Ryan Roberts and Lily Smith Georgia

CGN Roundtable: The New Georgia Head Coaches

After nearly a week of speculation, Georgia announced its new head coaches late Thursday. Cecile Canqueteau-Landi and Ryan Roberts will jointly lead the team starting with the 2025 season, and while we know some things already about how it will all work—Canqueteau-Landi will remain in Texas to coach Simone Biles and her elite teammates through the Paris Olympics this summer, and her husband Laurent Landi will keep his head coach position at World Champions Centre while their daughter finishes high school before joining Canqueteau-Landi in Athens—there are still so many questions left to answer.

How are you feeling about the big news? What was your initial reaction? Let us know in the comments or on social media!

Big news dropped yesterday! What was your initial reaction?

Illustrated headshot of Elizabeth GrimsleyElizabeth: Hilariously, I had just pulled into my parking spot after returning from getting Raising Cane’s for dinner when the Twitter notification appeared on my phone. I audibly gasped and swore in my car out of pure shock. After a week’s worth of speculation and a plethora of rumors and names going around, no one expected this hiring.

Illustrated headshot of Claire BillmanClaire: My reaction was and still is shock! I don’t think anyone saw this coming, and certainly not me. In what’s been something of a recurring theme this week, I also had Cane’s shortly before the news broke.

Illustrated headshot of Talitha IlacquaTalitha: I was stunned like everyone else but also delighted—we wanted the news to be a big surprise and it was!

Katherine Weaver illustrated headshotKatherine: I was, of course, surprised to see Canqueteau-Landi’s name, but I was also intrigued to see that she and Ryan Roberts will be co-head coaches. We don’t have a lot of co-head coach duos in the NCAA, and those who are (most notably the Howells) are married, so the dynamic definitely stood out to me, especially because a lot of people pegged Roberts to stay as an assistant coach if he was to remain on staff.

Julianna: This was not at all what I expected, especially after all the talk a few days earlier about potential coaches coming in to fill this spot. To say I was shocked (in the best way) is an understatement. Wow. 

Rebekah: Weirdly I think I was relieved? Shocked but relieved. Maybe it was the end-of-season exhaustion kicking in, but I was feeling like if Georgia managed to grab a coach from another team, we would see a coaching musical chairs scenario, and while that would be exciting for fans, I couldn’t help but think of how destabilizing it might be for all the athletes. I know that’s sports, but I just got in my feelings about it. This result feels like an appropriate level of chaos for my fragile heart.

Savanna Whitten illustrated headshotSavanna: After the chaotic rumors earlier this week and coming off the high of my home state team winning its first national title (I’m still not over it, thanks for asking), I think I felt relieved that there was a decision more than anything else. 

Lela: My reaction, honestly, was “This sounds complicated.” For Georgia, which has a LOT riding on this hire; for Cecile Landi, who will now need to be in about 20 places at once; for the Landi family, who may be living halfway across the country from each other for a while; for the Georgia athletes, who had to have heard the rumors about their previous coach AND who must know Landi’s reputation.

Who do you think they go after to fill out the rest of the staff?

Illustrated headshot of Elizabeth GrimsleyElizabeth: I’m not going to speculate on specific names, but it will be interesting to see what types of coaches the other two end up being. If Georgia has a fourth assistant at all (sometimes co-head coaches can negate that position), I think they will be the fresh-out-of-college type. The third assistant could really be anyone. Maybe since Roberts specializes in bars and Canqueteau-Landi is probably a beam gal, they look for someone who has great vault coaching skills? Another possibility could be Laurent joining the staff in a year once he makes his way to Athens. If so, what a star-studded staff that would be!

Illustrated headshot of Claire BillmanClaire: Laurent coming on board at some point seems likely. I’m curious if they’ll bring on one of Roberts’ NCAA contacts or continue to mine clubs.

Illustrated headshot of Talitha IlacquaTalitha: I wonder whether they plan to fill both of the assistant positions as soon as possible or to keep one open for Laurent. I’m not a big fan of family affairs in college gymnastics, so I’m hoping for the former, though I do believe it’s likely that Laurent will join UGA at some point. I wonder if someone like Catelyn Branson would be interested in an assistant position. She would bring plenty of experience but also a touch of youth to the coaching staff. 

Katherine Weaver illustrated headshotKatherine: For some reason, I’m having trouble visualizing Laurent in the NCAA, but I’d probably have said the same thing about Cecile a few hours ago, so who knows? Realistically, I’d expect Georgia to go after a top club coach and a recent former athlete graduate to fill out the staff. Josie Angeny appears to have ruled out the possibility, but someone in her mold could fit.

Julianna: This is a tough one, but I feel like it would have to be someone who has a ton of experience with NCAA gymnastics, especially recently. I feel like a former athlete out of college that might be in a fourth or student/graduate assistant position now, transitioning into something more concrete for example, would be a really good fit, especially with all of the changes from elite to NCAA. It would be really helpful to have someone who is familiar with all that, as Cecile is learning about what’s different for NCAA! 

Rebekah: Woof, this is a tough one. I’m thinking they need a vault coach. If they want to get back to the top, they need to have a lights-out vault lineup. Is there a club coach out there with the magic sauce? If so, that’s who my money is on.

Savanna Whitten illustrated headshotSavanna: I’m honestly really sad that Mollie Korth appears to not be returning to the staff. If she was given another opportunity on this new staff, I really think it could help bring something special to the team. Otherwise, maybe this is Sam Scherwinski’s next move from Lindenwood. It would be a major step, but I think it’s one he could take on and do well. 

Lela: Has Simone Biles ever thought about coaching? 

When it comes to recruiting, how do you think this hiring will play?

Illustrated headshot of Elizabeth GrimsleyElizabeth: That WCC to UGA pipeline is going to be SO interesting. There are two sides to it: One is the prospect of flipping current WCC level 10s or elites who are currently committed to other schools. Think Lily Bruce, Jocelyn Roberson, and the like. Of course, some are already locked into NLIs. In the short term, Canqueteau-Landi has already mentioned she’ll be at level 10 nationals from the club side of things. How does that factor into her new job at Georgia when you also consider recruiting rules?

Illustrated headshot of Claire BillmanClaire: Zoe Miller has already stated outright that she’s taking cues from Jay Clark and the Griffiths and sticking with LSU. Similarly, Joscelyn Roberson was supporting Arkansas at the NCAA championships and posted a cheeky “Go Dawgs for you only” on Instagram followed by Razorback emojis, so she also seems unlikely to flip. As far as future commits, Roberts has already proven his mettle as a top-notch recruiter, and being able to offer the chance to work with “Simone’s coach” will only strengthen his pitch. 

Illustrated headshot of Talitha IlacquaTalitha: I don’t think that Canqueteau-Landi’s new position will change the mind of many current commits. However, I think we could see a few younger WCC gymnasts deciding on UGA in the years to come. Beyond WCC, Canqueteau-Landi is famous for being Simone’s coach and one of the most talented elite coaches in the country. Her name alone could interest future recruits, even more so if Georgia’s results improve in the near future.

Katherine Weaver illustrated headshotKatherine: With Roberts’s proven recruiting abilities and Canqueteau-Landi’s enthusiasm and star power (the association with Simone is a great point from Talitha), recruiting should remain on the up and up for Georgia. 

Julianna: This is definitely going to be such a big selling point having Cecile here in my opinion, especially with young athletes getting to that age of being able to be recruited or starting to look at schools. If I had “Simone’s coach” recruiting me, I too would be absolutely starstruck! I think as of right now, I don’t see any athletes previously committed to other schools switching, just because they have already been committed to their “original” programs for such a long period of time, but it will be interesting to see how this plays out, especially with level 10 nationals coming up so soon and Cecile being in attendance. 

Rebekah: Georgia hasn’t slipped in recruiting, even if the team’s performance hasn’t been indicative of it. I think this hiring will be a good tool for Georgia to have, but beyond that I’m curious to see whether there are fewer medical retirements and injured athletes in coming years. Something was amiss at Georgia it seemed, and I hope this coaching change will start remedying it.

Savanna Whitten illustrated headshotSavanna: My initial concern was whether any of the high-profile WCC commits would flip, but now I’ve shifted my thinking into snagging those who could be ninja level 10s. Canqueteau-Landi could quickly get to KJ Kindler territory with her recruiting with Roberts at her side, which is a dangerous thing for other teams moving forward.

Lela: I think Georgia is going to need to think about whether it wants to pursue elites, because it now has the power to go after them, or go full Kindler with the top level 10s. But they’re also going to be recruiting based on…hopes? Dreams? For a while. Be realistic, decide your priorities, and go after them. 

What changes do you foresee for Georgia with these co-head coaches now leading the charge?

Illustrated headshot of Elizabeth GrimsleyElizabeth: It’s interesting because Roberts was part of the “old” Georgia already, so the initial question is how much influence did he have under Courtney Kupets Carter’s leadership? On the other side, Canqueteau-Landi in particular coaches gymnasts at the top of their game, and I think the standard will absolutely be raised in Athens, which I’m sure is part of the reason why Georgia athletics director Josh Brooks made this hire.

Illustrated headshot of Talitha IlacquaTalitha: This is a tough question because, as Elizabeth said, Ryan Roberts is not new to Georgia. So the question is: What was so wrong under Courtney Kupets-Carter’s leadership that Roberts couldn’t fix? My prediction is that, under Roberts and Canqueteau-Landi, things will look more systematic at Georgia: a stronger preseason training program, a better pacing of athletes, a stronger mindset, a different culture.

Katherine Weaver illustrated headshotKatherine: I expect Canqueteau-Landi to try and reinvigorate excitement for the program. She has always seemed very enthusiastic and passionate about the spirit element of the sport. Also, as we know, Canqueteau-Landi is very active on Twitter, and while she’d undoubtedly need to rein it in in this new role, I think she’ll be a fierce and vocal advocate for her team who we’ll hear a lot more from than her predecessor.  

Rebekah: I am hoping to see healthier athletes and less medical retirements. Obviously, I don’t know how much of a role CKC played versus other coaches and support staff, but I hope even if she wasn’t the main problem that this shake-up will help the program deal with whatever was ailing the team.

Savanna Whitten illustrated headshotSavanna: Less chaos, more fun, and maybe, just maybe, Georgia will win national championships again. Too soon?

Lela: I’m hoping for, in a UCLA-like way, a big focus on repairing the culture for a year or two. I know Georgia wants results, like yesterday, but it can’t pretend the last seven years didn’t happen. To me, a team that looks strong on paper but doesn’t get results has a culture problem. If they can solve for that, I think we’ll start seeing success pretty quickly. 

How much success do you think Canqueteau-Landi and Roberts can have?

Illustrated headshot of Elizabeth GrimsleyElizabeth: It’s not going to be immediate success, even with the talent on the roster and the recruits coming in. There’s also the factors outside of any team’s control when it comes to actually winning. However, I don’t think battling for the SEC title, a nationals berth or even the team final is out of the question within the next five years.

Illustrated headshot of Talitha IlacquaTalitha: Things have improved at Georgia since Roberts’ arrival a few years ago, so I expect them to keep improving now. The important thing is to manage expectations and set small yet incremental goals: finishing in the top-four in the SEC; winning SECs; qualifying to nationals; winning nationals. Hopefully, the Georgia administration has learned from past mistakes and won’t put too much pressure on this new coaching staff and its team from the start.  

Katherine Weaver illustrated headshotKatherine: I actually see improvement coming pretty quickly for the GymDogs. The pieces have been there, least of all the top-ranked recruiting class of 2023 having three more years, and I think this change could be a much-needed jolt to get everyone excited again. Like Elizabeth said, it will take a few years to reach the highest heights, but I see performances like we saw from Georgia at regionals this year becoming the norm not the high in 2025.

Rebekah: Honestly, given the past few years I think we will see a marked improvement pretty quickly. I don’t think we’ll see them vying for a national title right away, but I am hoping to see them compete again. It’s been a disappointing few years as a gymnastics fan, so I can only imagine how ready this team is to really show up.

Savanna Whitten illustrated headshotSavanna: I’m with Katherine. The pieces really fell into place when reigning SEC Freshman of the Year Lily Smith flipped from Alabama to Georgia, so building on that and having a lot of returning experience makes me think we could see strides of improvement quickly. However, I don’t want to get my hopes up too quickly!

Lela: Cecile probably has some feelings about building an entire team around one strong gymnast. If they don’t make it all about Lily Smith, or trying to build a team of Lily Smiths, and they work with what they have and right the ship a bit, I think we’ll see a gradual improvement as soon as the next year or two. Drastic results? I’m not holding my breath. 

What are your thoughts on the “elite of it all?”

Elizabeth: With Canqueteau-Landi’s experience coaching elite gymnastics (and Roberts’ for that matter), I can see Georgia turning into a destination where gymnasts feel like they can go to compete in college while continuing their elite careers, which is very exciting from a longevity, recruiting, and team marketability standpoint.

Illustrated headshot of Talitha IlacquaTalitha: I would love to see more French elites getting interested in the NCAA… 


Katherine Weaver illustrated headshotKatherine: I don’t see it being a difficult transition in terms of the atmosphere; as I already said, Canqueteau-Landi seems to have the enthusiastic personality that’s fit for the NCAA. Also, WCC is a club with a lot of elites who train together, and having coached various international assignment teams for the U.S., she’ll probably acclimate to the team environment quickly. 

Julianna: I didn’t think of it until reading Talitha’s response, but how cool would it be to have so many more international elites in the NCAA!! I would personally love that. I am also really intrigued to see how her coaching style from elite to NCAA may have to change. On top of that, with elites only having a couple of competitions a year, it will be interesting to see how she goes about preparing the athletes for so many more competitions in a short period of time. Off topic, but also really excited to see her outfits since that’s become such a big part of NCAA for coaches, and we never really see elite coaches in this way; that’s going to be so fun. 

Rebekah: Canqueteau-Landi certainly knows how to coach athletes dealing with huge amounts of pressure, so I think that experience will serve her and the Georgia team well. It’ll be interesting to see if there is a WCC-to-Georgia pipeline, but more than that, I hope this gets some buzz going around Georgia again. 

Lela: Cecile has a big footprint in the NCAA already, having coached so many fan favorites. I think she could be someone who normalizes doing college and elite simultaneously, but I also hope Georgia does not become all about the elites. 

What other aspects are you excited or curious about?

Illustrated headshot of Elizabeth GrimsleyElizabeth: I hope to god the social media improves; the bar is on the floor right now, so it really has no place to go but put. Canqueteau-Landi is typically very transparent on her personal social media, so I’m hoping that extends to Georgia now, too. I also of course, am very curious about what we may get for leotards (very important, obviously). The WCC leos are always pretty stock-y, but we see fewer custom designs in elite anyway. I can’t wait to see what Canqueteau-Landi can come up with when she has a big budget and creative freedom. Maybe a switch from GK to Sylvia P? Honestly, the bar for leos is pretty low, too, so I have reason to be optimistic. I also have to mention the Simone in the room. Even one tweet from her about Canqueteau-Landi or Georgia could do wonders for the program’s exposure. Think about the Sunisa Lee effect on Auburn or Jordyn Wieber on UCLA or now Arkansas.

Illustrated headshot of Claire BillmanClaire: I want to know how the hell they pulled this off! How long has this been in the works? Who knew what when? How did they keep this from leaking? Just… HOW?!

Illustrated headshot of Talitha IlacquaTalitha: This is the beginning of a new era for Georgia, so I’m curious about the identity that this team will acquire in the months and years to come.

Katherine Weaver illustrated headshotKatherine: I would also like to see some drastic improvement to the social media. Like Elizabeth said, there’s the potential for a lot of star power to hit this program, and programs in similar positions like Auburn and Arkansas were pros at using social media to maximize the big moments. Heck, for half the meet days I can remember lately, Georgia didn’t even pin a tweet with links to the stream and stats for easy access. I am really hopeful that change will come in that respect. 

Julianna: This is such a new beginning for Georgia, so I’m excited to see how everything is approached. I would love the inside scoop of an athlete to tell us this year about their experience and compare it to next year, just to see what was truly different. It will be especially interesting to see how competition changes in terms of whether they still look like a college team having fun and if there is more structure like there may be in elite? Either way, I’m excited to cheer on this new team.

Rebekah: I’m interested to see whether this injects a little excitement into the program from a fan perspective. I imagine having the fanbase invested makes a difference for the competition environment and hopefully has an impact on athlete performance. I know there is no magic sauce and that things take time. As we’ve seen from other programs, it sometimes takes a bit for a team to acclimate to a new environment, but I am really excited to be excited about Georgia again and curious to see whether it comes to play in the coming seasons.

Savanna Whitten illustrated headshotSavanna: I’ve been on the transfer kick lately, and Georgia has brought in multiple transfers over the last few seasons that have ended up being big contributors. Will this staff want to go that route again with potentially a really solid core of athletes returning?

Lela: Someone please send the crew that made LSU’s The Climb over to Athens, stat! I would love to see a documentary about putting Humpty-Dumpty back together again. I think giving fans a look inside the program, which has felt opaque for a long time, would be a boost all around. 

Is there anything you’re wary about?

Illustrated headshot of Elizabeth GrimsleyElizabeth: The easy answer to this question is how Canqueteau-Landi will fare as a college coach, as it’s different than elite. She has someone with experience in Roberts’, though, so while the hiring was risky by Brooks, it’s not crazy by any means.

Illustrated headshot of Claire BillmanClaire: Pacing and injury management are my biggest concerns. Georgia has struggled with injuries (albeit, usually lower leg issues unrelated to Roberts’ pet event, bars) in recent years. It doesn’t matter how hot the recruiting is if a significant percentage of the roster is either sidelined with injury or forced to medically retire before senior year. WCC has a solid track record for keeping its elites relatively healthy, but will that translate to the college landscape?

Illustrated headshot of Talitha IlacquaTalitha: Canqueteau-Landi and Roberts have known each other for a long time and have worked together before, but it’s a bit unusual to name two head coaches who haven’t worked together on the same college team before. I therefore wonder how their relationship will play out, and even more so if at some point Laurent comes on board.

Katherine Weaver illustrated headshotKatherine: I’ll echo the injury management mentioned by Claire. The attrition in that respect has been bad. As to attrition in maintaining players, I will be interested to see if Canqueteau-Landi and Roberts can preserve the roster and avoid any or many portal entries. We’ve seen rumors about a few GymDogs, including all-arounder Ady Wahl, considering the portal, but that was before a new head coach was announced. Roberts, who likely recruited many of these gymnasts first-hand, remaining on staff should help. 

Julianna: Having been under a couple of different coaching staffs in my five years, it definitely is different to have to adjust to someone new and build a relationship from scratch. With Roberts already having those connections, this will most definitely be to the advantage of the team. My only fear is how is how the athletes might feel coming into this year. I’m sure after time it will be like a relationship they have always had, but it’s an adjustment nevertheless and is something the athletes need to give themselves time to be OK with! 

Rebekah: I’m wary about people’s patience. Success takes time, and I hope this team gets a fair shot at turning Georgia around.

Savanna Whitten illustrated headshotSavanna: The only thing I’m wary of at this moment is how many of those wild leotards from the last few seasons are we keeping and how many are being burned as we speak.

Lela: I’m wary about this turning into too much of a Cinderella story. The program has nowhere to go but up, but it’s still a long climb. 

Among the coaches rumored to be considered for the job, where do you think this decision ranks?

Illustrated headshot of Elizabeth GrimsleyElizabeth: I heard names from Jay Clark and the Howells to Ashley Miles Greig and Jordyn Wieber—it was a wild week. Maybe I’m too optimistic, but I would rank this right under Jay Clark. I’m excited to be excited about Georgia again.

Illustrated headshot of Claire BillmanClaire: This is the best case scenario as far as I’m concerned: Georgia gets its splashy hire with an Olympic pedigree (both as a coach and an athlete, no less) while also keeping its star recruiter, and by extension, his star recruits. Not to put too fine a point on it, but this is a game-changer for Georgia gymnastics and college gym as a whole. During the bidding war for Clark and the Griffiths, Georgia and LSU showed their willingness to spend seven figures to secure a top-tier coaching staff, and the free marketing during the Olympics will only further boost the sport’s profile. I guarantee coaches across the country are watching and taking note. 

Illustrated headshot of Talitha IlacquaTalitha: I think the decision was bold yet smart. As far as I’m concerned, I’m relieved Jay Clark didn’t go back to Georgia. LSU fans and much of the gymternet would have condemned the decision, making it harder for people to feel enthusiastic about the GymDogs. And there would have been so much pressure on Clark to prove that Georgia was wrong to fire him the first time around. Any other rumored choice felt meh to me, so the final decision ranks pretty high.

Katherine Weaver illustrated headshotKatherine: I also am glad Jay Clark and company didn’t go to Athens, but I have to say that I think that would have been the single most ideal hire given their combined SEC experience and college experience/success as a whole. However, getting the coach of the GOAT of gymnastics isn’t exactly a disappointment. I’m just glad Georgia went with experienced coaches, as I think another foray into an inexperienced individual would have similarly mediocre results.

Julianna: Cecile’s name coming up was definitely a shocker, but I’m not mad about it. This is going to be SO good for the team! I think Jay Clark would have been great, but I am glad that staff stayed together after the year the team just had. As for the other candidates, I think any could have done really well in this position, but I do think Cecile is a great choice and will make a great impact on the program with what she already brings to the sport as a whole.

Rebekah: This whole roller coaster was WILD. I was glad Clark stayed at LSU with his whole crew; I want to see how they come back next year with the same coaching staff. I’m also glad Wieber stayed at Arkansas. It finally hit its stride this year, and it would have been a shame to lose the momentum—not just for the Razorbacks but for competition overall. I’m glad Georgia went with someone with a proven track record, even if that experience doesn’t come from NCAA gymnastics specifically. And I’m also glad Georgia kept Roberts. Overall, it’s a thumbs-up choice from me.

Savanna Whitten illustrated headshotSavanna: I’m not really sure what I would’ve thought if Georgia had succeeded in bringing over anyone from LSU, so I’m thankful it did not work out. This hiring definitely ranks among the top choices available, even if it wasn’t on my radar.

Lela: This will be my example of the havoc wrought by Mercury in retrograde for years to come. I think Georgia knew it needed someone at the top of their game and not ascending or worse, descending. Jay Clark was an obvious pick, but I appreciate that the AD went rogue but experienced. 

And finally, what questions do you have or hope are answered in the coming months?

Illustrated headshot of Elizabeth GrimsleyElizabeth: So many… What are the rules around recruiting with Canqueteau-Landi still working for a club through the Olympics. When Laurent eventually joins her in Athens, will he coach at Georgia, too, Georgia elite, open his own high-level club? What will the division of labor look like between Roberts and Canqueteau-Landi? What sort of identify will this team take on? Will any rostered athletes or recruits leave? Will they manage to flip anyone to Georgia? It’s going to be an exciting next few months as we learn more and more about the Canqueteau-Landi/Roberts era at georgia!

Illustrated headshot of Talitha IlacquaTalitha: I wonder how the coaching changes will affect WCC. Will it continue to be such a fashionable destination for current elites? Will its success continue under different coaches? Or will it be the end of a (short) era?

Katherine Weaver illustrated headshotKatherine: I’m just curious to see how Georgia seizes this opportunity. The GymDogs have seen some dark times in recent years, and as a fan of a professional sports team who was the laughing stock of its league for decades until very recently, I know that feeling isn’t fun for fans, especially when there’s such a rich history there. This hire has the potential to be a huge shift for the program that could bring it out of the mire. I think Roberts knows that, as does Canqueteau-Landi, so I’m looking forward to how they start to make their mark. 

Julianna: Like Katherine said, it will be really interesting to see how Georgia responds to this. I would also love to know at the end of her first season what Cecile thinks of the NCAA versus elite worlds; maybe what’s harder to coach? What did she personally enjoy more about this experience? What was something she didn’t expect in this role? Things of that nature. 

Rebekah: I’ve got the transfer portal on the brain right now, so I’m curious to know if anyone is going to change commitments to or from Georgia? How will the next few months shake out with Canqueteau-Landi training elites for the Olympics and what will her, and the team’s, transition be like going into 2025? Since clearly this is a program that has won before and wants to win again, how much time will it be given to show results?

Savanna Whitten illustrated headshotSavanna: How quickly does this program begin to look like the Yoculan era? Or will it develop its own identity? It’s like an episode of those wild sitcoms that I will be here to binge watch every second of. 

Lela: Who is making the documentary, and when will it come out? 


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