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

HBTD

November 4th, 2009
2:27 pm

Macro. Oh well. Maybe one day you’ll figure it out.

Taylor

November 4th, 2009
2:27 pm

How is it a stupid comment? Just because you beat a team that was ranked high at one point means little. Like I said Ole MIss was in the top 10 at one point. FSU was in the top 20 and has a 500 record.

Stafford

November 4th, 2009
2:28 pm

MAYBE IT’S BECAUSE WE LOST Stafford, Moreno, and Massoqoui? Ever think that since we lost our entire offense, that maybe this is a ‘rebuilding year?’

Caleb King and Richard Samuel are busts. We have one weapon on offense now, so how could you realisically expect 8 or 9 wins this year? Silly STEREOTYPICAL Georgia fans.

Taylor

November 4th, 2009
2:30 pm

Tech fans on Duke? anyone?

Will

November 4th, 2009
2:32 pm

Taylor

You really do put out alot of moronic comments.

Vandy played with Tech for three quarters?

It was 42-31 at the end of the third. Remember it was 28-28 at the half. They scored 56. Took the offense out early in the 4th. They could have easily scored 63, possibly 2TD’s had Johnson continued running the offense. Vandy hardly “hung’ around. They had 600 yards of offense with 400 yards of rushing.

Maybe that will look familiar in the Tech-UGA box score this year???

macrotech

November 4th, 2009
2:32 pm

HBTD, like I stated earlier…just returning the favor! I, for one, do not take that uga game, lightly! I’ve been saying all season that the dawgs lack leadership from within the player ranks…when they find that…they could be a force to reckon with! An earlier poster pointed out the ‘fact’ that uga has gotten away from recruiting the ‘good ole boys’ that would do anything for a uga win….I agree with him and see a football factory that is being used by the Staffords out there to get to the next level! I don’t blame him…but, uga needs guys that have bled red and black their whole lives and wouldn’t give up a year to jump pro! For the record, even IF we lost to uga…it would go down as a tough loss to an instate rivalry and we’d move on and focus on playing our bowl game. Of COURSE, that would give ya’ll something to brag about for the year…the right to do so would be yours! Right now, we’re enjoying OUR right to do so! GO TECH!!!

MVP Georgia always over rated

November 4th, 2009
2:32 pm

Tony anyone of you Bozos (you and Jeff) at the ajc asked CMR those questions? NO . man up and earn your money Ask the questions. Why have the questions here if you don’t have the balls to ask the questions to his face.

unbiased volfan

November 4th, 2009
2:33 pm

RodneyGT

November 4th, 2009
2:35 pm

Taylor

What’s your fascination with Duke? You think Duke has a stellar defense or something? Granted, they should be better than UGA, but still.

Taylor

November 4th, 2009
2:37 pm

I’m not fascinated with them, I just cant talk about wake tech because there’s not much to talk about. They probably won’t even have skinner

Charles

November 4th, 2009
2:37 pm

Taylor- Please stop speakin on behalf of the bulldawg nation. You’re looking like a fool. Georgia Tech is going to wipe our a$$e$ this year. Just shutup.

Paddy

November 4th, 2009
2:37 pm

GTman, you don’t believe your own coach can recruit? Glad you are not a Dawg fan. Let me take a wild guess, you have never been to a GT game!

seabass

November 4th, 2009
2:39 pm

About two years ago Sports Illistrated SEC section had an article about UGA eventually winning a national championship under CMR. As a matter of fact it stated we, UGA, would win numerous national championships. It was inevitable. We’ve come along way in two years baby!

Dave

November 4th, 2009
2:39 pm

Taylor

I won’t call you an idiot. A UGA homer…yes. I’m worried about Wake, Duke, and Georgia. You have to be when one loss would really screw up your season. This is college football and ALL of them are capable of beating Georgia Tech. Miami did it. Although with the way Tech has clicked since, I don’t know that I’d bet on Miami a second time.

Anyway…good luck with your next three games…would certainly be more exciting if a UGA team came in that was a little better.

Taylor

November 4th, 2009
2:40 pm

Negative people like charles are no fun :(

RickyatTech

November 4th, 2009
2:41 pm

GTMan isn’t a Georgia Tech fan, obviously a UGAg guy acting pathetic.

gdawginkalamazoo

November 4th, 2009
2:43 pm

Taylor, my bad I guess I didn’t know you were talking about Tech’s offense. This being a “How to fix UGA” blog and all threw me off there.
This is the Fix UGA blog isn’t it?

59bulldawg

November 4th, 2009
2:45 pm

OK here’s a list of the the Georgia assistants.

Mike Bobo – OC
Willie Martinez – DC
Stacy Searels – Offensive line
Rodney Garner – Defensive line
Tony Ball – Wide Receivers
Jon Fabris – Defensive ends
John Jancek – Linebackers
John Lilly – Tight ends
Bryan McClendon – Running backs

If I’ve missed anybody feel free to add them. Most folks I’ve read on AJC blogs or talked to in person seem to want both Martinez and Bobo gone or at least Martinez gone and Bobo demoted back to QBs only. Who else needs to go? I’m almost to the point of asking all for resignations and then Richt taking back whoever he wants (but hopefully not WM. Who would you dismiss? Who would you want to hire? Any suggestions?

Papa Dawg

November 4th, 2009
2:45 pm

The Falcons game proved what the Dawgs are missing. Van Gorder made some adjustments at half time and held the Saints to 7 points. The Dawgs come out after halftime and play the same way they were being clobbered in the first half. No changes for the better means its all the coaches fault, period. Tech Geeks just go away. With your Jackets football team its one and done so run your mouth while you can the Dawgs will return

Yellow Fuzz

November 4th, 2009
2:47 pm

georgia fans need to eat their crow and humble pie and shut their traps. Tech is ahead of you in every stat, poll and bowl consideration and the best you can do is STFU and try to beat us on November 28th. And I am not talking about just a 16 point halftime lead. I’m talking about growing a pair and finishing something you start like 45-42! I hope you can hear me.

HBTD

November 4th, 2009
2:48 pm

Tony. Not sure I agree with all of your 5 questions for CMR, but one thing I am sure of after reading and writing on this particular blog for the last several hours is that the GT fan base is a HOPELESS bunch. Being a tech fan has got to be one misarable lot in life having to always try and keep up with the Big Dawg! Thanks for your thoughts today.

Bubba Dawg

November 4th, 2009
2:49 pm

Ouch yellow fuzz

Delbert D.

November 4th, 2009
2:49 pm

If Jon Dwyer stays, Tech graduates 3 starters: 2 OL and LB. Tech has 8 RBs in the rotation.

macrotech

November 4th, 2009
2:51 pm

HBTD, THAT was a lame way to bow out…all you’ve done today is litter this blog with your “delusional” thoughts….

Yellow Fuzz, you’ll have fun with HBTD….he’s easy!

revwreck

November 4th, 2009
2:51 pm

I am a tech fan to the core, although not one that has to kick UGA when they are down. If I have heard it once from my dawg friends this year I have heard it 100 times…”now we know how the Jackets feel” and yes it’s true and it hurts to lose, but CMR is a good coach and before we got CPJ everytime a dawg said fire CMR all my GT friends said we’ll take him….it can get worse, but if needed Chan is looking for a job…we would enjoy the wins.

Atticus

November 4th, 2009
2:51 pm

Honestly….I am at the point of not reading the blogs anymore. It’s the same people over and over making the same comments back and forth. Can anyone not ad anything meaningful anymore?

shards1967

November 4th, 2009
2:51 pm

Too little and too late for me. IF we do not make complete coaching staff ( incl Richt ) changes, then this exact time next year we will be blogging the same ole stuff. Change it after the season is over, then re tool. It is that easy.

Besides, the days of a 25 year coaching stay like Dooley had, have been over for years in business and coaching. We want a coach to come in and win quickly like ALL of OUR COMPETITORS have done and if the guy wants to leave for a richer job or the NFL, say bye bye and hire another. THIS IS the way to run a big time program. I would love to see a guy come in and by 2011 and 2012 have won maybe two SEC titles and at least played for the NC. If he leaves …we got our money’s worth out of him. That is the proper way to proceed. We get another.

In the old days you preached stability because the players STAYED ON for at least four years. Today? The bolt for the NFL …………so we should hire coaches that may be very mobile and simply not care.

We all know what has to happen and come November 4, 2010 I fear is, the only change will be in the liberal congressmen in love with Obama that are gonna get blown out like that NJ Governor and in Virginia were last night.

UGA, class of 71 & 73

TJ Vol

November 4th, 2009
2:51 pm

Keep Richt, Bobo & Martinez…..They are doing a great job! Its just a down year….I’m sure one day Bobo will out scheme Monty or Martinez will out scheme Lane….

59bulldawg

November 4th, 2009
2:54 pm

Right TJ! If I were you I’d probably want the same!

Leslie Chow

November 4th, 2009
2:55 pm

I find it hilarious that with GT’s success this season, UGA football is still the biggest story in the sports media in Atlanta. That should tell you nerds something…

Bubba Dawg

November 4th, 2009
2:56 pm

Delbo,

How many times does it have to be said. IT’S NOT JUST THE PLAYERS, it’s our “gimick” system that just took ownership of you. YOU have better players and more of them but we have the better team, end of story. It doesn’t matter how many we graduate next year, we “finally” have the depth to consistently reload and a system in place that maximizes instead of minimizes individual talent. get used to it and like it duse, georgia will be our bitch for the next few years! I’ll tell you when things change!

macrotech

November 4th, 2009
2:57 pm

Leslie Chow, it DOES tell us something….it reads like a comedy!!! AND, that GT needs to add a degree program in journalism!!!

Bubba's Tanning Salon

November 4th, 2009
3:00 pm

This is amazing, ever since these ford commercials with coach richt, we have been getting flooded with business and people wanting their hair and eyebrows bleached. Keep the commercials going, we are in tanning bed heaven!!!

TedT

November 4th, 2009
3:01 pm

Who is the defensive coordinator? Who is the defensive back/safety coach? WILLIE MARTINEZ!!!! Why can’t our defensive backs & safeties cover road kill? Willie Martinez!!! Why can’t out defensive players tackle anything that breathes? Willie Martinez!!!

If Mark Richt is too decent of a human being to be the HEAD COACH of the Georgia Bulldogs and he chooses to fall on his sword by keeping Willie Manilly — then we need another coach. Willie Martinez could not call numbers in a Bingo hall — let alone teach/call defenses that can win football games.

Mark Richt is one of the most decent human beings on this earth — but it’s time he realizes that Willie Martinez needs to go.

Patrick

November 4th, 2009
3:01 pm

revwreck, thanks for the post. Nice to see that all GT fans are not smug and abusive. I’m a UGA fan but really like to watch the Jackets run the football and controll the clock. That’s the way the game is meant to be played – reminds me of Nebraska teams back in the mid 1990s. I hope GT wins out and gets a chance at the big dance but a lot of things have to fall in place in order for that to happen. Anyway, it’s nice to see one football team from Georgia that plays to win.

gatorman770

November 4th, 2009
3:02 pm

Is there any coincidence that in the early 2000s, during the Zook years, that Florida decided to “spread the Gator brand” by playing some of the same westcoast and mountain conference teams that UGA has recently started scheduling and the Gators ended up with 8 win seasons????

DontMessWitTex

November 4th, 2009
3:05 pm

Leslie Chow, you sound like a complete imbecile calling the tech fans nerds. Its just as hard to get into ugay than it is gt, that whole nerds thing is so 20 years ago fella. Im just happy Im a Longhorns alum, I personally wouldnt choose to go to either tech or ugay.

revwreck

November 4th, 2009
3:07 pm

Patrick
Thanks we GT fans that are my age have had BAD years and we know the truth…UGA will be back sooner than later and the realist just hope its not this year to ruin our year…the yound band wagon folks that post…none of us need or want

Johnny Test

November 4th, 2009
3:09 pm

For the quitters the season is over.
There are 4 games left… How good a coach is CMR if he finds a way to win them? Not likely but possible…
Tech is our bowl game this year as far as I am concerned and if by some miracle we could win that game it would be the sweetest victory over Tech since 1958. It would totally (no matter what they say) screw up their otherwise stellar year.

Fld Oucker

November 4th, 2009
3:09 pm

Tex, your actually right on that. Let us all come together and rejoice, DAWGS SUCK!! Richt is a “nice guy” who aint gettin it dun out there in the cow pastures. BINGO!!!!

Bubba's Tanning Salon

November 4th, 2009
3:14 pm

Honestly though this is amazing, ever since these ford commercials with coach richt, we have been getting flooded with business and people wanting their hair and eyebrows bleached, and orange tans to go with it! Keep the commercials going, Bubba here is happier than a retarrd in a room full of bouncy balls!!! O O O O O OOO O O OOOOO

gdawginkalamazoo

November 4th, 2009
3:18 pm

Yellow Fuzz grew a pair from a 3 point win from last year! STFU? LMFAO is more like it. I don’t care how the next three game go, but one thing for sure I wouldn’t want to be the bees on the flats in November. These Dawgs ain’t happy about this year and one thing to cure some of the ills will be to smack you bugs down.

Leslie Chow

November 4th, 2009
3:22 pm

It tells me that GT is hanging on by the skin of it’s teeth pretty much zero wins over quality teams. And don’t come back with that VT game either, you didn’t see South Carolina pounding their chests after beating Ole Miss. It also tells me that even in a down year, UGA football is still a more important story.

And the nerd thing NEVER gets old. I have a lot of friends that graduated from Tech, they openly admit they are nerds.

Only two things come from Texas buddy…

MeyerVille

November 4th, 2009
3:23 pm

Richt will never outrecruit, outprepare or outcoach meyer or saban. He will not win another SEC title. His only 2 titles came in years when Fl and Bama were down. The dawgs better hope meyer takes the ND job and Saban goes back to the NFL.

BoooyKnee Lomax

November 4th, 2009
3:23 pm

I would absolutely love to see UGA get their buts kicked against Tennessesse Tech this weekend, talk about a laughing riot, HAHA oh HAHA oh HAHA oh HAHA!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Papa Dawg

November 4th, 2009
3:24 pm

Had my septic tank cleaned out the other day and guess what was clogging it. YELLOW FUZZ

macrotech

November 4th, 2009
3:24 pm

Leslie Chow, not sure uga could beat ANY of the teams on our schedule….THIS year!

gdawginkalamazoo

November 4th, 2009
3:25 pm

TedT, actually he could. There’s a bingo hall in Detroit looking for someone to call the numbers. Their caller just got shipped down to the Redskins to run their offense. I am scouting the bingo halls and casinos for a new D coordinator for us. Haven’t found anything yet. I will try the strip clubs next. That might take awhile though, I’ll get back to you in 2012. I am taking donations ($1 bills only) to help fund this new D coordinator search.

ManUp

November 4th, 2009
3:28 pm

realSugarHillDawg – we will see. Now go dig up a bone and chew on it.

Leslie Chow

November 4th, 2009
3:30 pm

Yes MacroNerd, we played the team you guys gave up 31 points to last week with our under coached defense and I’m pretty sure they didn’t close to sniffing 20.