McGarity still calm amid storm, expresses confidence in Richt

Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity is not oblivious to the storm around him but he remains confident in coach Mark Richt. (AP photo)

Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity is not oblivious to the storm around him but he remains confident in coach Mark Richt.

ATHENS – Stationed in his first fire storm since becoming athletic director, Greg McGarity last Saturday chose to go in a different direction than some of the angry, torch-carrying villagers in Athens who believe the best course of action following SEC losses is to open more “Fire [Coach]” Facebook pages.

McGarity waited for Georgia coach Mark Richt to address his team after the home loss to Arkansas, waited until Richt released most of the players from a holding room under the stands at Sanford Stadium and then walked in.

“I don’t generally go into the locker room because I don’t feel I really belong in there,” he said. “What I did do was go in there after the game, but before the media came in, just to see Mark and the 12 or 14 players who were still there waiting for interviews. I just said, ‘Mark, let’s get ready to go next week. Call me if you need anything.’ I just felt he needed to know I was there to support him.”

Let’s start with the elephant in the room: McGarity said he has confidence in Richt and the direction of the football program. He responded, “Absolutely,” when asked.

But he also was wary of even going down that road.

“I know how the spin goes on these things,” he said. “I’ve seen how things are written and what’s said. People think, ‘Oh, he gave him a vote of confidence. You know what that means.’ But it’s not like that. I just want people to know that we’re working hard and we’re driven to get better every day.”

The Bulldogs are 0-2 in the SEC for the first time in 17 years. The coach in charge then (Ray Goff) is associated with a low point in Bulldogs’ history. That isn’t the case with Richt. He won two SEC championships in his first five years at a school that hadn’t won one in 20.

But national championships at Alabama, Florida and LSU have changed the landscape. The Dogs leveled off. South Carolina, Arkansas and Auburn are on the rebound.

The good news: Richt's team could be favored in the next five games.

The good news: Mark Richt's Bulldogs could be favored in their next five games.

Barbarians are at the gate.

There are Facebook pages to fire Richt and offensive coordinator Mike Bobo. There’s a “Fire Mark Richt” website. Juvenile or not, it’s the reality of life in the SEC. McGarity knows that, but he’s not walking around campus, swinging an ax.

“You can’t make a snap judgment on things, especially sitting in my chair right now,” he said. “I haven’t even been here a month.

“We’ve played one-fourth of the season. In athletics, people can turn things around in a hurry when they believe in themselves and they believe in their leadership. I think if our team had not fought back in the fourth quarter [against Arkansas], we would have some concerns, but that’s not what we saw.”

The Dogs conceivably could win their next five games, beginning Saturday night at Mississippi State, before heading to Jacksonville. But losses to South Carolina and Arkansas — following  the summer’s arrests, last year’s 4-4 SEC record and the 2008 slide down from a preseason No. 1 ranking – appears to have split the fan base on Richt.

McGarity spoke at a quarterback club meeting Monday morning in Athens. Reading the audience wasn’t difficult.

“It would’ve been very easy to show up there if we were 3-0 and ranked,” he said. “I knew some people in that group were upset. I’m sure everybody is disappointed. But at the same time, I have to do everything in my power to support the team and show leadership. People look to leaders at times like this, just like players look to coaches.”

Asked if there were any harsh remarks at the breakfast, McGarity laughed and said: “No, but I don’t know what happened after I left.”

It’s probably for the best.

LogoGrass_652173aSACK SCHULTZ: I’ll have an update on my slow climb to No. 1 later this week. Meanwhile, there’s still time to join the fun. Click here for more info on the weekly college football picks contest and then sign up at ajc.com/go/sack-schultz.

Follow me on Twitter @JeffSchultzAJC and Facebook.com/JeffSchultzAJC

247 comments Add your comment

Freddy

September 21st, 2010
9:09 am

First. heheeh

Don

September 21st, 2010
9:09 am

The program is fine, Mark Richt is a good coach. Every program goes through a down period. The Dawgs will be back on top. “First.”

jtdawg

September 21st, 2010
9:11 am

Sandman053

September 21st, 2010
9:11 am

Georgia Dawg 79

September 21st, 2010
9:12 am

I don’t know what to make of this team right now. I’m trying to be optimistic, but the bottom line is starting 0-2 in SEC play scares the hell out of me. Am I alone here?

jtdawg

September 21st, 2010
9:12 am

nope….

.. but our program is still in trouble

Sandman053

September 21st, 2010
9:12 am

Dagnabbit!!!! Like Bobo I guessed wrong!

kjackson

September 21st, 2010
9:13 am

We definitely have the right man in McGarity. I am not convinced that we need to make wholesale changes. Need to let the season play out and then make a determination, if need be.

DawgMike

September 21st, 2010
9:16 am

No need to panic…yet.
But continue to struggle and the natives will be just a tad restless.

Roaddawg80

September 21st, 2010
9:17 am

In a realistic point I thought we would split games with USC/Arkansas. Well, we didn’t. So that puts us one game behind. If we reel off 5 straight wins which I think we can it will calm the storm.

I want to save my judgement on where the direction of the program is going right now. I can see it honestly both ways. However, if your are 6-2 going to Jacksonville and win that game then I think the coaches have not lost control. If we lose again before Jacksonville, then the players have given up and we are in a huge whole. Then something has to change other than a coordinator or two.

J dubb

September 21st, 2010
9:18 am

Would firing Bobo middle (early) in the season like this make things better, or worse? I’m not sure.
I like everything about our team except for him. He’s in over his head. He needs to go to a subdivision school and perfect his craft. UGA needs better (and they should be able to do better!)

Mike A.

September 21st, 2010
9:19 am

Richt is over when I say he’s over. BTW, Green didn’t know the dope dealer was an agent.

jtdawg

September 21st, 2010
9:21 am

Look, here’s the truth…. read the trends

Anyone who knows anything about business and/or management know this… trends do not lie.

People, especially Richt, defended Willie Martinez way too long after it was clear his effectiveness was marginal at best. The trend and the numbers told the story, yet excuse after excuse after excuse has been made.

Since Jim Donnan’s recruiting talent has been purged from the pipeline, arrests have gone up and performance has gone down.

The numbers don’t lie. The trend is pointing down. Where is the empirical evidence that anything will change between now and the time Arron Murray is a senior? We’ll have to roll out younger players to replace the experienced ones leaving in critical positions like offensive and defensive lines… We don’t seem to be getting nearly enough from our tailbacks anymore… Our WR corp is still not as strong as we need it to be… and there are coaching deficiencies everywhere…

Some people like to come here and quack about all the glory CMR has brought – 7th winningest coach, 6 top 10 finishes, #2 in 2007 , yada, yada, yada…

The trend says we’re sliding down again but where is the sign we are going to be better anytime soon?

jtdawg

September 21st, 2010
9:24 am

Why has every year turned into a rebuilding year?

Lowcountry Bulldawg

September 21st, 2010
9:24 am

No need to fire anyone right now- midseason? At the end of the season if the offense does not progessive, which with the return of AJ you think it will, then Bobo’s is in trouble.

If this season ends up being a 8-5 season, which could very well happen then CMR will have a not to fun meeting with the AD. At that point CMR will have to evaluate once again the staff, but this time himself as the point man for the program.

CMR at the end of the season may have to ask himself, what Pat Dye once asked of the team. Is he man enough for the job?

dap01

September 21st, 2010
9:24 am

Jeff: A storm at UGA is if attendance was in the 40,000 range. A storm at UGA would be if no one purchased tickets, except at discount prices. A storm would be if UGA was only shown on Thursday night games if Boise State was not playing. But heck, if Tech can exist under these conditions, UGA is safe at their current level. Perhaps there is no storm.

jtdawg

September 21st, 2010
9:26 am

2008 was supposed to be the glory year – three losses – two absolutely inexcusable shellackings

jtdawg

September 21st, 2010
9:26 am

4 straight SEC losses – this is acceptable football when?

zebra

September 21st, 2010
9:27 am

Jeff Schultz got embarrassed in Athens and hasn’t gotten over having his wittle bitty feelings hurt. Richt lost his best player. UGA will be fine starting with a beatdown this week.

Looking forward to your daily columns saying how stupid you are when Ga. goes 11-2.

jtdawg

September 21st, 2010
9:28 am

Why are we paining our way through a redshirt freshman QB year when there was plenty of opportunity to get some young guys PT last year?

Oh that’s right… Joe Cox was our savior last year. If not for him, we would have lost 7 games instead of 5

J dubb

September 21st, 2010
9:28 am

Jeff,

You appear to have style and wit….any chance you can convince CMR to shave that 2 pointed thing on top of his head? He looks ridiculous. WTF is that?

cantondawg

September 21st, 2010
9:30 am

Why don’t we let the season play out before we make a judgement on this team. Teams improve and learn from their mistakes. If you count out the Dawgs now you could be making a big mistake. Sometimes tough losses make you better in the long run.

J dubb

September 21st, 2010
9:30 am

wth? How did Schultz get embarrassed?

LEM4

September 21st, 2010
9:30 am

I see a program that has a redshirt freshman quarterback and a new defensive coordinator who is trying a different tactic. There will be bumps in the road either way. Overall I like what I see on offense we just need to tweak the pass coverage, tackles and the offensive line. I would hold off on the torches and pitchforks until we get deeper into the season.

Hobnailbooty

September 21st, 2010
9:30 am

J dubb

September 21st, 2010
9:31 am

we’re not allowed to type wtf anymore?

PMC

September 21st, 2010
9:31 am

you’re not truely successful until you have an online page or website dedicated to your removal.

Bill34

September 21st, 2010
9:31 am

There is nothing wrong with the Music City Bowl.

cantondawg

September 21st, 2010
9:33 am

JTDAWG,

You mentioned about JD recruits being purged from the pipeline. Obviously, you don’t remember how Tennessee always raided our state and got the best players when JD was coach. CMR is 10 times the recruiter that JD was.

old timer

September 21st, 2010
9:36 am

A Fan, not an expert like the rest of you idiots!!!

September 21st, 2010
9:39 am

Enter your comments here

A Fan, not an expert like the rest of you idiots!!!

September 21st, 2010
9:40 am

Everyone needs a little perspective. Here you go:

Dooley record: 7-3-1, 6-4, 10-1, 7-4, 8-2-1, 5-5-1, 5-5, 11-1, 7-4, 7-4-1, 6-6, 9-3, 10-2, 5-6, 9-2-1, 6-5, 12-0, 10-2, 11-1, 10-1-1, 7-4-1, 7-3-2, 8-4, 9-3, 9-3, and then he got the keys to the kingdom (A.D.)

Goff’s record: 6-6, 4-7, 9-3, 10-2, 5-6, 6-4-1, 6-6, and he got the boot.

Donnan’s record: 5-6, 10-2, 9-3, 8-4, 8-4, and he got the boot.

Richt’s record: 8-4, 13-1, 11-3, 10-2, 10-3, 9-4, 11-2, 10-3, 8-5.

Holy Crap, Are you guys freaking crazy. We’ve got one National Championship in the modern era, and somehow we think that we’re supposed to be world -beaters every year. You guys are crazy. Mark Richt may never win a national championship, but he is the best dang coach that we’ve ever had including Vince Dooley. In Dooley’s first 10 years, he lost 5 games a year twice and 4 games a year four times.

And don’t give me that, his success was when he was playing with Donnan’s players. You said the same thing when Goff went 9-3 and 10-2, and you said that about Donnan when he went 10-2 and 9-3.

And all of you crazy people calling for bobo’s head. Please remember that he is a bulldog. He cheered for him like crazy during that comeback and ot win at AU, and now you are killing him. He loves UGA more than you do, so shut up. I think I recall all of you complaining about CMR needed a OC. He needs to let someone else call the plays, blah, blah, blah. You got what you wanted, so shut up. You know the plays before they are going to be called, because you’ve watched every snap for the past ten years.

And quit talking about Alabama, Alabama, Alabama. Just turn into an Alabama fan if you’ve got such a man crush on Nick Satan. He is a snake. Just ask those boys in La and Miami. He’s not loyal.

I’m so fed up with you fans, that I’m about ready to root against the dawgs, so that CMR will get fired, take a year off, and go coach somewhere where he is appreciated.

You fans are a bunch a dam fools, that’s what you are, fools.

Not Disappointed

September 21st, 2010
9:40 am

It should be a good game with Miss St. The season is far from over.

For those who want to replace Mark Richt, I ask you “who’s the next coach waiting to take over Georgia with the unrealistic expectation?” Coach Mark Richt will get another Job. Believe it!

Herschel Talker

September 21st, 2010
9:41 am

HEAR YE, HEAR YE, ATTENTION EVERYONE:

YOU ARE ALL MARK RICHT APOLOGISTS. IF YOU DON’T “GET IT” NOW, YOU NEVER WILL.

HT

meh

September 21st, 2010
9:41 am

I think the offense is starting to click and will just get better when AJ returns. Murray is gonna be a great QB for the next few years. I think the defense is almost there. As the season goes on and they get use to the 3-4 they’re gonna be pretty good in my opinion.

jtdawg

September 21st, 2010
9:41 am

cantondawg, you and others may very well be correct.

I will go out on a short limb here and say there is no way this team wins 10 straight.

Make no mistake here – I do not support mid-season change. I will support this program to the very end.

I will NOT, however, sugarcoat facts, ignore trends and underestimate perception. Right now, the proud Bulldog Nation is down, we are once again, for what appears to be the 3rd year out of the last 4, in a “rebuilding” mode.

At some point in a project lifecycle, a reassesment has to take place. There are very distint periods where every program has to “re-stock and re-build”, but 3 out of every 4 years shouldn’t have to be written off.

If we want to be ‘elite’, we have to demand better.

I want my program to be ‘elite’, I don’t know about some of us…

JPW

September 21st, 2010
9:43 am

CMR is the head of our beloved football program, and we need to stand beside him now more than ever. Let’s wait to judge until after the season. I will admit being nervous about the direction, but we have to give the new personnel (revamped D coaching staff) time to make their mark. Let’s do our best to be patient this year.

Shame on all of you who left the game early on Saturday. We gotta support this team through thick and thin. You leaving early only hurts the program.

Phil

September 21st, 2010
9:44 am

“If this season ends up being a 8-5 season, which could very well happen”

Frankly I don’t see 8 wins. Who are we going to beat? I’m not so sure we even get by Miss State this weekend. Colorado and Vanderbilt are not gimmes with this team. And with the “3rd and 4 so everybody go deep” play calling by Bobo, this season is looking bad.

Yea, AJ Green would make a difference on offense, but he doesn’t play defense or call the plays, so he’s not going to be the savior for this season.

robodawg

September 21st, 2010
9:45 am

I think the people who want to fire Richt wanted to fire him before the season began. It wasn’t hard to guess that losing both these games would be quite possible, that we’d be happy enough to split them. Games don’t always work out the way you want. We knew to expect bumps this season. Neither of these was a “bad” loss (unlike, say, Kentucky last year). But I get the feeling some people wanted us to lose to prove their case.

Those who think nothing less than an undefeated season is acceptable need a reality check.

Also, is there such a thing these days as a loss that DOESN’T demand someone be fired?

RedandBlack

September 21st, 2010
9:47 am

Coach Richt is failing once again at addressing an immediate concern. It took him two years to finally replace his defensive coordinator. Last year, he did not play his two freshman quarterbacks when Joe Cox was playing with a dead arm. How much would that experience last year have helped Murray this year against South Carolina and Arkansas? Would Mettneberger have got in trouble down in Valdosta if he saw playing time last year?

Again, the Georgia Bulldog offense continues to stall due to inconsistent play calling by the offensive coordinator. The OC also oversees the offensive line. For the past three years inept and inconsistent play calling on the offensive side of the ball has been killing Bulldog drives. Bobo is still here and the Dogs still have problems. Once again, Coach Richt is failing to make a command decision. Once again, Coach Richt is failing at keeping his players out of trouble.

Where does Coach Richt think that this continued inconsistency is acceptable since he is doing the same things that he was doing in years past? The road, folks. That is where Coach Richt and Coach Bobo are heading. They are fixing to hit the road. All of this inconsistency is unacceptable. Correct it NOW or hit the road. Go Dogs!!!

firemarkricht.net

September 21st, 2010
9:48 am

dap01

September 21st, 2010
9:49 am

The only storm is being manufactured by people selling articles and headlines.

Ted Striker

September 21st, 2010
9:51 am

I love my alma mater, however UGA has the greatest percentage of fair weather/low rent fans of any school in the conference. Have said for years I’d like to swap around 35% of UGA’s fan base for 35% of South Carolina’s fan base.

There were plenty of fans inside and outside of the stadium grousing about play calling, coaching, player performance, etc. — even during the Herschel Walker years. Those who say it wasn’t so either have short memories, didn’t pay attention or weren’t there.

Sweat Socks

September 21st, 2010
9:52 am

It’s never a good sign when the AD has to come to a coaches rescue in the press.

Sandman053

September 21st, 2010
9:53 am

The defense is still playing with a secondary recruited by Willie, so that isn’t going to get much better overnight….but there was some progress Saturday I thought (except those pesky TD receptions).
The offense is the glaringly obvious problem. I mean we scored SIX points against SC and Furman scored three times as many?
We have been glaringly missing a big physical back here at Tailback U and it showed the past two Saturdays. I certainly hope we get the young man from Carver. He’ll be starting next year if he comes to Georgia or he can sit for a year or two at Alabama.

Phil

September 21st, 2010
9:54 am

robodawg,
As jtdawg pointed out earlier, there is a trend developing and it’s not good. Saban comes into Alabama replacing Mike Shula(who was terrible), and wins the National Championship in 3 years. Richt has been here 10 years and we are about as close to winning the National Championship as Vanderbilt is.

Arkansas, Auburn and even South Carolina are passing us by. Instead of Richt taking us to the “Next” level, he has taken us “Down” a level. There is indeed a trend, and it’s not good.

Dawgs73

September 21st, 2010
9:54 am

jtdawg – You are absolutely correct! You are being objective, which is difficult for a lot of folks on this blog. There is no evidence to support Richt and the Dawgs trending upward.

We all support our team, we just want the very best opportunity for our team to have success. With that being said, the competition of the SEC is much greater now and Richt and the Dawgs are regressing. As you previously stated, “The trend says we’re sliding down again but where is the sign we are going to be better anytime soon?”

Slow Your Roll

September 21st, 2010
9:59 am

Fire Mark Richt, really? Let’s look at this team. Very talented, but inexperienced redshirt freshman quarterback. New defensive scheme with players not recruited for this scheme. Played two good football teams with legitimate chances to win each game. At the beginning of the year, I would have been happy with 9-3 record under these circumstances. Slow your roll dawg nation. If anything, be very concerned about the play calling moreso than the players. By the way, the word out of the South Carolina game was “missed tackles”. Why did no one talk about missed tackels when Herschel was running through people? Lattimore is a great, not good, back. Give him credit. Mallett is a first rounder next April. Give him credit. Come on Dawg fans, slow your roll.

SeminoleWarrior

September 21st, 2010
10:00 am

Just a neutral observer here…

Tell me UGA fans, if not Mark Richt, then who?