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

Jimmy Benham

November 4th, 2009
3:32 pm

this is the reason Richt HAS become a bad coach since winning 2 SEC titles: “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.”

Got 12?

November 4th, 2009
3:33 pm

Before the season started, UGA were bragging about playing a tough schedule, playing real teams, leaving the South to play, etc. Now that the losing has started, UGA fans are complaining about playing mediocre BCS teams from other conferences.

GeorgiaSouthernEagles

November 4th, 2009
3:34 pm

Gosh,

I wish my degree included learning the difference between “your” and “you’re”.

Leslie Chow

November 4th, 2009
3:40 pm

My bad… In regards to “quality wins”, congrats on finally winning at Virginia this year. You guys get rings for that one??

macrotech

November 4th, 2009
3:46 pm

Leslie Chow! “MacroNerd”?!….Your cleverness is to be admired! Good win! We beat them by 25…it’s understood that our defense can be lacking. We knew this going into the season. We just ratchet up the offense to make up for it.

In truth, I hate that uga is not doing so well! We’re finally putting together a program that will be able to compete with the dawgs and ya’ll are having a down year. I don’t believe that this will be a constant with the dawgs. I contend that the dawgs are lacking leadership within the player ranks…once, it’s found; the dawgs will be tough! I don’t think that GT will rally off enough wins to clear the deficit in the next twenty years…but, I DO believe we’ll be chipping away at it!

on the head

November 4th, 2009
3:46 pm

Everyone Forgets that Stafford and Moreno are gone to the NFL. Tebow Stayed because he was not going to be drafted high in the draft. Stafford and Moreno took the Millions. I can’t blame them although it would have been nice to have them both this year. Defense is still not up to par.

Fony Barnhart

November 4th, 2009
3:47 pm

I’m sure Dwyer is a lot happier at Tech than he would have ever been at UGA. Tony makes it sound like Tech got UGA’s leftovers. I really don’t think that that is the case but again Mr. CFA is a true UGA bigot. Why can’t we get a postive article about Tech and its accomplishments this year rather than this constant whinning and excuse making about UGA. Its pathetic and has exposed the AJC staff and in particular TB as the narrowed minded UGA homers that they are.

Gen Neyland

November 4th, 2009
3:51 pm

From what I’ve seen at Georgia over the past 3 years has been a movement away from discipline play, especially on the D side. I’ve wondered why CMR has put up with it. But I’m an outsider here…

Leslie Chow

November 4th, 2009
3:52 pm

Macro, good positive attitude and post sir.

cantondawg

November 4th, 2009
3:57 pm

let’s put some thought into this….People are saying that we should replace a coach that has given us 6 top 10 finishes in 9 years and 2 sec championships for someone who has never been a head coach and we have no idea how it would turn out…That’s sounds really smart to me…

macrotech

November 4th, 2009
3:58 pm

Leslie Chow, not sure how you intend that post….I choose to take in a positive light. Best of luck!!!

BoooyKnee Lomax

November 4th, 2009
4:00 pm

Vito, excuse me Vito? VIIIIIIIIIIIIIITO!!!

Hook 'Em Horns!!

November 4th, 2009
4:01 pm

6.) How badly do you wish you had Will Muschamp right now?

Papa Dawg

November 4th, 2009
4:01 pm

Go ahead dumba___s get rid of Coach Richt for I’m sure there are quite a few teams waiting to snatch him up and who are you going to replace him with

Fld Oucker

November 4th, 2009
4:02 pm

I think Richt is on his way out just like Tuberville was.

So long there feller! Looks like that Bubba guy could use you as his tanning model lol!

gdawginkalamazoo

November 4th, 2009
4:03 pm

General, come on in have seat. Need a beer? Don’t be an outsider. Your point is well made. I think that will change with a new D coordinator next year. You can be agressive without getting penalized. That is coaching. Being in position to make a tackle is coaching. Letting Crompton into the Heisman race is coaching. I wouldn’t mind having Gary Danielson come coach D he seems to be a right smart fellow. Talks a good game anyway.

barneyb

November 4th, 2009
4:05 pm

This WILL NOT be fixed unless there is a houscleaning of all assistants at a minimum…mark my words

gdawginkalamazoo

November 4th, 2009
4:06 pm

Hook em Horns! To use one of Muschamps favorite words.. I wish that motherf^*^er was on our sidelines. That dude gets INTO the game. I am waiting for him to come off the sideline and make a tackle one of these days. Then yell “Take that motherf*^&er>”

Dawg chomper

November 4th, 2009
4:07 pm

It seems to me that Richt is in some trouble, he is now the 5th best coach in the SEC East behind Nick Saban, Urban Meyer, Stever Spurier, and Lane Kiffen, theres just no other way around it. The performances by Richt in the last 10 seasons have no doubt been exceptional but for one reason only, talent. Georgia has been putting quality NFL players for years and stands as the number two school with the most players in the league.

But to Richts credit, recruiting is a huge part of college football and hes been great; its everyone else around him who needs replacing. Mike Bobo is flat out terrible he has no idea how to manage a game or what plays to call. Against Arizona st im pretty sure i counted 16 screen passes and 5 fullback dives. Are you kidding me??? thats the garbage your dialing up with the talent we have out there??? Along with him should go Willie Martinez. He is a mockery to the UGA program and its history as a strong defensive program.

Does Uga have great coaches? The answer is NO
Does Uga have great recruiters? Yes

This whole evaluating talent thing is just garbage. A 5 star player is a 5 star player, CMR didn’t decide this.

Every year opposing fans tell us we are overrated. We are never overrating, the talent of the field just never plays to their potential.

Yellow Fuzz

November 4th, 2009
4:07 pm

gdawginkalamazoo

That “3 point win” was preceded by a “16 point half time lead” by you AND a “26-0 third quarter” BEATDOWN we gave you to rock your world! You may win at our place but make no mistake, your bite is not what it used to be and we are not afraid of georgia’s bark anymore I hope you can hear me). You’d be wise to expect another consitent bitch slapping and be prepared to play 4 straight quarters (or more) which you have not done since the Hawaii game. lol. The dog nation needs to learn their new role, like it and STFU.

Tebow is YOUR daddy

November 4th, 2009
4:10 pm

Will you doggie fans stop complaining about losing and using the “bad coaching” excuse for your losses? You guys are just not one of the Elite programs anymore. No hard feelings but we enjoy winning and BEING an Elite Program! Yes, we manhandled you guys even after all the trash talk!

ManUp

November 4th, 2009
4:11 pm

Leslie Chow sounds like a real lady. The kind you don’t take home to Mama!

whose the biggest rednecks

November 4th, 2009
4:13 pm

The only reason Bama played VT was because the Kickoff Classic commitee extended an invitation, trust me no one picked up a phone and called Blacksburg.

whose the biggest rednecks

November 4th, 2009
4:15 pm

With Bama playing FIU, N Texas and Chattanooga..and Fl playing FIU, Charleston Southern and Troy..neither one should be allowed to be ranked in top 5. I can see 1 but 3 is ludicrous.

Timothy G

November 4th, 2009
4:15 pm

Coach Richt needs to go!! He is not an SEC coach. He should go to the ACC or MAC or some other division. He had his winning years during SEC slump years. Now the SEC is back in form and Georgia is exposed as a has been, probably truely never was been! NO MORE COX!!!! NO MORE COX!! NO MORE 5th YEAR JOES!!! COME ON!

whose the biggest rednecks

November 4th, 2009
4:16 pm

Not understanding why that seems to be ok with other SEC teams to hail them as number 1 and 2 as well as the rest of the country who votes for those teams.

Hook 'Em Horns!!

November 4th, 2009
4:16 pm

He goes onto the field a lot but almost tackles OUR players in excited. He is great, but I do wish he didn’t curse as much…

DontMessWitTex

November 4th, 2009
4:16 pm

ManUp Your right. Leslie sounds like a real sweetheart. I bet she wears alot of nice dresses!

houstondawg

November 4th, 2009
4:17 pm

I am a little lost, when Chris Leek left Fla, there was Tebow, Ala. John parker Wilson leaves another QB is qualified to run the offense, Lsu, Matt Mauck Leaves, there is another Qb Ready. Ga Stafford Leaves we go into the tank. Am I nuts, is it just bad luck? Oh, maybe its coaching. HMMMM

whose the biggest rednecks

November 4th, 2009
4:17 pm

Gee,

I don’t know the difference between “whose” and “who’s”

whose the biggest rednecks

November 4th, 2009
4:18 pm

no matter how discouraged UGA gets, do not think anyone could be more inbred and redneck than Bama who threw a brick through Bill Curry’s window even when the man won an SEC title. Talk about backwoods redneck losers.

gdawginkalamazoo

November 4th, 2009
4:18 pm

Really, no sane dawg fan wants Richt out of here. The man has earned the right to make a mistake here and there. He definitely earned the right to have a bad season. He is just as disappointed in this year as anybody blogging on here. He will get it straightened out and get back on track. He knows that when the coaching isn’t where it should be that he is letting these kids down and that is the last thing he wants to do. A fresh start on the D side of the ball will get it going. And the thing about a D is that if you have the talent there it can be coached to play the right schemes, make adjustment, etc. in the off season so that you can hit next season without missing a beat. Look at UT, new coach on D, same players and talent. Great results.

And nobody should knock Tech’s ability to recruit great athletes. Tech is very well capable of grabbing recruits. They always have been and always will. Dwyer, Calvin Johnson. It is a great school.

godawgs

November 4th, 2009
4:20 pm

Richt will be like Tressel–national champion, in 2010 or 2011, or BOTH. Nice guys finish first.

Here’s the formula, according to Richt’s past victories:
1- No turnovers
2- 400 yards of total offense
3- Lead going into halftime
4- Have a 100 yard rusher

macrotech

November 4th, 2009
4:21 pm

gdawginkalamazoo, I’d buy you a beer for that last post!!! AMEN!!!

Leslie Chow

November 4th, 2009
4:22 pm

As I stated earlier, only two things come from Texas.

Back to football talk. What’s the over under on the UGA/GT game going to be? 130??

Yellow Fuzz

November 4th, 2009
4:28 pm

godawgs & gdawginkalamazoo

Sounds like Georgia Tech Football. Where did you get this information?

1- No turnovers
2- 400 yards of total offense
3- Lead going into halftime
4- Have a 100 yard rusher

gdawginkalamazoo

November 4th, 2009
4:31 pm

houstondawg, don’t be lost. Leak leaves and Tebow loses four games his first year. Mauck leaves LSU and they drop 5 games with his replacement. Bama’s offense is currently being held up by its DEFENSE. We all knew Joe C was going to be the guy this year. I do think that Gray should have had some series thrown in there. Still think he should start taking palyer more if Joe throws any more INT’s. Don’t worry, once we get our next QB in there whether it be Gray or Murray or Mettenberger we will have him in there for a good 3 years. And hopefully have an O-line that plays the same postion for a full season or two.

YellowFuzz, a win is a win. You might want to shut your sting hole while you have a chance.

Delbert D.

November 4th, 2009
4:32 pm

Leslie – Fire ants and what else? I’d be shocked if the over-under line isn’t at least 90.

Jon

November 4th, 2009
4:32 pm

Hey I’m a LSU Tiger fan
But I like Richt,
I want him to stay but his team needs to get better. I was disspointed when they had a week off and then when they played Florida, they looked exactly the same way they did before the game. Miles Should give him some advice to bring his team back together, because loook what we did to Auburn, We killed them after Florida beat us.

On the Brain

November 4th, 2009
4:34 pm

On the head – Stafford and Moreno don’t play defense.

freshman Tight end

November 4th, 2009
4:35 pm

BG – RICHT beat CHAN GAILEY and REGGIE BALL CONGRATS AN AMAZING JOB HE DID…. SORRY ITS OVER FOR YOU NOW

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZcEoBaNWf2E

Leslie Chow

November 4th, 2009
4:37 pm

Del, I’m sure “HookEm” can tell you what those two things are.

In regards to the spread in that game. Is it possible Tech’s D is worse than UGA’s? I’d say it’s very possible.

Delbert D.

November 4th, 2009
4:39 pm

Can hardly wait for the Auburn game. War Eagle!! Yeah! Beat Georgia. Well, actually I’m still pi$$ed about paying that out of state tuition. I never expected Tech, but why couldn’t my daughter have picked Georgia?

Hook 'Em Horns!!

November 4th, 2009
4:41 pm

Leslie Chow, yea, if it rhymes it must be true, right? bigot

Hook 'Em Horns!!

November 4th, 2009
4:42 pm

And before you bash Texas with your lame rhymes, you might consider the fact we have more MNCs than UGA has wins over florida in the last 20 years.

17 of 20

November 4th, 2009
4:42 pm

Tony,
The Georgia coaches do a fine job, please stop asking all these questions.

Delbert D.

November 4th, 2009
4:43 pm

Leslie – Yes, in a word. The 2009 game may be forever known as the ‘Willie – Wommack Classic”.

ummmhmmmm

November 4th, 2009
4:43 pm

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kXzW-oP2mq4&feature=related

Here you can see Richt doing a good job Motivating

Dawgs in 2010!

November 4th, 2009
4:44 pm

In 2010, the Dawgs win the SEC east—mark it down! Aaron Murray is a lot better than Brantley at UF and UT will have no QB that’s any good. Plus, Richt will bring in a new D-coordinator that knows how to scheme against Florida’s spread. UGA beats LSU for the SEC title in Dec 2010—bet the house!

Delbert D.

November 4th, 2009
4:47 pm

Hook ‘Em Horns – Okay, I’m clueless on that, but take your word for it, so never mind. I’ll stick with fire ants, but I think they just camped out in Texas while heading for my front yard.