Is Mark Richt capable of making the ‘changes’ he says are needed at UGA?

Mark Richt is talking about "change," but will it be too little too late? (University of Georgia)

Mark Richt is talking about "change," but will it be too little too late? (University of Georgia)

Talking after the humiliating defeat to Central Florida in the Liberty Bowl gave UGA its first losing season in 14 years, Mark Richt tried to buck up support for his program among the Bulldog Nation with this assessment:

“There’s reasons why we ended up the way we did. We’ve got to make changes. We’ve got to make sure that doesn’t happen again in the future.”

But then he added: “When you start saying ‘change,’ that doesn’t necessarily mean personnel. … It’s more of how we go about our business. We’re going to improve. We’re going to get Georgia where it belongs.”

Richt didn’t spell out the “reasons,” but since the only staff change he’s chosen to make is in the strength and conditioning program, you’ve got to wonder if the weight of turning around a program that’s been sliding for three seasons now is being placed on the admittedly sturdy shoulders of Joe Tereshinski.

Granted, strength and conditioning is an area where major improvement is needed. All season long, the Dogs have gotten shoved around on the line of scrimmage and have tended to fade in the fourth quarter.

But a whole lot more needs to be fixed than just strength and conditioning. And with the same coaching lineup in place that produced such underwhelming results this year, is it really possible to fix it all in the one season that Richt likely has to turn things around?

Sure, Todd Grantham’s defense might improve next year, though likely only with some fresh junior college linemen.

And a five-star running back would be a plus (if they can sign him). But that back would still be running behind a line coached by Stacy Searels, who has demonstrated no ability to mold even veteran players into a dominating force.

And then there’s Mike Bobo, a talented quarterbacks coach who as offensive coordinator can’t ever seem to sustain momentum, even when it’s handed to him.

Take Friday’s game, for example. The second quarter began with the Dogs, who were leading 3-0 and had just snagged an interception, completing an 18-yard pass to A.J. Green. This would have been the perfect time for Georgia to take control of the game.

On the next play Aaron Murray got thrown for a 13-yard loss on a naked bootleg where the defender sailed in unblocked. OK, hang that one on Searels’ group. But then on second and 23, Bobo has Murray hand off to third-stringer Carlton Thomas for short yardage. And then on third and 20 a screen pass is thrown to Thomas for no gain. Time to punt.

Carlton Thomas??!! This is the beginning of the second quarter and Washaun Ealey, the starting tailback, isn’t in the game? Is that a conditioning problem? Or in Bobo’s playbook does second and 23 call for handing the ball to your smallest running back? Did Bobo feel comfortable sitting on a 3-point lead?

Unfortunately, scenarios like that were all too common the past couple of seasons.

And then there’s the attitude adjustment that’s needed, on and off the field. Both kicker Blair Walsh and athletic director Greg McGarity called out the Dogs after the game for a lack of effort in Memphis. It appears a misplaced sense of entitlement has settled on a group of players who have done absolutely nothing to earn it. Caleb King, who apparently can’t be bothered to show up for court dates or academic meetings, has become the poster boy for a team that seems to be defined by its lack of discipline and dedication.

The big question hanging over the Georgia program right now is whether Richt and the staff he has assembled — and apparently is going to keep intact — are capable of changing that culture enough in just a few short months.

Most Dogs fans I’ve encountered over the past couple of days are skeptical.

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835 comments Add your comment

Kramer

January 2nd, 2011
6:23 pm

In a word…no.

J Clay

January 2nd, 2011
6:25 pm

Capable yes, likely no

Disappointed Dawg

January 2nd, 2011
6:25 pm

Mr. McGarity-

It is time for a change in the program, not time to “start” to work with the same talent and staff we always have. You have been beyond gracious this year in responding to concerns about the state of the program. The alumni have tried to return in kind by being polite as possible, staying positive in our remarks, and keeping the faith in you as our steward of all things athletic at UGA. However, after this seasons results I just do not think I can continue to support the program without a change in leadership. I went to Memphis to watch what I had hoped to be a much improved team; I thought given 30 days to focus on one opponent and improvements to our strength and conditioning program that we should be able to see a team that was looking to springboard to the start of the 2011 season. What I saw instead was unacceptable, a team that was out-coached, out-hussled, and unmotivated; I think many of the fans in attendance felt the same way. I see no hope right now, absolutely none… I don’t hear about us making strides in recruiting; I don’t see us making progress on the field with scheme, attitude, or result; I don’t hear alumni getting more positive or more patient with their support of the program… Basically, I think you are on the verge of losing the entire alumni and fan base soon. I assure you that I will not be doing season tickets next year, nor will I travel to another game in support of our football program as long as Mark Richt is the coach… This has moved beyond staff changes and grown in to him being the problem now. He is not making the adjustments that he needs to make to move us forward… Our staff is below average nationally, in terms of in-game adjustments and preparation, and needed to be over-hauled 3 seasons ago… Yet, all we get is Coach T taking over as strength and conditioning coach. Last year we over-haul the defense and it is apparent that Coach Richt made the wrong call with the hire because Coach Grantham has been pretty classless in my view and has not made one player better than they were last year. It feels like we had to settle with him because none of the other top level coordinators wanted to come and coach under Mark Richt and based on what you read on websites and newspapers the feeling around the country is that he is only respected as a man, not a coach… He is a coach that does not make other coaches better or prepare them to lead other programs. It is pretty sad to travel the country as I do and hear how little everyone thinks of our program. It is almost mind-numbing to think about how we got here in such short window of time… You must act now to save us from being set back even further. You have to fire Mark Richt immediately. I have to think that your predecessor Mr. Evans would have fired Coach Richt by now and that your old boss Mr. Foley would make the same call if he were in your shoes… Please listen to the wants of the alumni and talk to other men in your position and make the right call, the tough call, and fire Mark Richt.

blind faith

January 2nd, 2011
6:26 pm

Next year is the year of change one way or another.

wxwax

January 2nd, 2011
6:26 pm

He deserves the chance to try.

But after the bowl loss, I’m beginning to believe he isn’t capable of it.

One more year and we’ll know.

J Clay

January 2nd, 2011
6:27 pm

One change should be announcing that Caleb King has been kciked off the team – that would be a start

georgia87

January 2nd, 2011
6:27 pm

We had a senior player at our Christmas Eve festivities. I asked him about Central Florida, and he said: “We watched film of them. They are not very good. We’re gonna kill them.” After the gathering, I told my wife that they were going to lose. Central Florida called this their Super Bowl. We acted like we couldn’t be bothered to prepare. After all, we are an SEC team (right, Blair?). If I understand correctly, we only took 13 out of the allotted 15 practices (8 at home and 5 in Memphis). I thought going to a bowl was important because of the extra practices? The problem is that I don’t think the attitude can be changed. It flows from the top. I love Coach Richt. But if his heart is not in it, do the honorable thing and retire. $2.8 million a year means that you are working a very demanding job. If it is not what you want, cool, I definitely understand that. But don’t give a half-effort. That is what I saw.

Keary

January 2nd, 2011
6:28 pm

2011: The Lost Season. Next year will be a waste, I have little doubt. It’ll be interesting to see what happens after it’s over.

bdawg

January 2nd, 2011
6:29 pm

Lindsey

January 2nd, 2011
6:30 pm

Seeing Kris Durham’s face after the game broke my heart, this is a bad loss for the Bulldog Nation, GO DAWGS in 2011!!!

El Norto

January 2nd, 2011
6:31 pm

Not the proverbial snowball’s chance…

RomeDawg

January 2nd, 2011
6:32 pm

Mark Richt is a great man and would make a fine preacher, however, I want a football coach with fire in his belly. We should never be below average, EVER!

wxwax

January 2nd, 2011
6:32 pm

Georgia’s poor performance is another example of the foolishness of believing those grades handed out to recruiting classes.

It’s obvious the team is down on talent. No running back and poor defense. Despite years of getting good grades for recruiting.

Presumably one of the fixes will have to be an immediate influx of players ready to go, which means junior college players.

That’s usually something a new coach desperate for victories at a lower level school does. Not something you’d expect at Georgia.

JohnnyCanada

January 2nd, 2011
6:33 pm

If he was, he would have done so by now. He is confused and has no clue what the problems are let alone how to fix them.

jumbeauxtiger

January 2nd, 2011
6:34 pm

I watched AJ Green & Ealey both talk smack to UCF players Noone should be doing that and to top it off, it’s 2 players that have been in trouble this season! Richt has no discipline which is the problem.

Georgia needs to clean house starting with the head coach.

RomeDawg

January 2nd, 2011
6:35 pm

This isn’t Georgia Tech where they settle for “moral victories”.

POAJacket

January 2nd, 2011
6:36 pm

Unfortunately, the answer is NO. CMR just does not show any hunger for winning anymore. No one can deny he is a fine Christian man, but we want more than that, we want a Coach. CMR is so nice, I don’t think the players fear him at all. This is why there is no disipline anymore. The players know if they get in trouble, they may sit out a game and all is well. When CMR first arrived, we had a wide open gameplan and it was fun to watch. Now, we all know what play we will run next. It seemed to have started when the play calling was turned over to Bobo. If nothing, else, please, please take the play calling away from Bobo. Also, Searles has not improved as line coach and should be replaced. We need a new attitude from the coaching staff and that coaching staff should be a new one.

BigCountry

January 2nd, 2011
6:37 pm

Yeah he can make the changes. You have to get rid of Bobo. I have never seen a worse offensive coordinator in my life. Stop playing so damn conservative. I mean look at all the other great talented teams when they play they leave everything on the field, they are not scared to go for it on first down or try a trick play no they go out and play. We don’t. I mean 4th and inches at the end zone and you kick a field goal. We need to let these boys play. We had a #1 draft pick, a good running back, plenty of good defensive players and the best WR in college football and yet we were never able to win anything. The Defense got better but the offense got worse. It don’t take a genius to see that Mike Bobo is not good and needs to go.

atlanta dawg

January 2nd, 2011
6:37 pm

When Richt made the statement “It is what it is” it makes me sick. A university as great a UGA and we back to back horrible seasons. Disappointment doesnt begin to express how I feel.
But I will I always support the DAWGS! GO DAWGS!

Viva GwinneXico

January 2nd, 2011
6:37 pm

CMR has lost control of this team. Some players were out and about partying it up in the local bars and clubs, even the night before the game. There needs to be a new attitude brought in because CMR has failed, enough is enough already.

RAID

January 2nd, 2011
6:37 pm

Bill, I for one appreciate your honesty on this one…..Same goes for Jeff’s artical yesterday……..It has gone way to far now to be repaired by CMR……I have backed him up on these blogs as long as I can now……We need serious change and CMR can’t or won’t explain what needs to be changed!…….Change does’nt just drop out of the sky, rain does though and theres not enough falling where I’m sitting to put out this fire…….I honestly don’t think the players buy into him any more…..It shows by the lack of discipline……Heck, he won’t go for 1st down on the opening drive of the bowl game to send a statement?…….What kind of message is that?……..I hate to say it but it may be time to bite the bullet and do a total overhaul on the staff…….CMR included…….Keep hearing a rumor and cant quite get a feel for it yet…….Is he planning on stepping down?……If he’s the man we think he is, regardless of money, cause he needs no more, a good christian would put the program first, admit his faults, and resign…………Thats all I got to say about that…..

Dylan

January 2nd, 2011
6:38 pm

The Richt era has run it’s course in Athens. Changes need to be made, that way we can go ahead and start rebuilding now.

Sports guy

January 2nd, 2011
6:39 pm

We have heard Richt talking about changes before and more are still remain the same. Richts seems like a good guy, but I don’t see any desire in him to win big games. He has gotten out coached in many games and there is no way with the talents on this team that we can have a losing record?!?!?

It is time for a new blood and Richt has got to Go…

I think Gary Patterson from TCU would be a good choice to replace him or Gus Malzahn.

Anybody have any coaching ideas???

tide roll

January 2nd, 2011
6:41 pm

You’re so wrong about Tereshinski. A strength and conditioning coach is much more today than yet another former Georgia football player who lacks the credentials so necessary to get a kid to the next level. Your competition will have a field day with this. Goergia’s problem has and always will be a bizarre and embarrasing need to “balance” their roster. The best way for them to achieve this with the least amount of damage is on the offensive line. Thus, in-state talent such as JAMES CARPENTER, CHANCE WARMACK, A.J. HAWKINS, ROKE WATKINS, AND JUJUAN JAMES are encouraged to leave the state, thus empowering your SEC rivals, and athletes on your current roster such as Bean Anderson and Kiante Tripp are moved from the offensive line and buried on the defensive depth chart to avoid dissension problems when it is determined they are superior athletes to the likes of Chris Davis and Clint Boling. It’s a disgusting model that all Uga fans should be ashamed of. This is 2011 for God’s sake.

tenndawg

January 2nd, 2011
6:41 pm

Enter your comments here

Music Man

January 2nd, 2011
6:42 pm

I felt very bad for Kris Durham also…what a great kid he seems to be…if only his teammates would emulate his work ethic and off field behavior….he seemed to be the only one who cared about the game.

jumbeauxtiger

January 2nd, 2011
6:42 pm

Miss State, Alabama and Florida all beating BIg 10 teams while UGA loses to a Conference USA team that only beat one team with a winning record shows how far the Dawg program has fallen.

AJ Green

January 2nd, 2011
6:42 pm

What we need to change next year is…. oh who cares… I’m goin pro baby!!!

Fire Richt

January 2nd, 2011
6:43 pm

Let’s think about next year without Durham and likely A.J. Green. The offense is pathetic and they lose the top 2 receivers for 2011 ! The defense is not the problem. Searels and Bobo should have been fired after the game. But Richt is loyal to those coaches that hang him out to dry in return. Is anybody proud to be a Dawgs fan right now ? No. You can’t fire 45 players but you can fire the head coach and his lackey coaches.

Sam

January 2nd, 2011
6:44 pm

You people kill me.

Mark Richt

January 2nd, 2011
6:44 pm

Listen folks… only change we need to make is I need a new heart. You know, the heart of a champion that I’ve been lacking the past few years.

AlwaysADawg87

January 2nd, 2011
6:45 pm

Enter your comments here

RAID

January 2nd, 2011
6:45 pm

Also, we have the same tallent that Ala, Fla, LSU, and everyother major college football program wanted as well!………What happened?……..Ask yourself that CMR instead of the “it is what it is” comment……..

social circle dawg

January 2nd, 2011
6:47 pm

Well, one point everyone seems to be bringing up is our lack of talent. It seems as though this is hog-wash right? We’ve got talent don’t we? I’m starting to believe that it is only good coaching and strength/conditioning that turns defensive linemen (and other positions) into All Americans. The way Alabama man-handled the Spartans yesterday….we don’t have one player that would start for Alabama’s defense except J. Houston. Sad.

layinlow

January 2nd, 2011
6:47 pm

Disappointed Dawg, that was well said. Why don’t you send that in an email to Greg Mcgarity?

Well said buy everyone that has posted so far.

January 2nd, 2011
6:47 pm

No! CMR will not be able to turn it around after next season. I look and see the Georgia players in the N.F.L. And what did CMR do with his present/past talent? Nothing, he lived on Jim Donna’s recruits for his past wins.

Face it folks, next season will be like a sinking boat. How fast will it sink? What will the long term casualties be?

I feel sorry for the current players.

Fire Richt

January 2nd, 2011
6:48 pm

I talked with 400 Dawgs fan in 5 different cities and ALL told me this “Richt’s gotta go, did you see the field goal call from the 2 yard line ?”.

ugadawg1

January 2nd, 2011
6:48 pm

Two words say it all–Willie Martinez. Should have never been hired and should have been replaced at least 3 years before he was. When you are 6-6 and want go for a first down with less than a yard to go on the 3…you just told your team you have no confidence in them. When you are running the ball up the middle on 1st and 25 with 6 minutes to go and can’t come up even one creative new wrinkle in 30 days…you are clueless. Name one top ten team that consistently runs out of the I-formation. Compared to Auburn, Oregon, even TCU our offense looks downright pedestrian. Bobo is definitely not the answer and needs to go. Alas, Jeff Shultz and Bill King are right. He cannot and will not make the changes needed. In all my years as a season ticket holder I haven’t seen the Bulldog nation this demoralized in 15 years.

Kevin

January 2nd, 2011
6:49 pm

Since Richt is talking about change the first change I would make is quit being conservative. It’s time to be aggressive and start playing that way. Quit with the FG’s all the time. Sometimes you just have to go for it.

RAID

January 2nd, 2011
6:49 pm

Georgia Saturdays “built Ford tough” huh…..Not gonna trade the Dodge in yet based on that commercial!……

tenndawg

January 2nd, 2011
6:51 pm

I long fpr thje days people were inimidated to play Ga. I long for the Junkyard Dawgs! There were NO junkyard Dawgson that field Fri. We’re still the worst tackling team in the country! Am I old fashioned, with unrealistic expectations………….damn, I hope not!!!!!!!

Fartin-dawggie

January 2nd, 2011
6:51 pm

Well-spoken, Fire Richt. You should email that to McGarity !

Sports guy

January 2nd, 2011
6:51 pm

Richt sounds like ‘Ol Bobby B. UGA is going down hill fast. I wouldn’t be surprise if next year UGA goes 7-5.

Come on McGarity, let’s clean house and get some new bloods in. Call Gary Patterson before someone else does.

Josh Fowler

January 2nd, 2011
6:54 pm

Absolutely not. CMR has to go. Period.

AlwaysADawg87

January 2nd, 2011
6:55 pm

I’ve always stood behind CMR, but after painfully watching the “game” on Friday, there must be a change in the coaching ranks. This team has regressed enough. 3 years of non relevance is unacceptable. It breaks my heart and just angers me to think of what this program has become. I honestly don’t see next year having much improvement. I will always be a Dawg fan, but it’s gotten to the point where I wonder if I even want to watch another effortless and painful loss to a supposed inferior team. Please, McGarity for the love of Dawg Nation, rescue this team and make some changes now before your top 5 in earnings as a collegiate program drops tremendously. I’ve heard enough alumni and fans say they will not make donations or go to games if something doesn’t change. Next year may be too late. Yours truly, A DEJECTED DAWGS FAN.

Hire the current Ga. staff?

January 2nd, 2011
6:55 pm

Someone please name one respectable school that wound be willing to hire anyone on Georgia’s football staff. The water boy’s, ball boys, and equipment manger don’t count.

Fartin-dawggie

January 2nd, 2011
6:55 pm

I heard Vince Dooley broke off the New Year’s celebration with Mark Richt. If Fordtruck are tough like the UGA Dawgs the wheels will fall off upon putting it into drive…

Well said!!

January 2nd, 2011
6:55 pm

Well said buy the above poster: CMR has lived off Jim Donan’s recruits for his past victories.

SoCal Dawg

January 2nd, 2011
6:56 pm

If I’m Richt, next year When I brought out the helmets there would be NO G. I would tell them they’ll get the G when they earn the privilege to wear the G. People can disagree but most of the key players on this team have no heart and no pride for UGA or the great state of GA. Until they show heart and pride no G!

layinlow

January 2nd, 2011
6:57 pm

social circle dawg, during the tom osborne era at Nebraska they had numerous outland trophy winners. And it was well known in college football that the cornhuskers were the best at turning their offensive lineman into studs because of their top notch weight training program and leverage training techniques. So yes, the great programs take their high school players and build them up and teach them to play their best. Unfortunately, Richt and his staff do not. We get the talent like everbody else and then do nothing with it.