For the first time in our series of coaching candidate profiles, we are going to discuss a candidate that has yet to be a head coach at the college level. After writing profiles for Deion Sanders, Jamey Chadwell, Bill O’Brien, and Dan Mullen, it is time for a new installation in this series.
One candidate that has been mentioned by people that cover the sport, notably Bruce Feldman of The Athletic, is Georgia Bulldogs running backs coach and run-game coordinator, Dell McGee.
McGee was a running back at the University of Auburn from 1992-1995 and then went on to play in various professional leagues until 2001. He began his coaching career at the high school level in 2002 at Harris County High School as the defensive backs coach and then was the defensive coordinator at Greenville High School from 2003-2004.
McGee got a head coaching opportunity at the high school level in 2005 at Carver-Columbus and held that position until 2012. It was a tremendous run at Carver-Columbus and McGee posted an overall record of 88-19 and a 21-6 record in the playoffs, including a state championship. He built the Carver- Columbus High School program into one of the best in the state of Georgia before leaving for his first college football job.
McGee returned to his alma mater in 2013 to be an analyst on an Auburn team that made the BCS national championship. He would leave Auburn for Georgia Southern in 2014 to be the running backs coach at Georgia Southern through the 2015 season. After Georgia Southern head coach Willie Fritz left to take the job at Tulane, McGee was the interim head coach for the bowl game and led the Eagles to its first-ever bowl win.
McGee would leave Georgia Southern after the bowl game to be on Kirby Smart’s initial staff at Georgia. McGee was the running backs coach from 2016-2018 then added the assistant head coach title in 2018 and then in 2019, also added the title of run game coordinator. McGee has coached and developed guys like Nick Chubb, Sony Michel, D’Andre Swift, Zamir White, and James Cook while in Athens.
McGee’s biggest strength is going to be his recruiting acumen and how he knows the state of Georgia and how connected he is. He was named the Rival’s top recruiter in 2018 and has helped Georgia bring in some of the best classes in the country.
Aside from recruiting and being known in the state from his days as a high school coach and as the running backs coach at Georgia Southern and Georgia, it is hard for me to see why McGee should be seriously considered for this job.
I think he is clearly a good recruiter, but recruiting at Georgia and recruiting at Georgia Tech are two very different things. It is not a guarantee that he could raise the level of Georgia Tech’s recruiting due to the academic restrictions, although I think he could have some success due to his time as a head coach at the high school level and he is well connected. Georgia can recruit itself in a lot of ways and it is a different product to sell rather than Georgia Tech. It will be harder to convince blue-chip prospects to come to Tech at the same rate and acquiring talent is the clearest pathway to building a successful program.
The other thing that is a negative to me is that he does not have coordinator experience. McGee has not been a play caller while at the collegiate level and that could be a problem.
He has shown he can develop talent at the running back position. Georgia regularly has some of the best running games in the country and McGee should get a fair amount of credit for that. Kirby Smart has said that McGee is an integral part of the program’s success since Smart took over and that should not be taken lightly.
There will be some that will point to former Georgia offensive line coach Sam Pittman being successful at Arkansas as a sign that McGee could work at Georgia Tech. While that could prove to be true, Pittman could be the exception and not the norm. Arkansas has the money to pay for top-notch coordinators like Kendal Briles and Barry Odom. Georgia Tech does not. Pittman lets Briles and Odom run their sides of the ball while he runs the other aspects of the program.
With his recruiting prowess and connections in the state and in the city of Atlanta, there is always a chance that McGee could be a good hire and help turn the program around. I just think it is far too risky to hire McGee after the failure of Geoff Collins. This program needs to nail this hire and for me, I don’t think that choice should be McGee.
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