If you haven’t checked out MrSEC.com’s tribute to the kind of coach — and, more importantly, the kind of man — Mark Richt is, you definitely should. The headline sums it up pretty nicely: “RICHT CONTINUES TO SHOW THAT HE’S THE CLASS OF THE CONFERENCE.”
Knoxville-based John Pennington, who writes the blog, says that “for my money, there is no better representative of an SEC university than Georgia’s Mark Richt.”
This testimonial from outside the Bulldog Nation is prompted by a couple of things. First, the restraint Richt showed in dealing with the media flap over incorrect claims that some of his football players had harassed a couple in an Athens taxi. As Pennington puts it: “Rather than bark about the media or point a finger at a writer, Richt kept his cool and discussed the dangers of rushing to judgment in our instant-media world.”
Drawing a comparison to Urban Meyer, Pennington notes: “There were no ‘we’d be going at it right now’ comments. No ‘be very careful’ warnings.”
And beyond the taxi affair, Pennington cites the way Richt handled the unfortunate need to dismiss Montez Robinson from his program after the linebacker used up all the second chances he’d been given. Rather than simply leave the former Bulldog in his wake, Richt visited him in jail and continued to try and counsel the troubled young man.
Says MrSEC: “Again, this kind of action shouldn’t surprise anyone. When linebacker Jamar Chaney was denied admission into UGA back in 2005, Richt helped convince Mississippi State’s Sylvester Croom to give Chaney a chance in Starkville. … ‘It didn’t surprise me at all that Coach Richt did what he did,’ Chaney said. ‘He’s a great man.’ ”
Here the Richt detractors will say: Ah, but he hasn’t won a national championship. They would rather have someone along the lines of a Nick Saban or Meyer in Athens if it means a crystal football in the trophy case.
As if that’s the only criteria that matters in judging a college football coach.
Maybe in today’s results-oriented athletics scene, that puts Richt and UGA at a disadvantage. It’s easy to understand how 17- or 18-year-old kids coming out of high school might be more dazzled by BCS rings than repeated displays of character and stability.
I don’t agree with the way Richt does everything, but on the whole I’d rather have him as head coach than anyone else I can think of. And I happen to still think Richt can win a national championship at Georgia without turning into a ruthless, ego-driven jerk or an obsessive head case.
Still, even if that doesn’t prove to be the case, I’m glad he’s the way he is.