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

Armchair Observer

October 3rd, 2012
7:40 am

@Wet Willie, GTBob, Thomas Brown, and others. In the immortal words of Taylor Swift, “Please don’t worry your pretty little mind, people throw rocks at things that shine.”

Carolina Bays

October 3rd, 2012
7:42 am

But… when it comes to talent and coaching ability, as well as personal integrity, Spurrier is so far ahead of Richt that there’s just no comparison.

Most intelligent people agree with that assessment.

Walter Cronkite

October 3rd, 2012
7:45 am

I don’t know which is worse, the childish coach demanding a reporter be fired or the gutless, butt-kissing editor at the newspaper who actually fired he guy. All of the news outlets should protest and NOT show up any one of the press conference this nut case of a coach has. If you don’t fire him I am going to take my ball and go home…… Wow, what a pusscador !

evil empire

October 3rd, 2012
7:52 am

think what you want…spurrier is the better coach in this game…

Call It Like It Is

October 3rd, 2012
7:58 am

Maybe it’s just a USC thing. Lame Kitten on the West Coast walks out on the reporters. Spurrier on the East Coast gets them fired.

Thomas Brown

October 3rd, 2012
8:10 am

“Overall, our Special Teams have been pretty solid,” Mark Richt said. “We have six different units. The majority of the units, I think, have done pretty well.”

This from yesterday’s Tuesday Media Day Interview.

“The Special Teams get a bad rap they do not deserve.”

Excuse me.

We’ve played 5 unranked opponents. In those games our Special Teams :

Extra Points : hit uprights twice that went in, and missed 4 in 5 games.

Punting : # 105 net punting in the nation

Punt Return Defense : # 61 in the nation

Punt Returns : Failures after Failures, consistently # 62 in the nation

Kick-Off Return Yards Defense # 43 in the nation

Kick-Off Returns : Failures consistently # 60 in nation includes Todd Gurley 100-yd

http://www.ncaa.com/stats/football/fbs/current/team/1057/p2

Mark Richt does all he can do to CONTROL THE PRESS. This is hogwash by him, yesterday, as usual from him all 12 years here.

C H Shepard

October 3rd, 2012
8:11 am

Please remember that we are discussing COLLEGE football. Part of the coach’s job is to turn his players into fine young men of integrity and talent. The players are becoming men under their coach’s guidance.

College ball is not professional ball. A pro coach’s ONLY goal is to win. Winning is only ONE of a college coach’s goals for his players. “Win no matter what the cost, and drive the score up as high as you can” are not and never will be Mark Richt’s goals for his players.

And showing little emotion on camera does not mean that no emotion is felt or conveyed to players. Richt simply chooses to maintain a “poker face” during games and when he is filmed.

chilidawg

October 3rd, 2012
8:12 am

Coach, I admire the even keeled outlook. But when it is required, you should let the team know that there is a sense of urgency.

Thomas Brown

October 3rd, 2012
8:14 am

Exactly, chilidawg

Whiskey Breath

October 3rd, 2012
8:15 am

Jeff, you never have a clue. Mark Richt could teach Spurrier? You homer idiot!
Spurrier is a future hall of fame coach and I don’t even like the guy. Would you interpret
as cool demeanor under pressure is just laid back lazy coaching. He is not kidding,
he made his money a long time ago and would rather go to sleep.
If any damn team tries to imitate Richt’s discipline, they are idiots like you.
You guys always figure out a way to pat that phony Christian on the back.
Now, go tell Bradley what to write.

OhReally???

October 3rd, 2012
8:15 am

So astropig let me get this straight. You think Spurriers job is to win at all cost and not be concerned with whether 18 year olds become better men?? So basically you’re saying as long as he gets them in, use them up to win but not care about their futures that makes him a great coach? I would never want my son to play for someone that really does not care about him but only cares about winning. And for you to make the comment you did says a lot about you. I am glad all gamecock fans do not hold the same sentiment.

Ghruten

October 3rd, 2012
8:15 am

Mark Richt is a great coach and an even better man. UGA is blessed to have him.

sportzfan

October 3rd, 2012
8:17 am

It’s very easy to make statements about a coach, or any person for that matter when you’re sitting behind a computer and can write anything you like, and I’m speaking of journalist or individuals that post on articles like this. My advise is to take a good look in a mirror and see what faults you can find there. Just like you Jeff, Ron Morris gets paid to create interest and get readers. I really enjoy all the articles in the AJC as well as three other papers I read daily. Ron Morris has written some brilliant articles and won numerous awards, but he has written articles recently that he should have apologized for….and he did. When Spurrier gets personally attacked, he has every right to speak up….and he did.

Brett

October 3rd, 2012
8:21 am

How about writing an article on how to keep grown men and women from barking…..that would be more useful.

LHarding Dawg

October 3rd, 2012
8:29 am

Now thats a oxymoron, Whisky Breath, calling someone an idiot. You know his parents are proud of him.

dick whikey

October 3rd, 2012
8:30 am

the reason richt is so at peace is because he is a christian man and he truly believes the lord has a plan for him and it’s all part of the lord’s plan, i mean when i was a kid i believed in santa claus,the tooth fairy and the easter bunny, and those things made me feel good too

kenlev

October 3rd, 2012
8:34 am

THE GAMECOCKS WIN SATURDAY!!!!!!!

UGAly

October 3rd, 2012
8:34 am

Spurrier is a jerk, but Ron Morris has that “freedom of the press” shield to hide behind while trying to increase his readership by taking gutteral pot shots. I’m not surprised that another journalist would attack Spurrier while ignoring the actions of one of his own. Spurrier should be able to defend himself.

Thomas Brown

October 3rd, 2012
8:36 am

# 73 Turnovers Lost

# 76 Tackles for Loss Allowed

# 55 Total Defense

# 57 Rushing Defense

# 38 Tackles for Loss

# 48 Scoring Defense

# 79 Sacks

# 47 Red Zone Defense

# 62 Punt Returns

# 61 Punt Returns Yardage Defense

# 41 Pass Efficiency Defense

# 56 Passing Defense

# 50 Passes Intercepted

# 105 Net Punting

# 60 Kick-Off Returns

# 43 Kick-Off Return Yardage Defense

# 45 at 1st Downs by the Offense

# 37 at 1st Downs Allowed by the Defense

# 90 in number of Penalties on us per game

# 37 on 3rd Down Conversions allowed by Defense

# 34 on 3rd Down Conversions by our Offense

This against 5 unranked opponents, I point out.

Michael Vick

October 3rd, 2012
8:42 am

Anyone have any dogs they want to get rid of ?

Joey

October 3rd, 2012
8:42 am

Sportswriters usually circle the wagons like this when one of their guys gets in a tiff with a coach – nothing unusual with Jeff taking sides as he has.

As far as coaching ability, all I know is Steve Spurrier beat us like a drum for over a decade, about half the time with less talented teams at UF, and now is going for his 3rd straight at SC, who used to win 1 out of 5 against UGA.

Spurrier has made many classless remarks over the years, liked to gouge UGA (and FSU) coaches, especially his buddy, Ray Goff.

But I also read where Richt said that when his wife got cancer, the first person to call him and tell him he was praying for Kathryn and family, was none other than Spurrier.

Ken

October 3rd, 2012
8:48 am

Mark Richt is a true Champion. He is grounded in his faith which keeps him on the right path regardless of what ” football life” throws at him. He proves each week that living a true Christian life in today’s society is very tough, but his example helps change lives in many of the young men that play for him. We all could learn lessons from how he conducts his everyday life. Go coach !!!!
( And I am a GT Grad !! )

Thomas Brown

October 3rd, 2012
8:51 am

The 16 teams who made the Top 10 Mark Richt played all 12 years to-date would say the same about Mark Richt with his 3 Wins against them.

GA Sandlapper

October 3rd, 2012
8:53 am

If UGA loses on Saturday, all the “Richt Fans” will be wanting him fired…just like last year!

GA Sandlapper

October 3rd, 2012
8:53 am

If UGA loses on Saturday, all the “Richt Fans” will be wanting him fired…just like last year!

GA Sandlapper

October 3rd, 2012
8:54 am

Most of the fans were upset for him taking a mission trip during the summer instead of focusing on football.

Thomas Brown

October 3rd, 2012
8:55 am

Yes, I posted 2 of those in this thread this morning by kingdaddy and JB both who said that already if Mark Richt loses Saturday night.

scgirl

October 3rd, 2012
8:56 am

I sincerely hope all you big mouth bulldog fans are eating crow (or chicken) after the game! Have fun in Columbia!

GA Sandlapper

October 3rd, 2012
8:57 am

Thomas..My bad… Just read the last couple of post.

Thomas Brown

October 3rd, 2012
8:58 am

Losing his Defense 11 who are or have been Starters after 2012, and facing Alabama 2013, this game is key for Mark Richt, who doesn’t even play a team who makes the Top 10 in 2012, while Florida faces FSU, Georgia and LSU and while South Carolina faces Georgia, Clemson and LSU.

Joey

October 3rd, 2012
8:59 am

Thanks for the list Thomas, but I knew Richt’s defending his STs as ’solid” was BS – as you have proved. Just another example of our HC burying his head in the sand when his staff is under-performing in certain areas. It’s an example of his ego that he won’t hire a specialist to come “tighten up” the STs. Saban has shown that a program can do that by hiring “advisors.”

I can’t remember having worse kicking and punting games – though we have been bad at defending runbacks for years. But at least we won’t have to hold our breaths anymore watching Mitchell “handle” punts – what a train wreck he was back there.

To Tell the Truth

October 3rd, 2012
9:05 am

Again, Spurrier is the BEST college coach out there, just look in his trophy cases where he has been. There is not a university that would not take him as their coach. He knows how the media is and how it spins and can hurt someone. He is one of the nicest guys that I have ever met. He is painted like a jerk in the media, and the truth is, he is all right by me since I have met the guy.

GA will be the ones whining after Saturday’s loss.

Wallis the dog

October 3rd, 2012
9:05 am

It’s my understanding that Steve Spurious wears the visor in order to hide his circumcision scar.

GT

October 3rd, 2012
9:06 am

It has been a mystery to me why the press gang tackles Spurrier, and I don’t have a dog in the hunt, only an observer who has great respect for great coaches. When you interview someone you hope he is honest, not a public relations spin and with Spurrier you get that in steroids. When you hire a coach you hope he keeps you out of probation, reflexs a good image and such. The main reason you hire a coach and pay him a million plus dollars is to win. Spurrier is one of the few that bring winning and a clean program together. Richt is not a great coach and to compare him with his resume to Steve Spurrier or credit his spacey personality to a great coach is propaganda. Spurrier has been married to the same woman, has raised successful children and must spend an inordinate time on the golf course looking at his game. How up tight is that?

What the press hates is he is smarter than they are. He calls them out on stupid stuff, which they think they are above being called out on. In this modern press bias comes with the ink. I refer to Spurrier’s comments as an editorial to what is really going on in college football and leave the rest to a filter of who they are writing about. Wish the business had more like him.

Thomas Brown

October 3rd, 2012
9:07 am

Sand-lapper,

We hope to make you guys eat dirt Saturday night.

Hardly, will the game determine your season with all the big games you have coming up now starting with us, while you’re our season. Whatever happens Saturday night, you’ll never make the Top 10. And, whatever happens Saturday night at your house, you’ll never end up as highly ranked as we.

We’ve had a tough opening 5 games against our 5 unranked opponents. You’ve looked lights out. We have issues at every aspect of our game fumbles and interceptions by the offense, inability to get critical 1st Downs when we had to on offense, defense has flat out sucked, and our special teams could not possibly be any worse-coached than they are.

It’s not really going to be the whole issue, what happens Saturday night – you see ?

Thomas Brown

October 3rd, 2012
9:14 am

Joey, it’s what he does. You and I have come to expect this BS from him to the Press. The next day ? Jeff Schultz writes a story praising Mark Richt and failing to note that the reporter was FIRED whom he criticizes Steve O. Spurrier for also calling out – like too every South Carolina Sand-Lapper has done as well.

Mark Richt tells the Press that Our Special Teams have an undeserved bad rap, and this is the next article by Jeff Schultz.

Nothing anyone put up but me about the actual rankings of ours this 2012 season against 5 unranked opponents, and nothing also put up by anyone except by me that Mark Richt has had 16 games against teams who made the Top 10 and Won but 3. Mark Richt CONTROLS the PRESS because they want to be his friends. I could care less about that, as a Top 10 All-Time Football Program in WINS. I just want to GATA Saturday night and beat Spurrier so he can’t say that with 3 times better recruits than he has had at USCe, he has TIED Mark Richt at 4-4.

zbulldawg

October 3rd, 2012
9:15 am

LET THE BIG DAWG EAT

Joey

October 3rd, 2012
9:16 am

GT (9:06)

Bravo. My feelings exactly. Spurrier never had trouble with the NCAA, the law, or his wife (think Petrino) and competed with numerous programs who were cheating: Miami, FSU, Bama, Notre Dame (under Holtz) Auburn all got NCAA probation while Spurrier was at UF.

Funny – Spurrier never cheated and the media hates him. Holtz got every program he ever coached at, on NCAA Probation, and the media loves him.

GT

October 3rd, 2012
9:20 am

Joey excellent comment!

Gary

October 3rd, 2012
9:20 am

Off the field Mark is clearly a man with different priorities and goals than the ball coach. The Ball coach considers his membership to Agusta National as his top priority. Spurrier could learn a lot from Richt about life outside of football. However, on the field there is no doubt from this Georgia fan that their is no comparison between the two. If Spurrier had this Georgia team he would have a national title at the end of the year. He is just a better coach. Also, he would probably still be playing a few guys Richt kicked off the team. I am still not willing to swap. Win or loose this weekend, I am proud of this team and what it has become. I want a class act on the sideline. Something Spurrier lacks. Auburn is a perfect example of selling your soul for results. Yes there is crystal in the trophy case, but not much sense of pride and certainly no respect from anyone outside of the plains. Alabama earns respect. I may not like them but I respect them. I have no respect for USC. Their coach acts like a spoiled 12 year, their players are hardly punished for poor behavior, and their fans demand a respect for a program that has never done ANYTHING to earn it.

ARdawg

October 3rd, 2012
9:21 am

Joey, Thomas

Maybe Spurrier is just a dic and needs calling out himself. More than regularly

Bammer

October 3rd, 2012
9:21 am

I hope South Carolina pounds the snot out of the blowhard bullpups.

UGA is the textbook definition of “all hat…no cattle.”

Have a nice day girls.

ARdawg

October 3rd, 2012
9:22 am

Gary

The Old Bawl Sack is a member at Augusta? I can’t believe that. They might let him hit some bawls on the driving range But, they would never have him as a member

ARdawg

October 3rd, 2012
9:23 am

LOL….You Techsters with bags over your heads pretending to be Bammers is just funny, I don’t care who you are

Dogbone

October 3rd, 2012
9:24 am

Astropig is exactly why there is a South Carolina/Georgia state line. Like Barney Fife says….He’s a nut!

TheSabanFactor

October 3rd, 2012
9:25 am

Mark Richt is all about Wins and Losses, not in teaching lessons.. Look how many chances he gave Odell Thurman, and Caleb “Blackmailer” King. He has never kicked a starter off the team, as the Thuga school policy has booted the only first stringers.. never his call. If he is such a great teacher then what lesson did he teach Odell Thurman.? As long as your a stud, you can get a bazillion chances.

Thomas Brown

October 3rd, 2012
9:25 am

ARdawg, I’m confused, sir. Did you say this ?

ARdawg September 28th, 2011 9:56 am

“I am ALL for CMR righting the ship like so many preached on his behalf last year. This is his opportunity to do that but, unfortunately it has not, as yet come to fruition. At this juncture there is very little to indicate that it will. Some where my friend we fans have to think “Punt” knowwhattameen?”

Which is it ?

Odell Thurman

October 3rd, 2012
9:27 am

STFU The Saban Factor…. without Coach Richt I wouldnt be where I am today.. on second thought………..

Joey

October 3rd, 2012
9:28 am

Don’t get me wrong, I want Richt to win every game this season and win it all, if he can. It’s the best chance he will ever have. This offense may can outscore anyone and everyone, if he just lets Bobo do his thing. And I think the D gets better as the main parts play together more.

My criticisms of Richt have always been about his defense of unproducing and sometimes just lousy staff, keeping them on til he just had no choice but to fire them.

Blind loyalty is a great quality of a good man.

Not so much of a great coach.

Go Dawgs.

dawgfan

October 3rd, 2012
9:30 am

I think Spurrier is a little misunderstood sometimes and probably not the raging jerk that many think he is. I also think he’s a little overrated as a coach. He’s good, but not the legendary genius he’s often made out to be. Tech fans are probably some of his most vocal supporters because he beats Georgia for them and he’s got a big mouth which they believe makes one a great coach. See their own coach as example.