Mark Richt apparently agreed with most who felt Georgia needed to make a change at strength and conditioning coach. How he went about that change was a bit underwhelming, though.
Richt demoted strength coach Dave Van Halanger to “administrative assistant,” which sounds as far from the program as possible while still staying on campus. But to replace Van Halanger, he promoted assistant Joe Tereshinski rather than bring in someone new from the outside. It remains to be seen if this staff tweak works wonders or amounts to mere window dressing.
One thing is certain: If dumping Van Halanger doesn’t work out, Richt has just about run out of assistants to blame for the team’s problems.
After firing defensive coordinator Willie Martinez and two other assistants following an 8-5 record in 2009, Richt removed his longest tenured assistant in Van Halanger. They both came to Athens in 2o01. The announcement was stunning only in that the two are close friends and, if Van Halanger ever was going to lose his job, it figured to happen after last season, when Richt fired Martinez and defensive assistants Jon Fabris and John Jancek.
That said, a change was long overdue. The Dogs dropped to 6-6 this season and they’re 7-9 in the SEC in the last two years. Some of the problems have stemmed from the team’s lack of physical play. There have been too games, particularly losses to Alabama and Florida, when the Dogs have been pushed around on the line of scrimmage.
Some of that can be attributed to a lack of strength but some of that is attitude. A good strength coach can significantly help in a lot of areas: players’ confidence, the edge he plays with and physical strength.
It should be noted, however, that a team’s attitude tends to flow from the head coach down, not the strength coach down. So if Georgia hopes to become a tougher team, physically and mentally, the onus is on Richt.
With a new athletic director, Greg McGarity, stepping in, and Richt’s reticence to make a change in the past, there is bound to be speculation that McGarity pressured the coach to make this move. But regardless of whose call it was, a change was needed.
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