Richt’s plan for change is good, but why did it take so long?

Georgia coach Mark Richt is coming off his worst season as a head coach.

Georgia coach Mark Richt is coming off his worst season as a head coach. (Brant Sanderlin/AJC)

Mark Richt is not going to fire offensive coordinator Mike Bobo but he did suggest Wednesday that he’s going to be more hands-on with the offense and the team in general from this day forward.

Comment: That’s probably a good idea, given that it’s his job on the line.

Question: Why did it take a loss to Central Florida in the Liberty Bowl for Richt to realize something was wrong?

In his season-ending press conference Wednesday, via our Tim Tucker, Richt said that he’s going to have more time freed up in his schedule “to [spend] more time doing the things I love the most, which is study the game of football …”

Later, he reiterated, “I’m going to have the ability to have the time it takes to truly study the game of football, the trends and what’s going on, so a higher percentage of my time is going to be able to be used for that.”

Those are interesting statements. They suggest that non-coaching activities have been taking up too much of Richt’s time and adjustments will be made in his schedule to prevent that from happening again.

I don’t doubt that can happen. The demands on a college football coach can be enormous, let alone a coach in the SEC. If Richt is going to tweak his weekly schedule and athletic director Greg McGarity does some things to give him more time to be hands on with his players and the game plan, that can only be good for the program.

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But it shouldn’t have taken a 6-7 season for Richt to realize something was wrong. There have been signs of the program sliding for a few seasons, going back even to the 10-3 season in 2008. The Dogs were preseason No. 1 but were flattened in key games against Alabama and Florida. Both opponents looked better prepared. Both played with a physical and mental edge that the Dogs generally have lacked.

Things obviously have deteriorated since. Georgia is 5-9 in its last 14 SEC games. Since 2009, they’ve lost to LSU, Tennessee, Kentucky, South Carolina, Arkansas, Mississippi State and Auburn. (Also, Florida twice.). Perception that the Dogs have been passed by other programs in the conference is now reality.

For what it’s worth, I believe the criticism of Bobo has been a little excessive. He deserves some credit for Aaron Murray’s development. In the last seven games of the regular season — before the 10-6 loss in the Liberty Bowl — the Dogs scored 41, 43, 44, 31, 55, 31 and 42 points.

What’s the bigger issue, the offense or Todd Grantham’s defense? In the SEC, Georgia finished fourth in scoring offense and seventh in total offense; seventh in scoring defense and fourth in total defense.

I’ve never believed the problems are as simple as changing plays or schemes on offense or the defense. It’s big picture stuff: preparation, mindset, toughness, focus, edge, consistency. It’s having an identity, knowing what a Georgia team is going to give you from week to week. That whole, “Finish the drill,” thing has been an empty rallying cry.

It’s great that Richt believes that something needs to be done. It just shouldn’t have gotten to this point. The question now is whether this is too big of a hole for him to dig out of so quickly.
– By Jeff Schultz

Follow me on Twitter @JeffSchultzAJC; friend me at Facebook.com/JeffSchultzAJC

575 comments Add your comment

Pepe

January 5th, 2011
10:38 am

Jeff Schultz

January 5th, 2011
10:40 am

Pepe

January 5th, 2011
10:41 am

Maybe next time Schultzie…

Buckshot

January 5th, 2011
10:42 am

He should have demoted Bobo to QB coach and co-offensive coordinator and taken the reins of the offense himself. But, not he still has a scapegoat in Bobo when there is no improvements next year.

5150 P.O.A.D.

January 5th, 2011
10:42 am

HAHHAAHA is this a real question? Leeburn hasn’t told Adams who to tell McGarity how to hire yet. Leeburn & Yunclan haven’t sobered up enought to decide on the new coach.

Twilb Dawg

January 5th, 2011
10:42 am

I have been an avid supporter of CMR…but I think it is time for a change at the helm…I don’t know who, but it may be time for some new blood in A-town.

Jed Clampett

January 5th, 2011
10:43 am

Pitiful…Jest pitiful

Jeff Schultz

January 5th, 2011
10:44 am

For what it’s worth, just added a poll.

Hank

January 5th, 2011
10:45 am

Bobo can only do what he is allowed to do. The reality is we have no creativity whatsoever. When is the last time we faked a punt? On-side kicked? Ran a reverse or reverse pass? Sweep pass? Faked a field goal? Dang we try enough of them in the red zone. I don’t want to here we should have made it on 3rd Down that is why they give you 4. We have no exicitment, creativity, or even act as if we care. When Nick Saban shows more creativity than we do then we need a change.

5150 P.O.A.D.

January 5th, 2011
10:46 am

Wow #5 just like UGA in the SEC least.

Jeff Schultz

January 5th, 2011
10:46 am

Buckshot — In theory, he doesn’t have to demote Bobo. Mark can still take over play-calling any time he wants, whether Bobo has a title or not.

Paul H

January 5th, 2011
10:47 am

I’m glad he used the words “cutting edge” because it seems like we’ve been relying on what worked 10 years ago instead of what gets the job done today. The Sabans of the world are always on the cutting edge. The lack of identity and the general vibe that the Dogs are content in being mediocre has got to go. The Dogs of 01-05 imposed their will and had a true identity. You knew what you were getting, win or (rarely) lose. Seems like a long time ago now. Gotta get it back.

Jeff Schultz

January 5th, 2011
10:48 am

Hank — There’s a lot of truth to what you say. When the head coach comes from the offensive side of the ball, the OC calls plays with the head coach’s philosophies in mind.

Daisy

January 5th, 2011
10:48 am

Bobo is great at developing QBs, but not at offensive cordinator. At the very least CMR should start calling plays again.

Tucker T

January 5th, 2011
10:49 am

I think Richt delegated duties a little too much over the past few years. Richt is an offensive guy and he should be very involved with the offense.

bill

January 5th, 2011
10:49 am

Yawn…more of the same on the way.

Paul H

January 5th, 2011
10:50 am

The memo that everyone needs to get is this: Richt is NOT going anywhere prior to 2011. He WILL be the coach this year. Whether you want him gone or not is irrelevant. Your opinions have been heard over and over again. We get it. Time to let it play out, support the Dogs and see what happens.

Buckshot

January 5th, 2011
10:50 am

Starting to wonder if Vince needs to take over for CMR!!!

MatthewH

January 5th, 2011
10:51 am

So what is he going to give up to find more time in his schedule? Is this a case of him giving up radio appearances and truck commercials, or is it something more substantial?

bdawg

January 5th, 2011
10:51 am

he doesnt know how to fix the problem. I feel like he is clueless of whats wrong. He is like Brick Tamland on anchorman. I love Lamp…I love carpet lol…Mark are you just looking around the room and saying um i want to change this…i want to change that

Al Beeski

January 5th, 2011
10:52 am

I know Bobo didn’t have a great philosophy v. UCF, but I have to say 6-7 definitely wasnt his nor the offense’s fault. CMR is looking for any scapegoats he can find & thats sad, but I agree 100% about fla & bama games a few years ago, UGA didnt look prepared physically or mentally and that falls squarely on the head coach.

No more donations to UGA

January 5th, 2011
10:52 am

Losing to UCF is unexcusable. We will find out alot tonite when we see what top high school talent commits to UGA during the Under Armor All-star game.Richt must bring in top talent that is ready to produce next year or he will not survive 2011.

Tampa_Dawg

January 5th, 2011
10:53 am

TWENTY FIRST!!!

schmeckdawg

January 5th, 2011
10:54 am

@ 5150 P.O.A.D.

Nice call, you are right on with your comments about Leeburn and Youclan!

Rich T

January 5th, 2011
10:54 am

One thing is fairly certain: if he doesn’t find the time now to fix things, he will have all the time in the world a year from now to be thinking of what should have been fixed.

Tampa_Dawg

January 5th, 2011
10:55 am

CRAP – Twenty fifth? I’m like the dawgs…..just going down farther and farther….

lostdawg

January 5th, 2011
10:55 am

“the Dogs scored 41, 43, 44, 31, 55, 31 and 42 points.”

ON WHAT DEFENSES!!!! That’s what I thought…..not impressed.

bill

January 5th, 2011
10:56 am

“I’m not saying I’m taking over as the [offensive] coordinator or anything like that,” Richt said. “Mike Bobo is the coordinator; Mike Bobo is the quarterback coach, and Coach [Stacy] Searels is the running game coordinator. And they have done a great job . . . so I have confidence in those guys….”

UH??? If this year was a great job, can’t wait to see what happens next season.

D A Double U G

January 5th, 2011
10:56 am

What the ______ do you people want Richt to say??

You armchair fans are the most unpleaseable group of college football fans out there.

Go ahead, fire Mark Richt. Then go ask a Vol fan how a similar situation and decision worked out for them.

GO DAWGS!!!!

5150 P.O.A.D.

January 5th, 2011
10:56 am

What are the Dawgs going to print on the Tshirts for the up coming year? The “Dream Team will not become a NIGHTMARE”? After all the crap Richt has been saying the last few years why wouldn’t you think he is just talking more crap?

Dawgs73

January 5th, 2011
10:58 am

There is nothing to suggest that Mark is capable of coaching to the current level of competition in the SEC/East. He had Stafford, Massaquoi, Moreno all on the same team and couldn’t even win the Sec east/Compete for a National Championship. It’s a constant blame game that continues with Richt and he HAS NEVER ONCE stated “I haven’t been good enough, devoted enough” or taken responsibility for any failures.

He was propped up his first five years by Van Gorder which masked a lot of offensive deficiencies, and the Sec was not anywhere close to the current competition. The fact is this, he is not a championship caliber coach and doesn’t have the capacity to magically change/take UGA to the next level. The state of Georgia alone produces enough 4 & 5 star recruits to compete and have a chance every year (to win at the highest level). If McGarity would truly be objective and take of his saint Richt glasses, he would make the tough/right decision and bring in the very best coach to led this program.

Time for change has come and gone and yet Richt still remains…here’s to another 6-7 season!

Tom

January 5th, 2011
10:58 am

Enter your comments here

Tom

January 5th, 2011
10:59 am

It sounds to me as if McGarity is trying to teach Richt how to lead and not just fill a position.

Hank

January 5th, 2011
11:00 am

I’m going to say is now. Let’s just go ahead and plan for 2012 and cause spastic coniption fits in Tennessee by hiring Dooley from them.

Tampa_Dawg

January 5th, 2011
11:01 am

Mr. Schultz you and I actually traded some e-mails last year about how ardent I was supporting Coach Richt and how he’s proven himself capable of deserving another year. That was the end of 2009, and now we’ve gone that year and without sounding like I am the typical guy full of p*** and vinegar, I want to say that I am officially eating crow. (you might remember me, I am the Naval Academy grad who is a dyed in the wool UGA fan since birth) —- BL, it seems like it’s less athletica capability because most folks agree that incoming HS talent is among the best. It’s a mindset. They don’t have the killer instinct. They don’t have the discipline. Most directly, they don’t show heart. It’s evidenced by moments where studs roll over, hands on hips, take a play off here and there, don’t tackle, jump the snap-count, commit personal fouls and on top of that, continue to win the Fulmer Cup. —- My biggest fear, we keep Richt another season (and we will because I think McGarity thinks to change things now would leave an untenable situation for 2011). The problem is – keeping him – AND FOR THE RECORD HE IS AN AMAZING PERSON – sets the program back a year anyway – so why not rip the bandaid off now while guys like Murray are young and can get 3 years with a staff and only suffer one transition year? Now they have 2 years with new staff, one of which is transition. We’re tailsliding….and no one seems to want to make the hard choice to right the ship.

82Dawg

January 5th, 2011
11:01 am

@POAD a Yellow Jacket is just like a fire hydrant for a dog just something they pi$$ on when they get in the way. That would look great on a shirt.

5150 P.O.A.D.

January 5th, 2011
11:01 am

Jeff Thanks for adding the Poll. Isn’t adding polls to a classroom the frist job for the new UGA engineers? They need to more Polls for the POLL DANCING majors at UGA.

surrealist

January 5th, 2011
11:03 am

“Finish the drill” needs to be replaced with: WIN.

D A Double U G

January 5th, 2011
11:04 am

“Question: Why did it take a loss to Central Florida in the Liberty Bowl for Richt to realize something was wrong?”

Schultz…. why are you trying to paint the picture that Richt has been completely oblivious to the fact that things have not been clicking well? A simple rule in college football, is that if you decide to make drastic changes to operation during the season, you can expect things to only get worse until the next offseason.

Have you listened to Richt’s pressers all season?? Did I miss something you caught? Apparently you think Richt has been dancing in la la land acting like everything UGA had done so far was just perfect. Wrong. Richt has expressed concern all season long.

There’s a reason Richt coaches a SEC football team, and you only write negative opinion based blogs in order to get hits to generate advertising costs. Mainly, because Richt DOES know what he is doing.

PLEASE move up north!!!!! Take Bradley with you. Look at the sports main page at any given time, and it’s nothing but negative headlines from you two.

No more donations to UGA

January 5th, 2011
11:04 am

D A Double U G,

I dont want him to say anything-Im tired of excuses-I just want results-I dont care how he does it-JUST DO IT ! We will see tnite if the Dream Team is comming to Athens.

Carlton

January 5th, 2011
11:05 am

Haha-I commented on someone’s AJC blog yesterday with the exact ideas in your article Schultz. I mentioned yesterday that first, Richt needs to quit making Ford commercials (a non-coaching activity I believe), and second, he needs to be more hands on with the offense like he was the first 5 years of his tenure (and when our offensive players-yes, even DJ Shockley and Danny Ware-were better prepared and developed as young football players). UGA was far and away better when Richt was the OC and HC, and it’s funny it took him 5 years later to realize it.

No more donations to UGA

January 5th, 2011
11:05 am

5150,

New shirts will say: 10-1 against Tech in last 11 meetings-haha

boog

January 5th, 2011
11:06 am

Your question is valid. However, I may be reading between the lines, but it appears that McGarity is far more proactive in his communication with Richt. I think McGarity has created the opportunity for Richt to implement what he probably knew needed to be done for quite some time. McGarity may be a bigger influence on the programs than we first thought. Base on Richts gushing about McGarity one could surmise that his relationship with Evans was poor by comparison.

PMC

January 5th, 2011
11:06 am

Nice Article Mark. It seems like by his own admission he feels like some of the stuff they do may be antiquated and it needs to evolve. Rather than putting it on his assistants, he’s essentially saying that overall he needs to get better and evolve what they are trying to do in order to get different results.

It’s a somewhat unique approach when the program has fallen as much as this one has for several years now but it could work if they players put forth the effort it’s going to take.

SimpleDawg

January 5th, 2011
11:06 am

Bobo is not the problem….granted, he’s no firebrand….as a matter of fact, he’s low key, but he is a solid football coach and a good coordinator.

Having a passive, low key head coach is a problem. The head coach sets the tone, the attitude….the edge….and the expectations of behavior……the discipline and code of conduct. On and off the field.

Maybe Richt is a leopard who can change his spots……..I doubt it……and if not, then God Bless us and good luck for any success next year.

Tell the truth

January 5th, 2011
11:07 am

It’s so laughable to read all the comments on these blogs from people who think they know what they are talking about. After all. you have watched football games for years and played video games and know some of the terminology. Yep you are all experts. So much stupidity- so little class. Mark Richt has forgotten more than you will know in your lifetime about football. He will get it turned around. He knows what he is doing- unlike you. Be sure and tell us all on here just what great things you have done in your lifetime and why we should even waste our time reading your inane comments.

BIG DAWG

January 5th, 2011
11:08 am

As for Richt getting more involved in the play calling, to me that is only more delay. Remember before he appointed Bobo Offensive Coordinator? We were complaining about Richt’s play calling and wanting a coordinator! I can’t see where this is solving anything. Yes, Murray did well for the most part, but let’s not give Bobo the credit – let’s give it to Murray! He has the talent, the ability, the judgement, and is an avid student of the game. Bobo had nothing to do with that. I see more of the same without an offensive mind. Bobo is one of the most predictable coaches on the planet. No imagination and no vision.
As for the defense, I am willing to see if substantial improvements take place. If Grantham is successful with accomplishing what Erk Russell accomplished, I would say he might just be a good candidate for “head coach in waiting”.

Josh

January 5th, 2011
11:08 am

Jeff

Sometimes you need an outsider’s view to see that there are issues and McGarity has provided that for Richt. Same as any other company that needs to reach a certain level of success. There’s no doubt he gets the message that the program stinks right now and he knows his neck is on the line to get it back to a level that UGA should be.

Rex Kramer

January 5th, 2011
11:08 am

Swell, aparently the new A.D. is just as vanilla and spineless as Richt. 3 years too long to fire Martinez. 3 years and counting to fire BoBo (or demote him). Now 3 years and counting to fire Richt. Im curious what exatly it will take.

DDAWG

January 5th, 2011
11:09 am

This reminds me of why I should not care so much, its just a game played by kids. Care = $$$, Pitiful