Mark Richt might need 9-1 finish to keep job at Georgia

Georgia coach Mark Richt is 0-2 for the first time in his career. (Brant Sanderlin/AJC)

Georgia coach Mark Richt is 0-2 for the first time in his career. (Brant Sanderlin/AJC)

ATHENS – Nobody is going to admit now what tight end Orson Charles acknowledged two weeks ago: “Our first two games will make or break our season.”

Because when a team is 0-2 after two perceived make-or-break games, players and coaches must nonetheless publicly cling to a series of improbabilities. Otherwise the rest of the season morphs into a three-month death march.

But reality is that it will take a miraculous finishing kick for the Bulldogs to have a successful season and possibly save coach Mark Richt’s job. What does that amount to? Try 9-1 in the next 10 games.

That may seem extreme. But Richt’s contract situation, the backdrop of the past two-plus seasons, the demands of coaching in the SEC, the divided fan base and a cryptic comment at a recent athletic-board meeting indicates if the Bulldogs do anything less than win the SEC East, which may take a 9-1 finish, Georgia may make a change.

Richt insisted Tuesday, “There’s not a cloud hanging over us” after losses to Boise State and South Carolina. Maybe he just hasn’t gone outside.

He said the attitude has been positive since Saturday’s 45-42 loss to South Carolina, adding, “If the game went the other way, then Georgia’s the front-runner in the East and everybody starts thinking about the positive possibilities.”

The problem being that Georgia didn’t win, and the SEC isn’t about “ifs.” The game actually just reaffirmed what many have suspected. The Dogs have talent. They can compete with most teams when they play hard and, for the most part, smart. But they seem to have forgotten how to win these kinds of games, either because of a turnover, a special-teams breakdown or a penalty.

Richt would prefer that the rest of the season not be about his job status. It’s not exactly a conducive atmosphere for wins and pep rallies. But it’s reality.

Consider:

The contract: Richt will have two years left on an eight-year deal after this season. That’s basically death in recruiting unless Georgia extends the contract, probably by at least two to three years. To not extend the contract also would set up the extreme rarity, particularly in the SEC, of a coach potentially entering his third straight “hot seat” season and working on a contract that had not been amended since after the 2007 season (when Richt received a raise).

The schedule: Every remaining game is winnable. To put it another way, there are no “good” losses left. Florida? Maybe. But how would Richt dropping to 2-9 against the Gators go over with athletic director Greg McGarity, school president Michael Adams and the fan base? Losing to Florida means losing tiebreakers to both the Gators and South Carolina in the East. Beating Florida could salvage division hopes, but only with a strong finish.

The record: McGarity probably doesn’t have a specific number of wins and losses in mind. But let’s look at this logically. Going 9-1 the rest of the way means a 9-3 finish, while 8-2 means finishing 8-4. Two losses mean the Dogs probably will have lost to Florida again. And/or Georgia Tech (making Paul Johnson 2-2 in the series). Or Mississippi State (for the second straight year). Or Tennessee (to Derek Dooley).

• The backdrop: It’s significant that at a recent UGA Athletic Association meeting, board member Tommy Lawhorne stated, “There are many of us who are really concerned about the status of the football program. Yet we have confidence in Greg McGarity to get us where we want to be.” Note that he referred to McGarity and not Richt.

Winning this week over Coastal Carolina, an FCS (formerly Division I-AA) school, won’t change the important numbers. If you take out wins over FCS (Tennessee Tech, Idaho State) and Sun Belt (Louisiana-Lafayette) schools, Richt is 11-14 overall since 2009. He’s 6-10 in the past 16 SEC games and 2-10 against ranked teams. To go 9-1 overall and 6-1 in the SEC the rest of the way is possible. But it would be a stark contrast to what we’ve been witnessing.

Richt said the South Carolina game “could’ve gone either way. Did we improve tremendously? There’s no doubt about that. I left the field sick about losing but encouraged about the team.”

Improvement is good. But winning saves jobs. Richt has left himself no room for error.

By Jeff Schultz

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

698 comments Add your comment

NC Dawg

September 13th, 2011
4:36 pm

Tom

September 13th, 2011
4:39 pm

Yep. Agreed – CMR walks on a thin line.

DawginLex

September 13th, 2011
4:40 pm

Here is my prediction.

I will not predict wins and losses.

If he loses at Ole miss, the following day, Mcgarity announces this will be richt’s final year.

If he wins that, and loses to MSU AT HOME-same announcement

Win both of those and lose at UT-no announcement

Beat Vandy then lose to florida-announcement is made

Any combo of 2 losses between now and before the bowl game, he is lame duck.

I agree Jeff, 9-1 gets him back but I bet he is forced to get rid of Bobo.

McGarity has said it is a week to week evaluation.

It is

The weekly results will determine how soon he will pull the trigger.

j

September 13th, 2011
4:41 pm

Steve

September 13th, 2011
4:41 pm

Unfortunately, I think Richt’s time is likely over at UGA. It’s especially frustrating knowing that Saturday’s game (which was absolutely gift wrapped to SC) is the probable nail in the coffin.

Richt is a good coach and a tremendous person. For whatever reason, though, UGA has forgotten how to win under him. It has been strange to watch considering that this is the same coach that led UGA to dominating seasons in the early 2000s. Either way, UGA needs to get that “edge” back. It is too talented a program to continue a near-.500 trend.

Kirby Smart

September 13th, 2011
4:43 pm

JWall

September 13th, 2011
4:45 pm

JEFF, How in the hell do you know what Richt needs to do?

Snoop

September 13th, 2011
4:45 pm

Some predictions:

Richt will not survive the year regardless of his performance from here on out. He’s a dead man walking.

This “good Christian man” will refuse to resign so that he can grub a few more million dollars from the good UGA.

The entire coaching staff will be released.

UGA will get a proven nationally recognized head coach (not a UGA mafia favorite son hopefully) who was chosen for his record of excellencem love of the game, and leadership qualities. He will have one of the biggest salaries of any coach in the NCAA.

The Dawgs will win no more than four games this year.

Athdawg

September 13th, 2011
4:46 pm

Richt needs to win versus a 2 year coach at Tennessee and a 1st year coach at Florida to keep his job. No coach can justify a 14-14 record. Dawgs could have won Sugar bowl against West Va. if not for a fake punt and now again against S. Carolina. The lapse in coaching just seems to be repeating itself.

gtfanfrom1951

September 13th, 2011
4:46 pm

Miss State, Au,Fla , Tenn. and Tech. UGA will be lucky to beat Vandy.

valleyboy32

September 13th, 2011
4:47 pm

shouldve oversighned in the #1 state of sec players and the new coaches in the sec shouldve stayed 2 steps ahead of them all and shouldve waited to the last minute to change coaches

derek

September 13th, 2011
4:47 pm

“There you go again” Jeff. What exactly about Coach Richt do you not like? Why the constant undermining of him? I know you have written a positive colum or two here and there…but why not, once a month, underline both the on the field and off the field success of Richt? Why not talk about his percentage compared to other UGA coaches? Why not talk about, even in these tough times, that Richt has 65% approval rating. Even 55% among the 30 and under crowd who often has limited historical perspective. Why not? Readers are left to conclude that you have a problem with Richt and want him out. Why? It will be a sad day when Richt is fired. Talk about an unmotivated team next year and recruiting slide downhill. It will take 5-10 years to recover if CMR is fired. From what I hear, Richt, as long as he does not have a losing season, has through next year to get back on track.

Snoop

September 13th, 2011
4:47 pm

Steve, you are hallucinating. Get immediate medical attention.

Just whose fault do you think it is that UGA has forgotten how to win under Richt?

Duh…

Richt is an absolute disaster of a coach and a leader.

Hillbilly D

September 13th, 2011
4:48 pm

He’s toast, in my opinion.

reebok

September 13th, 2011
4:49 pm

Ole Miss, Miss State, Tennessee, Auburn, the Gators and the Yellow Jackets all could beat Georgia this year, esp if the defensive injuries keep piling up…note that I do not say these teams WILL beat Georgia…most of them won’t…but every team can compete with UGA. The odds of UGA running the table against that group pof teams is virtually nil. I think UGA loses to Florida and then at least 1, probably 2 of the remainder…leaving Coach Richt at 8-4 or 7-5. I’m pretty sure he won’t survive 7-5. Does he survive at 8-4? Not if the 4th loss is to GT, I’m guessing. My 2 cents’…

DTC

September 13th, 2011
4:50 pm

Jeff, if you cannot see the improvement in game 2 versus game 1, and the fact that it is very likely that they will continue to improve week to week, then you need to get a real job. I have no idea what the record will be by the end of the season, but UGA, Mark Richt specifically, took the challenge of having these 2 games at the beginning of this season, knowing the risk of taking them, and having the games fall apart. I was thoroughly disgusted with the stamina of the UGA players in the Boise game, evidently they were not taking in enough fluids, not sure what other reason therer would be to explain it, when they were supposedly going to be in the best shape of any UGA team in a long time, when Boise State was not having the same problem. Also, very few people are taking into consideration that Boise State might just be this good.
Personally, I would prefer to have all of our SEC teams play some of these gimme games like the one coming up this weekend, at the beginning of the season, so they could work out some of the kinks in their system, before actually playing important games of the level they have played the last 2 weeks.
If I was Mark Richt, I would never read any columns from the AJC, because it seems to many of your very dissatisfied readers, because of the AJC content, and the fact that there is no one else to read, that the only way you or Bradley know how to write is with a negative tone.

sidslid

September 13th, 2011
4:50 pm

Feel a Tennessee loss. I would go to Vegas on that one right now.

reebok

September 13th, 2011
4:50 pm

…and Derek Dooley as UGA’s next coach?

RomeDawg

September 13th, 2011
4:51 pm

9-1 may not be enough! Fact is, UGA has become average at football. If I wanted an average football team I would pull for Tech.

No offense to the ‘Bama fans, but I DON”T want Kirby Smart. I’ll take Gruden, Peterson or even Mullen, but not Smart. I think this job is a job worthy of a PROVEN head coach!

valleyboy32

September 13th, 2011
4:51 pm

it shouldnt be no excuse to be thin on both sides of the line no running backs linebackers recievers who ever the next coach will be please lock this state up i dont care if we sighn 25 players a year saban aint thin places thats important in the sec both side of the line and line backers i’m glad saban oversighn just to prove a point to be in this league you got to have players we look like a team on probation

Frank Lane

September 13th, 2011
4:51 pm

Cut it out. This kind of writing already lost us a recruit to Stanford today.

Vance Duly

September 13th, 2011
4:53 pm

I believe Coach Richt might survive with a 8-2 finish, if we play with heart and intensity throughout the season (unlike vs. Boise), and win a bowl game to finish 9-4. But, if we give birth to any more oversized turkeys (like Central Florida, giving away the FL game in OT, almost blowing last year’s Tech game, etc.), McGarity might give him the boot. My biggest concern from here out, other than more injuries to key players, is Coach Bobo’s inconsistency as OC in his game-plans and in-game adjustments.

For example, IF we had not given SC 3 touchdowns on gimme plays, would Coach Bobo have called the aggressive, diverse 2nd half set of plays that led to us having 42 points? I think not. He would have dialed it back as is his habit, giving the opponent a chance to hang close and win late. We played with fire in the 2nd half offensively, but we are NEVER that aggressive for 4 quarters under Bobo’s guidance. Even against SC, we ran on a lot of long-yardage passing downs. Until we have a true Georgia defense that does not fold or fade, we need to PLAN to score at least 40 per game (unfortunately)…. GO DAWGS!!!!

roughrider

September 13th, 2011
4:55 pm

I agree with Lawhorn in that I have more faith in McGarity than Richt.

JWall

September 13th, 2011
4:56 pm

Bobo called a great game plan and simple, VANCE DULY!

Athdawg

September 13th, 2011
4:57 pm

If Richt has another dismal year, then UGA will need to hire a high profile name. We do not need to experiment with an assistant coach. We need someone who is a proven winner, motivator and great recruiter. The 1st, 2nd and 3rd choice should be Gruden. No other coach can provide the instant spark.

GTT

September 13th, 2011
4:57 pm

Pfft. They’re going 10-0, so it’s not going to matter. Bunch of haters.

robodawg

September 13th, 2011
4:57 pm

I think it would take 9-1, with or without the division title. Or 8-2 with a division title. And whatever losses come have to be “good” losses where we were competitive but things didn’t go our way.

Really, it’s not about the numbers, it’s about the intangibles. The fans have to be won over and really love this team by year’s end. It’s got to feel good to be a Bulldog. That’s what gets Richt a contract extension.

QB/DB

September 13th, 2011
4:58 pm

People are so quick to stomp him. CMR will survive, all those talking will be cheering! Watch, GOD will never let the righteous fail. It is already done! I do think CMR will have to take hard look at the program. It is not recruiting, UGA is always in the TOP 10. So were advocates of getting Mullen from MSU=really, well Mullen best year was because of D-Coor. young wiz MANNY DIAZ. Charlie Strong?????? The guy from Houston ?????? The Dawgs will win the EAST.

Burma Shave

September 13th, 2011
5:00 pm

The dawgs have sunk
To an all-time low
They can’t even beat
A single foe

It’s all Richt’s fault
We all agree
Dumping him now
Is the key

Better days are ahead
The subject I broach
All the dawgs need
Is a real coach

BURMA SHAVE

meh

September 13th, 2011
5:00 pm

I’m still not giving up on UGA in the SEC championship game. UGA wins out, South Carolina loses a couple and UGA is in. it is very possible. UGA is better than folks are giving them credit for in my opinion.

VA DAWG

September 13th, 2011
5:00 pm

9-1 and 10-0 are almost assured if the team shows up like they did last week minus the turnovers. If they win or break even on the turnover margin each remaining game, they will win. By the way, KIRBY EATS BOOGERS! GO DAWGS!

UGA doomed if Kirby Comes

September 13th, 2011
5:01 pm

Enter your comments here

Stinger2

September 13th, 2011
5:05 pm

Schultz: Why are you, Bradley and the other AJC writers constantly pounding out negative articles that serve only to inflame the already unrealistic UGA fanbase. By now, everyone is aware of your opinions about CMR. You don`t have to repeat the same old every day. This is from a GT fan.
P.S. How would you like for someone to continually try to get you fired.

He's never going to get any better, folks!

September 13th, 2011
5:05 pm

What does it take for the Richt apologists to admit that the “Richt Experiment” is a dismal failure?

Coastal Carolina 45, Georgia 42

I agree...

September 13th, 2011
5:07 pm

…Kirby Smart is NOT the answer to UGA’s needs at this time…they need a proven D1 coach, but who that may be only McGarity knows…

JRW7

September 13th, 2011
5:08 pm

UGA football has sunk to a new low under CMR. CMR has 3 wins 13 loses vs top 10 teams in 11 years!
Since game 1 of 2009, 2010, and 2 games this year, UGA is next to last in SEC in wins, only Vanderbilt is worse.
CMR has brought UGA football to the level of Vanderbilt, Old Miss, Kentucky, Greg McGarity, is this acceptable with you?

Equilibrium is gone now

September 13th, 2011
5:10 pm

UGA has gone past the tipping point for the program under the current regime. It is that simple. The Alumni have been concerned since we lost badly to Oklahoma State, even though Joe Cox was ill at the game and arrived late. He did look good for the first two series then he faded due to that virus. We were spent as a result. We lacked fight and the alumni did not like that. We were not happy.

That season ( 2009 ) and the sloppy fluke loss to GT also caused concerns, because in that GT game we laid down and threw pics and fumbled that game away and that is mental. The SC game and so many other losses were of the same nature …………….sloppy play and mental lapses. Special teams are also sloppy and very erratic and they were not that in the CMR early years.

To me, Aaron Murray is becoming a liability with his very erratic play. His 3 TD causing errors gave him only a net 1 TD vs SC. Look at his Batman gloves worn in the Liberty Bowl and his inability to thorw TDs and move the ball and his horrific play in the Florida game last year with again, game losing fumbles and pics. He is too mentally erratic and emotional to win big in the SEC or at least so far he is.

Murray has yet to win one major game beyond the UT game and the first half of the AU game last year. Last year UT was at the lowest ebb maybe since Johnny Major’s era in early 80s.

Our O lines have been vastly deficient for 3, 4 or 5 years now and that corresponds with our lousy record over the same time frame.

10-2 might do it with a Dome trip and losing to LSU or Alabama but short of that, it is over.

The CMR era has run it course and we are thankful and proud of his several fine accomplishments. He is a wealthy man spiritually and materially.

Go Dogs.

GT Dude

September 13th, 2011
5:10 pm

The perfect storm could be gathering in Athens…
Miss State keeps improving and looks like an offensive juggernaut
Gators are simply the Gators
Vols are looking better than expected (will learn a lot more about them this weekend)
Auburn doesn’t look good on paper, but they simply keep winning
And lastly Tech which appears to be playing like a team again
If CMR can guide UGA through this gauntlet he deserves to a raise…

Flat Tire on I-95 in Jacksonville

September 13th, 2011
5:13 pm

Stinger2

What is unrealistic is GT playing Div 1 football when they should drop down to Div II

Columbus

September 13th, 2011
5:14 pm

Georgia Bulldogs fans still back Mark Richt, poll finds. Augusta Chronicle.

LOL Richt is not going anywhere. Its only the youngest UGA fans who support him the least. The older ones who waited 20 years for an SEC title prior to Richt see the big picture they dont. Richt is supported by many more than he is not.

THE VOCAL MINORITY SUPPORT RICHT THE LEAST. The older and wiser fans who support Richt the most are not on the internet 24-7. The young and dumb minoroty who probably never even seen Dooley coach a game are simply internet savvy, cant handle not winning after they got a taste of it and ARE WAGGING THE DAWG AND THE MEDIA IS PLAYING ALONG LIKE A KID CHASING CANDY AT LEAST ON AJC AND BLEACHER REPORT. HERE YOU GO:

Georgia Bulldogs fans still back Mark Richt, poll finds. Augusta Chronicle.

See you want see this on AJC. They just listen to the microwave generation who have had everything handed immediately their entire lives and have zero wisdom nor patience as the mood of the masses and this cannot be further from the truth and reality. Thank God McGarrity and Adams are NOT PART OF THIS GENERATION nor share their perspective.

The YOUNGEST fans are the ones who support Richt the least and even 55% of them support him!

SO there you go. Media out of control. The VOCAL MINORITY and the pot-stirring by the AJC are basically blowing this way out of proportion and that is putting pressure on UGA, its players, coaches and administration that is not based on the sentiment of the MAJORITY OF THE BULLDOG NATION.

I do not care what you people think that say Richt is done. He is not. If he does go you will likely see half the best players gone too, especially ALL THE NEWEST ONES.

AJC stop letting the youngest and most unwise fans cause you to do things that are not what good media used to be about. Thank God for Chip Towers. If not for him, it would be ALL about advertising dollars at AJC, more than about accuracy. Articles and views are NOT reflective of the less vocal majority perspective, HIGHLY UNFAIR AND UNBALANCED and basically based on what comments you get from a young demographic. I guess you keep stirring the pot because you want the younguns coming back and helping your bottomline. Money. More improtant than integrity in Journalism? More important than fact-finding? Is it something else? Readers have noticed for YEARS the bias against UGA at AJC. Run this Richt thing into the ground and make the suits happy instead of doing some investigating, checking some demographics and realizing hey, we are stirring the pot and writing all of this stuff based on a minority demographic. Mostly the youngest and most ignorant….

How about you get professional and UNBIASED pollsters to go to fair and unbiased locations in DIFFERENT parts of the STATE and see what age groups support and do not support Richt and to what extent instead of just wildly flaming the fire of a bunch of teenagers and young adults?

Or do I need to do it for you? Thats not my job to get the facts straight and understand where all of this is coming from and is it a reliable and accurate source?! But I can do your job and mine for UGA. You use your media power and bias to kill UGA and I will use whatever I can to get the TRUTH out and support where support is deserved and is being treated unfairly and unreasonable due to incompetence, lack of due diligence of simply bias that ahs been seen by thousands for years…..

Why is it like that here but not in the rest of the state? Hmmmmmm

Saban

September 13th, 2011
5:15 pm

Richt has already lost another top recruit that is going out of state. Dang how did I miss that guy? Richt better run the table and beat the slop out of the sisters of the poor too so he can keep his job.

Local sports radio talk shows today

September 13th, 2011
5:15 pm

Urban Meyer’s name is coming up as a shot in the arm for UGA with the tlk guys saying that “there are only a handful of TOP FLIGHT programs that a guy like that would consider”. UGA “is indeed a dream shot at huge success for the right guy”, they said.

We could possibly land Urban for maybe 4 or 6 years, then he would leave. He is intense and he would win us maybe two SECs over the period of 4 or 5 years.

I say great if he would consider UGA because I want to win.

Gooooooooooooooo Dogs.

Hairy Dawg

September 13th, 2011
5:17 pm

Like the column, Schultz.

You’re realistic about this situation.

Kool aid drinker

September 13th, 2011
5:17 pm

Columbus is one of them……..

General Ledger

September 13th, 2011
5:18 pm

Take a look at a picture of the guy who played Kevin in the tv show Just Shoot Me. He looks like Schultz’s twin. Has anyone ever noticed that? Go Dawgs

YungDawg87

September 13th, 2011
5:18 pm

…..I PERSONALLY THINK NO ONE WILL BE ABLE TO COME IN AND WIN RIGHT AWAY, SO WE WILL BE BETTER OFF STANDING BEHIND RICHT!!!…..9-4 this year, 10+ wins next year …=2 year extension and will also make it easier to recruit!!!…IT’S VERY ACHIEVABLE!!!!!

Dave in Powder Springs

September 13th, 2011
5:18 pm

Kool-Aid announced today that sales in Georgia have just set a new record.

Oh you Athenians! Oh you suckers!

YungDawg87

September 13th, 2011
5:21 pm

*OTHER THAN CMR

gtne80

September 13th, 2011
5:22 pm

The toughest game left for UGA this year is Miss State and that game’s in Athens. Tennessee is still rebuilding, Florida is still down. Ole Miss, no, don’t think so. Auburn is lucky to be 2-0 against Utah State and Miss State. 9-1 is not out of the question. 10-0 is doable.

Patrick

September 13th, 2011
5:22 pm

The media… ESPECIALLY the AJC… is really beating this dead horse into the ground. Richt knows he needs to win… Give it a break. You reporters keep writing the same things over and over… hot seat or not.