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

Bulldog59

November 3rd, 2010
7:11 am

The program is trending upward, just not as quickly as we all would like.

Bottom line, Murray had a bad game, and cost us the Florida game. After the INT on the first pass to AJ, he got rattled, virtually ignored his star receiver, and was rushing his throws to everyone else. It happens, he’s a RFr. making his 9th start. He’ll learn from it….

Richt isn’t going anywhere. Sounds as though he and McGarity have already begun discussions on the areas that need improvement.

TB is correct about upgrading our strength and conditioning. Coach Van Halanger has heart issues, and is rumored to be retiring at the end of this year. Supposedly, we are looking to overhaul and upgrade this part of the program anyway. To that end, Arizona Cardinals strength and conditioning coach, John Lott, was seen on the sidelines a few weeks ago in Athens.

Look for McGarity to give Richt an open checkbook to upgrade the areas of concern, more notably than strength and conditioning, is the offense staff. Expect a Thanksgiving Day Massacre similar to what happened to Wille and Co. right after the GT game last year. Bobo and friends may feel like a lot of Democratic congressmen feel this morning, unemployed.

Dawgboy

November 3rd, 2010
7:18 am

Keep Richt. It’s going to get worse next year anyway. Experienced OL gone. Houston and Green likely gone. Heavy graduation losses. This was the year they could have won the East but I am afraid that will be relinquished to UF and USCe for the next few years. In fact, I see USCe running off some impressive seasons the next few years. Yes, Spurrier will put nails in the Richt coffin and continue to frustrate and taunt UGA.

JB

November 3rd, 2010
7:57 am

bobo is going nowhere……..maybe demoted, but a pretty decent recruiter I’ve heard…..

munsondawg

November 3rd, 2010
8:42 am

Keep Richt. There will be a whole new set of fools that will buy season tickets hoping for a great season.

AceDawg

November 3rd, 2010
8:58 am

This is about entertainment. That’s all football is. I have a feeling I’d be more entertained with a different head coach.

BullDawgWillie

November 3rd, 2010
9:01 am

Thanks Tony and you are right on. Unfortunately, we have a lot of readers who are into instant gratification. Many of them appear to buy into the “what have you done for me lately” mentality. As a 2 year letterman at UGa (60’s) I am easily as upset as everyone else, but I think we need to give CMR another year. Let’s all chill-out and support our Dawgs…..they have played pretty darn well the last 4 weeks. Thanks again Tony for calling it like it is.

Jackson

November 3rd, 2010
9:41 am

What about Phil Fulmer and Tommy Tubervile’s body of work???????

SouthGADawg

November 3rd, 2010
10:11 am

OK, This year was very disapointing to say the least. UGA should have been alot better than this but firing CMR will not fix it. Let CMR do his thing and work the bugs out. This GA team is miles ahead of the team last year. UGA looks great but have not been finishing the game. Defence is looking really good secondary is still confused. Rambo needs to be replaced. If he was replaced with Ogeltree we would not have the record that we have. Only the GT fans want CHANGE for UGA. I wonder if all of the idiots that want change voted for OBOMA, how is he working out for you?

bill

November 3rd, 2010
11:04 am

Excellent analysis. If we fired Richt after this season after the success he’s had (including graduating his players) no established Head Coach or top notch Coordinator would even consider coming to Georgia.

gatordowneast

November 3rd, 2010
11:11 am

Have not read through responses, but I would add that Richt has a better record (winning %) than Vince Dooley. Dooley won a NC and 6 SEC’s but the league had 10 teams, no championship game and Florida was an under-performing, poorly coached team in those years and Tennessee was inconsistent. Essentially it was a four team league (AL, Aub, LSU and UGA)

NewnanDawg

November 3rd, 2010
11:27 am

Three out of the last five years, we are .500 or worse in the SEC. Acceptable at Ole Miss. Not acceptable at UGA.

Next year is a rebuilding year. Most of our “good” players will be gone. We returned 18 starters this year and are terrible. No excuse.

Man Thought

November 3rd, 2010
12:18 pm

You have said what I have been preaching all year….Every coach has to step up and do their job and answer for their preformance this year..Georgia has not done the things to keep up with Fla and Ala. Look at the preseason when Ritch didn’t do conditioning drills like normal, and the tackling and blocking paid for it.We will have a (5-7) season due to to this mistake in coaching… Ritch has to held responsible for this huge mistake. By taking away some money or putting him on probation, (should be both). This thing the defensive coach did saturday is for less harmful than what Ritch has done.
Ritch has made Georgia a laughing stock of football!!!!!

William

November 3rd, 2010
12:36 pm

Tony, you are right but could have made a much stronger argument in Richt’s favor, based on his overall record compared to other top coaches in the country.
Some people don’t think character and integrity are issues when it comes to coaching and winning football games but I know without a doubt where I would want my son to play and who I would want his head coach to be to have both the chance of national noteriety but also be have the best role model in college football as his head coach.
Mark’s overall win loss record will swing back to keep his record as one of the top in the country (where it still is by the way).

sunny purdue

November 3rd, 2010
1:54 pm

I agree Tony. Keep Mark Richt. Go GATORS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

droopydawg

November 3rd, 2010
2:05 pm

So football is a game of emotions unless you are a coach and put both hands around your neck, then it is the worst thing EVER.

GA BirdDAWG

November 3rd, 2010
2:16 pm

I completely disagree! UF is not “one of the biggest” rivals for UGA. They are “THE BIGGEST” rival for UGA. Bottom line is he can’t beat UF and he needs to go. It doesn’t matter to me how many 10 win seasons he has because there are very few SEC Championships in there and a BIG ZERO National Championships! The road to both those run through Jacksonville and until UGA turns the series around it will be UF going to Atlanta representing the SEC East. ITS TIME FOR CHANGE!!

My Eskimo Friend

November 3rd, 2010
2:46 pm

Gotta disagree on the inconsistency thing. Mark Richt has had undeniably consistent success against the Gators.

Kenny Powers

November 3rd, 2010
3:53 pm

Hopefully he’ll stay engaged with the entire operations going forward. He is/was responsible, or irresponsible for everything that went on. He needs to have the last say in everything and not settle for what his staff thinks is ok. He needs to be able to say no, and instill in every coach and player that there will be consequences for their actions and performance. If he can conduct himself as a HC and not as a CEO, then it will be like having a new HC. It’s his show, not the DC’s, not the OC’s, not the players, but his and his alone, and this should be made very clear to him by the AD. Put the bus in gear and start going forward.

YALL WISHED CALVIN JOHNSON WENT 2 UGA

November 3rd, 2010
5:51 pm

FIRE THE PREACHERMAN AND SEND HIM BACK TO CHURCH AT FSU!

He Hate Gator

November 3rd, 2010
6:36 pm

Tony those early successful years of Richt were with Donnan recruits, what we have now is Richt’s recruits….big difference….

Smyrnaguy

November 3rd, 2010
6:48 pm

“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.”

Laughable!! TB, can you HONESTLY say UGA has EVER been ELITE? Face it, any year UGA has won the SEC East or SECCG, the East and/or conference was down. So, with that honest assessment, we have never had, and still do not have, a head coach bring UGA to elite status. 1 NC in the modern era, and not having even played for one in 30 years are simple facts.

butch

November 3rd, 2010
6:59 pm

Excuses, excuses, you win with what you have , this is his team, I think a guy named (at ALA) Kirby might be the right guy to take us back to the top!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Clay Dawg

November 4th, 2010
1:31 am

I agree, Tony. Unfortunately, this season is gone. I still love the Dawgs and I still believe Richt is the right man for the job. No one can deny that we’ve had crappy luck this year. I like Grantham and his style. Our defense is a thousand times better than last year, and it’s only gonna get better next year. I’m not going to let the Dawg’s struggles ruin college football season for me this year. I wish things had turned out better. Now I’m gonna root for the Dawgs to win the last three games, the Gators to lose everything, and I’m gonna root for an SEC team, hopefully Alabama, to win the National Championship. Let’s all stop whining, get behind our team and our coach, finish strong, come out next year with everyone thinking we are a joke, and let’s prove everybody wrong. Ride it out, Dawg Fans. You’ll be glad you did.

Clay Dawg

November 4th, 2010
1:41 am

What has Kirby Smart proven? Everyone knows Saban is the defensive guru over there. Anyone who thinks Smart can beat Saban is crazy. Will Muschamp? Texas can have him. Iowa State? Baylor? UCLA? Come on, people. Nobody has answered this question yet: Who is available that is better than Richt? Gonna hire the next Saban? Who is it? Somebody tell me. It ain’t Chris Peterson. It ain’t Rich Rodriguez. I don’t want those guys down here. Dan Mullen? Who is it? The best person for Georgia is Mark Richt. Plain and simple. Have faith. All this whining and moaning could hurt our recruiting. It’s pathetic.

drew

November 4th, 2010
8:01 am

you’re an idoit

Canton DAWG

November 4th, 2010
12:14 pm

Tony: Your article right on. Only problem is why do you say Mark should remain for only the “2011 season”? I really like the way Mark and Bobo handle the QBs. Give them three more years with Murray and UGA will win another SEC champtionship if the defense can learn this new 3/4 system. Also, Mark needs to stop kicking players off the team. He needs to keep them on the team so he can have the control to change their behavior and change their lives for the positive. A three strike policy should be implemented. Only after strike three should the player be dismised.

Steve

November 4th, 2010
4:38 pm

Enter your comments here

Steve

November 4th, 2010
4:56 pm

Tony, I agree that Richt should remain as our Head Football Coach. At the risk of being classified as a cool-aid drinker, I would like to defend Richt’s record against Florida. There is no question in my mind that GA. has a better team than Fla. this year and the only reason Fla. won is because they had two weeks to get ready for the game. I would like to point out that Fla. has had 6 open dates before the GA. game since Richt has been @ GA. and they are 6-0 in those games. In the other 4 games Fla. is 2-2. GA. has had 2 open dates before the Fla. game in that time and they are 1-1. I have a feeling that Mr. MaGarity will not let this trend continue. He was probably the man at who was doing the schedule @Fla. and laughing @ our Athletic Department for letting it happen.

Joey

November 4th, 2010
9:09 pm

Very good Tony. And if A.J. Green returns for a Senior season, I”m thinking not only SEC Title, but National Title!!!!!! Go Dawgs!!!!!

mr. chas.

November 7th, 2010
3:34 pm

If…If…If….If he would start raising hell with these thugs when they turn the ball over! If he would show some real emotion! If he would stop appearing in those silly loser old man’s Ford truck commercials and come out burning the tires off of a bellowing bad a$$ Hemi Ram….Then maybe he could get all of that talent he recruited to play up to par. Hire Larry Blakeney away from Troy. He is a proven motivator and winner.

T Dawg

November 8th, 2010
1:05 am

Mark Richt needs to be the Joe Peterno of UGA. Alot of good point where made in this article and i love the fact im hearing more stories about holding on to Richt. Mark Richt has one of the best track records in all of cllege football, UGA can in no way think bringing in someon new will help. As ive been saying Grantham is going to work out great and is already proving effective. I can only hope everything will work out and Richt stays with UGA forever.

IMPORTANT: Ive heard talks of trustees or something in miami trying to STEAL Richt from us! THAT CANT HAPPEN!!!