Dream Team aside, here’s a big reason to pull for Mark Richt

Mark Richt knows there's more to coaching than just winning. (Associated Press)

Mark Richt knows there's more to coaching than just winning. (Associated Press)

I first heard the story of James Eunice last Sunday when a post from UGA superfan Mark Dunbar showed up in my Facebook news feed.

Here’s what Mark passed along:

James Eunice, 17, from Valdosta, fell from a boat three weeks ago and drowned while duck hunting. He was found this Monday and his funeral was yesterday. James had been accepted at UGA, and his intention was to try and walk-on the football team. During the busiest time of his year, Coach Mark Richt sent a letter stating James had made the team, and a UGA jersey with his name on the back, was presented to the family.

One word came to mind and I added it as a comment to Mark’s post: Classy.

The story of Eunice is filled out by reports in the Valdosta Daily Times and Thomasville Times-Enterprise. Eunice had played baseball and football at Valdosta High School and had been accepted to the University of Georgia. He had contacted Richt about walking on as a football Bulldog.

Then came the drowning in the hunting accident. During Eunice’s funeral, two of his Valdosta teammates who have signed to play for Richt, Jay Rome and Malcolm Mitchell, got up to speak. Rome read a letter to the Eunice family from Richt in which he talked about his hearbreak over the young man’s death. At the end of the letter the coach added, “Oh yeah, James made the team.”

John Eunice holds up a jersey that Georgia coach Mark Richt sent to his family in honor of his brother, James Eunice. (Eunice family photo / Valdosta Daily Times)

John Eunice holds up a jersey that Georgia coach Mark Richt sent to his family in honor of his brother, James Eunice. (Eunice family photo / Valdosta Daily Times)

Then Rome and Mitchell unveiled an official UGA jersey with Eunice’s last name and the No. 23 he had worn at Valdosta. The tearful crowd at the funeral stood and applauded.

The letter and jersey were a simple gesture, but as Mark noted on Facebook, the timing made it all the more impressive, considering the strains of wrapping up easily the most important recruiting campaign in Richt’s coaching career with his job possibly on the line.

“I’m going to play for an incredible man,” Rome said.

Added Mitchell: “It made me proud to be a Bulldog.”

Sometimes, in the fervor over ranked recruiting classes and won-loss records that permeates big-time college football these days, fans can lose sight of some of the more important things.

I’ve heard some UGA fans who’ve lost faith in Richt actually fret that he’ll win just enough games this year to keep his job. Frustrated by the Dogs’ mediocre performances the past couple of years, they’d rather start over with a new coach than see this one get his program back on track.

I certainly don’t think Mark Richt is a perfect football coach and there are plenty of things about his program I’d like to see improved. But the James Eunice story is just one of the reasons I’m really pulling hard for Richt to get back on top.

Like I said on Facebook, he’s a classy guy. And that’s kind of rare in college coaching these days.

Find me on Facebook.

Follow me on Twitter.

— Bill King, Junkyard Blawg

312 comments Add your comment

Bryan G.

February 11th, 2011
5:17 pm

Classy Phil. Classy.

If you want to surround yourself in life with good people who are average at their job, be my guest. I’ll take the winners.

Again…I hope we win with Richt. But we haven’t won with him in a while.

Christopher Wade

February 11th, 2011
5:21 pm

As a former college football player I can attest that it is more important to the players in the long run to have a coach that can not lead at the championship/ playoff level, but, more importantly to lead them as men of integrity.

buffdawg

February 11th, 2011
5:24 pm

Why don’t you sick sob’s get off this blog and go to a football blog, this is about humans, which several of you on here wouldn’t know anything about

Gator Man

February 11th, 2011
5:28 pm

The U showed their coach the door after only 4 seasons, and he was graduating them at a higher rate, lets just Richt the nice guy could not coach at any shool including high school in the state of Florida.
Mark you belong at UGA where you can be the nice guy, but continue to loose.

MSUDAWG

February 11th, 2011
5:36 pm

I am not a UGA fan but I am a Mark Richt fan. Georgia Bulldog Nation, you are lucky to have such a class act to coach your football team. I hope Georgia thinks long and hard before you let Coach Richt leave your program. If my son played football, I would want him to play for Mark Richt…he teaches values and life lessons to his players through the way he lives his life. This article is just one more example of Mark’s heart and who he is.

Athens= God's Country

February 11th, 2011
5:41 pm

Again Bryan. Why the backhanded compliments?

Gator Man

February 11th, 2011
5:41 pm

82Dawg

February 11th, 2011
5:47 pm

Bryan…what part of the State do you “practice law”? I want to make sure if I ever need an attorney that I don’t hire you…

Barkin'Dog

February 11th, 2011
5:54 pm

Bryan G.
February 11th, 2011
12:52 pm
Hey ceph, there is absolutely more to life than football. I 100% agree. However, when your job is “Head Football Coach” your jog is to win football games.

But let me put it this way: I’m an attorney.

Do you want to hire an attorney who will win your case or do you want an attorney who is a nice guy and, aw shucks, sure does try hard?
—————–

Ah, hah! Now we know why Bryan G is such an obnoxious putz… he’s a big-time attorney. That answers a lot of my questions.

Tell Burke

February 11th, 2011
6:23 pm

Kevin; ” KISS MY GRITS ! ! “

Valdosta NOLE

February 11th, 2011
6:36 pm

Exactly why we would have you back in Tallahassee ANYDAY! You can’t teach CLASS! Mark Richt is one of the few GODLY men our kids have to look up to.

great Dawg fan in Dallas Ga

February 11th, 2011
6:37 pm

CMR is one of the best coaches UGA could have. Let’s look at facts about last year. Our offense scored 30+ points on average. Our defense allowed too many, but they were learning a better 3-4 Scheme. It is hard to make that switch without the proper personnel. Now we will have better personnel and a better defense. CMR did a fantastic job and made the changes that will make UGA a great team again very fast. Coach Dooley had some bad years when he coached but is also one of the best. Know what you are talking about before you act. CMR is a great coach and I hope he stays at UGA until he retires. GO YOU HAIRY DAWGS. A1967 Grad.

BiggdawgK

February 11th, 2011
6:50 pm

I will never understand people who read a story like this and still have a negative comment or even worse some hate filled sarcastic crap to spew.

I can only guess these pathetic morons have never loved anyone and even more sad no one has ever cared much less loved them. They hope a fleeting championship will fill that empty void in their life that the rest of us fill with friends and family.

Lindsey

February 11th, 2011
7:01 pm

I love reading such a positive article about CMR. Thoughts are prayers go out to that family, I can’t imagine how hard this is. So happy a classy guy like CMR is at UGA, I hope he stays as long as he wants. GO DAWGS and bless the Eunice Family!!

PHIL

February 11th, 2011
7:14 pm

Bryan, like I said, shoot the slime ball attorney twice. Why don’t you surround yourself with winners and go pull for Saban?

How bout them Bees!!!

February 11th, 2011
7:53 pm

I have always admired CMR, and this is coming from a Yellow Jacket fan, but this really shows what a classy man he is. My prayers go out to the Eunice family. To lose a child has to be the toughest thing in the world to go through, I could only imagine. I really hope that UGA has some sort of ceremony at one of their games this year to honor James.

Common Sense

February 11th, 2011
7:54 pm

It’s great to be a Georgia Bulldog

I said IT’S GREAT TO BE A GEORGIA BULLDOG..

God bless and God speed young man.

Jeff

February 11th, 2011
8:20 pm

That was a great gesture by Coach Richt. I’m tired of everyone getting on his case about how the season went. Take a look at Mike Bobo who’s playing calling is mediocore and questionable at times.

Midgadawg

February 11th, 2011
8:23 pm

Enter your comments here

Very classy, indeed!!!

Fire Mark Richt

February 11th, 2011
8:54 pm

I still think that Richt should go for being a poor coach, but that’s a good story. Well done, Coach.

college football

February 11th, 2011
9:08 pm

forget football. When a tragedy like this happens we should all forget this foolish back stabbing. We should all take note of what Mr. Richt did and the loss of this family.

Barkin'Dog

February 11th, 2011
9:49 pm

I wasn’t going to mention it until I read other posts about Coach Richt’s kindnesses. I wrote him about 3 years ago when my Navy son was in the Persian Gulf on the USS Harry S. Truman. He was a little down, and homesick, so I asked Coach to write him a note of encouragement, and he did. My son couldn’t believe it… it meant the world to him to get a letter from his favorite coach. I can’t thank him enough.

Vikedawg

February 11th, 2011
10:04 pm

Great story, but I don’t know anyone who would not want to “see [Richt] get this program back on track.” I’m not trying to take anything away from this great story. As far as football is concerned, fans want wins, and I’m certain they’d love to see Richt succeed at that.

Mr. SEC

February 11th, 2011
10:31 pm

Classy! What a Christian act to a family!

Camden Mark

February 11th, 2011
10:36 pm

No dought Mark Richt is a good man,meet ‘em a couple times and he comes across as such more so in person.But the job is to win football games, I’d almost root for the devil (Saban?) himself if he put a winning well coached team on the field.

Camden Mark

February 11th, 2011
10:39 pm

Also my heart felt grief for the family (4 kids,6 grands of my own),just tragic.

bardawg

February 11th, 2011
10:41 pm

I,like a lot of other frustrated Ga. fans vented in a way that I now regret .I wish to officially retract anything negative I ever said about Coach Mark Richt, as he has displayed a level of behavior that most of us don’t show in our daily lives ( because he has truly learned the lessons taught to us about our Lord & Savior Jesus Christ and despite the rigors of his profession , he manages to live his life according to his faith. May the Lord bless him and keep him , and we are very fortunate to have such an individual at the University of Georgia.

bardawg

February 11th, 2011
10:52 pm

I did’nt mean to omit my sincere condolences to the Eunice family in the tragic loss of James .

Stephanie

February 11th, 2011
10:57 pm

I have always been a bulldog fan and this made me more of one. I knew James and his family and this was one of the most generous things that could have been done. We all are on the same team..

Dawg 39

February 11th, 2011
10:58 pm

Good Coach.?. I was & still am a Wallace Butts & a Vince Dooley fan & supporter. I also know football. Obviously some of you do not or you would know that Mark Richt IS the best HC -& the winningest HC – that the Dawgs have had in my lifetime as a loyal & avid Dawg Fan. The next HC will be judged on how his record compares to Richt. I fear that it will come up short.

Old Dog

February 11th, 2011
11:02 pm

Guys like Coach Richt are all too rare.

Here’s hoping the Dream Team puts us back on track.

Marion Morrison

February 11th, 2011
11:11 pm

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benenfit those who listen.” Ephesians 4:29 May God bless and keep CMR in his good graces; and, may victory be ours.

RED DOG 77

February 11th, 2011
11:26 pm

God works in mysterious ways. What a blessing it is to see the same Bulldog Nation that wanted coach Mark Richt’s head on a stick just days ago, finally wake-up to the fact that “our” coach is the finest in the land !………….Oh and by the way, I hope every one out there knows coach Richt’s gesture to the Eunice family was done privately………he did it with no intention of glorifying himself, he did it for a family who had lost a loved one, and he did it because it was the right thing to do. God Bless the Eunice family……..God Bless Mark Richt………and……..God Bless the Georgia BULLDOGS !!!

palmtreeBo

February 11th, 2011
11:37 pm

great coach we have and we are LUCKY to have hired the guy that i hope will lead this program for many more years!
with that being said, bill, you make me sick. i really cant stand you, no i dislike you as much as any “BLOGGER( the term for people that dont have the talent to be real reporters)” i have ever read. the only reason i read this, is because i knew it was something positive. you have been bad mouthing and second guessing coach richt for the last two years. either support him or not, but get off the fence, it aint stout enough to carry the weight of your fat a##!!!!

palmtreeBo

February 11th, 2011
11:42 pm

also, stop second guessing bobo. georgia has scored mor points under him runnng the show, than georga ever has, throughout the history of the program. the last thing he needs is an out of shape, 50 year old know it all that probably rode the bench in rec football telling him how to call plays.

Wilson

February 12th, 2011
12:37 am

I love it reading positive articles about Georgia for a change.. tired of the negativity. Richt isn’t the best coach, but I’d take him over some jerk like Tommy Tuberville or Mike Leach any day. Go Dawgs!

Fire Mark Richt

February 12th, 2011
12:40 am

Dawg 39, Richt’s winning percentage has been slipping big-time in the last few years. People who compare his winning percentage with Dooley’s and Butts’ should check out their schedules sometimes. No directional or I-AA pansies, no automatic wins every season. Richt’s W-L record over his 10 years probably has 15 guaranteed wins that Dooley wouldn’t have had over the same period. If we’re going to compare, let’s look at the whole picture.

Dooley beat UF 70% of the time. Richt loses to UF 80% of the time. He needs to go. Even if he is a real nice man. Don’t feel bad, he’s set for life.

CECIL DOWDLEHEAD

February 12th, 2011
1:46 am

KEEP MARK RICH COACH!!! HE’S A GUD MAN. DON’T DRANK!!!

caitlin

February 12th, 2011
1:53 am

James was a great guy he impacted so many people. His dream was to play for uga, and richt made his dream come true. RIP james, i miss you and your funny self!!

305 Gator

February 12th, 2011
2:39 am

Classy move by Richt. SEC stands with you and your coach this week.

RMikel58

February 12th, 2011
4:27 am

Alot of times we get so caught up with “nothings more important than winning” and its just examples of people taking the time to pay tribute to such a tragedy that a young man dying before he even began life. Coach Richt no matter how you feel about him does this sorta thing with people because he has great character and morals.
I know Coach Richt doesnt want the fame or being on the news because this wasnt about him at all. It was about a young man that got a shot of a lifelong dream to come to a University to play football with a great coach and mentor Mark Richt.
God Bless the Eunice Family, i pray that God will provide you with peace and understanding.

GR82BAG8R

February 12th, 2011
8:17 am

82Dog, I’ll bet Bryan hopes you hire the opposing attorney in a dispute, with him representing the other side. If your primary criteria is that the attorney be a fine man, you will likely lose the case.
All Bryan is saying is he would prefer a winner at UGA – - not just a fine man. No one has ever questioned Richt’s character as a man or his integrity. People can make fun of Georgia’s Fulmer Cup victory while Richt was coach. The real issue is what these young men do after leaving Georgia. If you say your primary criteria for Georgia’s program is not championships, then what? Does Richt inculcate his players with the appropriate values to help them be successful men in life? Do you have any evidence he has made any difference in their lives?
There’s a lot of money spent to attend Georgia football games. If Richt goes another five years with the level of talent he recruits and still is unable to deliver a BCS or (another) SEC title, will you be happy?

1eyedJack

February 12th, 2011
8:37 am

Coach Richt, thank you for justifying my faith in YOU. We have all known those pious people who when we see them coming we excuse ourselves or try to look busy because they are in-your-face with it, even though we KNOW they are hypocrits. God does not like ugly.

Coach Richt is no hypocrit. If we have the faith in CMR that he will turn it around we will be rewarded in time. All good things to those who wait. AND believe.

Bama Fan #2

February 12th, 2011
9:01 am

College football in the SEC is a cut throat business but Mark Richt is a special coach and
human being who loves his players very much!!

trupert

February 12th, 2011
9:08 am

There’s a reason that Richt is the only SEC coach with 10 + years on the job at one school.

Richt will survive these recent lean times that probably no other coach in the conference would because he is a true class act, who doesn’t lie, cheat, pay and oversign players.

I think the best is yet to come and maby it took the last couple of seasons and the thought of starting over for some to appreciate that we have one of the very few head coaches who truly has integrity. CMR is a man that all should pull for and it looks like these players realise what kind of leader they have.

Chris

February 12th, 2011
9:24 am

I am not a UGA fan but I am a Valdosta High Alum. Thank you to Coach Richt for being the fine man that you are. I didn’t know this young man but as part of the Wildcat family we all mourn. Thanks Coach for helping to fulfill his dream.

Paul

February 12th, 2011
9:40 am

You folks need to find someone else to slam other than Nick Saban. Nick and his wife spend more time raising money for “Nick’s Kids” than Mark Richt does at the Clarke County jail. You’re just damn amazing then again you wouldn’t be UGA. Talk talk talk. More mouth than trophies. Mark is a good man but so are most of the coaches with a few being the exception.

boots

February 12th, 2011
9:59 am

Good call, Coach. We are proud to have you as our leader.

Roger/Joyce Rutledge

February 12th, 2011
11:08 am

Thank you Mr. Richt…no one and I mean no one is classier and has more heart the coach Richt.

NorfolkDawg

February 12th, 2011
12:00 pm

I have been real dissapointed with the dawgs over the past couple years but I tell you what man…we have the best coach in the nation when it comes to not only class but an all around genuine and great role model for kids. I support Richt no matter what but this article and many others I have read just justify what CMR is…a great man. If Crowell’s mom thinks her son went to the devil’s school still then she is psycho. He should have answered any question’s about that right here.