Why Mark Richt should remain as Georgia’s head coach

 

College football is a game of emotion. It has to be played with emotion. To be enjoyed to its fullest, college football must be watched by fans with a certain level of healthy emotion. Coaches must be emotionally invested in what they do in order to do it well. Emotion is woven into the fabric of the sport.

But when one EVALUATES the game of football or a football program, which is going right now at the University of Georgia, it must be done without emotion. It must be done with a certain analytical detachment that sees exactly what the situation is and, if necessary, come up with the BEST possible option to fix it.

And when you take emotion out of the equation and focus only on the facts at hand, Mark Richt should remain as the head coach at Georgia for the 2011 season.

I’ve heard from a lot of you both on this blog and on my radio show. Losing to Florida broke your heart because you knew Georgia was good enough to win that game. I picked the Bulldogs because, quite honestly, I thought they had better players. Still do. But better players usually do not overcome four turnovers. And Florida deserved to win because Urban Meyer did a helluva job of getting his team ready to play after three straight losses.

So if Georgia had better players and Urban Meyer did such a great job of getting his team ready, how in the world, Barnhart, can you say that Mark Richt should be back in 2011?

Again, let’s take emotion out of this and look at the body of work and where things really stand in the program.

Richt is now 2-8 against Florida. I don’t have a counter to that. He hasn’t had consistent success against the Gators.

Richt won SEC championships in 2002 and 2005 and played for the title in 2003 against a team (LSU) than won the national championship. So this will be the fifth straight year that Georgia has not appeared in the SEC championship game. No counter argument there.

But let’s look at where the program has been and where we think it is headed.

In 2007 Georgia was as good as any team in the nation. If Tennessee doesn’t win in four overtimes against Kentucky in Lexington, Georgia plays LSU for the SEC championship in Atlanta. In my opinion Georgia wins that game and would have been in the mix for the national championship.

In 2008 Georgia was preseason No. 1. But before the season even began injuries negated the validity of that ranking. Still, Georgia won 10 football games that season. I’ve heard some people call that a bad season based on the preseason ranking. But if the preseason ranking is not accurate by the time the games begin, are you telling me that 10 wins is still a bad season?

In 2009 Georgia was a bad football team that was poorly coached. Too many penalties. Minus 16 in turnovers. Played well at the end of the year when the offensive line finally jelled. Still, not a good team.

In 2010 Georgia played the first four games without the best player on offense and in a brand new defensive scheme where the learning curve was steep. They lost on the road to No. 19 South Carolina, a team that beat Alabama on that same field on Oct. 9 and may play in the SEC championship game. They lost at home to No. 18 Arkansas (6-2), a team that will win nine or 10 games and has one of the best quarterbacks in college football. The Hogs’ only losses are to No. 2 (Auburn) and No. 6 (Alabama). Georgia lost on the road at No. 20 Mississippi State, which is 7-2 and whose only losses are to the No. 2 (Auburn) and No. 10 (LSU) teams in the country.

When A.J. Green did return Georgia won threee straight games against bad teams but by substantial margins. Then Georgia lost an overtime game against one of its biggest rivals in a game where they rallied from a 21-7 halftime deficit to force overtime. Aaron Murray, who is going to be a great quarterback for Georgia, threw a ball in overtime that he shouldn’t have thrown. No argument there. Young, talented quarterbacks make great plays and bad plays. Over time, the bad plays decrease. Murray will be no different.

So instead of its fourth straight win, Georgia absorbs a heartbreaking loss. So I ask you: If Georgia’s Blair Walsh kicks the winning field goal in overtime instead of Florida’s Chas Henry, are we even having this discussion today? If Georgia wins that game is everybody saying that Richt has things back on track and he’s good to go for the future?

If the answer to that question is yes, if the line between keeping a coach and letting him go is that fine, then you have to keep him.

Look, I’ve heard all the arguments. Richt is not (pick one): A) Tough enough; B) Mean enough; C) Savvy enough to compete with the Urban Meyers or the Nick Sabans of the world. On top of that you bring Gene Chizik to Auburn and Dan Mullen to Mississippi State and your argument is that the league is passing Georgia by.

But I would maintain that based on what we’ve seen the past four weeks things are trending upwards in the Georgia program. But I would also say that Richt needs to be prepared to put everything on the table in this offseason. Everybody’s job has to be reassessed. There needs to be more defensive talent across the board. Georgia’s backs are decent, but I don’t see a Marcus Lattimore or a Michael Dyer in the bunch. Richt needs to look at his strength and conditioning program to make sure it is the best it can be. He needs to look at his recruiting organization to make sure it is doing the job. Every coach on that staff needs to be prepared to explain how his area of responsibilty is going to get better. Changes will have to be made but the leadership at the top needs to stay in place.

I could be wrong. I often am. While there is much to be done to get Georgia football back to elite status in the SEC, I’m not convinced a change at the top is necessary. Please feel free to convince me otherwise.

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681 comments Add your comment

rusty

November 2nd, 2010
7:08 am

I think you are spot on Tony

Brown Dog

November 2nd, 2010
7:10 am

I’m stunned: Thoughtful, measured commentary first thing in the morning, and no verbal riots from UGA fans. What a relief.

geaux tigers

November 2nd, 2010
7:15 am

Tony, why did you leave out the 30+ arrests in the last 3 years. That has to also be evaluated. Also, why are you making excuses about injuries. Your argument says UGA is not deep enough to be a great team. Too many coulda woulda shouldas in this homer op-ed, Tony. Face it, Richt is not an elite SECOND coach.

whiner

November 2nd, 2010
7:16 am

Wow look at all of the excuses.

geaux tigers

November 2nd, 2010
7:17 am

SEC coach, blackberry defaulted to second.

Cakeman

November 2nd, 2010
7:18 am

I graduated from Georgia in 1962. I have seen the good, bad and ugly in Georgia football teams. Mark Richt is head and shoulders above the coaches we have had in the past. He has integrity, which is not something previous coaches have been overflowing with. All teams have their ups and downs. Let’s stick with a winner as a person and a a coach.

bo

November 2nd, 2010
7:19 am

you conveniently forgot all abouthe Colorado debacle (that AJ Green played in)

HairyDawg88

November 2nd, 2010
7:22 am

Very well said Tony…for some reason, the fans on here and on the DawgVent seem to think they know more. Winning the MNC involves a good amount of luck…no matter what anyone says. If not for Mount Cody last year vs. TN, Bama does not win it. I agree that UGA is on the upswing, and patience is needed by all. CMR will make more changes and we will better…you can count on it.

Bottom Line

November 2nd, 2010
7:24 am

Tony don’t make excuses for Richt. In his 10 years at UGA, he has made almost $30 million. I don’t think we’ve gotten our money’s worth.

John Galt

November 2nd, 2010
7:24 am

We are in a valley right now, but if you take a deep breathe and think, there is no way that we can improve ourselves in the HC position.

Astropig

November 2nd, 2010
7:25 am

Because…

Because ‘Bama fans wouldn’t accept this, Florida fans wouldn’t accept this,Auburn fans wouldn’t accept this and LSU fans wouldn’t accept this. Vandy fans would kill for this record and this talent.If Georgia wants to be an elite program,it must demand elite results. Falling back on the excuse that “If a field goal ,but for a penalty” is what 2nd tier teams lean on to explain average results.

Richt’s time at Georgia looks like a curve (beginning ,peak,decline). Before rock bottom is reached (and multi year chaos ensues) its time for a change.

BAMA dude

November 2nd, 2010
7:25 am

C) Savvy enough to compete with the Urban Meyers or the Nick Sabans of the world. On top of that you bring Gene Chizik CAM NEWTON to Auburn and Dan Mullen to Mississippi State and your argument is that the league is passing Georgia by.

fixed

Bill

November 2nd, 2010
7:26 am

No mention of the record against SEC teams over the past three years? What you see in the past four weeks makes you think things are trending upward? What have you seen beyond beating three woeful teams and looking sloppy against an average Florida team? Richt’s CEO approach is not working. The teams lack discipline and good fundamental technique. The assistant coaches would not be considered for hire by any other SEC school. Richt is a really nice guy but he can no longer compete at the highest level.

Roddy

November 2nd, 2010
7:27 am

I love the injury excuses Tony.

Did Alabama make excuses when Mark Ingram went down with an injury? No, they just plugged in the next guy who was nearly just as good. Depth is what it is. You can’t tell me after 10 years Georgia shouldn’t already be at least two deep at every position.

Joe D.

November 2nd, 2010
7:27 am

Looks just like Fulmer’s downfall at Tennessee, same type of numbers…the good and the bad, and getting worse. However, please note: beware of the unknown. Change is not always best for change sake. See Obama and Kiffin as examples.

Fat Eddy

November 2nd, 2010
7:28 am

Tony sounds like Mark Richt has had him over for a couple Thanksgiving dinners. Get off the homer bandwagon Tony.

I’m sure you were saying Ray Goff and Jim Donnan didn’t need to go either.

Caleb King Sucks.

November 2nd, 2010
7:29 am

Van Hallanger and the stupid finish the drill need to go. We need to get stronger and tougher up front on both sides of the ball. Rennie, Kade, Jeff and Geno all hurt terribly bad, and the critics need to consider this with the defense. It stars with VAN HALLANGER or however you spell his name.

Cobb Dawg

November 2nd, 2010
7:29 am

Joe D -

Why don’t you just stop acting like such a know it all for once? It get’s annoying enough dude.

Atticus

November 2nd, 2010
7:30 am

I can’t disagree with your thinking Tony. My concern is the program doesn’t seem to be moving in a positive direction. I think he waited 1 year too long to get rid of those clowns coaching defense and special teams. I think he does not have an elite coach (or he is not an elite offensive coach) on the offensive side of the ball and it gives us too many close games that end up going the other way. When you have a great defense you can afford to take a chance on a guy but we may not have agreat defense for two more years and so you are going to have to put teams away and intimidate them offensively like Florida has done in the past or like Aubrun is doing now. The playcalling at times during so many games was summed up in OT. You had the chance and you blew it on 1st and 2nd down with two horrible play calls. He’ll get another year and I agree everything should be on the table. But the biggest issue with one more year is this: He needs to win the SEC East next year or at least win 9-10 games and that probably won’t happen. To stop a dramatic slide you need dramatic improvement (to sell kids, parents and alumni) and that is doubtful the way we approach the game.

Me and You and a Dawg Named Belue

November 2nd, 2010
7:31 am

I agree with Tony. I was ready to walk off a bridge after the game Sat but this program is going to be okay. Do we really want to go back to the way things were in the Goff or Donnan years?. Heck, CMR has won better than Dooley did. Let’s be realistic here. The Dawgs will be back and sooner than many think.

Palm City Dawg

November 2nd, 2010
7:31 am

I agree Tony. Send Bo Bo back to coach quaterbacks and bring in a powerful OC that can mesh with Richt’s pro-style offense and you will see a big difference. We need an OC that is a big time gamer.

Tommy Dawg

November 2nd, 2010
7:31 am

Did you forget the Colorado loss?

That was with AJ and to the worst team in the Big XII. That has to be brought up in any job discussion for Richt.

Cobb Dawg

November 2nd, 2010
7:33 am

Me and You and a Dawg Named Belue -

All roses and flower baskets huh? What a pathetic excuse for a fan. Unless your donating money don’t even run your mouth.

GTDog

November 2nd, 2010
7:34 am

Bill? In which off-seasson did a UGA assistant NOT receive a job offer from a rival school?

Either pay attention to what is happening or stop making assinine comments….deal?

jellybeandawg

November 2nd, 2010
7:36 am

Tony writes “in 2007 Georgia was as good as any team in the nation”

If we were so “good” why could we not even win the SEC east?

Why did we come out unprepared, lethargic and unmotivated to play in our 2 losses against a 6-6 South Carolina team and Tennessee?

In 2008, what MAJOR did we have? Did we not have Satfford, Moreno, Green, AND Mohamed Massaquoi healthy ALL SEASON LONG??? What MAJOR injuries were there?

Atticus

November 2nd, 2010
7:38 am

Why is it that everyone thinks if Richt leaves that the program goes back to where it was under Goff and Donnan. Goff should’ve never gotten the job (too old to rehash) and Donnan hired the wrong DC and didn’t play the alumni game. The state of Georgia has doubled in size the last 20 years, the talent in the state is unbelievable now. The alumni base,the stadium, NFL players, the facilities are much stronger. Making excuses like that is pathetic. The right guy doesn’t have to take a back seat to anyone. If Urban is so good how come he lost 4 games 3 years ago and could lose 4 again now. He isn’t unbeatable. Same with Saban. You MAKE your own success.

Big D

November 2nd, 2010
7:38 am

Excuses!Bottom line if you have a 2-8 against your number one rival and pre-season number one lose three games—something is wrong somewhere. Last three years “going to fix it” so another year goes by while Auburn, Mississippi State and South Car. pass the DAWG Nation by—you get what you pay for.

Pete in Dacula

November 2nd, 2010
7:38 am

jellybeandawg -

I can’t stand you.

Charles

November 2nd, 2010
7:40 am

Hey Big D, nobody cares what you think.

Colorado

November 2nd, 2010
7:40 am

ha ha ha ha. This is classic.

AUin ATL

November 2nd, 2010
7:40 am

Hey BAMA dude, you can always make that argument with just about any top team. Tebow and Leak @ UF, Russell @ LSU, go back to T Martin at UT you may remember some guy named J Barker at that school south of B’ham. Thats just a few QBs in the SEC.

jellybeandawg

November 2nd, 2010
7:41 am

Of course Tony is going to leave out the MOUNTAIN of FACTS of why Richt should be let go. That is what Richt apologists do.

Tony only writes typical Mark Richt puff pieces.

Atticus

November 2nd, 2010
7:41 am

GTDOG, I think what he means is this: Florida’s coordinators both got head coaching jobs the last two years and have shown marked improvement. Georgia’s coordinators, one got fired and the other is not being considered and will not for a major college coaching job. That is what I think he meant. You are only as good as the men you hire to run your entire team.

1785 Dawg

November 2nd, 2010
7:42 am

Well said Tony. I encourage our fans to support Coach Richt and all of the players at all times. It is too easy to be negative, and to fault find. We expect a great football team every year, but we don’t always act like great fans, and great supporters of those that work so hard to win every Saturday. We need all of the fans to “man up” and support Coach Richt and every member of the team, and staff, through this rebuilding process. Go Dawgs!

ChuckDawg

November 2nd, 2010
7:44 am

Exactly right except for one thing. Richt doesn’t have the leadership skills to do what is needed, make the changes needed, and get the players that will win championships.
You are very right about the fact the SEC game has passed him by.

Herschel Talker

November 2nd, 2010
7:44 am

I agree with jellybeandawg. This is more silliness from the mainstream media who won’t call it like it is. This is the 3rd straight year of decline. 2008 wasn’t just disappointing, it was a disaster. As were the last year and this year. Let’s not be silly.

Ponnie

November 2nd, 2010
7:45 am

JELLYBEANDAWG, GO JUMP OFF A CLIFF MAN!

Otto Strahl

November 2nd, 2010
7:46 am

the fact is Richt is at best the 3rd best coach in his conference. Is keeping Richt safer than gambling on bringing in a new coach?

David

November 2nd, 2010
7:47 am

It’s better to fire a coach a year early, then a year late. UGA needs to fire Richt as soon as the season is over.

GaDawg

November 2nd, 2010
7:49 am

This was a close game and the score was much easier to digest than those of previous years, saying that I believe in CMR’s ability to elevated this team. We have one of the Best QB’s in the country an he’s only going to get better. I am a Dawg Fan and always will be, Good or Bad I bleed Red and Black an support this Team. GO DAWGS!!

warhorse

November 2nd, 2010
7:49 am

Richt deserves to stay for one more year. The typical UGA fan thinks Will Muschamp is the messiah, but look at his defense this year. Does not look much better than his career against the Gators which was 0-4.

Macdaddyhey

November 2nd, 2010
7:50 am

A situation like this is either partly sunny or partly cloudy. Lets see if as positive an article is written after a loss to Auburn and a potential loss to tech. You have to ask yourself “What have you done for me lately?” Arrest after arrest, a stale program and getting passed by the doormat of the SEC in Miss St. UGA is not an elite program and is not innovative enough on offense or defense. To run the offense that UGA runs you must have elite players. Richt had those at FSU and did with Donnan’s players at UGA. Either UGA must upgrade the coach or upgrade everything around him.

jellybeandawg

November 2nd, 2010
7:52 am

This is just another Barnhart puff piece. High on excuses, speculation, what if’s and devoid of any truths or facts.

Mtn Dawg

November 2nd, 2010
7:53 am

Good article Tony.

Golden Parachute

November 2nd, 2010
7:54 am

Otto Strahl

November 2nd, 2010
7:46 am

the fact is Richt is at best the 3rd best coach in his conference. Is keeping Richt safer than gambling on bringing in a new coach?

You meant to say that Richt is the third best Head Coach in the SEC East, didn’t you?

That makes sense. What you said does not.

Jeff

November 2nd, 2010
7:55 am

Thank you Tony. I have had issues in the past with some of your articles, but I have to admit, you do bring a breath of fresh air and a solid analysis that is spot on. The only thing I would add is Caoch Richt needs to put someone/something in place to address the trouble players are geting into. Not sure what that is but I am sure he can look to his peers at other places to see what they are doing.

jumbeauxtiger

November 2nd, 2010
7:56 am

Tony,

I just don’t see how Georgia can be 4-5 with their talent. They are stronger at every offensive position, the offensive line, receivers, backs and QB than LSU and we are 7-1, probably will be 7-2 next week, but still that is a much better season than what Georgia is having.

I have said numerous times on here that a head coach must have good assistants. I think the jury is still out on Grantham and since I don’t attend the Dawg games I really can’t comment on Bobo objectively. I know Bobo is criticized on here.

It seems to me Richt’s biggest faults are his hiring ability and his lack of discipline. Those are 2 big issues in my mind. Whether it’s enough to warrant a change now is debatable. I can understand the frustration the Dawg nation has.

The bottom line is that with Georgia’s talent, facilities and support there is no way this program should be 4-5. The loss to Colorado is inexcusable.

ATL is TigerTown

November 2nd, 2010
7:56 am

Anyone who thinks their college football team will be or should be on top every year is delusional. It’s just not that way. Even the so-called elite among SEC teams have their down years. It’s a fact of life and you just have to deal with it. Someone has to win and someone has to lose. If you can’t accept that sometimes you will be on the losing end, you’re in the wrong game. Check with UAT fans. They think it’s their God given right to win every game. When they don’t, they get depressed, they question their faith, they contemplate suicide, they blame their mothers, they drink themselves into oblivion and destroy their trailers. Investing your entire existance in a football team is just not worth it. Get some perspective. Face reality. Richt has been good for UGA and he probably will be again, but he’s not The Wizard of Freaking OZ.
War Eagle, ladies!

SatchelBuzz

November 2nd, 2010
7:57 am

Tony,…why don’t you comment on the classless action of ugag’s Todd Grantham,..you know,…the “choke” incident,..surely you’ve heard about. I would be curious as to your take on this subject,..and I’m not shocked that you have avoided it.

THWG!!

Go Tigers

November 2nd, 2010
7:58 am

Hey BAMA Dude your an idiot! Gene Chizik inherited a program with holes in it. He went out and got the coaches he wanted to be immediately competitive in the SEC. The team had a good year last year with shorthanded numbers and a mediocre QB. The coaches are excellent on game day and on recruting day and this has and will continue to pay off. Coach Chizik brought in the OC to attract a Cam Newton, but also to have one of the best offensive lines in the country, #1 or # 2 RB recruit in nation last year and develop the WR’s to another level in receiving and blocking downfield.
So your blurred view of Gene Chizik and having Cam Newton is ignorance speaking as you don’t know what you speak of!
As for UGAY they lack an identity on offense and most have continued to agree that OC is a problem area. They are not a committed to be a run the football team. Take AU, UAT, UT, LSWHO that have had strong running games and see they are committed to running the football. Florida, THUGA, and SC have not been a run first team primarily. CMR and his staff have not done a very good job of developing the talent they bring in to the next level. The best players they have recruited were good when they arrived.
Also,many of these OFF field issues have had to be character issues that every team has from time to time, but with the number of off field incidents UGAY has had makes you wonder whether when recruitng these players if they pay much attention to getting the right fit for the program.