Spurrier should take lesson from Richt on handling criticism

For two coaches of top ranked programs, Steve Spurrier and Mark Richt seem at opposite ends in terms of perspective and dealings with media. (Phil Skinner/AJC)

For two coaches of top-ranked programs, Steve Spurrier and Mark Richt seem to reside at opposite ends in perspective and their respective dealings with the media. (Phil Skinner/AJC)

Over the past few seasons, Mark Richt has had no shortage of reasons to put his fist through a wall, terrorize secretaries and assistant coaches or erupt in a news conference, as if Athens’ own little Mt. Vesuvius.

He has suspended players for poor academics, poor driving habits and poor choice of herbal supplements (in or outside of brownies). Several prize recruits have been excommunicated for assorted acts of dumbness. His job security has come into question. He works in a conference where five other schools have won BCS titles. And, on a lesser note, his athletic director was fired for drunk driving.

But notice something about Mark Richt? He seldom seems stressed. He isn’t storming out of news conferences when he sees a columnist he doesn’t like (really?), or blathering on the radio about making progress in trying to get a guy fired (fantasy).

As Richt said Tuesday, “I don’t think I’m totally Teflon, but there’s not much anybody can say that can get me bent out of shape.”

Richt lives in one universe.

Steve Spurrier holds his breath in the other.

It’s an interesting contrast of coaches this week. Georgia plays South Carolina. Both are 5-0 and top 10 teams. But Richt clearly is enjoying the moment – and he can be seen this week in a series of humorous ESPN commercials – while Spurrier is acting like a whining, petulant second-grader, carrying on a battle with local sports columnist Ron Morris, whom he’s convinced is out to get him.

Richt chuckled Tuesday when asked about Spurrier, saying, “I heard about him leaving the news conference,” but he generally refrained from comment.

But Richt will tell you that he has changed. Few college coaches have had more reasons to be stressed, but he seldom shows it. (He and I had a minor flare up several years back that was blown out of proportion — geez, I really hate the media — but it was cleared up that same day.)

“I know that most criticism is pointed toward the coach, not necessarily the person,” he said. “If I’ve ever felt something became more of a personal attack, there have been times when I’ve talked to people privately. Or if a guy beats up on a player more than I think he should, I’ll get sensitive about that once in a while. But in the grand scheme of things, it’s still momentary light affliction, like Apostle Paul talks about. It doesn’t last.

“I know when my wife had cervical cancer, if that doesn’t put life in perspective, what does? There are just things bigger than whether I’m the head coach at Georgia, or whether anybody thinks I’m smart or not smart, or a good coach or a bad coach. I know I’ve got a job to do, and I want to know that the process I go through in that job is one I can live with when I go to sleep at night.”

Richt and Spurrier both have their moral compasses. Spurrier’s just spins a little more.

He lost supporters with his constant enabling of former quarterback Stephen Garcia, who was “suspended” five times, yet somehow never managed to miss a game (until the university finally dismissed him). Spurrier was indignant when asked about the perception that he was soft on issues pertaining to alcohol. He told The State: “There is something that they can always pick at you about. … If the president and A.D. say, ‘Man, you are too soft on that,’ then they will get another coach here,” he told The State.)

His recent radio vent lost other supporters.

Spurrier’s objective, of course, is to unify his fan base and cultivate the us-against-the-world mentality. It’s not uncommon. His power and ego ran unchecked at Florida because he was winning SEC titles and seldom was criticized.

But when somebody’s constant response to any criticism becomes, “I’ll just [retire and] and go to the beach,” it’s clear he has lost all perspective.

Richt has been through the wringer of a 6-7 season, a 7-9 record in the SEC over two years and last season’s 0-2 start.

“I’m enjoying coaching more now — but, I mean, we’re winning a lot more,” he said.

Of criticism, he said: “When somebody critiques me, I try to filter the information, regardless of whether I think the person is mean-spirited or sweet-spirited, because the guy might be right. I may not give him credit from a pride standpoint, but sometimes there’s validity to it.”

It seems like a healthier perspective than threatening to quit or get somebody fired.

By Jeff Schultz

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372 comments Add your comment

Wet Willie...keep on smiling

October 2nd, 2012
7:02 pm

Richt and Spurrier both have their moral compasses. Spurrier’s just spins a little more.

Really …who gives you the right to judge Steve? Typical media. We can see what Steve has done over the years for it’s documented for everyone. Not so much about you.

KJ

October 2nd, 2012
7:05 pm

“There is only 1 stat you need to know to understand the anti-Spurrier comments from Dawgland.”

Here are a few more stats:

When you throw in his tenure at FSU, Richt is Spurrier’s daddy.
UGA fans are hardly the only ones that think Spurrier is a classless POS.
Spurrier threw a reporter under the bus, said reporter’s family received death threats, when pressed on it, Spurrier implied he had it coming.

North Florida trash, through and through. Sad that he’s apparently your hero.

corkylovesbeer

October 2nd, 2012
7:17 pm

richt never loses his cool is because of jesus

Bob LaBlah

October 2nd, 2012
7:18 pm

Spurrier never beat GA as a player. But he has kicked the ever loving crap out of them as a coach.

corkylovesbeer

October 2nd, 2012
7:22 pm

Jeff, are you a fan of clay travis

Habersham Dawg

October 2nd, 2012
7:23 pm

Thank you Jeff for reminding the Dawg Faithful what kind of man Richt is. I’m proud and grateful that one of Habersham’s finest is playing for him.

Cdpridg

October 2nd, 2012
7:23 pm

Bob…With the exception of beating down Bama a couple yrs ago Spurrier hasnt beat the crap out of anybody sinve the 90s…wake up it is 2012

Wet Willie...keep on smiling

October 2nd, 2012
7:29 pm

The Old Ball Coach has beat the living crap of UGA for years and he owns you! Put Richt at USCe and see what he record would be! You UGA fans talk a great game but you don’t play at that level. One trophy in 75 years but to listen to you one would think you invented football. 1980 is all you got. Get of Steve’s azz.

As for the so called journalist…just provide the box scores. Most any High School reporter can complete.

Wet Willie...keep on smiling

October 2nd, 2012
7:32 pm

@cdpridge…sport, just who has one the last two games between the overrated Dogs and Steve? I will hangup and listen to your distorted BS.

Lowcountry Cock

October 2nd, 2012
7:33 pm

Jeff
It’s easy to be nice guy at 5-0 Let Richt lose to SC, Fla and Auburn this year and let’s check his demeanor. Only thng in SEC that counts is wins and losses. If oddsmakers are correct this will be
3 in a row over Dogs for Spurrier. Do you think many Dog fans will leave WB stadium Sat night
after another defeat and celebrate because Richt is a nicer guy??

Cdpridg

October 2nd, 2012
7:36 pm

Wet willie…sport allow me to educate a uninformed bama fan such as yourself…field goal wins are not beating the crap out of anybody….but what spurrier did to your tide a couple yrs ago was a beatdown of black and blue proportion son…

KJ

October 2nd, 2012
7:48 pm

“Let Richt lose to SC, Fla and Auburn this year and let’s check his demeanor. ”

Even if he did lose, his demeanor wouldn’t be in the same universe as that whiny toddler jackazz that you jerk it to. Sad that you don’t know the difference, but when you’re that used to losing, I guess you’ll do anything for a win.

Wet Willie...keep on smiling

October 2nd, 2012
7:52 pm

Cdpridge…typical redneck UGA fan….1980 and that will never change. Steve owns you.

Dog in Nam

October 2nd, 2012
7:54 pm

Wet Willie and Tide Rising….I don’t even see many UGA or USC folks responding to this typical writing by Jeff. I mean, he’s a good writer, but often tries to stir something up…I think he kind of missed his intent on this one…just kind of flat, dull and boring. Not many USC or UGA folks responding, and most rather harmlessly. Most UGA folks think Spurrier is a great coach and a cool guy, very interesting. Anyway, the article kind of sucks, but you, Tide Rising, are trying to use it to point out some of your inane misperceptions about the average UGA alum. You guys are both a couple of jerks. I have always really liked Univ. of Alabama and Tuscaloosa, and that won’t change. Your type of childish behavior is not typical of Bama alums, and I doubt if you two even attended University. Please grow up and try to write something that is not uselessly insulting in it’s intent….We are all in awe of your football program… isn’t that enough?….sometimes a Georgia guy may write something stupid and you can openly attack it…if its stupid, it should be attacked….but, Jeff is anything but a UGA guy…I don’t get it on this one…just pure hatred from inside you…..did some UGA folks harm you at some point….why all the unprovoked, unadulterated animosity and hateful anger…..just play ball and let your team talk for you..neither of you are doing very well at it…..Willie, I know your spit here was aimed at Jeff, but I’ve seen your childessly boring drivel for years now aimed at anyone who dares be a fan of UGA….I know you must have been damaged by a Georgia person at some point, but your writing is at least not so bad, but your boy, Tide Rising, ranks up there with the worst, most dull posters….always the same pointless, mindless, anti UGa stuff….Don’t you ever get tired of that crap man?

GB's Hamburgers

October 2nd, 2012
7:56 pm

Spurrier is good for SEC football. He has upgraded USC football. They now have a good team every year. He is colorful and sometimes tells the truth when it might be more prudent to remain quiet. As Proverbs says, “even a fool who remains quiet seems wise.”

SEC Fact Finder

October 2nd, 2012
7:57 pm

Jeff,

I see a difference and it is not meant to be disrespectful to CMR, but I think Spurrier shows emotion because he cares about his program in the waning days of his coaching career and Coach Richt does not show emotion especially negative emotion because who he mentored under( Bobby Bowden).

Different Personalities and his long history with Ron Morris back in his Florida days. Outside of you and Bradley at the AJC we do not see any reporter ever questioning anything Richt does even when some bone head issues have come up( 99.9% not Richt’s direct doing).

Both are great coaches, Spurrier has won a several places ( failed at one location) but overall he has shown that you can wear your emotions on your sleeves and be a winner over and over again.

Good Luck to You and Your School, and Go SEC….IT is going to be a fun saturday to watch football on television if you cannot make it to a game.

Son of Sammy Davis Jr, Jr

October 2nd, 2012
8:03 pm

Spurrier is coming…………………..

Bob LaBlah

October 2nd, 2012
8:04 pm

Cdpridg – allright. It’s 2012. When is the last time a Richt led team played for a national title? How many has he won? And Spurrier?

Lamar

October 2nd, 2012
8:08 pm

Somebody PLEASE ASK Spurrier if he wants to play Arkansas now, Or had he rather play Ole Miss. I BET HE IS HAPPY NOW THAT ARKANSAS IS A JOKE. HECK I AM SURE RICHT WILL SWAP GAMES WITH SPURRIER!! I BET YOU SPURRIER DON’T MIND ARKANSAS AS BAD NOW! ALL HE WANTED WAS A EASY GAME!! IF YOU HAVE A GREAT TEAM LIKE HE THINKS HE HAS, THEN WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE, JUST BEAT THEM!! GO DAWGS!! IF WE DON’T MAKE MISTAKES IN THE GAME, WE WILL WIN BIG! JUST LIKE LAST YEAR, MINUS TURNOVERS, WE WIN BY 28 POINTS!!

Ole Big Dawg

October 2nd, 2012
8:13 pm

And the Dawgs just keep on winning and winning and winning….downright tickled!!

Johnny Cock

October 2nd, 2012
8:23 pm

Go Cocks!!!!

SimpleDawg

October 2nd, 2012
8:27 pm

Spurrier is yapping a lot more now that the Gamecocks are winning more consistently.

When he’s winning, Spurrier is chirpin’….and needling….and generally making an ass of himself – to the delight of his team’s fans, and to the disgust of everyone else.

He’s the Deion Sanders of coaching….when he’s your coach, you love him, but everyone else hates him.

Sonny B. Layne

October 2nd, 2012
8:27 pm

Ask Steve about his little experiment with the Redskins. I was in DC every other week during his reign. He didn’t get too cocky with the Media there. Maybe because he wasn’t doing too well. He can coach in College, but he couldn’t in the Pros. In Columbia, he can say anything he wants to and get by. Not many writers will challenge him there. Let him worry about the Media all week and CMR worry about the game and see what happens. And I did enjoy the Ga Tech Game greatly last Sat. , even more than the Miami Game.

http://pic100.picturetrail.com/VOL916/480237/24195754/404094745.jpg

Ron Zook

October 2nd, 2012
8:29 pm

Learn how to be a better human being yes; but not a better football coach.

DP

October 2nd, 2012
8:32 pm

Jeff, I think you’ve jumped on the side of a fellow newspaper guy without giving both sides of the story. The issues Spurrier has with Morris go back a lot further than the recent flap over whether Connor Shaw should have played against UAB or not (Morris, apparently more informed than the South Carolina team doctor, Spurrier and Shaw, asserted that he should not).

Over a year ago Spurrier said a press conference, with Morris present, that Morris had written a story saying that Spurrier had recruited current running back Bruce Ellington from the South Carolina basketball game to play football and thereby hurt the basketball program. Spurrier said the article was a complete fabrication, that Ellington had approached him after first speaking with the basketball coach about his desire to play football.

Spurrier said his issues with Morris went back years, and a column by Morris on his side of the story that never mentions the Ellington issue notes that he’s covered Spurrier all the way back to his days at Duke, and also covered him for a Florida paper during part of Spurrier’s tenure at UF. So the two of them have a long history. Morris creepily noted that he had a big file chronicling every game Spurrier had ever coached.

In the press conference of more than a year ago (which is on YouTube), after calling out Morris for the story on Ellington, Spurrier said he would no longer answer questions at any press conference Morris attended. This latest flap is just a continuation of the feud.

While Spurrier has always been somewhat thin skinned for a guy who dishes out quite a few barbs, if the story Morris wrote on Ellington is false as Spurrier claims, and given the nasty and unprofessional column he wrote on the possibility of Shaw playing against UAB, I have no problem with Spurrier refusing to deal with him any longer. There have to be some standards of professionalism for a newspaper reporter/columnist, don’t there?

SiddyBoy

October 2nd, 2012
8:40 pm

Great article Jeff !!!

Steve Upchuck Spurious

October 2nd, 2012
8:42 pm

Spurrier…..

ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzz….

Steve Upchuck Spurious

October 2nd, 2012
8:46 pm

Screw Spurrious. Oh, he’s upset! ZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzz

DP

October 2nd, 2012
8:47 pm

Here’s the Spurrier clip from October 11, 2011 that I referenced. If Morris made up the Ellington story as Spurrier claimed, I applaud Spurrier for refusing to deal with him.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cl1-cdcehmk

Here’s a sneering column by Morris on Spurrier playing Shaw against UAB that said he didn’t believe Spurrier when he said Shaw would be fine to play against Missouri after taking a hit on his previously injured shoulder in the UAB game. Shaw not only played the game against Missouri but he was 20 of 21 passing with that chronic season long shoulder problem Morris, who apparently moonlights as a physician, warned his readers about.

http://www.thestate.com/2012/09/19/2447158/morris-starting-shaw-against-uab.html#.UGuJxr_bZek

Laflamablanca

October 2nd, 2012
9:09 pm

Not pumping South Carolina here (they have an equal number of thugs on their roster and really not knocking that either), but always interesting to hear UGA fans bashing other programs as second-class citizens and not “national programs”. Give me a break. GA has a good program…not great. Really have they ever been great? Need to look at the records of programs like Michigan, Alabama, Miami and others who actually have some hardware and quit watching the 1980 sugar bowl VHS. Really just need to chill on casting stones since the rest of the country really doesn’t consider GA as getting over the hump for a “national program” as some of the southern football snobs on here indicate.

BubbaDaBaller

October 2nd, 2012
9:09 pm

St Mark and Thevisortossingtryantosaurus…Go Dawgs!

Wet Willie...keep on smiling

October 2nd, 2012
9:09 pm

Oh there is standards for newspaper writer’s no doubt however anyone meets them.

GTBob

October 2nd, 2012
9:10 pm

Maybe in return Spurrier can teach Richt how to build a nationally relevant team.

Jeff Schultz

October 2nd, 2012
9:12 pm

Herschel Talker — Thanks for the comments. (And sorry, the chalkboard has not yet revealed the “winner.”)

Jeff Schultz

October 2nd, 2012
9:13 pm

Randy — Thanks.

Wet Willie...keep on smiling

October 2nd, 2012
9:13 pm

@sonny layne…and how many NFL teams have asked Mark Richt to take their jobs as HC????? I will hangup and listen. That was a 20 million mistake in the old ball coach bank account! He gave his best and it didn’t work. The only way Richt gets to a NFL game is if he buys a ticket.

Jeff Schultz

October 2nd, 2012
9:13 pm

Bright Idea — “You overanalyzed. It is simple. Spurrier is about Spurrier. Richt is about others.”

<<< Well put.

Jeff Schultz

October 2nd, 2012
9:14 pm

Corkylovesbeer — Outkick the Coverage is an entertaining site.

Jeff Schultz

October 2nd, 2012
9:15 pm

Lowcountry Cock — “Jeff … It’s easy to be nice guy at 5-0 Let Richt lose to SC, Fla and Auburn this year and let’s check his demeanor.”

<<< That’s my point. We’ve seen Mark Richt during tough times already and he’s the same guy.

GTBob

October 2nd, 2012
9:22 pm

That’s my point. We’ve seen Mark Richt during tough times already and he’s the same guy.

Richt is pretty much always the same mellow guy who looks like he just woke up from a nap. I am pretty sure if he went to work one day and his office was on fire he wouldn’t really care. The guy is a robot with no emotion and that feeds onto his players.

Jeff Schultz

October 2nd, 2012
9:23 pm

DP — 1) There are a lot of people in media I don’t like so I can assure you this isn’t a case of automatically siding with the newspaper guy; 2) Regardless of whether you believe Ron Morris was correct in criticizing Steve Spurrier for starting Connor Shaw, he’s a columnist. He writes his opinion. Spurrier is welcome to disagree with that opinion but it doesn’t mean there’s some agenda; 3) Spurrier said Ellington article was “complete fabrication.” Again, so you’re asking me to believe that somebody I respect completely made up a story just to take a shot at Spurrier. Not buying it; 4) Spurrier has had issues with Morris for a while, much like he had issues with Orlando’s Larry Guest when he coached Florida. He doesn’t like being questioned about anything.

I think that covers it.

Silver Dawg

October 2nd, 2012
9:23 pm

Mr. Schultz thank you for a nice article about CMR. I have a lot of respect for him and I hope he is fortunate enough to win a championship before he retires from UGA.

Wet Willie...keep on smiling

October 2nd, 2012
9:25 pm

Are we talking about football results or we’re selecting a Deacon tonight? Steve put Florida on the map as a player and he saved Florida football! He ran off every coach UGA had before he left Gainesville and you know it! Not many coaches can win at USCe and he does a great job trying to make chicken salad out of chicken sheet and he deserves more than you folks are giving! I am a big Bama fan and Steve and the Gators have kicked our azz many times but the man is a damn good football coach. Like Coach Bryant said about the writer that died when asked to contribute to the expense. “Here is a twent so bury 2″.

@dognNam…I don’t much give a sheet what you think sport. Every article on this site starts with some UGA clown bashing Saban or Bama and that just shows the envy you folks have for a program that has one more NC’s in the past three years than your program in 75 years. Talking folks down to your level was an Auburn plan but I guess UGA is on the same program.

Ole Big Dawg

October 2nd, 2012
9:25 pm

Hmmm…Richt still 5-0…still ranked 5th nation..hmmmm

Sonny B. Layne

October 2nd, 2012
9:25 pm

Wet Willie…keep on smiling

October 2nd, 2012
9:13 pm
@sonny layne…and how many NFL teams have asked Mark Richt to take their jobs as HC????? I will hangup and listen. That was a 20 million mistake in the old ball coach bank account! He gave his best and it didn’t work. The only way Richt gets to a NFL game is if he buys a ticket.

Exactly, neither one are Pro Coaches. The Ole Ball Coach was mighty humble to the media in DC. I was there to read it & watch the news, you weren’t. He didn’t have too many smart things to say during his term there. Ask him about it & he will blow you out of the room.

Wet Willie...keep on smiling

October 2nd, 2012
9:26 pm

yep so why no build a statue

Ole Big Dawg

October 2nd, 2012
9:27 pm

Give a sheet???? Speaking of rednecks….

Douglas

October 2nd, 2012
9:34 pm

Even though I, as a minister and UGA fan and alum, do not always agree with Mark’s decisions in football, I do agree with his priorities in life — he has them in the right order. Concerning Spurrier: isn’t he the son of a minister? If so, I wonder if his father ever taught him a thing about Christian humility. From what I have observed, not. Steve is self-obsessed and it is all about “me”. Steve might beat Richt in football, but as a Christian, I want Richt on my team. His priorities are in order.

SOUTH GA DAWG FAN

October 2nd, 2012
9:37 pm

Great top notch piece

JRW7

October 2nd, 2012
9:38 pm

GO DAWGS, beat them cockroaches!!