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April 25, 2013

Georgia's Path to the Draft

Well, at least he could recruit
high NFL Draft picks...
I was watching TV with a few friends last week when the news broke that Coach Donnan had been indicted for his part in the much-publicized Ponzi scheme. 
 
"Crook!" a friend shouted.  "What an embarrassment," said another.  "'Big Head D' should be ashamed," mumbled a friend, adding his long-time nickname for the former Bulldog coach.  And, finally and humorously (I think), "Well, at least he could recruit..."

Someone must have quickly shot my last friend a curious remember-the-Donnan-regime-took-Jasper-Sanks-over-Jamal-Lewis look because he promptly clarified his remark, "Donnan could recruit!  At least as far as players that eventually would be picked high in the NFL Draft."
 
I soon flashed back to an article I had written for a magazine about a month ago regarding Georgia's 1980 team.  In my research, I was shocked to discover only one player from the national title squad was ever picked in the first OR second round of an NFL Draft (Lindsay Scott).  I'm not just talking about the NFL Draft immediately following the championship season in April of 1981, but any player from that team chosen in the first two rounds of any of the subsequent drafts.  What's even more remarkable is in the final 16 NFL Drafts of the Coach Dooley era (1973-1988), Scott was the only Bulldog selected in the first round.  (Granted, if it wasn't for the USFL, Herschel would have been a first-round pick, as well, but even just two first rounders in 16 years is mighty hard to fathom.)  In comparison, and let's say Jarvis Jones and Alec Ogletree are chosen tonight, Georgia would have had 16 first-round selections in the last 16 NFL Drafts (1998-2013).
 
It's certainly no secret Donnan was able to land high school talent that eventually would become high NFL Draft picks (signed 6 of those 16 first rounders), as has Richt (8 of the 16).  But, what about previous Georgia head coaches, and what if the selections were extended to what is currently the first two days of the draft rounds 1 through 3, or the first 96 picks?
 
From Wally Butts' first NFL Draft as head coach (1940) through 2012, the following is a ranking of the Bulldogs' last six head coaches according to the number of top-96 NFL draftees each had previously signed for the Bulldogs:
Kendrell Bell was one of the whopping 16 top-
three round picks signed by Donnan (and apparently 
one of the ex-coach's eventual Ponzi victims). 

33- Butts
21- Dooley
17- Richt
16- Donnan
10- Goff
  2- Griffith
 
On second thought, I thought a better comparison would be each coach's number of high draft picks divided by the number of seasons they coached at Georgia:
 
3.20- Donnan (16 in 5 years)
1.50- Butts (33 in 22)
1.43- Goff (10 in 7)
1.42- Richt (17 in 12)
0.84- Dooley (21 in 25)
0.67- Griffith (2 in 3)
 
Disregarding the abbreviated Griffith tenure, there's an intriguing trend concerning Georgia head coaches and their yearly average of high draft picks: Richt, Goff, and Butts all averaged around one-and-a-half top-three round picks per year, which was roughly TWICE as many as Dooley averaged, and less than HALF as many as Donnan averaged.
 
Notably, of the five coaches who signed at least 10 eventual top-three round picks, Dooley had the lowest yearly top-96 average by far, yet was arguably the most successful of the five.  For this reason, should Dooley be even more celebrated for doing, as they say, a lot with little (i.e., having tremendous success with inferior NFL talent)?  Or, should the hall-of-fame head coach be criticized for not signing the top NFL talent that was landed by Georgia coaches both before (Butts) and after his tenure (Goff, Donnan, and Richt)?
 
Likewise, should the Jim Donnan coaching regime be more heralded because of its signing of numerous eventual high NFL draftees in such a short period of time?  Or, considering all of that NFL talent, yet Donnan was likely just the fourth most successful of the five head coaches, is it shameful his coaching tenure was only satisfactory?  Regardless, whether Donnan was a Bulldog signee's "path to the Draft," or more so produced little with a lot, he currently has much, much bigger fish to fry.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

pat-good piece as always. i think that although donnan was a notch above goof he squandered a lot of NFL talent and should have done better than the 8-4 he averaged yearly. too bad he;s about to have an extended stay at the graybar hotel. - mike

Anonymous said...

Patrick..

An interesting and well presented report. I was wondering why Dooley was not all that successful in recruiting potential NFL players?
Ole Dawg