‘Rejuvenated’ Richt can thank McGarity for having his back

Mark Richt

Mark Richt feels "like a brand new coach."

Greg McGarity

Greg McGarity knows Richt was "beat down."

Moments after Isaiah Crowell put on a Georgia hat and announced, “I’m gonna be a Dog,” Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity picked up the telephone and called Mark Richt.

“I was in my office and phoned Mark and said, ‘OK, you can relax a little bit now,’” McGarity recalled. “He said, ‘It was a great day.’ Then I told him, ‘Take a little bit of time off.’ We had a [standing] meeting scheduled for Friday but I told him, ‘There’s nothing [we] need to talk about. Just go and get away from it for a little while.’ He deserved a break.”

Great recruiting classes don’t come with guarantees. Nor do staff changes and new strength and conditioning programs. But if Mark Richt manages to turn around a Georgia football program that has been on the decline and is coming off its worst season in 14 years, he can start by thanking his boss.

Amid cries from alumni, fans and media to fire Richt, McGarity has stood behind his football coach. McGarity’s belief has been that Richt proved himself early in his career, so he deserved an opportunity to fix the problems. That’s not an easy position for an athletic director to take, particularly in the SEC.

The Richt that we saw on Wednesday on national letter of intent day didn’t remotely resemble the one on display for most of the season. He looked happy, excited — even in a relative state of bliss.

At one point, Richt told a crowd of Bulldogs fans in the Butts-Mehre building, “I feel like a brand new head coach.”

Looking for a sign that things can improve in Athens? There it is.

This isn’t merely about one recruiting class. (Even McGarity chuckles at the obsession with “stars” and “rankings,” saying: “It’s an inexact science.”) It’s about Richt feeling full support from McGarity, being given everything he has asked for and possibly even having a relative wake-up call, understanding that changes were needed.

Regardless of the theories as to why, this much is certain: Richt has not been as effective as he once was. He has been beaten down by the losing. Some even believe that he has lacked the focus and edge he once had. That could have trickled down to his players.

“I feel revived as a coach,” he said. “Coaching football at this level can wear anybody out. A lot of the reason I talk about that rejuvenation is because of Mr. McGarity coming in and the way that he has just constantly been talking to me about, ‘What can we do? What do you need to succeed?’ We’ve been implementing a lot of things that we feel like we need to have success. That’s exciting for me.”

McGarity said one grand recruiting class is just a part of the big picture. It doesn’t change anything going into next season. It doesn’t alter expectations or increase (or decrease) the pressure to win. This is still a program that has gone 5-9 in its last 14 SEC games and is trying to find its way back to relevancy.

Asked if he noticed Richt being worn down this past season, McGarity said: “I think any time things don’t go as you planned, it does wear on you. It beats on you. Nobody here was accustomed to going 1-4. Every coach feels pressure. This is college athletics at the highest level. I don’t have to go in and tell people what they have to do. They know.”

McGarity is staying clear of numeric mandates. He says he’s merely looking for an obvious change in direction.

“The expectations are the same for every program from day one: Be competitive. Be in the hunt for championships,” he said. “I want to see constant improvement. I want to see improvement every day in every part of the program.”

Richt has been given that chance.

By Jeff Schultz

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

558 comments Add your comment

5150 UOAD

February 3rd, 2011
2:35 pm

Giving Richt just enough rope to hang himself and Bobo

dobearsbare

February 3rd, 2011
2:37 pm

My mantra about the recruiting class is this: Richt will keep his job or lose it with players who are already on campus. Maybe Crowell and the DL that may sign Saturday will be a difference maker, but I’m not counting on it.

dobearsbare

February 3rd, 2011
2:39 pm

If he loses it, I’m sure the next coach will be quite happy to have these signees.

Preston

February 3rd, 2011
2:39 pm

Murphy

February 3rd, 2011
2:39 pm

McGarity’s best move to date: Scheduling Boise to open the 2011 season. Spring and summer practice will be elevated as never before.

Preston

February 3rd, 2011
2:41 pm

Sounds like a winning combination. I hope that the McGarrity/Richt relationship will result in great success!

GeoffDawg

February 3rd, 2011
2:41 pm

I’m, as they say, cautiously optimistic.

5150 UOAD

February 3rd, 2011
2:42 pm

Murphy
That could be true. BSU is losing a lot of players and UGA should have a chip, but if they lose the Natives will be screaming early and loud.

Murphy

February 3rd, 2011
2:46 pm

5150,

We must win the first 2 games.If we lose those 2 Richt’s tenure is over.If we win those 2 it will be a great year for UGA.The years we have started off in a winning mode we have played for the SEC Championship

ncb34

February 3rd, 2011
2:46 pm

UGA has to get better at putting the pressure on when they have a lead, everytime uga had a double digit lead, you could notice bobo taking his foot off the pedal. UGA is closer than people think to being a good team.

Murphy

February 3rd, 2011
2:48 pm

Boise will be a pre-season top 10 team-Maybe a pre-season top 5 team

Coach Mark Richt

February 3rd, 2011
2:51 pm

I am not really rejuvenated…..I have just been spending a lot more time in the tanning booth. Plus I got my thinning hair dyed a little darker. So the deeper tan and darker hair just make me look more rejuvenated. Come fall, it will be business as usual (losing games) and UGA will be on the hook for my $3M dollars. Its great to be me

Murphy

February 3rd, 2011
2:51 pm

ncb34,

Il be happy with just getting a double digit lead after last year’s debacle.

headley lamar

February 3rd, 2011
2:52 pm

Great recruiting classes don’t come with guarantees.

No it doesnt but more times than not it leads to success.

Even McGarity chuckles at the obsession with “stars” and “rankings,” saying: “It’s an inexact science.

It is in a sense but once again you overstate it. Look at the teams in the Top Ten in recruiting this year. Ill bet you 10 bucks your National Champion will be one of those Ten Teams in 3 years.

Murphy

February 3rd, 2011
2:54 pm

Watch FSU rise to the top of the ACC next year and tell me recuiting doesnt matter. Good Coaching is also a key.You must start of with talent though.

headley lamar

February 3rd, 2011
2:54 pm

That could be true. BSU is losing a lot of players

They are losing far and away there best player. Titus Young.

Have been watching Boise every now and then and alot of their success recently has been for Kellen Moore to lob it up in his general direction.

JB

February 3rd, 2011
2:54 pm

If you tell your wife you’ll quit drinking and running around….and do it, you both win. That being said, Mark needs to change some things he does. He needs to get tougher mentally.
He needs to more hands on. The New S&C program and coach is a great start…. He needs to get on a plane or two this summer and go talk to Bob Stoops, Chris Peterson. Pick their brain for 4 hours. Hire Ralph Frigien. Let him help us. Let him call the offense with 20 new plays HE puts in.Don’t let up in games ( Tell Saban that in the second half of last years Auburn Game, LOL)……… Let that team SEE and FEEL the confidence in you to win big again……..Swagger. Find some.

matt b

February 3rd, 2011
2:55 pm

If Richt prepares his team as he did preceding the 2002, 2003, and 2005 seasons, our first game at the Dome will end very well. He has it in him, and McGarity hopefully will help him to bring it out.

Let’s hope McGarity’s hire and this recruiting class is the turning point in Richt’s career.

Murphy

February 3rd, 2011
2:56 pm

JB,

Good post-A team takes on the attitude of its coach! Saban is a prime example of this.

headley lamar

February 3rd, 2011
2:56 pm

Come fall, it will be business as usual (losing games)

Business as usual for Richt was a Top Ten finish and a bowl win.

90 wins last decade. Same number as Florida.

SOGADOG

February 3rd, 2011
3:00 pm

That pair or red panties may have changed the course of events for the better in Athens. McGarity appears to be the right man in the right job at the right time to help CMR steer the football program back on course.

The media and the fans have been to quick to call for CMR’s firing and I think in three years they will be eating their words. Granted the program has significant problems, I have confidence that CMR will fix those problems if given a chance. Martinez was a problem that should have been fixed sooner. But that problem has been addressed and Grantham should be given time to implement his system and assemble the right players to run it. If CMR finds a quality replacement for Searels and becomes more involved with the play calling, the Dawgs should trend upward the next three years. Time will tell, but I am glad McGarity didnt give into the media and fire CMR in a knee jerk reaction.

bitter red-in-black

February 3rd, 2011
3:00 pm

just ran into a typical alabamma fan at the gym where i work out
what a hatter!!!!he said about crowell
—————–i wish that puppy would have piss–d on crowell because he didnot chose bammer

that statement followed a racist statement—-duh, consider the source!

we should actually build a fence along the boarder of ala and ga, just to keep our people from being contaminated from those dumb as—
im–im lost for words to describe these fools!!

they try and brag about a school that only signed 5 from there on state

bammer fans are just a tad above the drain pipe!!!

——-PS—-why would any kid want to take a chance on turning out that way———–this is 2011 bammer necks.

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JB

February 3rd, 2011
3:02 pm

In other news, there was a grease fire at the Tech Athletic offices when to much fish got in the fish cooker and went all over the floor. Some say they haven’t seen Al Groh move that fast since he appeared on American bandstand as a teenager in the 50’s.

SOUTH GA DAWG FAN

February 3rd, 2011
3:03 pm

Mcgarity seems like a nice man he will probably have people thanking him for firing them.

Columbus

February 3rd, 2011
3:03 pm

If we were to lose the 1st 2, which we wont, 9 or 10 wins and Richt isnt going anywhere! The 1st 2 are the toughest, after that, it’s all W’s. Heck even 8 wins is an improvement but UGA will win at least 9 and maybe…..if we win the 1st 2…..WE MIGHT JUST WIN THEM ALL BABY. So to all you Richt haters and sorry excuse for Dog fans…..RICHT IS NOT GOING ANYWHERE NO TIME SOON. THANK GOD FOR THAT! and PLEASE go find another school to tear down when they have a down period!

Murphy

February 3rd, 2011
3:04 pm

Man I sure hope Crowell turns out to be the running back he has be hailed to be.

Columbus

February 3rd, 2011
3:05 pm

Hey I live on the GA/AL border and yes @bitter red in black….we need a fence!

JB

February 3rd, 2011
3:05 pm

Somebody list the starting 22 against Boise.

JB

February 3rd, 2011
3:07 pm

Who in this class get’s on the field next year in your opinion?

shankit

February 3rd, 2011
3:07 pm

McGarrity and Richt – Good combination
Must know the feelings Mark has gone thru,
great to have an AD recognize his efforts and
acknowledge. Every one needs a pat on the
back every now and then, instead of all these
negative blogs. Don’t think most of these bloggers
are true Dawg fans anyway.

Murphy

February 3rd, 2011
3:07 pm

JB,

I can give you one that probably wont be: Caleb King

Murphy

February 3rd, 2011
3:08 pm

JB,

I see Drew,Turene,Crowell all getting first game playing time

5150 UOAD

February 3rd, 2011
3:09 pm

Murphy
I have wondered that too. He looked like a spoiled brat in the playoffs when his team was losing. I don’t know how he will react it this level, but we will see.
I am hating that Tuitt didn’t sign with Tech but I hope he enjoys Notre Dame. Maybe he will not be happy and transfer to Tech in a few years.
Do you think UGA will keep all these kids? I could see a few transfering if they don’t think they will play much. Your class has a whole lot of preasure on them and some hype to live up too for sure.

GTBob

February 3rd, 2011
3:10 pm

Watch FSU rise to the top of the ACC next year and tell me recuiting doesnt matter. Good Coaching is also a key.You must start of with talent though.

Since 2005 which was FSU’s last ACC title they have had the top ACC recruiting class 5 of 6 years. All 5 of those years they were in the top 10. Talent hasn’t been a problem for them.

SOGADOG

February 3rd, 2011
3:11 pm

Fran Tarkenton was wrong about one thing, CMR can still recruit, especially in the state of Georgia. Eat crow Fran.

A clear path to success

February 3rd, 2011
3:11 pm

Around the end of the year, I am sure that these things were discussed by all parties:

The Liberty Bowl ……….. go have fun but win it.
Recruiting. Get the Dream Team in.
Have a quiet off season.
Install new S&C coaches, O line coach and BOOST motivations and RESULTS.
G Day game ………… new stars will emerge. Depth should be on display.
Have a quiet summer time. S&C steel and grunts being heard over in Augusta with the noise.
Boise State and SC are two WONDERFUL opportunities to give the sports world a shout out IF we win both. UT in Knoxville is yet another, along with Arkansas there and MSU at home. Florida is on the schedule too. AU in Athens might be very, very loud.

This is it. Knowing where you need to be is sometimes 75% of the battle. Richt has this road map.

Go Dogs.

Hurt Kurbstreit

February 3rd, 2011
3:12 pm

Richt has my full support. This recruiting class is the start of a turnaround for the program.

John McEachern

February 3rd, 2011
3:15 pm

With two big tight ends and a new backup and a big tight end at fullback and Crowell…….run run run and then Murray deep ball!! I am optimistic about next year with a healthy offensive line and a new defense in place

Murphy

February 3rd, 2011
3:16 pm

5150,

If these in-comming recuits come in and show the talent they are suppose to have and earn playing time I can see UGA losing a couple of players to the transfer route.I heard Tuitt was still wavering when he signed with N.dame yesterday.That KID looked to be the real deal.

South Georgia

February 3rd, 2011
3:16 pm

A little bit of humility would improve your writing Mr. Schultz. Have you ever been in a slump in your writing? I think even Ernest Hemingway and Lewis Grizzard had an occasional off day or year. I encourage you to read new book on Bobby Bowden- “Called to Coach”. It might give you a fresh perspective unless you are stuck in your ivory tower.

Murphy

February 3rd, 2011
3:17 pm

GTBob,

I agree with you post on my remark. Coaching must happen when the kids arrive,but you must first have the talent.

1eyedJack

February 3rd, 2011
3:17 pm

An army can’t win without good generals and good seargents. The future will prove whether that is the case with McGarity and with Coach Richt. They must be good generals and CMR needs to let Grantham, Bobo/Friedgen, and JoeT be good seargents. Somebody has got to be the hammer.

Could it have been that Damon Evans was tying CMR’s hands with administrative crap that he himself should have been doing? I supported Evans when he was hired and believed he was doing a good job. He put on a good public face but boy was he a hypocrit? Obviously, he wasn’t doing his job.

Murphy

February 3rd, 2011
3:18 pm

South Georgia,

Lewis never had a off day.On is worst day he was still better than anyone.

headley lamar

February 3rd, 2011
3:20 pm

They have had the top ACC recruiting class 5 of 6 years.

Key word there is top in the ACC. That doesnt mean much.Tops in the nation is a different story.

Murphy

February 3rd, 2011
3:21 pm

headley lamar,

Curious? What was the UF vs FSU score this past year? Just saying

shankit

February 3rd, 2011
3:22 pm

If the Dawgs get Jenkins, with the linebackers
incoming, I would fear to be an opposing quarterback.
Tippy Toes, Tippy Toes, Tippy Toes.
Should help the defensive backs which really, really
need it.

A target bullseye

February 3rd, 2011
3:23 pm

UGA can make a target out of Boise S. All year, all summer and with every new play being installed, they will be mentioned. Yes, their players will hear UGA this and that from their coaches BUT those Boise kids will be thinking ………….WHO?? WE ARE a top 5 team at Boise. Fine with me. I like that.

Now, in years past, UGA WAS that opening day target. in 2009 Oklahoma State had us in the bullseye for two years or more. They wanted UGA, even though we were not up to snuff. They even recruited here to get some talent to go against UGA.

Over the years, UGA has been the opening day target and we lost a couple of times. U of S Mississippi on Jim Donnan’s Sanford Stadium debut beat us and QB Bobo and we debuted Tony Dorset there in 73? to a 10-10 tie and were lucky to get that and a few others.

Nowadays ………………..UGA has to prepare and be ready for opening day. I like it. Maybe the hunger will return …………… if only for a year or two or three.

John, a true Dawgs fan

February 3rd, 2011
3:24 pm

An important message to all the new signees for UGA: Beware that you are now under a microsope from the AJC sportswriters and the UGA and Clarke County Police. Be careful!!! Don’t even blow your nose in public! Best of luck for a prime all star dream team.

shankit

February 3rd, 2011
3:24 pm

Can’t wait for Jenkins to body slam Auburn’s quarterback.