Has Mark Richt earned the right to fix the problem at Georgia?

 I’m not going to sugarcoat this. What I see from the football team at the University of Georgia is not good. I picked Colorado to win last Saturday because I really wondered how much fight was left in this team. To Georgia’s credit, and I trust Tim Tucker’s judgment on this, effort was not the issue Saturday night in Boulder. The inability to execute basic plays in pressure situations and the inability to play defense at the most fundamental level was the problem.

Based on my mail and the folks who call in to my radio show, there are a lot of people who are convinced that the Georgia football program after 10 years under  Mark Richt has lost the necessary edge of coaching,  talent and game day savvy to compete at the very top of the SEC.

I get all that and when a team is 1-4 all those arguments can be made and they are fair. Still,  I am not backing away from this position: I believe that Mark Richt will be head coach at Georgia next season. But if this season continues to go South, some tough decisions are going to have to be made.

When things start going bad, the reaction always seems to be to fire the head coach because people believe there is always another Urban Meyer or Nick Saban waiting around the corner. You just have to go out and find him. Rarely do coaching transitions go that smoothly.

 Florida had to go through Ron Zook in order to get to Urban Meyer. Alabama went through Mike DuBose and the devastating NCAA probation that followed. Then it was two years of Dennis Franchione, an embarrassing episode  with Mike Price, and Mike Shula before Nick Saban returned them to the promised land. And also remember that Rich Rodriguez took the Alabama job and changed his mind or Saban would probably not be the coach today.

Changing head coaches in this league isn’t a simple process. A lot of the time the program has to go backwards before it goes forward again.

As I said a week ago, I look at Georgia and I see a team that isn’t very good. The offensive line has underachieved. The running backs aren’t bad but they aren’t All-SEC caliber. It’s easy to blame the defensive problems on the scheme but these guys were getting gashed pretty good last year running the old scheme.

Yes, you can make the point that the landscape of the SEC has changed pretty dramatically since Mark Richt won his last SEC championship in 2005. Meyer and Saban have raised the bar, there is no doubt about that. You can argue that it’s hard for any coach to maintain his edge after 10 years in one place. At some point you wonder if the players start tuning out the head coach.

But understand that when you let go of a guy who is a proven winner, you are taking a tremendous risk. Ole Miss couldn’t understand why it wasn’t as good after Eli Manning left. So they forced out David Cutcliffe, who only led the Rebels to five straight winning seasons. They wanted somebody more exciting in Oxford and chose Ed Orgeron, a good recruiter who wasn’t ready to be a head coach then and will probably never be a head coach again.

Tennessee was two bad passes away from winning the SEC championship in 2007. But after 16 years under Phillip Fulmer fans wanted something new and exciting instead of the tried and true. They wanted a rock star as their head coach like Alabama and Florida had in Saban and Meyer. So they hired a sun tanned Wonder Boy from Southern California. And we know how that one turned out. He’s back at USC and Tennessee had to hire a solid man in Derek Dooley to clean up the mess. Now Tennessee is looking at several difficult years before the program can be restored.

Greg McGarity, who became Georgia’s athletics director in July, learned from Vince Dooley and Jeremy Foley, two of the best ADs ever. He hasn’t told me this but I’m guessing that the last thing he wants to do just five months into the job is let go of a head coach who has won a pair of SEC championships (2002, 2005), played for another (2003), and might have had the best team in the country in 2007.

Having said all that,  there is no question that things are not going well in the football program at Georgia and that something needs to be done. So how about this:

McGarity sits down with Richt at the end of the season and says: “Coach, here is what I see. We should be competing consistently for the SEC East championship and right now we are not at that level.  In order to do that, what do you need that you currently don’t have? Whatever it is, I’ll get it for you. But I want you to identify the problems and then give me a plan to get us back on the right track.”

If you’re Mark Richt, you have to be willing to look at everything. Start with yourself and your level of commitment. Do you have the passion and the fire in the belly to do what is necessary to get Georgia back on top?

Then you have to look at your entire organization. What about your recruiting organization? Are you bringing in the right players but just not developing them to the SEC championship level? Or, is your talent evaluation not good enough?

You have to look at your strength and conditioning program. Is everything being done there that can be done? Look at the way Alabama’s players fill out their uniforms and look at yours.

What is the level of accountability throughout the organization? Have you changed? Are you doing things differently from when you first got here? You have to look at everything because at this point everything has to be on the table.

If Greg McGarity is satisfied with that plan, then everybody moves forward. I just believe that Richt has earned the right to fix what is wrong. I know a lot of people disagree and I respect their right to do so.

I would argue that Saturday’s game with Tennessee is a very important 60 minutes of football in the short term history of the program at Georgia. The crowd may be flat. They saw Georgia lose a heartbreaker to Arkansas on Sept. 18 followed by two inexplicable road losses at Mississippi State and Colorado. They are upset and dispirited. Coach Richt, you and your team have to change that with the way you play on the field. We are at the point where the team needs to lift its fans.

Here is what drives fans crazy. They feel that wearing the Georgia uniform and having the chance to play at Sanford Stadium is a privilege. They are emotionally invested in the program and have been for generations.   The fans would like to believe that Georgia’s players feel the same way. Fans that I hear from are starting to wonder if the players care about Georgia as much as they do. And that is not a fun place to be.

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706 comments Add your comment

bamafan

October 5th, 2010
10:44 am

Fleming Island Dog – for the record, UGA won in 2007, 2003, 2002, and 1990. Bama won in 1991, 1994, 1995, and 2008. I, too, spend too much time trying to correct factual errors on this blog. Two many opinions asserted here are actually factual mistatements. Also for the record, Bama did not win the national title in 2007; no Bama fan would make that claim. 2007 is hard to erase from our memory as it included four losses in a row. Bama feels the UGA pain, but folks like Real cannot handle it.

That Guy

October 5th, 2010
10:44 am

That’s the point I’m trying to make Paladin. You have the players. You have the talent. You just fail to develop those players and talent once they get to school. You’re playing with High School All-Stars instead of College Football Players. And that’s your coaches fault for not doing a good job of developing these guys, and the players fault for not wanting to get better. Do you think Ingram and Richardson walked into Alabama and automatically became possibly the best tandem backfield in the last decade? No. They worked hard, hit the weight room, and listened to their coaches. Georgia has the talent, just not the discipline in my mind.

A.J. Green

October 5th, 2010
10:44 am

Snake Doc. Last I checked, I’m a star receiver……

blazerdawg

October 5th, 2010
10:45 am

TG – I don’t know Bwell’s plan, and do not see a “Top 5″ next year, but UGA did go 5-6 in 1979 and then went 31-3 the next three seasons.

Eric

October 5th, 2010
10:46 am

Wired 15k to my brother in Vegas yesterday. Took Tenn and got 13 points. The line today is down to 11 1/2
Easiest money I will ever make.
This game as 4-7 point win written all over it.

Real

October 5th, 2010
10:46 am

“do you not get ANY love at home?”

Yeah, and speaking of which, I’ll have your wife home by 5 today. Promise.

JB

October 5th, 2010
10:46 am

Dawgs will not be pre season anything next year………..AJ and Durham gone, the OL maybe worse, and the same running backs and no one on Defense to strike fear in anyone ?????

BEEN AROUND

October 5th, 2010
10:47 am

The people that say “there is nobody better out there then Richt, or, be careful what you wish for”. How the hell do they know? There are people out there. You just have to have the determination and back bone to find them. Meyer came from Utah. Saban did not start at LSU or Alabama. Some savvy athletic director had the guts , initiative, and brains to find them. Where did Dooley coach before UGA or Parsegian before Northwestern and Notre dame?

Maybe it’s not a question of whose out there. Maybe it’s a question of being too damn lazy or complacent to get off your ass and make an effort to find them. Richt has been well compensated at UGA, and, if the numbskull who gave him the 10 year contract had had any brains, it would have been for no more then 5 years. Then UGA wouldn’t be in the mess they are now in.. Ask Notre Dame about 10 year contracts.

Richt has shown what he has been able to do in 10 years, and, for whatever reason, he has been found lacking. He has shown himself to be incapable of competing with the SEC’s best. It’s time for him to go. The sooner the better. If not, UGA’s fan base will pay the price.

Fleming Island Dawg

October 5th, 2010
10:47 am

Real Yes it was. He said we only beat their lowly team with a field goal in OY in 2007 and I just corrected him that it was a 25 yard TD from Stafford to Mikey Henderson. He said it was too long ago to remember. I was just correcting the facts and explained I remebered because I watched it with a buc\nch of AL fans and it was my aunt’s 100th birthday. He said we went downhill from there after beating their lowly team. Yes 10-2 then 10-3 and then 8-5 is all down hill. I know that last year was mediocre but not a losing season and this years is bad but tired of hearing how we have been bad forever.

hornblowermg

October 5th, 2010
10:48 am

JIM HARBAUGH!

RollTide

October 5th, 2010
10:49 am

Hey Real-
Here is one Bama fan who is not hypocritical. I hate your worthless program and I hope you lose every single one of your games. You play in a stadium where a sewer runs underneath it and you somehow expect great results. Bama has had our share of problems…with Shula, Dubose, whatever…and we STILL own the SEC. How many SEC title do you have again? That’s right…we’re still your Daddy you pathetic puke!!!

Eric

October 5th, 2010
10:49 am

Missouri is a 13 point fav over Colorado.

FalconUGAFan

October 5th, 2010
10:50 am

@bamafan I’ve actually met Saban and I have a great deal of respect for the man. That is a man that leaves nothing to chance. He controls his every action and word. I suspect that translates to the way he deals with his players. Thats why your discipline issues have all but disappeared.

producewiz

October 5th, 2010
10:50 am

Richt’s close friend is Ron Zook.they converse a lot. he might be getting advice from a guy who has absolutely stolen money from Florida and Illinois as head coach.He proved the “Peter Principle” is alive and well

3rdn8

October 5th, 2010
10:50 am

@ Real

here’s guessing you haven’t really seen my wife. you’d have her home before 5

Bricks

October 5th, 2010
10:50 am

real just got pimped slapped by roll

Game C0ck Here

October 5th, 2010
10:50 am

I hope Richt stays at Georgia for a long time, LMFAO

Real

October 5th, 2010
10:51 am

Fleming Island Dawg

I had to correct a bama fan who said every Auburn/Bama game in Auburn’s six year beat down of Bama were all close games. The fact is, last years Iron Bowl was closer than any of those six years of Auburn’s reign. Then, the moron had the gall to call me an Auburn fan because I corrected his stupidity.

Gotta love the poorly educated people from the state of Alabama.

82Dawg

October 5th, 2010
10:51 am

@RollTide …..easy now…don’t stroke out on us. It is just a game.

blazerdawg

October 5th, 2010
10:51 am

RT – y’all do not have sewer lines at Byant-Denny yet? dang. explains all the outhouses in tuscaloosa.

Evansdawg

October 5th, 2010
10:52 am

Tony, this is the best thing I have read yet concerning the state of affairs in Athens. I cannot and will not argue a single point. It does start with Richt and he should look within himself and have the option to decide if his dedication and fire to the program is still there. If not, then Richt owes it to the fans to step aside. If its there, and he agrees to right the ship, he has earned the respect to be given the chance to get it done.

Thanks for this article. Its the most sensible thing to come out of all this. Now, it is our job, the fans, to get our butts into Sanford this weekend and do what is necessary to support our boys. “THIS ENDS NOW” should be the message sent to the field from the fans.

GO DAWGS….Forever.

JB

October 5th, 2010
10:52 am

1-11 this year will change a lot of opinions on this blog………..Probably won’t happen, but we’ll see if this team has any fight left…………Next 2 months will be interesting…………! 11/2-12 point spread for Saturday…………Sucker bet or what? Do the Dawgs put in together this week ?

Game C0ck Here

October 5th, 2010
10:52 am

Wow, how do you let Bama boys talk trash to you like that? Oh thats right, your losers

TrueBlueBravesFan

October 5th, 2010
10:52 am

You so called fans are pathetic. College Athletics is not like the pro’s. These kids and yes they are kids are dice roll at best. Mark Richt can’t look into the future and see how these star recruits are going to turn out from a maturity and skill level. Remember this is not an exact science. The country is full of 5 start recruits that never amounted to anything on the College football playing field. (anyone even remember Lorenzo Booker now).
Is Mark Richt really doing such a bad job or is it that some of the hoped for talent really hasn’t panned out. Just look at the talent alone that had to be kicked off the team (Yet you complain about Richts lack of discipline). Its a no win for Richt if he doesn’t kick them off the team then he’s too soft on discipline. If he does kick them off well then Richt doesn’t recruit good talent. Geesh if I was CMR I would be going home every night and hitting the Jack Daniels.

Lets look at this year with a little bit of thought ( I know Im asking a lot). Last years defense was clearly not just outschemed but also outmanned. The line was consistently dominated at the line of scrimmage and that was with 2 NFL draft picks in every down. The backfield was horrible at coverage and it didn’t matter whether they played man or zone. Sure the read and react didn’t work well becuase the kids just weren’t good at playing it. You really expect a new defensive coordinator to come in and fix this with just 1 recruiting class of mostly redshirted freshmen? Come on that’s just not realistic. And lets face it this year was setting up to be a Tsunami before it ever started. New defense, new Freshman QB (who actually looks pretty good with his decision making) and a schedule with the toughest teams on the schedule in the first half (Not counting FLA). Did you really expect better than 2-2 to start (I didn’t). I think the biggest disappointment for me was Missippi State but even that game was setup perfectly for a GA loss. Think about it …we lose a heart breaker to Arkansas the week before (once again due to poor talent on the defense). Mississipi nearly beats LSU the week before thus giving them a lot of confidence. We go on the road and find out our best player AJ is still out from the appeal.

I would go so far as to say you really can’t judge this team till next year when Grantham has some of his players making contributions and our Quarterback has some facial hair. The question for CMR is at OC…..is Bobo the man? Im not sure on this yet because Bobo has had some great games. Yes he’s also called some head scratchers. My real issue with Bobo is he sometimes get stuck in a rut with his play calls. Too many Bubble screens and Off tackle runs. He needs to keep the DC guessing a little more with how he mixes up the plays. But remember we never know the full picture on htat either. Maybe a play requires a personel set that isn’t available. Or maybe the play didn’t practice well the week before. You don’t know what makes up the play calling decisions that a coordinator has to pick from.

Real

October 5th, 2010
10:53 am

“How many SEC title do you have again? That’s right…we’re still your Daddy you pathetic puke!!!”

Says the troglodyte who’s own state hoses down blacks, has the worst education in the south, and has had KKK members as governors.

Say what you want about UGA, but trust me, people actually like to come to Athens, b!tch.

Game C0ck Here

October 5th, 2010
10:53 am

Hey, who have you guys beaten this year ?? Maybe you can go to their blog and talk trash

Vulture

October 5th, 2010
10:54 am

Watching Richt is so relaxing that I just want to take a nap.

Real

October 5th, 2010
10:54 am

Game C0ck Here

Funny, just two weeks ago you were in here trash talking Auburn fans and calling them names.

Cam schooled you c0ck suckers. LOL

bamafan

October 5th, 2010
10:54 am

Fleming Island Dog – my apologies to you for the Bama fan who said the UGA victory over Bama in 2007 was a victory over a “lowly Alabama team.” The team did later lose 5 more games and finished 7-6 (losing four straight in November), but at the time UGA and Bama played that year, Bama was 3-0 and coming off Saban’s first significant win (come from behind against Arky and Darren McFadden). Bama was not “lowly” at that time. Clearly, UGA has not “been bad forever” but there appears to be some attempt by UGA fans to peg the current situation to a turning point. In my opinion, the turning point did not occur in 2007 and certainly not in Tuscaloosa. The pass that Stafford threw that night may have been one of the best he threw in three years at UGA. I also seem to recall Moreno running over us all night.

Fleming Island Dawg

October 5th, 2010
10:54 am

Thanks Bamafan. That’s all I was doing was correcting how we won the game and I was accused of being selective in wins and losses and hanging my hat on this and that. That’s why I went ahead and went back 20 years to 4 and 4 but don’t really care. I hang out with all fans and still love my team as they do also. I have been with both Alabama and Florida fans through the lean years and they remained true fans also.

Game C0ck Here

October 5th, 2010
10:55 am

True Blue- your coach gets paid to know how recruits will work out Dumb A**
Mark Richt is a joke

bruce mac

October 5th, 2010
10:55 am

There is no way that a plan can be implemented by CMR. At the end of the day, he is going to see that he in fact is the problem. Saban and Meyer and their type work 24 7 on recruiting, strength and conditioning, etc. CMR believes in a balanced life style. A balanced life style will result in 6, 7, or 8 wins per year in this environment. That is why the coaches now make $4Million, because they are worth it. CMR is not worth it, period because he is not all in. McCarity can dick around another year if he wants to but the Fat Lady has Sung on this one.

Commonsense

October 5th, 2010
10:55 am

Bingo Tony,

I think the two main points you made that are at issue here are “fire in the belly” and strength and conditioning. Richt obviously hasn’t gotten stupid the past 5 years. Yes, Saban and Meyer have changed the landscape, but Richt has still had teams that could, and should have, beaten them; or at the very least gone down to the wire against them. I have heard for years that our S&C program is putrid compared to other SEC programs. I think this should be a main focus of the new AD and seriously investigated.

Real

October 5th, 2010
10:55 am

Game C0ck Here

USC has never been relevant, never won a single national title, never won the SEC, and doesn’t have one player in the NFL.

Spurrier is a has been.

St. Clarkston

October 5th, 2010
10:56 am

Great idea! Give Richt the time tested mandate that there must be significant improvement. The difference between Georgia (the state) and Mississippi or tennessee is that it’s probably 4th in the amount of high school talent in the country (Texas, Florida, California, Georgia). Richt’s team has lost 9 games in the last season and a half. Just inexcusable.

Real

October 5th, 2010
10:56 am

“Mark Richt is a joke”

No, USC is a joke and will always be a joke. Spurrier is a washed up has been from Florida.

But hey, you have a chicken as a mascot.

just saying

October 5th, 2010
10:57 am

Inability to execute plays? That was the reason for the loss at Colorado? Well if the 5 stars cannot execute plays who the blank can? If the mutts were full of young 2 and 3 stars that is one thing, but your not. You people practically hold a parade every year marching up and down the aisles at your jobs bragging about your 5 star recruiting class year after year and this is what you have to show for it? One win over a double team? One win people one win and not even Mississippi State who by the way all you morons laughed at GT about beating last season. You ought to all be ashamed of your hypocritical selves. Next recruiting season, just shut the blank up..It is pathetic

robodawg

October 5th, 2010
10:57 am

Totally agree Tony. Great article.

Richt just needs to give McGarity enough to justify allowing him an offseason to right the ship. Getting bowl eligible would do it. A 4-8 season will make it very hard for McGarity. Will 5-7 be enough? A win over Florida would go a long ways.

Some people are cheering for a coaching change. Thanks for the common sense. Such changes are never easy. A team with a new coach can struggle for years before things get better. Having the “right” AD to make the “right” hire can’t guarantee anything.

If you’re a Georgia fan, you gotta root for Richt to give us something to feel good about over the second half of this season, make whatever offseason adjustments he needs to, and come out next year with a strong, competitive team. That’s our best option for winning more SEC titles in the next 5 years.

Russ

October 5th, 2010
10:58 am

Stand behind your team!!! “Did we give up when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?”

Just kidding. I want Richt to go.

bamafan

October 5th, 2010
10:58 am

Fleming Island Dog – thanks for the kind remarks. I don’t get much love at home apparently. It doesn’t get any better than college football – win or lose – but winning is more fun. Please don’t take the happiness over the situation at Bama as glee over the UGA situation…….it is not. Again, Bama only has to go back 3 years to find a four game losing streak, not 57 years. Good luck to the Dawgs against Tennessee!

Typical lonely, socially awkward Jacket fan

October 5th, 2010
10:59 am

hahahahha!!!! UGA sucks again!!! Yes!!!!!! Who cares what my team does!!! My life revolves around UGA and their success….or LACK THERE OF!!!!!! Hahahahaha!!!! Normally I pretend to be a fan of another SEC team but I figured my anti-UGA hatred and jealousy of their dominance over my team was so obvious and predictable that I would just start going by an honest handle for a change!!!! Keep up the lousiness puppies!!!!

WAR DAMN EAGLE

October 5th, 2010
10:59 am

Game C0ck Here

How’s it going, loser!!!!!! I bet you have nightmares of Cam Newton running down the field all over your precious chickens!

By the way, in honor of your mascot, I ate ChicFilA for lunch that day!

bamafan

October 5th, 2010
10:59 am

Oops – sorry about the misspelling of “dog” – must be my inferior bama education!!

RedEye Dawg

October 5th, 2010
10:59 am

Very good assessment. Just want to point out what I think is the biggest problem. When you score 27 points, you should not lose. Our defense must be taught at the 18 to 22 year old level, and must be conservative enough to not allow major breakdowns that have occurred in each game this season. Yes, we all want sacks and disruptions, but don’t let a safety run by a receiver to make a tackle. That just leaves the receiver wide open. Blitzing is exciting but when a linebacked shoots, somebody has got to cover his responsibility in case a runner gets into that spot. That has happened repeatedly. We must have a sound defense – - the Bear said “You don’t lose if you don’t get scored on”.

hmmm......

October 5th, 2010
11:00 am

Why do Tech fans continue to lie and say all UGA has are “5 star” athletes? Richt has only landed nine 5 stars in 10 seasons.

WAR DAMN EAGLE

October 5th, 2010
11:00 am

bamafan

We’ve all had our down years, and UGA will get around it. Mark Richt is my favorite SEC coach and there isn’t one football program in the country that would not love him to coach their team.

Fact check

October 5th, 2010
11:02 am

South Carolina has 17 players in the NFL.

Tim

October 5th, 2010
11:02 am

Yes. He fixed it 2001. He can fix now.

blazer

October 5th, 2010
11:02 am

i thought they got all these great five star studs every year-at least that

what we hear all the time-???????????????????

blazerdawg

October 5th, 2010
11:02 am

WDE – Classy comments and thanks for Vince Dooley.