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

Disappointed Dog

November 2nd, 2010
12:08 pm

If GA fans have no expectation of ever playing in a BCS championship game, Richt is the man for the job. After 10 years he is no closer to playing for the national championship than the day he first set foot on the UGA campus.

CalGatorBrotha

November 2nd, 2010
12:10 pm

I am Gator here…its so funny how schools quickly wanna get rid of their coaches..us in the Gator Nation included…but sometimes you get a bad mix of what you wish for….jus ask Notre Dame the last 10 years….how is that working….so to you Dawg fans…whats out there much better…are you gonna get a retread or some up and coming assistant coach…..who would you want….some schools have lucked up so far….take the Oregon’s or Boise’s and even the Auburn deal is doin well for now…but time will tell…..so you gonna ask yourself the same

Whopper Dawg

November 2nd, 2010
12:11 pm

Your argument is the last four weeks and hypotheticals about how the FLA game might have turned out? That is weak sauce. The program has been in decline for the last three years and is hitting a low this year with possibly missing a bowl game, but best case you are at 6 – 6. Right now, I can argue pretty convincingly that UGA is the eight best program in the SEC. Is that where you want to be?

I would be surprised if Richt is not back again next year, but ask yourself Tony, what is a good year next year, 8 – 4, 7 – 5, both would be improvements, but while we are mired back in the pack, at least 4 SEC teams compete for national championships with the improvement of Auburn and we should be content with beating Vandy and a low ebb TN team. What if Kentucky doesn’t turn the ball over? They would have beaten us two years in a row, what does that tell you?

"Da Real" Damon Evans

November 2nd, 2010
12:12 pm

hahahahahahahahahahahahahhahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha

Toni you real funny.

hahahahahahahahahahahahahhahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha
:)

UGAgirlFAN

November 2nd, 2010
12:13 pm

Thank you so much jtdawg, you unlike others are a gentleman and I will be the first to admit as I have with Greg McGarity in a letter to him as a CMR supporter if CMR does not make changes then whatever he decides I am behind him !!!!

4everdawg

November 2nd, 2010
12:13 pm

Finally, some sanity and sense in the mess. The “fans” keep jumping ship and trying to coach the team. True fans should be there through the good and the bad. As I recall, preseason this was being called a “rebuilding year.” Rebuilding years are not undefeated teams. It takes time to learn new systems and we DO have a freshman QB, no matter how good he’s BECOMING. Lay off, “fans.” It will get better.

"Da Real" Damon Evans

November 2nd, 2010
12:13 pm

Toni what’s up with these new blogs? 1 step forward 1 step backward.

azdawg

November 2nd, 2010
12:15 pm

How many chances does he get???? CMR is responsible for his coaches and whether or not they’re making corrections to their game in order to right the wrongs they’re doing game after game that results in losing efforts.. Have you seen the DC, Grantham, add more linemen or blitzes in order to stop teams that run the option or clog the middle? Has the DC taken notice how MSU, LSU stopped FL’s running game? If your current crop of linemen can’t do it w/4down why not try 5??? Its the same week after week. They stink at 3rd down and long because they do not pressure the opposing QB. I see no difference in this new def scheme then the one soft willle ran at GA.

Bottom line is if Richt doesn’t force change it won’t come. If what they’re doing on D doesn’t appear to work while other coaches have success w/their defense why not try something different? When FL broke the long run to make the score 31 to 24, GA used 4 down linemen. All season that has failed in critical situations when we needed to stop the other team. One more LB or linemen on the front might have made the difference. When you see something that clearly has failed week after week w/o learning from it then its time for change at the top. If Richt can’t see this then he does not deserve to be a head coach at any level.

South Ga Dawg

November 2nd, 2010
12:16 pm

I personally like Coach Richt and think he should be around for a while, but whover evaluated our running backs need to re evaluate their criteria for a solid SEC back. I was at Fla game and sat high enough up to see our line was opening holes for these two guys, but thier vision and acceleration are horrible. Even Fla fan sittin next to me said man he is slow he should have taking that on to the house with that hole open. Zero acceleration out of them too.

"Da Real" Damon Evans

November 2nd, 2010
12:18 pm

Toni Marc Richt is a second tier coach who beat third tier coaches for several seasons with Jim Donan’s players.

Now that the coaching pool has improved in the SEC he is being exposed for the fraud that he is.

jwilli120

November 2nd, 2010
12:18 pm

what will it say about our program if GENE CHEZNIK or how
ever you spell his name (could be etchedon NC trophy) win
it all this year (2nd year on the job)vs 10yrs of CMR

picassokat

November 2nd, 2010
12:18 pm

Internet Coaches Great analogy. “Fire Vince Dooley!!!” was the chant of many during the 70s. It reached a fevered pitch at the end of the decade. It was much louder than we are hearing now, actually even without the internet. There was heavy pressure on UGA to fire Dooley after the ‘79 season UGA stood behind Dooley and we all know what the very next season. How UGA responded to the ‘79 pressure to dump Dooley says a lot about how it will respond to the current pressure to dump Mark Richt. They won’t.

Paul in RDU

November 2nd, 2010
12:19 pm

Beast of the East – The only head coach I can think of who has survived this level of scrutiny and managed to turn things around is Joe Paterno – and he really is a special case. Even Bowden couldn’t withstand it.

jtdawg

November 2nd, 2010
12:19 pm

Ron Roberts -

That was a well articulated, thought out, intelligent post.

Obviously I disagree with some (very good) points, but that’s what opinions are for.

I just believe that bigger picture metrics show that Richt just will not be able to get us over the hump. I certainly think things look better now that they did at this time a year ago. I just believe that his prints are firmly entrenched on this program and there are several defficiencies that are hard to ignore. I do not see us being a serious contender because I do not believe we have the ability to win the big games at the right time under Richt. He has never been able to do so…

And I don’t believe the talent and some positions is getting better, on the contrary, I believe we’re starting to lose talent to other programs that we desparately need…

Paul in RDU

November 2nd, 2010
12:21 pm

jtdawg – I am a GT grad and I have to agree with you – UGA was the better team in 2009 and deserved to win. Many other GT fans will say differently however.

jtdawg

November 2nd, 2010
12:22 pm

Mike Bobo 17 INT –

I think that’s part of the problem. We start in a talent hole with bad recruits/injuries/ etc that don’t pan out and we have been in catch up mode ever since.

THe biggest problem with Richt has been his loyalty to his staff and inability or reluctance, rather, to change…

Have faith in McGarity – I actually think he might be the best hire in quite a while….

2011 is the Year!

November 2nd, 2010
12:25 pm

This 2010 Dawg team is young and with all these distractions about arrests, suspensions, etc., never could get going. In 2011, the Dawgs will be loaded at all key positions, and with florida losing more talent, UGA will finally beat them and win the SEC East. 2011—the year of the Dawg!!!!!!! Dawgs win the SEC baby!!!!!!!

jasont13

November 2nd, 2010
12:25 pm

I’ve asked this question probably a dozen times and no one has the will, ability or want to respond. If everyone wants Richt out then who do you want in? Do not give me Chris Petersen or Gary Patterson. All the naysayers then who do you want??

'92 Dawg

November 2nd, 2010
12:26 pm

Barnhart…. you say “Emotion” is college football’s cornerstone. “Coaches must be emotionally invested in what they do”, you tell us. Why do you think Coach Richt shows no emotion? It’s funny how much stock you put in emotion, then go out of your way to defend keeping a guy who has none. Personally, i think that he’s lost control of this team. The sheer number of arrests under his watch are simply unacceptable. What has happened to this program???? I’ll tell you ‘07 10-2, ‘08 9-3, ‘09 7-5. ‘10 (most likely best case 6-6…. possibly 5-7). See the pattern here???? I’m sorry , but as a season ticket holder/booster/alum…… I’m ready to see something change.

3rdN8

November 2nd, 2010
12:26 pm

re: the post that claimed Bear Bryant got drunk, and beat his wife and players.

ok…maybe that’s true. But he didn’t do all of those things at the same time.

Puts a different slant on things, doesn’t it?

Colonel Reb

November 2nd, 2010
12:27 pm

You can have Houston Nutt!

1eyedJack

November 2nd, 2010
12:29 pm

I watched the game Saturday and watched the replay again last night, and for the life of me I can’t see how you can blame CMR or coaching for that loss. What I saw was a RS Freshman QB turn the ball over 4 times. What I saw were two UF fumbles that we failed to recover. What I saw was a Georgia safety drop a ball that hit him in the hands. What I saw was a stunned UGA team make adjustments and come out and practically dominate the second half. What I saw was a UGA team play hard for 60+ minutes and never quit. What I saw was a good coach with an extra week to prepare tweak his offense to be more effecient. What I saw was a player that should have been in jail playing for UF. What I saw was UF win the coin toss in OT and electing to play defense therefore putting the pressure on UGA.

I also saw some desparate play calling in OT.

jasont13

November 2nd, 2010
12:29 pm

‘92 Dawg- As a fellow booster, alum and baseball lettermen. Who do you want if they fire Richt? You say that Richt doesn’t show emotion. I’ve seen plenty out of him, I’ve seen him get up in players faces, yell and scream at them. Just like so many other wanna be football coaches on here, who do you want instead?

3rdN8

November 2nd, 2010
12:29 pm

@ jasont13

UGA’s best shot for a proven commodity (if two seasons defines “proven”) is Dan Mullens.

Don’t see how Starkville can compete with Athens if the UGA Alum really go after him.

Dan

November 2nd, 2010
12:30 pm

If UGA all the sudden got bad outta the blue I’d say keep Richt for a few more years. This program has shown a steady decline over the past four years. I love CMR! I think it’s time he found something else to do.

jellybeandawg

November 2nd, 2010
12:30 pm

jasont13 there are a LOT of great potential coaches out there. Here a just a few:

Kyle Whittingham
Dan Mullen
Mike Stoops
Paul Rhoads
Troy Calhoun

'92 Dawg

November 2nd, 2010
12:30 pm

@ one eyed Jack…. what i saw was UGA lose for the 18th time in 21 years…. NUFF SAID???

jtdawg

November 2nd, 2010
12:31 pm

UGAgirlFAN – Thank you, and yes have faith in McGarity. I think he will turn out to be an excellent hire in the right position.

I was actually critical of his “not any more important” Florida game commnets pre-Jacksonville, but I like the hire.

The biggest question is what he decides to do. I like Mark Richt as a man and think of him as a good football coach, just maybe not the right one for us. He’s done some wonderfull things here that should never be forgotten, but people forget how oft-criticized we were for running Jim Donnan out of town too soon, which I agree with. I think we didn’t give him long enough to get the team performing as it should, as he also made mistakes with his assitant coaches.

Make no mistake, that was Donnan’s talent Richt won so much with, interspersed with the good talent Richt can bring. But again, with McGarity being new, there is no telling what is up his sleeves.

I personally think out of respect and cache, Richt will get at least one more season here, but I also believe there is a big, HUGE wild card.

I have a strong gut feeling that Dan Mullen was very high on his and Jeremy Foley’s list to take over for Urban Meyer if he would have decided to stay retired. I KNOW there was a huge rumor mill churning in Starkeville last winter for a FACT. I KNOW, from the same line in Starkeville, that Greg McGarity and Dan Mullen have a close relationship. What I DON’T know is how patient McGarity will give to Richt, who has earned leeway in Athens.

Right now, we have to trust in Greg…. This team will be better next year. How much better is the question, and what does an embarrassing, unexpected loss do to shake McGarity, if he can get someone he really trusts to come in and take over?

THese are the things to keep an eye on…

[...] should stick with Mark Richt as its football coach, writes Tony Barnhart of The Atlanta [...]

jasont13

November 2nd, 2010
12:33 pm

jellybeandawg- Case in point. There are a LOT of great POTENTIAL coaches out there. So you fire a coach for a potentially great coach. So what if that coach goes 5-7, 6-6 or worse then you’ll come back on here and respond to columns that will be titled “Should UGA fired Mark Rich”.

joseph

November 2nd, 2010
12:34 pm

i think cmr gets one more year. in 2011 we lose to usc, old ms, ms state, tn, ky, fl, au, and gt.
just what i am thinking.

jasont13

November 2nd, 2010
12:35 pm

It is frowned up on in the SEC by the comissioner to try and hire a head coach at another school in the conference. So take Dan Mullen out of the equation.

jasont13

November 2nd, 2010
12:35 pm

jospeh, spoken like a true Tech fan.

Fish

November 2nd, 2010
12:36 pm

The bottom line is financial. We simply cannot afford to let him go this year. He will get 2011 with no more excuses. He simply does not seem to have a tight reign on the program. Our safties on defense are the worst I have ever seen with no discipline or technique, the offensive line seems always to be gelling, young or injured. At least once every two to three years it should all come together but it never does. It always seems to take some sort of crises @ UGA for the proper changes in the program to take place. After ten years Coach Richt should be aware of what it takes to win in the SEC and yet he doesnt. After 2011 the UGA fund raising will diminish and he will be let go.

FaithfulDawg86

November 2nd, 2010
12:36 pm

Say what you want, everybody, I’d rather lose a few games with class than go undefeated with a slimenball coach like Meyer, Spurrier, Saban, etc. Yes, UGA had some arrests during the off-season. All kinds of arguments can and have been made that law enforcement and NCAA have become tougher; in other words, these kids are not doing anything different than the players have always done, they’re just getting caught more, but the bottom line is that our players are punished according to the crime. An unpaid speeding ticket earns one of our best players a 2-game suspension, a drinken mistake with a young lady gets one of our top two QBs (possibly the starter) kicked off the team. A domestic dispute gets one of our best LBs kicked off the team… Meyer punishes only when he is forced to and sweeps the rest under the rug. We graduate more of our scholar-athletes (stress on first word) than any other program in the SEC except Vanderbilt (an elite private school), and our coaches win and lose with class, and of course, the most visible of these is Richt. And don’t give me any crap about Grantham’s supposed “choke” sign. That was one snapshot taken completely out of context and no one knows what he was doing. SO, quit speculating about a classy coahing staff and a classy program and get a life.

1eyedJack

November 2nd, 2010
12:37 pm

If you want Georgia to beat Florida with more consistency then you better start pulling for FSU and Miami to do a better job in recruiting.

marietta dawg

November 2nd, 2010
12:37 pm

Great article, Tony.

Beast from the East

November 2nd, 2010
12:38 pm

Paul in RDU,
I forgot about Paterno. He truly is a special case because of his longevity. I think it’s a foregone conclusion that Richt will be replaced. Probably after next season, unless he can somehow manage to win the SEC. Not saying whether it’s the right thing to do or not, just stating what appears to be obvious at this point in time. Too much competition in the SEC these days for many coaches to make it as long as he has.

jwilli120

November 2nd, 2010
12:39 pm

Extreme Makeover Home Edition rebuilds quicker…and I’m a UGA fan

jellybeandawg

November 2nd, 2010
12:40 pm

JTdawg,

What leads you to believe the team will be better next year. More then likly we loose AJ, Houston, also a few off the OL.

Yes, Murray will be better, but he played great this year. The Cupboard looks pretty bare for next year so unless there is an amazing upsurge from underclassman I don’t see how next year is going to be any better.

ARdawg

November 2nd, 2010
12:41 pm

1 eyejack

What did you see in the Colorado game? Perhaps the Missy St game or the Arkansas or even the Carolina game? Lack of preparation and void of any adjustments during the game. Did Richt coach those turnovers? Hell no. Who is saying he did? You are missing the bigger picture here. After reeling off 4 straight losses hitting a weak spot in the schedule and chest pounding with 3 wins over struggling teams, Richt failed to pull the trigger on the weakest Florida team he has ever faced. What is your excuse for the Florida loss? Gators have superior talent? Superior coaching? What? The game was poorly played, poorly coached and Georgia was beaten by an inferior team. After the shellacking the previous two years from Florida one might think Richt would “get it”. I’m afraid Richt will never “get it”. We will be sitting early November in 2011 having this same conversation after another Florida pounding next year. Will you see things differently then?

Texasvol07

November 2nd, 2010
12:41 pm

Hi Tony, Take this for what it’s worth. I am a Tennessee fan who happened to think that we should HAVE NOT fired Coach Fulmer, he really just needed a better offensive coordinator (ie David Cutcliffe or Randy Sanders). We won more than we lost when we had “Stability”. Take heed Georgia fans, be careful what you wish for. Being in last place “Sucks”, it really takes half the fun out of Saturdays.

ARdawg

November 2nd, 2010
12:43 pm

1eyedJack

November 2nd, 2010
12:37 pm

If you want Georgia to beat Florida with more consistency then you better start pulling for FSU and Miami to do a better job in recruiting.

Jeszuzzzzzz….. I dumber just from reading this post

Paul N Destin

November 2nd, 2010
12:43 pm

Denial….that is the big problem at UGA.

Ray Goof

November 2nd, 2010
12:44 pm

Call me …… BR-549

jellybeandawg

November 2nd, 2010
12:45 pm

jasont13 you cant run a program out of a fear of what will happen. Some hires work out and some dont, but you just cant keep doing the same thing out of fear.

Did Florida gain anything by firing Zook? Did Bama gain anything by firing Shula? Did Miss. St gain anyhting from firing Croon?

secfan123

November 2nd, 2010
12:46 pm

A couple of things:

First, there is not much difference between this issue and what both Auburn and Tennessee faced in 2008. In that year, both schools had long-tenured coaches who had success during their tenure, including SEC titles. They had done work to benefit the university. However, they reached points where they were generally 8-4 coaches with some years of more success, leading the respective universities to think if a change was needed? With the kind of money being poured into college athletics, and particularly for coaching salaries, most all schools expect results to be comparable. What will Georgia decide? Will Richt get better results?

3rdN8–Your point about the Sagarin rankings. One of Sagarin’s rankings takes into account scoring margin (Pure points), while the formula for the BCS does not. The other ranking averages the two. Since most of Auburn’s games have been close (5 are 7 points or less), their ranking is lower. Other schools with one loss have won by more (such as Alabama), influencing their ranking. However, the BCS does not take scoring margin into account.

jtdawg

November 2nd, 2010
12:47 pm

jellybeandawg-

Well the statistics are showing an upward trend for sure. More recruits and another year in the new defense should help, provided Grantham can seem to get them in better position at times.

The biggest thing to me was the admitted reluctance and ignorance of the physical practice we needed to toughen the team. We were soft.
THe boys look better since we started cracking pads more.

I believe Ricth will addres S&T this offseason as a part of “changes” he will promise McGarity. Spring and Summer practice will be much more physical – much needed.

Not that we will be overwhelmed with talent, plus the losses will hurt, but improved S&T, more physical practice, another year of ’statistical’ improvement by this defense and another year development my Murray will help us win a few more than we’ll end up with this year.

Yes we improve. Will it be enough??

Coach Grohbo

November 2nd, 2010
12:48 pm

FaithfulDawg86, With this type of approach, you will get many more opportunities to lose with class in the future.

When Richt’s players run afoul of the law, they are given a few days off, and they and the team are put at a disadvantage.

When other teams’ players run afoul of the law, they are given extra conditioning tasks which ultimately make them and the team better.

This is one of the reasons why Richt’s players do not fear or respect him.

db

November 2nd, 2010
12:50 pm

“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.”

If ifs and butts were candy and nuts, we’d all have a Merry Christmas.