Mark Richt continued his spring speaking tour Thursday night in the town that’s been the site of his greatest frustrations, addressing a couple of hundred of the Bulldog faithful at the Marriott in Jacksonville.
The Florida Times-Union was on hand and reports the UGA head coach didn’t mince words in talking about his team’s lack of effort at times last season. The Dogs lost some games, he said, because the other team played harder. “That’s embarrassing,” Richt said. “It’s our shame and it’s my fault. We’re not going to let that happen again.”
While Richt told Dogs fans in Savannah earlier this week that “I don’t feel any pressure” coming off a losing season, he at least admitted in Jacksonville that the pressure is there. “There’s always going to be pressure in this type of job. There’s pressure every year.”
Talking about opening the season with the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game, Richt seemed to embrace the challenge he faces with the idea that the bigger the risk, the bigger the payoff.
“Boise State is a not a conference game,” he said, “but it’s a big game for the University of Georgia. To have a season like we just did that was so far below what we are used to and what’s expected, we needed this game. Boise State is the winningest team over the past 10 years. If we can battle with them, we can make Georgia very relevant again nationally.”
Of course, the subject came up of whether the transition from Urban Meyer to Will Muschamp at Florida means this might be the year to get the rivalry with the Gators back on an even keel.
“Any year would be a great year for us to do that,” Richt said. “It’s always a huge game and a game that’s talked about a lot, especially in this town. You hope to perform well as you get to that game, so that it’s extremely meaningful.”
Indeed. When it comes to assessing how well Georgia needs to do this season for Richt to keep his job, you hear a lot of folks say nine wins … or eight if one of them includes Florida.
What do you think? If Richt manages to start out on a winning note against Muschamp, does that buy him another loss elsewhere? Is the Florida game in a class all its own in terms of importance to Richt’s future, or should it be viewed as just another SEC game?
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— Bill King, Junkyard Blawg