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

historydog

November 2nd, 2010
9:28 am

There have been too many games, just like the first half of the Fl. game, when Ga. was not ready to play. They played the first half at Fl. just going through the motions, no zest, no drive or sense of purpose. It should not take the first half of a game for the coaches to figure out a game plan, or get the team up to play, they should be ready from the first kick off. Look back, most of the games against top teams have been just like the FL. game. Richt will stick by BoBo because he does not have the gumption to fire him. Ga. will continue to be mediocre until Richt and company leave.

Phil

November 2nd, 2010
9:28 am

phil g the Tennessee fan makes some good points.

For all you clowns that say “look at Tennessee, you want to end up like them?” First of all, Tennessee is in this predicament because that scum bag Kiffin quit on them with like 2 weeks left in recruiting season. They had to move over night and Dooley was the best they could come with in that short amount of time.

Plus many of Kiffin’s recruits bailed out after he left. Their recruiting was left in shambles. And let’s not forget Tennessee was a pretty good team last year after the Fulmer change. They beat us and came within a blocked FG of beating Alabama.

Had Kiffin stayed, they would be evev better this year. So quit with the “look at Tennessee” excuse. Kiffin is responsible for the condition they are in right now.

Burger Boy

November 2nd, 2010
9:29 am

Times are tough and will get tougher if CMR is fired. I own a tanning bed salon and CMR is my number 1 client. If he gets fired, I’m out of business.

Gator Man

November 2nd, 2010
9:29 am

This sports writer and others in Georiga is the reason UGA has not played for a NAT in 3o years, you people at this school dont look at results you look for he is a nice guy.
Urban was on the hot seat with the media in Florida and he won 2 Nat in 6 years.
This tells you the standards are set high in Florida by the media and the fans.
Mark Richt would have been fired long ago by the big three schools in Florida.

3rdN8

November 2nd, 2010
9:30 am

@ The Colonel

good points….all

Whoever the “next guy” is, is one sticky wicket. All it really buys is some time for the AD. New coaching staff, and things will get better….right?

My guess would be…..UGA will go for Gary Patterson, or Dan Mullen.

Patterson may be a tough hire. There’s more money in Fort Worth than in Fort Knox.

Tide Rising

November 2nd, 2010
9:30 am

Tony lost all credibility when he used the if this and if that argument to say that if Georgia would have made it to the 2007 seccg that they would have beaten LSU in his opinion. Gotta call BS on that one. UGA was hot at the end of the year but who did they really beat other than a solid AU team? They beat a Florida team that was missing 3 D-lineman and Tim Tebow was playing injured with not one but 2 injured shoulders. And Hawaii? Give me a break. Another paper tiger team. LSU was the flat out better team that year. They lost two OT games on the road to bowl teams and beat the no. 5 team in the nation VT 48-7. UGA lost a blowout 35-7 to UT and lost at home to an unranked Carolina team. The hawaii game was a joke.

Richt deserves to keep his job based on his body of overall work and should be given one more year to turn it around. But you don’t have to play the if if game to make a bogus statement that some of his teams were better than they really were.

Barkin'Dog

November 2nd, 2010
9:31 am

LawDawg– YOU ARE A DOG FAN, AREN’T YOU? ;-)

TJ

November 2nd, 2010
9:32 am

To all of you who disagree with Tony…. who could Georgia get that would do a better job?

ol' balls coach

November 2nd, 2010
9:33 am

Keep Richt. Fire Grantham. Bench Rambo.

read n black

November 2nd, 2010
9:33 am

Haven’t we read this column before? I thought I knew where this program was headed 6 years ago….how tall is this mountain? Must we keep walking it only to keep falling down as other programs take a helicopter?

yea Tony

November 2nd, 2010
9:34 am

Georgia needs to win 2 games every year from now on till the end of time. Florida and GA Tech. So why not just prepare every year to beat these 2 schools and forget about everyting else? Lets say that next year Ga beats Florida and GA tech and goes to a bowl game but doesnt play for the Championship game. Ok, In my book that is progress. I think Richts priorities are in the wrong place.

CantonDawg

November 2nd, 2010
9:34 am

If CMR would care as much about the football players and the program like he does with his trips to 3rd world countries then it might be a better program. You are committed to your family 1st and coaching second, but they have to almost be tied together when your a head coach.

Deja Vu

November 2nd, 2010
9:36 am

@Gator Man

Mark Richt would have also been fired long ago by any of the big five schools in the SEC.

Those would be:

Alabama
Florida
Tennessee
LSU
Auburn

There used to be six SEC programs with national relevance. One is now missing from the list. I’ll let you guess which one.

Dixie Redcoat Band

November 2nd, 2010
9:37 am

Enter your comments here

ratherBgambling

November 2nd, 2010
9:38 am

Keep Coach Richt!!!!!!

Sincerely,
Gator Nation

Dixie Redcoat Band

November 2nd, 2010
9:38 am

UGA always has a Top Ten recruiting class, year after year, nothing happens year after year..

SadDawg

November 2nd, 2010
9:38 am

Please don’t use the words “Willie Martinez” and “sacrificed” in the same sentence.

Willie was paid over $400,000 in ‘09, and coached our defense so well, it was the 84th rated (out of 120) in the NCAA.

Phil

November 2nd, 2010
9:39 am

“To all of you who disagree with Tony…. who could Georgia get that would do a better job?”

Jim Harbaugh from Stanford. Take a look at that program. Tough, physical, smash-smouth, smart program. Don’t see any thugery going on with that program. Don’t see any Assistant Coaches giving the choke sign to opposing players.

And can you imagine what kind of program he could build here with the recruiting in this part of the country?

rpidge

November 2nd, 2010
9:39 am

As an old UGA grad I hurt for our football program. If you keep Richt for another year then it must be made clear and up front that he has to restructure his entire staff, offense, defense (especially the play of the defensive backs), strength coach is slacking, and recruiting could use some tuning up. If he can’t perform these tasks then start over from scratch top to bottom.

KJ Copeland

November 2nd, 2010
9:39 am

At Alabama you get fired for going 2-8 against your biggest rival. Period, end of discussion. However, UGA is not Alabama. The 2 SEC titles were the aberration, not the norm. UGA has returned to their rightful place as perennial also rans in the SEC. They have the right coach for who they truly are.

snapshot

November 2nd, 2010
9:40 am

The mutts will destroy the school of potato growers and all will be fine again.

Jim

November 2nd, 2010
9:43 am

While I don’t totally disagree with your comments about “keeping Mark Ritch”, I do point out that, at the present time, UGA has NO DRAW or INFLUENCE with which new athletes can be secured. Who wants to play on a losing team for 2 or 3 years while a rebuild cycle starts all over again? How many “preferred stock” athletes have been turned off by the UGA record and the manner of coaching, where QBs are stacked 3, 4, or 5 deep while the right one is chosen? How many have gone on to other schools when they were originally interested in UGA? I think there have been some good ones who went elsewhere. BTW, was Cam Newton ever recruited by UGA? If not, why not? I don’t know what other schools offer that cause them to land the big ones, while UGA continues to hope something works. Add this situation to the arrests and suspensions for the pasr few years, and one can understand better why we haven’t done well. I have no doubts about Ritch and his moral intentions to make all players better folks. But, there are those whill take advantage of him and his intentions, and screw up the entire program. Might take a look at Spurrier when he arrived at South Carolina, where several “stars” were in trouble, including one of the best running backs ibn college ball at that time. But, Steve made a decision, and fired about a dozen players, saying he did not have time to ride herd on no-goodnics and jail birds. Seems like he made a good choice on who to run off and who to keep.

I am a UGA Grad, Class of 54, and I have memories of some good teams and some not-so-good teams. Same with players. Of course, that was before the “red shirt program” became foremost in everybodys’ mind. Coach Butts did not cottle ner-do-wells. They either played or they were sent home. Responsibility of a coach is to produce a team that can earn its keep, and add glory to the University. If he can’t do that, problems begin. Soon the inmates are running the prison, and the coach is a bad guy if he suspends one or sends him home. A coach as well as a player on scholarship is an investment for the University. Anything that detracts from that goal must fall by the wayside, regardless of what people think. In my book, a coaching change is needed now. No probationary periods, no wait and see periods, now before the water gets too much muddier. I know this is not a position most fans and Alums would take, but this one does. That is one good reason why I am not coaching. Some people are unhappy with the current status of things, but, heavens no, do not change. Go Georgia Bulldogs. Give’em hell.

Gatorzone

November 2nd, 2010
9:43 am

Tony, you left off the 2007 beatdown UGA took at the hands of Tennessee!

Also, CHOKE CHOKE! Grantham is a real winner!

Deja Vu

November 2nd, 2010
9:43 am

The Georgia football program is dead. The only question now is how long the funeral service will carry on. How much difference can “one more year” make, after all?

Isn’t that what everyone said last year?

Jim 007

November 2nd, 2010
9:44 am

And keep the THUGA atmosphere ?

Richt is now out of his league in coaching, picking a Good staff, & of course dicipline.

Without MORE MAJOR Changes, things will just get worse !

Paul N Destin

November 2nd, 2010
9:44 am

MY 2 cents…In 2006 at Bama it was Bama needs a new OC instead of Shula calling the play and we needed a new Offensive line coach due to the blocking scheme was old school..etc. The Fact is when you’re trying to tell the HC what his problem is then the battle is lost!!!!!! If the HC doesn’t know what the problem is then why do you retain them?? You can drag this on but you will lose in the end. Neil Callaway and Brian Van Gorder(sp) were the two that held your program at near top and you should be able to see that. Your about to lose a top running back to Bama due to all the thinks that happen away from the field at UGA. Fix the problem as deepthroat said. Mullen is the guy you need and don’t spare the checkbook!

3rdN8

November 2nd, 2010
9:45 am

@ rpidge

I think your’s in the only solution. The problem is time. I think the train has left the station.

Sick of the trolling

November 2nd, 2010
9:47 am

I agree with everything except the statement that “the offensive line finally jelled” last year. They didn’t ‘gel’. They played 3 teams with smaller, weaker defensive lines…and the running game got going. UGA’s pro-style offense works off of the running game and the play action. Poor offensive line play has been holding this team back for 5+ years. Once the WR stopped dropping balls a few years ago, the o-line is the ONLY problem this team has on offense.

Defensively, this team needs a stopper in the middle of the line.

SadDawg

November 2nd, 2010
9:47 am

Oh yeah, Tide Rising, LSU was hell on wheels in ‘07. Lost to UK, yeah, UK, and were playing so good late in the year they lost their last home game like 50-45.

UGA, after the UT loss, ran the table, and in fact had won more games in a row than any other Top Ten team. I watched Teabow being interviewed after the game and he said his shoulder (singular) was not an issue in the game.

Nothing like a dumbass revising history . . .

TJ

November 2nd, 2010
9:48 am

@Phil – Harbaugh would never come to Georgia… particularly if UGA got rid of Richt.

nicktator

November 2nd, 2010
9:49 am

cheezik without cam = urban without tebow…. everybody seems to forget that auburn sucked last year and cam is the only real difference in those two squads.

oh, and please keep richt. fire him, and jawja might accidentally hire a coach with a clue…

Gen Neyland

November 2nd, 2010
9:49 am

Palladin : From a Red Elephant standpoint, I understand how you feel about CPF.

Deja Vu

November 2nd, 2010
9:50 am

@SadDawg

“Nothing like a dumbass revising history . . .”

ROTFLMAO!!!

Nat

November 2nd, 2010
9:50 am

Georgia is not the first team to run out of gas in mile-high Colorado – with an AJ or without. The only thing that ticks me off is that Donnan could not beat Florida and they fired him despite his winning over 60% of his games. Richt can’t beat Florida but has won nearly 80% of his games. And, finally, the arrests and embarrassments are what REALLY bothers me. If you recruit crap, you get crap on the field. Someone at the top has to decide if you’ll settle for crap or not.

TallaDawg

November 2nd, 2010
9:50 am

If the team played like a cohesive unit and it came down to a fieldgoal, Tony would be right. But, UGA did not look mentally ready to play the game Saturday. It should have been 21-7 UGa by the second Qtr.

Mr. McGarrity better realize quickly that, YES, beating Florida is more important than beating any one of the other SEC East schools.

CDAWG

November 2nd, 2010
9:51 am

Tony, great article and I totally agree with you.

Phil

November 2nd, 2010
9:51 am

Jim

Very good points. I have wondered the same thing, did we not recruit Cam Newton? The guy was right under Richt’s nose and they didn’t get him?

Also it’s a sad state of affairs that when the Number 1 recruit in the state(Crowell) points out all the arrests going on with the Georgia program and that he’s turned off by it.

Players, Assitant Coaches, all acting like a bunch of juvenile delinquents. Disgusting times at UGA.

Phil

November 2nd, 2010
9:53 am

TJ

I never said Harbaugh would. You asked who was better and I answered. But if you throw enough money out there, I believe he would.

Gen Neyland

November 2nd, 2010
9:53 am

Gatorzone : I addressed that issue in my first post of the day. TB addressed it as Tennessee’s 4 OT win over UK that shot down the Dawgs in ‘07. I saw it as UGA losing to Tennessee that did ‘em in. UT did what they had to do to get to the Dome that year. UGA did not. Evidence that there’s 3 sides to every story : Yours, mine and the truth.

Guy Womack

November 2nd, 2010
9:53 am

When Coach Richt first arrived from Florida State, he displayed the offensive genius that carried FSU to so many high rankings, and he led our Dawgs to some exciting wins over tough rivals. Then he relinquished play-calling to Mike Bobo, who is a competent Offensive Coordinator but not yet the equal to Richt in out-thinking an opponents defense. Coach Richt should resume the play-calling on game days, at least every other series, both as a training measure for Bobo and because we want to see the Dawgs fully use their offensive weapons — one of the greatest of whom is surely playing his last few games between the hedges. Before A. J. Green slips off to the NFL in the first round of the 2011 draft, let’s get a good look at his talents! And if Coach Richt makes this change, no one will be asking him to leave!

RussDawg

November 2nd, 2010
9:54 am

Did we forget to Colorado game???
The trend is heading in the wrong direction.
AD shoud make it clear to CMR.
UGA in ATL for SEC title in ‘12 or you hit the bricks

Matt the Brave

November 2nd, 2010
9:54 am

For me, ONE more season. He’s got to get rid of Bobo. I’m sorry, he’s just not a creative enough coach for the personnel we have on this team. Wouldn’t mind to see him continue on at UGA, he was a heckuva QB coach before being moved into his Peter Principle position.

Tony is a fool

November 2nd, 2010
9:54 am

Tony, you are as stupid as Schultz.

Cheapy

November 2nd, 2010
9:55 am

fire his azz now

DAWG 1

November 2nd, 2010
9:55 am

CAKEMAN – I finished at UGA in ‘61. Do you remember those years? Nothing short of pathetic. Then Vince Dooley came along and put us on the map. You state that Mark Richt is “head and shoulders” above the other coaches we have had. If you are talking about as a human being, perhaps. If you are talking about as a football coach, no way. Vince Dooley was full of integrity, still is, and he turned our program around to the point we are having this discussion today.
In the beginning, Richt won with Jim Donnan’s recruits, Unfortunately he has done very little with his.
If we were to make a change after this year, we would lose several recruits that are committed to us, no doubt. However, if we hired someone like Peterson or Harbaugh, the future would sure seem brighter. There are no guarantees. We have one of the largest stadiums in the country, terrific facilities that are not surpassed by anyone except perhaps those with an indoor practice facility, a huge fan base that pays a lot of money to watch ballgames and it keeps getting more expensive, and we have a huge bank account with much in reserve. We are in a state with superior talent akin to CA, TX and FL. We are in the strongest conference in the country. All these things make us very attractive. Yet, we are not gaining on the competition, we are losing!
It is a tough business. While Richt if a fine human being, he is not tough. We need someone who is. If he is retained after this year and he doesn’t demote Bobo, he is spelling his “death knell”. If he does not institute rigid rules of conduct for the players, he is remiss in his responsibility to parents and the players themselves. If he does not have the strength and conditioning program evaluated by outsiders in a fair and un-biased manner, he will be remiss. Continuing to fail to take tough steps, make changes that are necessary, and in effect get things headed in the right direction, he will be without a job but he will be rich. Perhaps the money will console him for his failure. Perhaps he will realize this, make necessary changes and get us back to where we should be every year – a winner of high standards.
Cakeman, his integrity is not winning, and winning is what it is all about. Vince Dooley had integrity and won. Richt has yet to prove he can carry Dooleys hat!

3rdN8

November 2nd, 2010
9:55 am

@ nicktator

If you think Newton is the only difference in the ‘09, and’10 AU teams, then you haven’t been watching their games. AU is a team of believers. The defense is overmatched every week, but they stay in the game. They “know”, if they can keep it close, someone will make a play.

I think Bama can win on Nov. 27, but my head is not in the sand.

BTW – it’s time for your meds.

CDAWG

November 2nd, 2010
9:56 am

I have heard a lot of comments about Bobo this year but he has put 283 points up thus far this season. Nick Saban’s 2007 team put up 286 points in their first 9 games. Give the D one more year to learn the system, get some more players in here that fit his scheme and we are in business. When a team scores 31 points they should be winning the game.

Doug

November 2nd, 2010
9:56 am

Great dialogue from this column. Two things not given enough discussion. One is a simple question. Is Mark Richt and staff recruiting top talent to UGA. I think the facts are they are no longer recruiting the best on a consistant basis. They no longer have a lock on the top state talent, have not faired well bringing in top recruits from other states, and recently have experienced real issues with current players. And I a not talking about getting all 5 star recruits. I am talking about an excellent mix……David Pollack was not a five star athlete….but he had an incredible work ethic.
Second is Mark Richt has been here 10 years. Sometimes for both the sake of the person and the school a PROACTIVE change is healthy. I think that time is now especially if the new AD is the right person to lead a new search.

BufordDawg

November 2nd, 2010
9:56 am

Dan Mullen now, please!

Bob

November 2nd, 2010
9:56 am

Tony must think then the dems should stay in power. when you f up, it’s time to get out. richt has been f’ing up for 3 years now and when you add all the off the field problems, well enough is enough.