Five questions facing Georgia’s Mark Richt

 

The AJC did a good job this morning of breaking down issues that have contributed to Georgia’s 4-4 season. I thought Jeff Schultz made the central point when he wrote that Mark Richt didn’t suddenly become a bad coach after winning two SEC championships (2002, 2005) and playing for another (2003). When football teams have a bad season like this, the head coach has to be willing to look at everything and everybody in the offseason. In the final analysis, it really comes down to five questions that Richt musk ask and answer:

 

1. Despite what the recruiting services say, is Georgia recruiting the caliber of athlete that allows the Bulldogs to compete for the SEC championship? A big part of coaching that fans rarely talk about is the ability of a staff to evaluate talent and make decisions on players. If you are signing the players you want but still getting bad results, then maybe you have a problem in evaluating talent. Example: A couple of years ago the Georgia staff had to make a decision between running backs Caleb King and Jonathan Dwyer. King has been an average player at best for Georgia. Dwyer went to Georgia Tech and became the ACC Player of the Year.

Bobby Bowden once told me that the only reason he signed quarterback Charlie Ward was because the late Wayne McDuffie stood on a chair in a staff meeting and screamed that the Seminoles had to take the skinny kid out of Thomasville. Ward led the Seminoles to the national championship in 1993. Those kinds of decisions over the long haul can make or break a program.

I remember that when Jimmy Johnson was at Miami, his recruiting classes rarely made the Top 25. But the players he put on the field could run like the wind. That’s because Johnson was great at evaluating talent.

 

2. Is Georgia coaching the players it has up to their full potential? Steve Spurrier told me a long time ago that players tend to play the way they’ve been coached. If they play sloppy, then they’ve been coached sloppy. Excessive penalties and turnovers are a sign of some sloppiness in the program. It must be addressed and Richt must decide if his current staff is capable of fixing the problem. Sometimes head coaches must shake up the staff to send a message to everybody—players, trainers, water boys and other coaches—that mediocrity won’t be tolerated. It’s tough to do. But the great coaches do it when necessary.

 

3. Is the offseason conditioning program what it should be? I don’t know the answer to this but the question has to be asked. I do know that after Florida won the national championship in 2008, coach Urban Meyer told me that he had instructed his strength and conditioning staff to put the Gators through one of the toughest offseason programs ever. Why? “Complacency,” Meyer said. “We want them to understand that they cannot, for one minute, take credit for what last year’s team did.  If they want to compete for another national championship, they have to earn it.” I talked to a number of Florida players who said they got the message.

 Jeff Schultz wrote about the edge that some teams—like Florida and Alabama—have and the fact that Georgia doesn’t seem to have it. If you have good players, then that edge is created in the offseason workouts. Again, it’s a tough question because Georgia’s strength and conditioning people are considered to be some of the best. But you have to ask.

 

4. Do I need to have a conversation with my athletic director about scheduling? Fans don’t want to hear this. They want you to play eight SEC games, four big-time non-conference games, and win them all. That is simply not the way the world works. I think it’s great that Georgia went out and played Oklahoma State on Sept. 5. But the fact of the matter is that while Georgia was opening the season with seven straight opponents from BCS schools (with four of them on the road), Florida was tuning up for its first SEC game by playing Charleston Southern and Troy. Sure, Alabama played Virginia Tech but that game was in Atlanta, a short drive away. And before Alabama played its first conference game it also faced Florida International (2-6) and North Texas (2-6). It’s a good thing that athletics director Damon Evans wants to spread the Georgia brand all over the country, but you also have to look at what your competition is doing and be realistic about what you are asking players to do.

 

5. Does the head coach need to step up his game? First of all, I don’t buy the idea that Mark Richt has to change his basic personality. You have to be who you are. Mark Richt’s personality was embraced when he was winning SEC championships in 2002 and 2005. I can’t tell you how many Georgia people have told me with pride that: “He’s the perfect coach for us. This guy will never embarrass us.” Now that Georgia is having a bad season, Richt’s “nice guy” status comes into question. The thinking seems to be that a nice guy can’t compete with Urban Meyer, Nick Saban, and Lane Kiffin. I simply disagree. The truth is that Richt has an edge to him when he gets mad that few people outside the program ever see. He might want to show that a little more often.

 

But what the head coach can do, after he has evaluated all of the other areas in the program, is look in the mirror and decide if he needs to change his approach on a more fundamental level.

Bear Bryant faced such a crossroads in 1969 and 1970 when he had back-to-back teams that only won six games. People started saying Bryant was too old and that the game had passed him by. After the 1970 season Bryant told his staff that Alabama was switching to the wishbone offense and that everybody had to get with the program or get out of town. Starting in 1971 Alabama went on an 11-year run where the Crimson Tide won 116 games, nine SEC championships and three national championships.

In 1974 Vince Dooley’s defense was so bad that he actually told some friends that he would get out of coaching if he couldn’t get it turned around soon. Dooley made some adjustments and Georgia went to the Cotton Bowl in 1975 and won the SEC championship in 1976. And you know what happened in the early 80s.

The point is that the great coaches adjust and adapt when the tough times inevitably come. After this season is over, Georgia’s Mark Richt will face one of those times.

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623 comments Add your comment

Got 12?

November 4th, 2009
1:49 pm

Isn’t it a sin to covet another program’s head coach, offensive coordinator, drive, heart, and success?

HBTD

November 4th, 2009
1:50 pm

WTH. No drugs for this dawg. Just good, fun, clean living. I realize that’s kind of a difficult concept for most tech fans to grasp.

The real problem in recruiting

November 4th, 2009
1:50 pm

Rodney Garner only recruits specific types of kids……who help create the lack of discipline. More like lack of character

Gdawg 84

November 4th, 2009
1:50 pm

Hey Techsters:
Your team is better than ours. We all recognize this. Nobody is arguing with you.

Your constant demand for attention and love would be pathetic for a 2 year old. It seems obvious that the recent football success of your alma mater has not brought you an ounce of happiness.

Revel in your success, not our misery. Grow up and move on.

Just A Comment

November 4th, 2009
1:50 pm

Seems to me a Coach who coordinates touchdown celebrations instead of his offense and defense has lost his edge and his team. Throw-in a concern for a fashion statement instead of concern for a scoreboard statement and well nuff said 5 Things To Do or not.

macrotech

November 4th, 2009
1:51 pm

Taylor, as opposed to the clever little word….nerd? Pocket protectors? Gay Tech?

Taylor

November 4th, 2009
1:51 pm

WTH

November 4th, 2009
1:49 pm

HBTD

That is if you even went to UGA. I really doubt it because most UGA Alums have more class than you.

Tech fans bring it on themselves. I would love just for once to be able to talk football without having to weed out all the name calling and childish behavior

Big time?? Not

November 4th, 2009
1:51 pm

Four tickets, four hot dogs, four cokes

Risque Ralph

November 4th, 2009
1:52 pm

hey yellow fuzz….come on down to Midtown and join in on the “circle”.

macrotech

November 4th, 2009
1:52 pm

Gdawg 84, suck it up…we’re just returning the favor

GeorgiaSouthernEagles

November 4th, 2009
1:53 pm

Taylor

You appear to be the typical UGA fan. A complete idiot that spouts off and doesn’t know what they are saying.

Georgia Tech has the best head coach, not only in this state…but in the top 5 in the country. Paul Johnson will stick the series up UGA’s a$$ for the next few years. He’ll also rack up getting the state’s top running backs who are going to want to go to a school that KNOWS how to run the ball. Should be fun.

crs

November 4th, 2009
1:53 pm

Stop with the salary BS. In nine years, Mark has won the SEC twice, played in a third championship, was deserving on two occasions of NC consideration, athletic department is raking in record profits in large part from what Mark has accomplished.

Your jealous of what he makes because you don’t.

Is Tom Hanks or Tom Cruise worth $20 and $30 million for making a film? Yes, because thats what the industry pays! Mark makes that much because thats what his industry pays, plain and simple.

Some of you must have some seriously miserable lives at home to moan and groan about 1 lackluster GA season. Enjoy the fall days, enjoy AJ Green, enjoy a little redheaded kid throwing 5 tds in one game.

Taylor

November 4th, 2009
1:53 pm

RodneyGT

November 4th, 2009
1:49 pm

Taylor

Ha..yes, UGAg was in the top 5 for Dwyer…along with Ok St, Michigan, FSU, Auburn….give me a break. UGAg had no chance of getting Jonathon Dwyer.

I guess two years from now you’ll be telling me how UGAg and Mark Richt specifically dropped the ball on getting Charles Perkins away from Georgia Tech too…..”he was in the top 5″….good lord.

Funny you say this. I have sources that might say different, but I’ll leave it at that. I assume you two are close though?

[...] Tony Barnhart of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution takes a look at five questions facing Georgia coach Mark Richt. [...]

Taylor

November 4th, 2009
1:57 pm

I disagree GeorgiaSouthern guy. I hate to tell you but A UGA grad will get a lot farther than a southern grad in this world if you want to get personal about it. Why would elite running backs keep coming here? I am sorry but this offense does not translate to people who want to play in the NFL. The reason the offense works is mainly because of Nesbit. He is so tough. Good luck getting that from jaybow shaw

Yellow Fuzz

November 4th, 2009
1:58 pm

Gdawg 84: I’m only 22….what the heck do you expect from me. I’m trying!

RodneyGT

November 4th, 2009
1:59 pm

Taylor

Now you’re going to pull the “I have sources” crap. Unless your on the coaching staff at either school, then just STFU. What a complete tool.

Just keep playing up the moral victories of UGAg being in the top 5 of each of Georgia Tech’s recruits that ACTUALLY turn into something in college instead of falling to the wayside. Maybe ya’ll can be on running back number 5 starting a game by the end of the year? Should be exciting to watch that train wreck.

macrotech

November 4th, 2009
1:59 pm

Taylor, “I would love just for once to be able to talk football without having to weed out all the name calling and childish behavior”….. TWO MINUTES later?!

Taylor, “I have sources that might say different, but I’ll leave it at that. I assume you two are close though?”….NICE!!!

Gdawg 84

November 4th, 2009
2:01 pm

Thanks Fuzz. Hang in there!

GeorgiaSouthernEagles

November 4th, 2009
2:03 pm

Taylor

Your proving you know little. Jaybo Shaw is NOT in Tech’s plans. After Nesbitt (yes…it’s NESBITT…learn how to spell it) leaves next year, Jordan Luallen will take over at QB. CPJ broght him in this year’s class and he was a four star quarterback recruit. He’s also 6′4 215 pounds right now…good luck with that in a couple years. He can actually throw too.

Taylor

November 4th, 2009
2:03 pm

Macro I see at no point where I used any name calling towards Rodney. Also Rodney, my stepdad is friend’s with Dwyer’s mom and he was considering UGA, but that is really irrelevant now. I am not playing any moral victories however I do see almost 60 victories against tech compared to 30 something for tech and 7 out of 8,but please continue to jump up and down about one win.

HBTD

November 4th, 2009
2:04 pm

Macro. Your tone throughout this blog sounds like that of so many tech supporters………………..INSECURE. Why?
Your teams doing very well this year. Just look at their wins (we want talk about the Miami beatdown) against D2 school J State + wins over traditional powerhouses Miss. State, Vandy, FS I haven’t got a clue, Va (1st road win since 1990) always powerful (at least in basketball) NC, Va tech (even though they’ve now folded they were # 4 when tech played them) and Clemson was certainly a good win even though PJ had to run a tricked up play off the time out and you got a little home cooking on a phantum hold. Surely you can beat WF and then there will be the showdown for the Coastal division championship against DUKE!! Whoooo. That should really be a thriller!!

Ok. So you want a little respect. Better start playing a legitimate D1 schedule.

Still a Dawg Fan

November 4th, 2009
2:04 pm

How do you spell relief for an ailing offense?

******U-G-A-D-E-F-E-N-S-E******************

Quit offering to high school juniors.Most of these h.s. juniors don’t get any better.Hard to evaluate a h.s. junior.

Most of the better players don’t develope until their senior year of h.s.

ex: Thomas Davis-had one DII offer before Van Gorder saw him ,David Pollock,(two of out best)

Taylor

November 4th, 2009
2:05 pm

Why do you know so much about them Georgia southern guy? Sidewalk Alumni much?

GToption

November 4th, 2009
2:06 pm

Taylor is just an inbred UGA fan guys…I wouldn’t worry about what he thinks.

We do have Jordan Luallen being redshirted this year that will take over after 2010. He’s big and can throw and run. Was a four star QB out of Indy. The future looks bright at Georgia Tech guys…very bright.

Yellow Fuzz

November 4th, 2009
2:06 pm

Big time?? Not:

“Four tickets, four hot dogs, four cokes”.

They are running this special right now for the Weedwacker Bowl that YOU are playing in.

Priceless !!!!!!!!!!!!!

Taylor

November 4th, 2009
2:08 pm

GToption

November 4th, 2009
2:06 pm

Taylor is just an inbred UGA fan guys…I wouldn’t worry about what he thinks.

We do have Jordan Luallen being redshirted this year that will take over after 2010. He’s big and can throw and run. Was a four star QB out of Indy. The future looks bright at Georgia Tech guys…very bright.

HAHAHAHAHA Of course. What else could I expect from a tech fan. stereotypical use of the word inbred

GeorgiaSouthernEagles

November 4th, 2009
2:08 pm

Why do I know so much about them?

Paul Johnson is their coach. He coached here. He coached at Navy. He was a top assistant at Hawaii. Everywhere he has been has continued to follow and pull for Johnson based on the success he brought each program. We know he’s one of the best coaches in the country. He’ll do GREAT things at Georgia Tech.

HBTD

November 4th, 2009
2:08 pm

Taylor. There other favorite word is “delusional”.

Yellow Fuzz

November 4th, 2009
2:09 pm

Still a dawg fan

Dude, I hate to be the one to break it to you but Thomas Davis, Van Gorder, David Pollock, Hershal and Lindale Scott “ain’t” there any more.

crs

November 4th, 2009
2:09 pm

gerogiasoutherneagles,

First, i am a big CPJ fan. Good coach, good man.

That said, the expectations for Tech were zero last year. Any kind of any anything would have been well recieved.

This year, Tech has an exceptional offense and a D that rivals the the worst defenses in DIV 1. Lets see where they finish before you start making these proclamations of long term success.

Tech has two exceptional offensive players named Josh Nesbitt and Johnathon Dwyer. They are both warriors. They are also both Chan Gailey guys.

Lets see how tech does when they leave and JD most likely leaves this year.

Also, lets see if in a weak ACC whether Tech can even win the ACC this year.

Taylor

November 4th, 2009
2:12 pm

Alright well enough with the name calling. I am willing to give tech props this year, they have a good thing running on offense, but it does not change the fact that they still have not beat a top 20 team and benefit from a down ACC ( you know like you all like to say UGA won everything when the SEC was down)

RodneyGT

November 4th, 2009
2:12 pm

Taylor

Ahhh…you did it buddy. Pulled the ol’ we have more series victories card. That’s as pathetic as Mark Richt spewing his resume out on his press conference yesterday. This is 2009. I could care less what happened in 1955..1971..1994…or 2004 for that matter. And if you really care that much, shows you have no confidence in the here and now. I also don’t spit off the score last year…that was last year. Georgia Tech is going to roll UGAg this year. I bet we hang 50 on you guys.

But why don’t you tell me what happened in 1947 again?

gdawginkalamazoo

November 4th, 2009
2:14 pm

Taylor,

“I am sorry but this offense does not translate to people who want to play in the NFL”

Really? Are you taking what Nancy Pelosi is taking? Send me some please.

Matt Stafford, Knowshon and MoMass would say different. All ROOKIES starting this year in the NFL. Hand full of other guys there playing in this system that will be going to the NFL.

Taylor

November 4th, 2009
2:14 pm

I bet you are wrong Rodney. Be prepared for your season to be ruined. I have plenty on confidence in the here and now don’t you worry :)

Taylor

November 4th, 2009
2:15 pm

gdawginkalamazoo, I was talking about tech’s offense.

macrotech

November 4th, 2009
2:16 pm

Taylor, sorry if I misunderstood your, “I’m sure you two are close” comment. It may have been a knee jerk reaction to the typical drivel of many dawg fans.

HBTD, truly, any sense of “insecurity” is invalid. I’ve been a proud Tech fan my entire life…win or lose, I enjoy the blogging bantor! You raise questions about our schedule, yet we’re in the top thirty by most polls in SOS…one has us at 12. The sec has two dominate teams with a possible third strong team in lsu…sadly, for you, the dawgs don’t figure into that. uga has the overall record against Tech, but that’s it. We have almost as many sec championships as the pups have and we haven’t been in that conference for quite a while! We have twice the number of national championships and we’re looking like we’re a LOT closer to adding another one before ya’ll do. I could go on, but, I’ll shorten it all up by saying…uga has created a great program known for filling their stadium with witnesses of a team that never seems to get it done. Inferiority? Not EVEN close!

pb

November 4th, 2009
2:16 pm

Enter your comments here

RodneyGT

November 4th, 2009
2:17 pm

Taylor

Virgina Tech was the 4th ranked team in the country when they were beat. UNC was ranked 21 and was dominated in every category. Get your facts straight.

bulldogmaniac

November 4th, 2009
2:17 pm

To the poster who suggested Will Muschamp…..
That would be GREAT but will never happen.
I work with Will’s brother (who btw played at Navy) and he told me that Will isnt going anywhere.
He’s getting paid big bucks at Texas and has already been promised the HC job there.

Taylor

November 4th, 2009
2:18 pm

Rodney…well I guess that’s why they say it matters where you finish and not where you start. Ole Miss was a top 10 team. I would laugh if someone was telling me how they beat a “top ten ole miss team” now/

Taylor

November 4th, 2009
2:20 pm

What do Tech fans think about the matchup with duke? Young and that WR ( can’t think of his name) are really tearing it up. I don’t know about their defense though.

DerekCU

November 4th, 2009
2:20 pm

Taylor

Exactly what in the world have you been watching this year to have any reasonable conclusion to say that Georgia can compete with Georgia Tech? And I’m saying COMPETE, not even beat.

I’ve watched both teams in nearly every game. Georgia Tech has a shaky defense, I’ll give you that. SO does Georgia. But against this Georgia Tech offense you better score EVERY time you have the ball. Are you THAT confident in Georgia to do that?

Again, I don’t have a dog in the fight..I’m a Clemson fan…but, again…do YOU have that kind of confidence?

pb

November 4th, 2009
2:21 pm

Can’t wait to hear what yellow fuzz has to say about this; maybe he had to go to class? We’re waiting for the usual daily UGA slam. Sometimes the young man is funny, even if I don’t like or agree with what he says.

DerekCU

November 4th, 2009
2:23 pm

Taylor

“Rodney…well I guess that’s why they say it matters where you finish and not where you start. Ole Miss was a top 10 team. I would laugh if someone was telling me how they beat a “top ten ole miss team” now/”

That’s the stupidest comment yet. So now it’s only what top 10 teams at the end of the year has your team beat? Well since the top 10 is filled with Boise, TCU, Cincy, Texas, etc…we probably won’t be able to say we’ve beaten any….neither would anyone else.
What a stupid comment.

Wanna go back and look at how many top 10 teams UGA has beat over the last say five years even?????

HBTD

November 4th, 2009
2:23 pm

Macro. Then why do you and your ilk constantly feel the need to weigh in on a Georgia topic (I realize this is not a Georgia blog) as a forum to defend your program? That to me is a clear sign of an inferiority complex stemming from an insecurity about the respect,or lack thereof, that you believe your program is receiving. I’m sure the fans at Boise, TCU and Cinncinati all feel the same as you and many of your tech brethern, i.e. you’re crying out for respect on blogs like this one that no one will give you because of your schedule. Let’s face it, if GT loses to an unranked and bad UGA this year, the other wins mean nothing.

macrotech

November 4th, 2009
2:24 pm

HBTD must be looking for his golf ball in the woods

Taylor

November 4th, 2009
2:24 pm

Derek, I think clemson and a lot of other teams showed everyone that people can compete with tech. Freaking Vandy was allowed to hang around for 3 quarters and lead.

DerekCU

November 4th, 2009
2:25 pm

Clemson has beat more top 10 teams than Georgia Taylor. Period. Stupid, stupid comment.

Taylor

November 4th, 2009
2:25 pm

DerekCU

November 4th, 2009
2:23 pm

Taylor

“Rodney…well I guess that’s why they say it matters where you finish and not where you start. Ole Miss was a top 10 team. I would laugh if someone was telling me how they beat a “top ten ole miss team” now/”

That’s the stupidest comment yet. So now it’s only what top 10 teams at the end of the year has your team beat? Well since the top 10 is filled with Boise, TCU, Cincy, Texas, etc…we probably won’t be able to say we’ve beaten any….neither would anyone else.
What a stupid comment.

Wanna go back and look at how many top 10 teams UGA has beat over the last say five years even?????

Wanna do the same with clemson?