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

LakeDawg

January 2nd, 2011
9:00 pm

ugafan….nice sentiment, but UGA traditionally gives coaches more time than any other program. Hell, they gave Goof 7 years. If CMR continued to underachieve with 9-10 win years and no championships,you would hear some grumbling, but no hint of him being in trouble. But to go 8-5 and then 6-7 is horrible. Uga has the potential to be and aspires to be a major player in the SEC. That was the reason CMR was hired in the first place. If we accepted mediocrity, we could have kept Donnan.

Camden Mark

January 2nd, 2011
9:01 pm

Tier 2?Heck we are laying in an alley all dirty and unshaven sharing a bottle of mad dog with Vandy and Kentucky.No longer even relevent.

Coach Dooley

January 2nd, 2011
9:01 pm

Meyer to Ga.???- what in the world are you smoking???

old dawg fan

January 2nd, 2011
9:01 pm

All major corporations that are “decreasing in profits and performance” evaluate their management team, make changes and adjustments and normally remove/add personnel-especially when “decline” has been going on for a few years and there is a “clear” pattern.
UGA Football is a “huge business”!!!! Numbers don’t lie-We have had a declining football program the last 4 years. Let me make sure I understand this-Richt is going to keep the same people that have gotten him (UGA Football) to this point????? McGarrity and Adams surely won’t allow this!!!!! If they do then they should be replaced as well.
It is time to turn this “ship around” replace CMR and his entire staff and start moving in a “positive manner”. If you have a problem you don’t keep doing the same things!!! Pitiful what UGA Football has become.

Justin

January 2nd, 2011
9:02 pm

Auburn proved that the key is to get a winner at QB.

Lemay is THAT guy.

Gerry

January 2nd, 2011
9:03 pm

Alabama turned it all around after a bad season by getting a JUCO NT named Cody.

Let’s go get a Mountain JUCO NT.

JB

January 2nd, 2011
9:03 pm

McGarity, who I don’t think has the power to fire Richt, new on the job, Has LOST the Alumni.
Adams is the guy. All powerful. Stands alone. Unlike Auburn, there is no “mafia” to get Richt out. This is what happened. McGarity called Adams Sunday and said. “Sir, it’s bad. Real Bad. What do you think”? Adams say’s. ” stay the course”.

I HATE IT...

January 2nd, 2011
9:03 pm

Justin, UGA is 14-12 in it’s last 2-seasons. Really.

Stevie Wonder

January 2nd, 2011
9:04 pm

Everyone, including me, can see we will have a coaching change after next year. Why would a recruit join us now? We are already wasting next year.

Producer

January 2nd, 2011
9:04 pm

Georgia has never been a steady top ten team. If it hadn’t been for the best college football player in the history of the planet playing for them for three years from 79-81, they’d still be a under performing disappointment. Herschel gave us the idea that we could be a great team but it never happened after he left. Having said that, we were expected to be one of the greats from then on. Can you say delusions of grandeur? LSU, Alabama, Florida, Florida State and Auburn have always performed for the most part. What is it about the Dawgs that they are coming up short?
If Richt had the answer to that, he’d deserve to come back. There’s no way in hell that man should still have his job this time next year. If he does, fans will abandon him in droves. Boot his worthless butt out of here!

Gadawg

January 2nd, 2011
9:04 pm

The changes should start by revoking Caleb King’s scholarship. He’s a knucklehead…and lazy to boot!

Denver Dog

January 2nd, 2011
9:04 pm

…in a word, NO. Richt needs to go, sorry.

tERRY

January 2nd, 2011
9:05 pm

RICHT MGHT HAVE TO FIRE BOBO SOON, LIKE THIS WEEK, TO COUNTER FLORIDA’S MOVE. BUT HE’D BE SMART TO WAIT UNTIL THE PAPER’S ARE SIGNED.

Coach Dooley

January 2nd, 2011
9:06 pm

Pawlie I agree with you.

GatorBait 18-3

January 2nd, 2011
9:06 pm

I’ve told ya’ll for 2 years you needed to get rid of Richt. In the SEC, Richt is about the 8-9 best coach behind Meyer (Muschamp), Saban, Miles, Mullen, Peternio, Auburn coach Chinzue????,
Nutt, Dooley, Spurrier. Do you seriously think any of the schools these coach represent would want Mark Richt————-NOT.

Can’t wait to see Charlie Weis’s offense go against Todd Grantham defense. It won’t be pretty, but it will finally get rid of Richt.

icedawg

January 2nd, 2011
9:06 pm

I’ve said it on a couple of other blogs, Yes Vicky. The problems are systemic. Talent at a number of key positions has been overrated for a few years. The talent that we have did not fit the defensive scheme introduced by the new defensive coordinator. For some reason the Junkyard Dawg mentality left the locker room a few years ago and has not returned. The change in uniform colors during certain games did not change the way the Dogs have played, a superficial attempt at adding something extra. The defense for the past three years has not sustained any tenacity. The hope of the Stafford-Moreno years was built around a few players. They played well at times but never good enough to get the job done against the Gators. That era was underwhelming to say the least. Coach Bobo is a Georgia man but is he the best man for that particular job at this time? When Brian VanGorder left it seemed that we lost more than a coach, we lost someone who could motivate. BVG is probably not a head coach but he was a huge positive influence on the team just like Erk Russell was during the Dooley years. They brought an intangible dimension to the teams that they coached. You will not find a more respectable man than Mark Richt and he has a very good offensive mind. But I do not know if he is a great head coach for this reason, that apart from VanGorder, he has struggled in finding excellent assistant coaches. Compare him to a Saban or an Meyer who definitely have had excellent AC’s on staff. Richt’s selection of AC’s is suspect. They may be ok or good, but they are not performing at the highest level nor are their players. The Dawgs have some good players even now. SEC Championship or NC players? Probably not collectively as a team now. If the last two years are any indication of the direction and momentum of this program, I do not see a drastic change in the making. And because of that I have a hard time believing the words of the AD saying, “I get it.” In spite of that, “God DAWGS!”

Justin

January 2nd, 2011
9:07 pm

Yep, it’s simple.

Let Lemay run this team, like Cam Newton did.

Let Ealey run it 50 times a game.

Go get a JUCO Nosetackle like Mt. Cody for the 3-4 to improve the 3-4 rush defense fast.

MontyP

January 2nd, 2011
9:08 pm

I supported MR up to this point. He has to go. He looked no different on the sidelines this year than the disinterested Urban Meyer did at Florida. Urban admitted his heart was not in it anymore and stepped aside. Time for MR to do the same. He will never have the guts to fire Bobo and Searels and that needed to happen a long time ago. Why delay the inevitable. The AD needs to make it happen now and bring in Mike Leach. I had it with MR when the Dawgs went 96 yards on the opening drive and on 4th and 5 inches at the 2 yard line he did not even hesitate to send the field goal team out. He took the wind out the team with that completely gutless decision. What a joke! This game was the worst effort I have seen by a Georgia team since I can remember following the team in the mid 70’s. That says a lot. MR has to go!!!!

Made famous by Herschel

January 2nd, 2011
9:08 pm

Still think the Dawgs were a few bounces away from winning it all.

ROFL

Change you can believe in....

January 2nd, 2011
9:11 pm

CMR think he’s Obama reincarnated?

JB

January 2nd, 2011
9:11 pm

Looks like he’s coming back. My Bulldog club Spring event dropped last year to about 200, from about 500 the year before. I don’t expect 100 this year. What will make the next year tough, if this class blows up on him. You better bet we’ve got 5-6 commits out of this group that everyone wants, and you can bet, in our rivals minds, they are fair game again. Don’t get on a sinking ship they’ll be told……

Coach Dooley

January 2nd, 2011
9:11 pm

GatorBait 18-3 In my opinion Urban Meyer did the worst coaching job of any major school coach in America this year. Even worse than Richt.

GatorBait 18-3

January 2nd, 2011
9:13 pm

Coach Dooley

I agree, a least he is

JC Dawg

January 2nd, 2011
9:13 pm

Longtime supporter of ugh and rich, but no more, the loss and uninspired bowl game was the end for me.

Dirty Dawg

January 2nd, 2011
9:14 pm

Richt time at UGA has come and gone. The players love Richt because CMR is passive and make excuses for them. If I was a 5-Star recruit, I would not sign with Georgia.

Breaking News

January 2nd, 2011
9:14 pm

Richt is out, press conference in athens at 11am.

BoroDawg

January 2nd, 2011
9:15 pm

What a wasted season for the Dawgs! Coach Richt needs to demote Bobo to quarterback coach since GA has become so predictable on plays. They need go out and hire Ralph Freidgen who is a offensive genius. This would solve one of GA serious problems.

Potatodawg

January 2nd, 2011
9:15 pm

CMR cannot turn things around, he has built a passive, easy going,no edge, no sense of ergency culture. The team has no fire and will not play hard for him. That’s why he kick’s a field goal on the 2 yard line. He cannot change the culture because the team has taken on his personality. He does not inspire

marietta dawg

January 2nd, 2011
9:15 pm

I still believe Richt deserves one more year. The 2011 season will leave no unanswered questions. I hesitate to call for his job right now, because even the best coaches have had losing seasons. Paterno has had 5 losing seasons and it took him 17 seasons to win his first national championship. I think UGA is at a dangerous crossroads. If we adopt a “win now no matter what” mentality, we run the risk of turning into Auburn. A school that has mortgaged every ounce of respect ever obtained for one chance to stop playing second fiddle to Bama. We are much, much better than that.

Call Bull..

January 2nd, 2011
9:16 pm

..on richt is out post, no way, UGA doesn’t have the balls to cut him loose short of finding another set of red panties.

Producer

January 2nd, 2011
9:17 pm

Agreed. We got beat by the equivalent of a minor league football team. Don’t care who their coach was, that alone was a school disgrace and enough to run him out of town today.

JB

January 2nd, 2011
9:17 pm

I think Adams and McGarity, like Obama, are isolated. I think they have staff sniffing their butts telling what they want to hear. Whens the last time you saw a Q&A session with Adams and say Schultz,Bradley, Barnhart, ESPN…….Maybe presidents of Universities don’t talk to reporters, But What I’ve seen this year, Friday, the last three years…IS NEWS !

I am the Monkey on CMR's back.

January 2nd, 2011
9:17 pm

I get so tired of hearing the number of wins “X” coach averaged. In todays game you have 13 games schedule and any good coach should average 10 wins a season. The last 3 years 10-3, 8-5, 6-7
The last three years that is 8 wins a season and 5 losses.

Those are not elite program numbers and if you think anything better than a 7 win season in 2011 is probable you are on the same crack pipe as marion barry.

Richard

January 2nd, 2011
9:18 pm

I’m a big Hutson Mason fan. I know some of you guys prefer Lemay over Mason, but I’d like to point out Mason completed over 70% of his passes and set the Georgia record with over 50 td passes in 1 season he had 7 td’s in 1 game. It will be a great 2 man battle.

Wonder where Murray will transfer to, a Junior college with Brantley?

The Watergirl

January 2nd, 2011
9:18 pm

Shows alot about our program when the kicker is calling out the team, no leadership!! Bobo must go as OC move him back to QB coach and get a proven guy and Richt must quit with the we must change speech is old and I dont buy into anymore!!! u cant get it done get out

GATA

January 2nd, 2011
9:19 pm

LOOK AT THE TREND…10-3 (2008), 8-5 (2009), 6-7 (2010) WHAT DO YOU THINK NEXT YEAR WILL BE? I PREDICT 5-7, NO BOWL APPEARANCE AND A BITTER, HUMILIATED FAN BASE. I’VE ALWAYS BEEN A RICHT SUPPORTER, BUT AFTER THE DEBACLE IN MEMPHIS, THERE IS NO DOUBT THE PROGRAM NEEDS TO BE BLOWN UP AND REBUILT. I CAN BE PATIENT WITH A NEW COACH AND SYSTEM AND TRUE REBUILDING, BUT NOT WITH MORE OF A SLOW DEATH WITH THE STATUS QUO. WE HAVE SUNK BELOW MEDIOCRITY. I WATCH TEAMS LIKE TCU, BOISE STATE MISSISSIPPI STATE AND COUNTLESS OTHER PROGRAMS AND THINK WE ARE LIGHT YEARS AWAY… NOT EVEN IN THE CONVERSATION. WE HAVE BECOME THE WORST OF ALL THINGS – IRRELEVANT.

JB

January 2nd, 2011
9:20 pm

@9:14…… Don’t do that to this blog. Not funny.

Crenshaw

January 2nd, 2011
9:20 pm

If you handed the ball to Wshaun 40 times a game, like Spurrier does with Lattimore, Ealey averages more yards per carry than Lattimore, so I’d expect Georgia to come out running the ball, committed firmly to the run.

I am the Monkey on CMR's back.

January 2nd, 2011
9:21 pm

LeMay is not going to be a Cam Newton type with the exception his daddy is a minister and he probably is getting padded by some rogue UGA booster. LeMay missed the entire year, and will not be ready for the type of play in the SEC, heck he is not even ready for Class AAAAAA football in Georgia.

Crenshaw

January 2nd, 2011
9:21 pm

RICHT HIRES GRUDEN TO RUN OFFENSE!!!

CBS Sportline Top 120.

January 2nd, 2011
9:21 pm

They have the Dawgs ranked 53rd! Little kind wouldn’t you say, maybe 73 is more like it. LOL

hornedfrog

January 2nd, 2011
9:21 pm

Come on, what makes you think Gary Patterson would leave a top program to come to UGA? He is well respected and paid at TCU. How many games do you have to win every year to make the dawgnation happy? CMR is a class guy and you aint going to get any better. So what if UCF is in Conference USA. They were ranked 24th in one poll and UGA wasn’t in the top 40.

Morrison

January 2nd, 2011
9:22 pm

Agree, Lemay is 100x better than Murray.

89EAGLE

January 2nd, 2011
9:22 pm

I love that Ga wanted Cam Newton as a TE not as a QB. Go figure

hmmmmmmm

January 2nd, 2011
9:22 pm

No your not any better than that….. Matter if fact, your fanbase is the worst! Delusional to the point where if you do fire this coach, you think that someone really wants to come and take this job…. Your program is a JOKE……

Coach Dooley

January 2nd, 2011
9:22 pm

Producer UCF will finish around 22nd or 23rd in the nation this year, with a 11-3 record. They are better than UGA in almost all phases of football. If they played 10 times, UCF would win 8. Please don’t call them a minor league football team. They are better than Ga- deal with that. We are talking about how to change the reality that is true- that UCF and others are better than UGA.

Morrison

January 2nd, 2011
9:23 pm

Heard Murray transferring to Idaho State.

dawgster

January 2nd, 2011
9:23 pm

Yea…what does that say about the lack of player leadership when your kicker is calling out the team…Blair is a standup guy and says he will be back and is not willing to accept these results…do the rest of the players have the desire to do the same, i understand the NFL thing, but do you accept this as an end to your college days at UGA or do you show the dawg nation what it really means to be a dawg…go dawgs

S.E. Dawg

January 2nd, 2011
9:23 pm

@Dawgster, You may be correct about letting certain players go to other teams or players we didn’t go after. However, I’m not an expert in talent evaluation. My point of my previous post is we can’t move the other line. That starts in the weight room and with changes there I believe we’ll see improvement.

ugafan426

January 2nd, 2011
9:23 pm

I have been a UGA fan for all of my life. I respect CMR and will stand behind him as long as he is our coach……. however, it might be his time to go. i think it will come down to this year’s recruiting class that ultimately decides if he stays. if we can land the big guys from georgia (crowell, drew, rome, etc.) i think he stays, but if not, i think he is done. people like to throw the blame all on 1 or 2 people, but this is a football PROGRAM, there has to be accountability, people have to stick up for each other. no one in this program, especially CMR, has ever stepped up and accepted the blame for these past 3 seasons (like Mack Brown did when he apologized to the state of Texas) all we ever hear is what happened and what we have to do to fix it, and we dont even really hear that. its sad that the kicker had to be the one to call out his team mates after the game (i guess he earned it since he was the only one to score against UCF). this is not just about one coordinator or one player any more, this is about the culture of the program, and what used to be a powerhouse, dominating, hit-you-in-the mouth football team has become a team that kicks a FG on 4th and inches on the 3 yard line. there is no fire in these players (i havent seen any since the auburn blackout game) and that starts at the top. i dont know if CMR is the right man to fix it, he has earned his chance to, but only time will tell if he can.