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

Golden Parachute

November 2nd, 2010
7:58 am

@ATL is TigerTown

You are a blithering idiot.

swgaboy

November 2nd, 2010
7:58 am

Tony, usually I agree with you. This time I can only partially agree. Florida is a great program. 2-8 vs. the Gators isn’t good enough especially given that we should have won at least one or two of the games in 2002, 2003, and 2010 where we are probably the better team. But to me the most damning stat for Richt is the fact that in the last 5 years he’s lost to Kentucky (twice), Vandy, Miss. St., and is only 3-2 vs. South Carolina. Not to mention that he’s 2-3 vs. Tennessee…..with inexplicable losses in 2007 and 2009. We should have been 4-1 at least vs. the Vols in that time period. Our record vs. the SEC east just isn’t good enough. And its not like that’s been the stronger side of the conference in the last 5 years.

You hinted at it the real problem. Richt has been a great “face of the program.” But he’s responsible for having made some very poor decisions regarding his staff. Its probably the least respected staff as a whole that I can ever remember at UGA. I really thought Richt was going to put us over the hump in late 2006 when he made the decision to become more of a “CEO” type of head coach. But his staff wasn’t good enough for him to do that. I don’t know that he’ll ever do what is necessary to fix this problem. He should’ve removed all doubt about this LAST off season and finished the drill in replacing people like Van Halanger and Garner along with the others he let go.

jellybeandawg

November 2nd, 2010
8:00 am

Barnhart is your typical Mark Richt excuse artist.

He will conveniently leave out every truth and fact showing why Mark Richt should be let go in order to keep the Con rolling.

Phil

November 2nd, 2010
8:01 am

Yea, Tony leaves out the arrests records, which is more than the number of wins per season. Now we have the Defensive Coordinator giving the choke sign to the Florida kicker.

Where is the integrity of our program Tony??

On the field product sucks.

Off the field program sucks.

10 years of this crap is enough.

Boda Getta

November 2nd, 2010
8:02 am

Tony, I agree with you completely, Richt should be Georgia’s coach for another ten years.

Now when are you going to finally talk about Auburn?

Dog in TN

November 2nd, 2010
8:04 am

These are the times that try men’s souls. Hang in there, Coach Richt will bring this team back.

Ponnie

November 2nd, 2010
8:04 am

Jellybeandawg, nobody is listening to you, you moron.

Golden Parachute

November 2nd, 2010
8:04 am

Mark Richt knows that he has lost the support of the vast majority of the Georgia fan-base. He also knows that he has a contract and he is going to force the University to honor it. Richt is now to Georgia what Tuberville was to Auburn in 2007 — the walking dead.

Top Dawg

November 2nd, 2010
8:05 am

When AJ Green “did return,” WE LOST TO COLORADO. After that, we won three straight games.

Golden Parachute

November 2nd, 2010
8:06 am

Top Dawg

November 2nd, 2010
8:05 am
When AJ Green “did return,” WE LOST TO COLORADO. After that, we won three straight games.

… to cellar-dwelling bottom feeders.

There. Fixed that for ya!

Larry

November 2nd, 2010
8:06 am

WRONG, MR. BARNHART. When Mark Richt quit on his team with 50 seconds left in regulation, he lost the right to be this team’s coach. Any coach who doesn’t play to win is not worth having.

BOBO is a BOZO

November 2nd, 2010
8:07 am

One may wonder how you have your own show on CBS… a show that no one watches for a reason. Maybe you have not watched enough UGA football? It blows my mind that some Georgia fans are content with 7-5 seasons, but as a recent UGA grad, I think maybe we have different expectations than you older people. I should not be chastised for seeking greatness in a program.

SickandTired

November 2nd, 2010
8:08 am

That was a great and well thought out assessment Tony. There are other mitigating factors that you didn’t cover. A previous responder mentioned the arrests. That is of major concern especially when the perception with much of the Dawg Nation is that Mark Richt is a paragon of virtue and morals. Obviously the players that he’s recruited and nurtured haven’t responded to his steller public image. Something else must be in play here. The character of the player that getting recruited has to be looked at and obviously it isn’t taken into account often enough. There’s two more recruits coming in next season that were either kicked off or suspended for a significant period of time by the high school teams. They should fit right in. Dawg fans will say in both these instances that it wasn’t major violations and take a boys will be boys attitude. The night life in Athens is NOT going to help when you’ve got kids that are already prone to discipline issues. So here we go again. Richt had his best years with Donnans players PERIOD. It’s not something that’s up for debate. Donnan was much better at identifying talent than Richt. So if Richt wants to stay he should be foreced into dumping Rodney Garner. But history tells us that Rodney Garner is the one untouchable on the staff. Why is that? The reason is that Rodney knows where every recruiting skeleton is buried and carries around in his head enough information to bury the Georgia program so they are stuck with him. I’ve never heard anyone on any radio show, television show or broadcast of a game say what an innovative football mind that Mark Richt is carrying around in his head. You hear it about Saban, Meyer, Spurrier, Chizik, Harbaugh, Kelly and even Mullen. They take talent and do someting with it. Mark Richt has squandered on of the top three jobs in the SEC. That’s the bottom line. He’s a good man.

Saint Simons

November 2nd, 2010
8:08 am

(((( 34 – 31 ))))

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

BobDawg

November 2nd, 2010
8:08 am

…… I’m on both sides of the fence with this…just like when we are 4-0 when scoring first and 0-5 when the opponent scores first…. We should have had a killer drive against the Gaytors that was going to score in the first drive, 1st period….. UGA is not on probabtion, in a recruiting rich state and Greg McGarity will do an audit of the program with Mark and figure this out… WE have to finish strong this season and build momentum for next season and recruiting…..

BOBO is a BOZO

November 2nd, 2010
8:09 am

you are NOT Mr. college football. NO ONE has every called you that!

Phil

November 2nd, 2010
8:10 am

Hey Tony,

I hope you asked Finebaum what he thinks of Richt for your show tonight. I would rather hear somebody that can be be objective rather than your blind Homer loyalty to Richt.

Boise Dawg

November 2nd, 2010
8:10 am

Tony,

I agree that Mark Richt should not be fired this year. He has had enough success at Georgia (2 Sugar Bowl victories and 3 appearances in 10 years) is much more success than anyone else has had.

When Richt came in there were 3 very big expectations… that he would have us competing for SEC titles, turn the tide in the Florida series and dominate the Tech series. He accomplished 2 out of 3 pretty early….. but it has now been 5 years with no SEC title, the Florida series remains unchanged and he is 1-1 against Paul Johnson at Tech.

I guess I would pose a question though going foward. Is winning two SEC titles every 10 years good enough? And if so….. how confident are we that Richt can win two titles in the next 10 years?

I will say winning the Tech game last year was huge for Richt. Can you imagine the pressure he would be under right now after losing to Florida again if he was 0-2 against Johnson. I suspect beating Tech again this year will keep his seat slightly less hot next year, but lose the Tech game and he will have very little room for error next year. Fair or not that is the way I see it.

Golden Parachute

November 2nd, 2010
8:12 am

@BobDawg – Just wait ’til next year!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yop62wQH498

Tom, Resident Georgia Fan

November 2nd, 2010
8:12 am

Tony I agree 100%. Look where UT is due to their fan base’s demanding Fulmer’s head.

[...] morning, Tony Barnhart asks: So instead of its fourth straight win, Georgia absorbs a heartbreaking loss. So I ask you: If [...]

Hurt Kurbstreit

November 2nd, 2010
8:13 am

Tony, you are right on the mark. If you want to fire CMR you better have a good replacement ready to go. someone that is better that Richt. Right now, I don’t see a lot of Nick Sabans out there that would be available. You can’t fire CMR on the expectation that you can get Kirby Smart of Will Muschamp. They have never been a head coach and you don’t know how good they would be. Thus the program goes backwards for 3 – 4 years. See Un of TN for validation. I think if anything happens Bobo might be on the hot seat. But, the offense has looked good the last 4 games.

jasont13

November 2nd, 2010
8:13 am

My question to all the idiots on here. If you want Richt gone then who do you want to replace him? Do not give me Chris Peterson or the head coach at TCU. You all have your own opinion as to why you want Richt gone but do not look at things as a whole. Look what is going on at Tennessee, do you want that to happen at UGA next year? So once again who do you want?

BOBO is a BOZO

November 2nd, 2010
8:14 am

The difference between the elite programs and UGA… Florida and Bama see a sugar bowl consolation as a let down, while UGA fans see it as a national championship, and as job security for the next five years

Tony is a homer

November 2nd, 2010
8:14 am

Enough with the cherry picking of facts by a hopelessly biased columnist (has Tony ever picked Georgia is going to lose a game?) — the program is on a decline and while UGA is still a decent team it is far from being an elite team despite having very highly rated recruiting classes year after year. Few programs do less with more talent than UGA. Case in point — look at Va Tech or Boise State; how are they so good with 3 star recruits?

Barkin'Dog

November 2nd, 2010
8:14 am

ChuckDawg
… make the changes needed, and get the players that will win championships.

Isn’t that what every team in America is trying to do? Every year? Isn’t that what UGA tries to do? Every year? Richt made changes after last season and will do more this offseason. With new recruits and a seasoned QB, the next 2 seasons will be spectacular. Who, in their right mind, thought this would be a stellar season… with a new QB and defense? And how many of you naysayers thought the Dawgs would win another game after 4 losses? Well, they did. And they’ll win 3-4 more, if you’ll just sit back and give them a chance.

2 cents

November 2nd, 2010
8:15 am

Any Georgia fan that thinks Richt needs to go should take a history course on Georgia football in the years after Dooley and before Richt. Does the word Goff ring a bell? (or should that be Goof?)

BobDawg

November 2nd, 2010
8:15 am

Tony, I read the other day that the average lifespan of a Div.1 coach now is 7 years due to “moving on, being fired, buyouts, etc…. Richt is an year 10 and with our Win Now internet…. it will be interesting to see how he holds up to the constant pressure that is on him now….

MURPHY

November 2nd, 2010
8:16 am

After sitting in Jacksonville and watching the Dawgs coaching staff blow another game,I have finally given up on this team.It is sad that this team and coaching staff doesnt have the fire and killer instinct to put a lesser talented team away.I do believe the Dawgs are more talented that UF. Im not a fire Mark Richt person,because I just dont believe that will be the best for this program right now.I do however think McGarity needs to sit down with him and put an ultimadium in place and stress the importance of bringing this program to elite status.I for one will not ever accept another season like this,and dont expect any other Dawg fan to do the same.McGarity needs to turn Richt and this program inside out at the end of the season and make this a program all Dawg fans can be proud of for many years to come.

Spokesman for the SEC East

November 2nd, 2010
8:16 am

For once Tony the SEC East agrees with you. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE dont fire Mark Richt and while you are at it, extend Bobo and Grantham’s contract!

Boise Dawg

November 2nd, 2010
8:17 am

Excellent point Jasont13. I can say with just about 100% certainty that Chris Petersen would not come to Georgia.

SimpleDawg

November 2nd, 2010
8:17 am

People will always refer to the Dooley Years, when Georgia had some of it’s greatest successes even though Coach Dooley had several mediocre years mixed in with the good years, as the glory years – that level of success should not the standard for Georgia’s level of aspirations.

Well, times have changed. Due to the explosive growth throughout Georgia over the past 25 years, Georgia is a goldmine for college football talent. The state of Georgia produces more Division I football talent per capita than any other state in the US. Georgia ranks in the top 7 in sheer numbers of D I talent playing across the country. We should be an elite program in performance, both on and off the field. Georgia should be able to attract the top student athletes in Georgia and around the region, but <>

I like Coach Richt, but I think it’s time for a change. His message is stale, his methods are weak, and the current process is not producing results. Georgia’s coaches continue to make too many poor choices in choosing players and have failed too many times in not developing them beyond their initial level of achievement.

Even having said all of that, there is still way too much talent on this team to be playing as poorly as they have played for most of the season.

The bar has been raised.

This isn’t a limbo contest; it’s a high jump.

Somebody needs to be able to jump higher.

Rick

November 2nd, 2010
8:18 am

Win out and he should get another year. Anything less than that and he should be gone and we all know that winning out isn’t going to happen. All of the players should have enough experience by now not to be making stupid plays. UGA owes Mark Richt nothing, he has been paid well for his services.

merculf

November 2nd, 2010
8:19 am

“wait until you have a better replacement before you fire CMR” . You know like Auburn (9-0 and #2 right now) did when they let Tubby go……

BobDawg

November 2nd, 2010
8:19 am

‘Golden Parachute’…… Nice “tomorrow… LOL….

Golden Parachute

November 2nd, 2010
8:20 am

@Barkin’Dog

“Who, in their right mind, thought this would be a stellar season… with a new QB and defense?”

Maybe the same people who watched Bama win a National Championship with a new QB last year or who are watching Auburn in the hunt for one this year with a new QB. Every college football team has to replace players every year. Florida replaced far more talent than did Georgia after last season — but who won the game in Jacksonville… again?

Dooley the Vol

November 2nd, 2010
8:23 am

be careful what you wish for. Harbaugh aint coming, Peterson aint coming, Smart not ready, now you are at the 3rd choice. That is what the Vols faced, i think we got lucky w/ Dooley, but nothing good happens overnite.

COLLEGE football fan

November 2nd, 2010
8:23 am

I think you should quit fronting and change your name to MR. SEC FOOTBALL

jellybeandawg

November 2nd, 2010
8:23 am

More tired EXCUSES from a Richt apologist. Of course Tony fails mention any facts like:

- 30+ arrests over the last 3 seasons

- 13-12 (52%) Sec east record over the last 5 years. BARELY above .500

- 17-23 against ranked opponents.

Instead, in typical Mark Richt apologist con man fashion, he only lists excuses…. could’a, would’a,shoulda’s, and fake injurys from 2008 !

RxDawg

November 2nd, 2010
8:23 am

Nice article Tony. I agree 99%.

But 18 or 21 Tony.

18 OF THE LAST FREAKING 21 GAMES WE’VE PLAYED TONY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

WTF

Ohio Dawg

November 2nd, 2010
8:23 am

Tony points well taken, but I still come back to the same problems the last 3 years. When it has come to beating or even competing with elite programs we have done neither. In big games we just self destruct – timing of penalities,turnovers and blown assignments. Those are “coachable issues” that just keep happening over and over. My concern is if it hasn’t been corrected in the last 36 games when will it..next year is the year? Our national image is eroding….Who out there can name our last signature win? Need more time? .. Because of our coach’s status quo approach I just don’t know if enough “changes” will occur to right the ship.. I guess we will find out……

joe

November 2nd, 2010
8:24 am

I was going to try to have a rational discussion on here-then realized this is an AJC blogger board.
There are no rational discussions on this board. It tales about 4 blogs then falls into the gutter.
Time to go out and enjoy the day.

3rdN8

November 2nd, 2010
8:24 am

Mark Richt is facing the same dilemma that Bill Curry faced at Bama; on the whole he had a good resume’. At the end of the day, he could not beat AU. Curry was many of the things you want in a CFB coach, but…………………………

To my fellow Bama fans:

Give it up already. Last year, the whine was “Chizik had some success because of trick plays”. This year, it’s all because of Cam Newton. Everyone on the planet seems to recognize that Chizik has done a hell-of-a-job. He took over an AU program with more holes than the Titanic, and in two years (COUNT ‘EM – TWO) has Auburn poised for a National Championship run. And here’s a scoop…..it ain’t all Newton. That is a good football team. If Bama beats them on November 27 (and I think they can), it will be because they play a full sixty minutes…anything short of that and AU wins in Tuscaloosa.

Terry Wofford

November 2nd, 2010
8:24 am

Tennessee thought they were fixing things by getting rid of Fulmer, while wishing Mr. Dooley the best it doesn’t look good. Richt will get us a national championship.

Old Dawg

November 2nd, 2010
8:25 am

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.

Exactly! There is not—and has not been—any real team spirit at UGA. It isn’t the quality of the talent. The talent is first-rate. But just look at the bench while the team is on the field. They’re all high-fiving the TV camera, chatting with one another, etc. It’s all me, me, me! It’s as if every player is undertaking his own tryout for the NFL. No one seems to care whether the team is winning. That’s coaching. It has very little to do with the talent. And these guys get into trouble off the field because they’re all individuals, not members of a team. They don’t give a second thought to the implications of their behavior for the team. That too is coaching.

Think about that in the off-season when you’re treating recruiting as though it’s an NFL venture. The coaches need to be thinking of how prospects will fit into a team, not how talented they are.

Ray Barnes

November 2nd, 2010
8:25 am

Vote for me today and I promise UGA will never lose another game.

Remember, I put the goober in Gubernatorial !

Waldy Butz

November 2nd, 2010
8:25 am

I’m an old DAWG but I couldn’t disagree more.

The proof is in the puddin Tony my boy and you are serving up
a lot of pie in the sky. The off field behavior is directly
related to the on field performance.

Here is you a case in point: Rambo is a perfect example of a
player chosen by Richt. Dooley wouldn’t tolerate the incessant
showboating and lack of playmaking. There is your difference
in the program now vs then.

I’ll bet the tackling skills of the 40’s 50’s and 60’s were
vastly superior to today as well. Is there a rule against the
teaching of these skills?

I have had enough of the excuses Tony.

Flo-Ri-Duh!

November 2nd, 2010
8:26 am

Geaux Tigers: Why complain about the arrests when your head coach at LSU just offered UGA’s worst offender (Mettinbubba) a scholarship and so did Alabama? If one SEC team kicks a player out of their program it does not bother others to pick them up and Urban Meyer will play ANYONE that will help him win. Even Chris “Time to Die” Rainey. Ift he NCAA wants to do something that makes common sense – I doubt that they will – then they should ban felons from going to other programs in the same conference after a school has kicked them out. The coaches won’t do this on their own so there needs to be NCAA enforcement. Instead of worrying about a player selling his own jersey to a non-agent they should be policing these real criminals.

Beast from the East

November 2nd, 2010
8:26 am

Tony,
Solid argument but you cleverly left out the off-field issues which are a major reason why many of the Dawg Nation are calling for Richt to be replaced.
Also, how can you continue to say UGA has a better team than UF? Did you not see the final score? That’s my proof that you are incorrect (yet again) with that assessment. The best team won. Just like UF losing to Bama, LSU and MSU. They were the better teams those days.

Message To

November 2nd, 2010
8:27 am

Why do I keep hearing TB & others saying that UGA has better players than UF this year? Quite frankly I don’t see it. I know its subjective, but I would garner to say that UF has just as many ” players/athlete’s ” as UGA, probably more. Right from the start of the game it was painfully obvious that Coach Meyer was again doing a superior job of having his team ready to play and outcoaching his competition. A healthy Demps, Rainey back in the fold, I see UF running the table and going back to ATL. And yes, I am a bulldog fan.