In general, Georgia Bulldogs fans like it when “Evil” Richt, the guy who sent the team onto the field to draw a celebration penalty in Jacksonville in 2007, rears his head.
So when Mark Richt clashed verbally Thursday night at the Macon Bulldog club gathering with a fan upset about the Dogs’ lack of offensive success, several observers were quick to declare “Evil” Richt is back.
Actually, I’d say this was closer to “Prickly” Richt, the thin-skinned guy who has gotten his back up a few times in the past when a reporter or fan has questioned his strategy (usually something to do with offense, Richt’s longtime domain). You know, the guy who essentially said that unless you have been “in the arena” you don’t have any business questioning those who are “brave enough” because you’ve “never been in there.”
What happened Thursday was a fan pressed Richt during the question-and-answer session in Macon about Georgia’s running game (or the lack thereof), play-calling and, in particular, running backs coach Bryan McClendon.
“Prickly” Richt immediately stepped to the fore, dishing up a sarcastic response that the fan was “certainly close to an expert in football, I’m sure you are.”
He went on to note that championships have been won by running teams and passing teams alike. Then, as reported by the Macon Telegraph, came the money quote that has been racing about the Internet: “I see your frustration, I understand your frustration,” Richt said. “I wasn’t born yesterday, I’ve coached football for 25 years, so I know what the hell I’m doing, OK?”
The head coach also defended McClendon, saying he’s “a hell of a coach, he’s a hell of a recruiter. And I’m glad we got Bryan McClendon.”
Later, after “Prickly” Richt had ceded the spotlight to the usually calm, collected Richt, the coach apologized for not saying “heck.”
So much for Richt’s declaration early on this Bulldog Club tour that “I don’t feel any pressure. None at all.”
Besides the fact that his trek on the booster club circuit does seem to be getting to Richt a bit, what else should we take of the reappearance of “Prickly” Richt?
Hopefully, it means he hasn’t just lost patience with obstreperous fans who question his strategy, but also with the mediocre efforts he’s gotten from his players much of the past couple of seasons.
There have definitely been signs that’s the case, mainly in his recent comments about Washaun Ealey and the tailback position.
Richt touched on that talking with the Telegraph and once again indicated the job of starting tailback is Isaiah Crowell’s for the taking. Of the backs already at UGA, Richt said: “All those guys have had ample time in my opinion to take a hold of it. No one has. That’s been the most disappointing [thing for] me probably the last couple seasons is that, that position didn’t get solidified by somebody there who was capable.”
The coach couldn’t be any clearer than this: “The bottom line is we don’t have a tailback right now who deserves to start, in my opinion. We don’t have a guy that’s proven that he can do all the things we’re going to ask that guy to do. There’s nobody that will stand up and say, ‘This is my job, I’m taking it and I’m keeping it.’”
You know, I could really get to like this “Prickly” Richt guy.
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— Bill King, Junkyard Blawg