Collins to finish at MSU – he wants to start now. And since the Bulldogs are playing in the Orange Bowl rather than the Sugar or Rose, there’s really no significant reason why Collins needs to stay in Starkville until after the bowl game.
Had the situation been different, I’m sure he’d stay. If Florida was simply replacing their D-coordinator but still had the same coach, there probably wouldn’t be a huge push to rush towards his new job. Or if State had been able to make the playoff I’m sure he would be sticking with the Bulldogs until the end. It’s in the same vein as Dan Mullen staying with Florida for the 2008 national championship – the Gators were playing for the biggest prize. If they had just been going to a BCS bowl that year I’m sure he would have taken off for Starkville ASAP and never looked back.
Yes, I would have liked for Collins to stay. But in a situation like this, where a coach is leaving one school to take the same position at another within their own conference? That just doesn’t sit right with the players or other members of the coaching staff (and some fans) as they are preparing for a bowl game. It’s an entirely different scenario when someone leaves to be a head coach.
Preparing for Georgia Tech’s triple option is hard enough, let alone when you lose your defensive coordinator in the process. The good news is MSU has already been preparing for at least a week before Collins left, and they still have another two weeks before the game. It’s a set back, but it can be done. The remaining assistant coaches aren’t lost without their boss – they can put together a solid game plan and practice regimen.