What the Bulldog Nation wants to hear from Mark Richt

 Sometime soon Mark Richt is going to have his end of the year press conference. I would suggest that the head coach at Georgia have that presser sooner rather than later because, to be perfectly candid about it, he has reached a crossroads in his leadership of the football program in Athens. Georgia finished the 2010 season with a 6-7 record after a-less-than-inspiring performance against UCF in the Liberty Bowl.

No, let’s don’t choose our words carefully here. Let’s call it what it really was: It was a lousy performance. Georgia looked like a team that didn’t want to be there and at 6-6, maybe the players DIDN’T want to be there. But since they were there and since the University committed itself to play the game and provide programming for its television partner, it falls upon the head coach to demand that the guys who wear the uniform representing the state university at least play hard. And Georgia did not play hard against UCF.

Mark Richt will be back for his 11th season at Georgia and he has earned the right to fix what is wrong. And right now there is a lot that is wrong with the football program at Georgia. He needs to figure out exactly what is wrong and tell everybody exactly how he plans to fix it.

Then he needs to fix it–now.

I would not presume to speak for the people of the Bulldog Nation. But I am going to suggest that these are just a few of the things they would like to hear from their head coach in the very near future:

 

**–That he loves being the head football coach Georgia and is passionate about its success: Georgia is like any major football playing school in the South. Its people care deeply about the success of the team and are invested, both emotionaly and financially, in the program. And it pains fans to think that they care more than the players and the coaches. Of course Richt cares about his work and the success of Georgia. Just have a five-minute conversation with the man and you understand that. But here is where Richt, a man of deep faith and a belief in the balance of life (both admirable qualities), needs to step outside of his comfort zone. Georgia people want passion and they want a sense of urgency when things are not going well. I believe Richt feels these things but has not done a good job of communicating it to the Georgia people.

**–That recruiting is going to get better: Here is where Richt as a head coach and Georgia as a staff has to look in the mirror and be willing to face the truth.  The fact is that outside of A.J. Green, Justin Houston, and the two kickers, there weren’t a lot of players at Georgia who could start for Alabama. (I’m going to use Alabama and Florida as measuring sticks, for obvious reasons).  The running backs (Caleb King, Washaun Ealey), for all the hype coming out of high school, continue to be very average. The offensive line, for all the talent and depth that was supposed to be there, has underachieved for three years. The defense was in transition and was about what we thought it would be. It’s not fair to judge after just one year in Todd Grantham’s system. But in other areas,  either the players were not as good as everybody thought or they haven’t been coached very well.  Richt needs to figure out which it is and address it. Georgia needs better players and a lot more of them.

**–That players are going to be disciplined on and off the field: I hear about this more than any single thing other than wins and losses. Georgia people are tired of reading about knucklehead stuff that keeps players off the practice field and out of games. How hard can it can be, they want to know, to make players understand that their life is pretty simple: Go to class, go to practice, study, play in the games, and behave the rest of the time. When players show a lack of discipline on or off the field they need to be punished publicly and the punishment needs to be firm. Again, Nick Saban at Alabama seems to have a handle on this. I’ll bet Will Muschamp will get a handle on it at Florida in short order. When it comes to this area, a healthy fear of the head coach is not necessarily a bad thing.

**–That players are going to be developed and will get better under his watch: You don’t build a football program on players  who perceive themselves to be great  because they had a bunch of stars by their name coming out of high school. Of course you have to have the elite athlete, and Georgia doesn’t have enough of those. But you also have to have good players who will work to become great and average players who will work to become good. You can’t have a roster of guys who think they can get by on talent alone. You have to have hungry players. You have to be able to take average talent and develop it. Players have to get better from year to year. Georgia has not done that.

**–That players are going to get bigger, stronger, and faster. That nobody is going to outwork Georgia in the offseason: Look at Alabama’s players in their uniforms and then look at Georgia’s. It ain’t even close. Look at Florida and the strength and conditioning program it has under Mickey Marotti. When Will Muschamp got the job at Florida, it took him about 45 seconds to know that he was going to keep Marotti. This used to be a strength of the Georgia program. It is no longer. Joe Tereshinski has already replaced Dave Van Halanger  as the strength and conditioning program director and will get a chance to fix it. Again, this is not complicated. Look at what Alabama and Florida are doing and do that.

**–That everybody from the head coach on down is going to be held accountable: Richt not only needs to make it clear internally, but he must make this clear publicly to the Georgia people. Everybody, and that means everybody, is expendable if they are not willing to commit to the goal of getting the program back among the SEC’s elite. A good head coach at this level has everybody a little on edge. The players need to step up and hold each other accountable at every workout and every practice. Those who can’t, or won’t, commit at this level will have to leave.

**–That the people who wear the uniform for Georgia will again play the game with passion: I know we are dealing with a different generation of athlete who feels more entitlted (because the process has told him he’s entitled). For the most part today’s athlete is not going to buy into the love of the institution like the folks to sit in the stadium. That’s just a fact of life, a generational difference. Still, it can be managed. But, as I said at the top, the head coach can demand that his student-athletes give their best effort when those athletes represent the University. I know that is a quaint, outdated, and probably naive notion that it is a privilege to wear the uniform. But the Georgia people don’t feel that way and their feelings have to be taken into account.

Greg McGarity, the new athletics director at Georgia, is not going to say these kind of things but I will because these are just facts. After 19 years at Florida, he’s been at Georgia for four months. That is not enough time to evaluate a football program at this level. You have to go through a recruiting season, an offseason conditioning program, a preseason while watching the day-to-day operations. There are a lot of moving parts to a football program and McGarity has only seen two: a preseason and a regular season.

And all those folks who wanted to let Richt and his staff go after this season probably haven’t looked at what it would cost. It doesn’t take a lot of checking to see that such a decision, which would have included Richt’s buyout (just under $7 million) plus the cost of buying out the assistants would have cost Georgia in the $9-10 million range. Then you have to hire a new coach (at least $3 million) and another staff. So right now that would be about a $15 million decision for  Georgia. I don’t think that was a factor in this decision but in this economy you can’t pretend that it doesn’t exist.

As I said at the top:  Very soon Mark Richt will have to tell the Georgia people two very important things. 1) What he believes the problems are and 2) How he intends to fix it and that he intends to fix it now.

And as uncomfortable as it may be, Mark Richt needs to make his case with passion–a lot of passion.

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797 comments Add your comment

BoroDawg

January 3rd, 2011
8:47 am

Time for changes! More like personnel, then player changes. Go after Ralph Friedgen for OC and let Bobo be in charge of clock management or something other than the offensive plays!

SLAPAJACKET

January 3rd, 2011
8:48 am

I would keep the kicker and the punter from this team, Then go out and find me 22 Chris Durham’s. He plays with pride, heart and guts on every single down. Then i would put em on the field for the 1st game and yell SICK EM DAWGS. At that point my job would be very secure.

unbiased vol fan

January 3rd, 2011
8:48 am

i will say this, hire the fridge as OC

The Alpha Male

January 3rd, 2011
8:48 am

Auburn???? LOL!!!! The same Auburn that has beaten UGA ONCE IN FIVE YEARS??? THAT Auburn??? Again….. LOL!!!

After $cam leaves, you’re right back to 7-5, average as grits, the Jan Brady of the SEC and on top of everything else, stuck with a Gene Chizik….. after you give him a big raise and extension of course.

Coaching and recruiting

January 3rd, 2011
8:49 am

Georgia consistently finishes in the top ten in recruiting, yet is losing ground in the talent race when Florida, Alabama, and LSU are usually around the top five. It is telling that over the last few years, Georgia’s average recruiting finish has been about 4th or 5th in the SEC.

Games are won in the trenches. Excellent post on Dawg Run today- Since 2002, Georgia has signed exaclty one 5* on either side of the line of scrimmage. Many of the 4* OLs dlid not play much due to shoulder (and other) injuries.

Two things need to happen to return to competing for SEC titles: recruiting needs to pick up, especially on the defensive side of the ball (a point Tony made in his article). And, Richt needs to seriously consider whether upgrades are necessary of his staff, especially on the offensive side of the ball.

Redneck 61

January 3rd, 2011
8:50 am

Fire Mark Richt fans keep saying give him another year. It takes a new coach at least 2 years to do any good ga is wasting time. Plus anyboby can tell he dont want to coach anymore.

Glory Days Are Gone

January 3rd, 2011
8:50 am

If you watched the UCF game it is evident that UGA needs a new offensive co-ordinator. My dead grandad could call those vanilla plays from his grave. Bobo gets paid to call run up the middle,incomplete pass,incomplete pass,punt ?

Music City Dawg

January 3rd, 2011
8:50 am

You have forgotten that Richt no longer considers himself a coach. He is the CEO. That was the mindset that started the decline of the UGA football program. Unless or until he decides to come down out of the corporate suite and begin coaching again (if he still has the heart for it), nothing will change.

BG

January 3rd, 2011
8:51 am

Are Auburn fans actually on here bragging? UGA beat Auburn 4 years in a row! Auburn has been UGA’s little b*tch the past 5 years.

Steve

January 3rd, 2011
8:51 am

Tony, you’ve wrote this column before and more than once. Each year the program regresses. While I agree on all your points, I am not convinced CMR can deliver the goods. Georgia football is like a toothache that won’t go away. At what point do you pull the tooth?

Big Al

January 3rd, 2011
8:51 am

Agree with all said but do not think MR understands the issues and does not know how it fix them or would have by now—just saying.

Lowcountry Bulldawg

January 3rd, 2011
8:51 am

You summed it up pretty damn well. Nothing is opinion, simply facts. The program is in shambles. CMR thought he had a window when Meyer left? The window was slammed shut and Bulldog nation is going to get further embarrassed when Smart joins Muschamp as his DC. Weiss running the offense and two UGA guys in Gainesville while we are stuck with Richt. Looks like a fitting end to the season.

Tiger Eyes

January 3rd, 2011
8:52 am

At least we are playing for a National Championship while you got beat in the Toilet, I mean Liberty Bowl by the 4th best team in Florida.

Jeffro Bodeen

January 3rd, 2011
8:53 am

I think it would also be appropriate for the O-Line to hold the door for Coach Bobo as he leaves….he definitely would pass through untouched!

Skitty Fritty

January 3rd, 2011
8:53 am

Coaching & Recruiting:
You are dead on. The fans get fooled by looking at the skill athletes such as AJ, Murray, etc. but you win with the line on both sides of the ball. From Tony’s article, how many of UGA’s lineman would start on other SEC teams?

JB

January 3rd, 2011
8:53 am

The word is out. These 18 year old uncommitted blue chippers are very in tune to what’s going on around the South. They go to their HS coach and ask, what’s going on in Athens. And This coach, who loves this kid, will tell him the truth……and that is, ” son, you can go there and try to help be a part of the solution, or you can go where there are fewer problems and things are more stable”. Florida and Auburn appear to be stable, as does Tenn and even South Carolina. Georgia is a mess right now….All that said, This recruiting class will speak volumes.

Redneck 61

January 3rd, 2011
8:53 am

When AJ GREEN is gone what is ga going to do then.

rough rider

January 3rd, 2011
8:54 am

Looking at the recruiting class, I don’t see a major improvement in 2011.

Tiger Eyes

January 3rd, 2011
8:54 am

Cam won the Heisman. Murray can’t even beat UCF. UGA needs a real QB.

Nothing To Lose

January 3rd, 2011
8:54 am

I think Richt’s decision not to go for the touchdown on 4th and inches in the 1st quarter of the Independence Bowl pretty much sums it up. This chicken sh*t approach is not the way to win games. He has to be prepared to take risks in order to win and he has clearly shown that he is either unwilling or incapable or doing so. The status quo prevails in Athens and giving lip service to “‘change” is a recipe for continued failure.

social circle dawg

January 3rd, 2011
8:54 am

@ JB – That’s probably all we need to know as Dawgs fans. CMR has no more dedication left in him – he looks tired.

SOS Dawg

January 3rd, 2011
8:55 am

One thing wrong here is the notion that UGA players didnt want to be there. Richt is correct about the no lack of effort because UGA and the football program is simply not as good as everyove thinks it is. Even a Sports writer in Orlando said it earlier in the season when he said UGA was a 60 ish ranked team in collge football. He was dead on.

just a fan

January 3rd, 2011
8:55 am

Smart isnt going to florduh he will be bama’s DC one more year and get that phone call for the head coaching job at UGA

He will be gone

January 3rd, 2011
8:55 am

He will be gone by the middle of next season…after a 1-4 or 1-5 start, it will be over. UGA is lost with no direction. Granthan was a last ditch effort and he does not fit in at UGA either…Ritch has shown, he does not know what to do. The longer McGarity waits, the worse it will get.

Just Sayin'

January 3rd, 2011
8:55 am

@BG

You’re right about Auburn. Of course, Auburn manned-up and fired their long-time hero Tommy Tuberville. Looks like it worked out pretty well for them.

Coach Johnson

January 3rd, 2011
8:56 am

Glad the Tech folks and the AJC treat me with kid gloves and I don’t have to deal with all this stuff that Richt has to endure! Yeah..Tech lost to that sorry Georgia team but our folks and newspaper are used to losing anyway!

Skitty Fritty

January 3rd, 2011
8:57 am

The frustrating thing is other than USC next year, the East is taking a step backwards. UF will not be better next year with a new staff/scheme. UF might be better in the future but Muschamp is no Meyer. USC is beatable because mentally they still don’t know how to win based on the SEC championship and Chic Fil A bowl. UT is not ready talent wise and found multiple ways to blow games this year (LSU & UNC).
The window of opportunity is open in the East for 2011.

JB

January 3rd, 2011
8:57 am

I ordered my TCU hat this morning…..Call me when he’s gone……

Tiger Eyes

January 3rd, 2011
8:58 am

You would think UGA would be good enough to play maybe FSU,Miami,or the Gators in a bowl game but UCF was the best fit. Is UGA moving to that conference next year ? They don’t deserve to be in the SEC.

Skitty Fritty

January 3rd, 2011
8:58 am

Tiger Eyes:
Please come on the blogs after you get SMUed in the near future.

Para05

January 3rd, 2011
8:59 am

I am going out on limb here and say that we Dawg fans will not recognize this team next year. By that I mean we will see a team playing with fire and intensity like we haven’t seen since the Great Erk Russell coached there. It is never as dark as we think. We played everygame close this year and matched up with FL and SC pretty well. What we did not have is the conditioning and will to win when it got tough. We gave up in the bowl. It was embarrassing and I predict it will be a jolt to system of our players and coaches. Having said that, we need some changes from Richt. 1) Fire Rodney Garner, we are not recruiting the character of athlete to win the 4th quarter, 2) Take a strong look at Searles performance and what happened to our O Line. No excuse for their poor run blocking all year. 3) Show more passion and hold coaches and players accountable. Be willing to sit players that are not giving maximum effort, don’t readshirt skill players, don’t play seniors just based on longevity. Make everyone uncomfortable. Tony you hit it on the head. EVERYBODY should be a little uncomfortable.

dawgssux

January 3rd, 2011
9:00 am

Richt will change things up next year. He will dive off the diving board 2 times instead of one.

DawginLex

January 3rd, 2011
9:00 am

JB,

You hit the nail on the head.

This “one more year” thing will get used ad nauseum in living rooms across the south against UGA. Unless a kid is just in love with the school and the coach doesn’t matter, we will lose recruits.

Richt needs to do what he has always done-THE RIGHT THING. He needs to resign to re-unite the fanbase and alumni.

La Jolla Dawg

January 3rd, 2011
9:00 am

“…A good head coach at this level has everybody a little on edge…” Was this ever Mark Richt? Brian Van Gorder, yes, Mark Richt, no.

Doesn’t matter what we think Mark Richt should say, it’s what he does say that people should be listening to. Right after the Liberty Bowl loss he said there was no “lack of effort, or fire” on the part of his players. The players themselves, and the AD, thought differently.

And prior to the bowl game Mark Richt said something about wanting to win, liking rings and trophies, but feeling like educating men, on and off the field was more/just as important. Okay, but if the public perception is that those men are frequently getting arrested and leaving school early for the NFL, not sure that goal is being reached either.

You can try to put the right words in his mouth Tony, but ultimately that won’t fix anything. It isn’t coach speak that’s going to put Humpty Dumpty back together again. You’ve got to look at who Mark Richt is, what he has been saying, and more importantly, what he has been doing. My fear is that Mark Richt will say the “right” things, but only because as you suggest, it is what the Georgia faithful want.

I agree with what someone wrote earlier, this season was supposed to be the one in which things got better. Didn’t happen. Not sure why anyone thinks next year will be different.

JB

January 3rd, 2011
9:01 am

We usually have about 25% of bloggers defending Richt. Haven’t seen them since Friday.

Tiger Eyes

January 3rd, 2011
9:01 am

Next year we will circle Vandy,Ole Miss,Kentucky,and add UGA as automatic wins on our calendar…

VADAWG

January 3rd, 2011
9:01 am

The Georgia football team needs someone like General George “Blood and Guts” Patton to lead us to success in the SEC football wars. Unfortunately, we are stuck with Mr. Rodgers. Coach Richt will get another year but there is so much wrong with the program and it is so ingrained that it will make no difference. Whether Coach Richt deserves it or not the extra year, it will do a lot more harm than good. The whole coaching staff needs to go and the sooner the better.

DawginLex

January 3rd, 2011
9:02 am

The only positive thing I can say about the bowl game is that Grantham really seemed to be coaching his tail off and it showed with the way the defense played.

Too bad the offense blew grits.

3rdN8

January 3rd, 2011
9:03 am

The SEC is a coaching meatgrinder. I recently watched replays of Bama vs Florida in the 2008 SECCG, the 2009 SECCG, and the 2010 regular season game. Saban and Meyer looked to have aged ten years in a two year span. I think Meyer recognized this fact, and bailed while he still was young enough to recooperate.

Mark Richt seems to be weathering it on the outside, but I see no fire in his gut. Next season, he gets to face Muschamp and Weise and a Florida team loaded with talent.

gg

January 3rd, 2011
9:03 am

Agreed on most points, but I don’t agree that he has ‘earned the right to fix what is wrong.’ Three seasons of precipitous decline (three-five-seven losses) say otherwise. Good person…questionable head coach.

During the summer of ‘08, when Georgia was preseason number one, Mark Richt said in an article in the AJC that ‘everything was in place now for Georgia to be good for a long time.’ That seemed a profound statement, but who could argue with a coach who had his program in that position. Now, in hindsight, it seems to be the statement of a coach whose program was in cruise control. It didn’t matter what other programs were doing because he had the fomula figured out.

I think that’s the problem: Mark Richt is not yet a mature head coach at the highest level in college football! He got comfortable and took his eye off the program.

GStateBen

January 3rd, 2011
9:04 am

Georgia State in it first season playing collegiate football won as many games as Georgia did in 2010. That’s really all you need to know.

2011 will be Richt’s last season. They will go 7-5 at worse, 8-4 at best with nearly every loss at home.

dawgfan

January 3rd, 2011
9:04 am

If you look at Bobo’s track record, his offenses perform well against overmatched opponents talent wise. Against the heavyweights of the SEC he has done jack diddly squat. He sunk to new lows putting up 6 points against Central Florida. The guy is awful.

I will even go this far on Bobo: He cost us a national title in 2007. That’s right. You heard me. No way that team should have lost more than one game that year, but Bobo had a couple of his usual brainfarts against SC and Tenn. Its not that hard to call plays with Stafford, Moreno, and Southerland in the backfield.

And of course it all falls on Richt for allowing Bobo to call plays in the first place. Let’s face it. Richt got lazy.

Mike Bobo

January 3rd, 2011
9:04 am

I’ll have another scoop of VANILLA with those other two scoops of vanilla Mr. Ice Cream Man !

danny

January 3rd, 2011
9:05 am

CMR is comfortable in his job at Georgia and is Tommy Tubberville incognito during his last 2 years at Auburn.

mcdaviddawg

January 3rd, 2011
9:05 am

What I want to hear is that he is leaving, and that I can wish him a happy retirement.

Vdawg

January 3rd, 2011
9:05 am

I agree COMPLETELY here!

UGA Insider

January 3rd, 2011
9:05 am

I have heard more than a few fans say they saw players out getting drunk at local bars in Memphis. This backs up my point that CMR has NO respect on this team whatsoever. I thought for sure that CMR would sign an extension but now there is NO way it will be offered.

As far as talent and ability UGA is an average Conference USA team at best at the moment. We are small, weak and lousy at most positions. And what is CMR’s solution to this problem??? He reassigns his friend and hires Joe T???? Are you kidding me???? We have major problems with strength and we can’t find anyone in the nation more qualified than Joe T.

One good thing about the bowl loss is there will be NO expectations on the 2011 team. We are thin at every position and Murray looked very average against UCF. Looking at our schedule I don’t see 7 wins on it…..

charliecole

January 3rd, 2011
9:06 am

Tony

January 3rd, 2011
9:06 am

Richt’s coaching methods are as stale, outdated an uninspired as his “butt-cut” hairstyle.

Spot on Tony

January 3rd, 2011
9:06 am

CMR has no fire in his belly. Like a comment before,pay CMR his money to leave town. Because we are going to have to pay this time next year.

CMR lived off Jim Donana’s recruits. What has CMR done with his recruits ?? NOTHING!!!!