Mark Richt is losing his patience … and that’s a good thing

Mark Richt gets a little thin-skinned sometimes when his strategy is questioned. (Associated Press)

Mark Richt gets a little thin-skinned sometimes when his strategy is questioned. (Associated Press)

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

150 comments Add your comment

Daniel's Dawgs

April 29th, 2011
10:34 am

Yes it is…….. Go Dawgs!!!

Real Dawg Fan

April 29th, 2011
10:36 am

Well Im glad he’s back, in order to turn this season around, we need him back..put some fire back in UGA football coach!

Reality

April 29th, 2011
10:43 am

UGABugKiller

April 29th, 2011
10:43 am

The one thing I’m sorry to see Richt hasn’t stopped doing is refusing to also hold his underperforming COACHES accountable for THEIR failures as well.

He refused to do it for YEARS with Soft Willie, Jancek, & Fabris.

He’s doing it now with McClendon & Bobo.

This puts a damper on my hope for the future, because if RIcht refuses to hold his coaches as accountable as he seems to be his players, then Georgia HAS no future.

schmeckdawg

April 29th, 2011
10:44 am

LOVE IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Mike "BIG DAWG" Woods

April 29th, 2011
10:45 am

Hey Bill, Hope all is well. I have tried to tell people for years that CMR has fire in his gut. What you see formally is not what you see informally. I am glad to see him fight for his coaches and his young men. This should actually help him with his troops. When he defends them they will see his fire and hopefully step it up! Good for CMR! GATA Coach!!!!!!!!!!!!!

What??

April 29th, 2011
10:50 am

RT UGABugkiller – How is firing pretty much your entire defensive staff not holding your coaches accountable?

Randall "Pink" Floyd

April 29th, 2011
10:51 am

Maybe Keith Marshall wants the job.

SBC Pastor

April 29th, 2011
11:01 am

I agree that seeing some fire coming out of CMR is not a bad thing. I must also say that given how many points the team scored, even if you exclude ULL and ISU from the equation, Mike Bobo is doing a better job than he is being given credit for.

Ca dawg

April 29th, 2011
11:01 am

I laughed out loud when I read richt’s response. Good stuff. There are times when’s coach has to do these things. Hope results on the field reflect his assessments.

RxDawg

April 29th, 2011
11:04 am

Hehe, good for Richt. Some of these armchair QB’s really should just learn they don’t have the complete picture of everything that’s going on. Richt cares just as much or more than any fan about how the Dawgs have slid. It shows, and I think he is more than qualified to get it back on track. Bad luck and some bad players have gotten us in this situation.

UGABugKiller

April 29th, 2011
11:05 am

What??

He did so when HIS job was on the line. He did so about 3 years too late.

Nick Saban would NOT have allowed Soft Willie to ruin his defense for 5 years.

Mike Bobo is a GREAT QB coach. He’s one of the best in ALL of college football. But he is a horrible and inconsistent OC.

MttPF

April 29th, 2011
11:11 am

Opposing teams’ fans in the SEC just love this guy!!

Carolina Dawg

April 29th, 2011
11:14 am

Sic ‘em Coach.

sam

April 29th, 2011
11:20 am

I recall a former UGA coach who took that sort of tone with the fans and was fired–mainly for not beating Tech, UT or UF. I think the pressure is getting to Richt. I think it is fine to lose patience with the players or coaches, but when a coach who is already on the hot seat starts to respond that way, he is not doing himself any favors. In the past Richt would answer those questions with diplomacy. College sports require a far different tact that pro football. Few coaches can get away with those sorts of responses for very long.

D A DoubleU G

April 29th, 2011
11:22 am

This is GREAT, GREAT, GREAT news to read.

I just don’t see this side of him sticking around permanently, and that is also a good thing. We Dawg fans love to (and rightfully so) brag on Richt for his level of class and composure. And I expect nothing less of him.

As much as I think Paul Johnson over at Georgia Tech University is a complete buffoon and delusional imbecile, I have always bit my lip and admired his ability to shoot straight and let the idiots asking idiotic questions know they are indeed, idiots.

Keep it up Coach! Going to be a fun summer if you do!

GO DAWGS!!

1eyedJack

April 29th, 2011
11:25 am

“obstreperous”?

Why Bill, you learned a new word this morning whilst sitting upon the throne and contemplating your empire.

What Coach should have done to that fan was “punch ‘em in the face”.

Mtn Dawg

April 29th, 2011
11:28 am

I love it. Go get’m coach.

Michael Purvis

April 29th, 2011
11:33 am

Way to Go CMR! What has happened over the previous 3 seasons is frustrating by all. For fans that believe our Leader of the Dawgs is not qualified; just exemplifies ignorance. Just do not forget how long it took his mentor to bring home the National Championship, and who was it that was calling those plays? It will happen, sooner rather than later, and then all the nay sayers will be sucking back up to CMR! Let’s see how long the UF Fans continue to wear the UF tees in public????

edumacated

April 29th, 2011
11:33 am

Way to go Richt. Jump on somebody who has traveled out to support you and your team. How dare he question your infinite knowledge of football.
Whatever. You guys can paint this however you like, but Richt’s ship is taking on serious water. Man the pumps!

Maconbulldog

April 29th, 2011
11:33 am

i LOVE LIVING in macon. Go Dawgs!!!!

Earl

April 29th, 2011
11:35 am

What’s Richt defending, let me get this straight, his RUSHING track record?

Let’s look at it.

2008, finished 5th in SEC in rushing.

2009, finished 8th.

2010, finished 10th.

Richt can’t fix this.

Anyone notice a trend?

Richt is incompetent when it comes to rushing, if he wasn’t, he would have fixed this 2 years ago.

mcgdawg

April 29th, 2011
11:41 am

Time for The Serenity Prayer, coach…..just kidding. Sometimes, you just gotta let it rip!

1eyedJack

April 29th, 2011
11:44 am

Even with all our troubles it’s nice to be reassured that at least we can count on victory on the Saturday following Thanksgiving.

DCJohn

April 29th, 2011
11:49 am

DawginLex

April 29th, 2011
11:58 am

bugkiller,

You know darn well the problem is the defense. The offense is just as good if not better than it has been the last 10 years.

I have agreed with your stats about ppg and not allowing 30+ points. If Grantham does that and we get back to BVG type of defenses, no one is going to complain about bobo, McClendon, richt or anyone on the offensive side of things.

Dawg Gone

April 29th, 2011
12:01 pm

edumacated you weren’t in Macon yesterday were you by any chance?

Billy Peeler

April 29th, 2011
12:05 pm

I hope Coach Richt is right, and we do turn things around this next season. But he’s in a strange situation that may be of his own making. Because if the team does play better, and we stop doing some of the foolish things we’ve done in the last few seasons…we are going wonder why, if he KNEW what to do and how to correct some of the obvious problems…didn’t he fix things before now?

JaxDawg05

April 29th, 2011
12:09 pm

Earl, it’s obvious that you’re “certainly close to an expert in football, I’m sure you are.”

The Ghost of Wally Butts

April 29th, 2011
12:12 pm

Hot D@mn! That’s MAN TALK now, Coach. Get ‘um!

Hope you KEEP that attitude and take it to those spoiled, pampered, thug-wanna-be types that seem to want to come to UGA and either run them out of town (to Auburn, for example, where thugs are welcome) or straighten them out.

Yeah!

Go Dawgs!

April 29th, 2011
12:17 pm

It amazes me how short people’s memories are.

Stop bringing up Willie Martinez he’s gone.

However if you must re-hash Willie let’s remember a couple of things:

1. people were begining to be unhappy following the 06 season.
Richt gave the man another chance and the result was the 2007 season which gave us one of the better defenses we’ve had. I don’t recall too many people calling for Willie’s head following that season and #3 ranking.

2. In the first qtr of the the 08 season we lost Jeff Owens who was the anchor of the d-line to a knee injury, and as it turned out that was the first of many injuries.

3. When Willie didn’t get it turned around in 09 he was let go. But let’s not also forget that in 09 the turnover ratio was horrible partly because of the defense but mostly because of the offense. Not to mention the numerous times the defense was put in horrible field position.

I’m not defending Willie mind you, but I am defending the notion that CMR waited too long to make the change. The noise didn’t start about Willie until 06, Richt would have looked foolish firing him after the 07 season. 08 wouldn’t have been fair to fire him due to the high number of injuries. 09 was his final chance, he failed and was fired.

Truly how many people were calling for and complaining about WM after the 07 season?

Let it go.

Richt is still a first time head coach and he had great intial success and the adversity he’s faced the past few seasons are the first in his head coaching career. I think the man is entitled to a little learning curve. In this new world of instant gratification I think that fact gets lost.

If you want some perspective, go and look up the records for the first 10 years or so for Bobby Bowden, Joe Paterno, Vince Dooley, Frank Beamer into today’s world all of them would have been fired within their first 5 seasons. Richt is a very methodical and thoughtful man who doesn’t make knee-jerk decisions and we should be glad of that.

Go Dawgs!

McDawg

April 29th, 2011
12:18 pm

i don’t get the BoBo fetish

our offenses have moved the ball up and down the field -its the D that has blown forcing us to play catch up in alot of games

PTC DAWG

April 29th, 2011
12:20 pm

EVIL Richt…..GATA!!

Devil's Advocate

April 29th, 2011
12:23 pm

Watching video of Washaun Ealey when he “decided not to block” last year evoked flashbacks to Boise State-Virginia Tech. You know, the game where BSU defensive end Billy Winn spent as much time in the Hokie’s backfield as VT QB Tyrod Taylor did.

Barring fortuity, Winn’ll be in the Dome come Labor Day weekend. There and then, blocking like Washaun’s against Arkansas just ain’t gonna work.

Coach Richt’s criticism of Ealey’s failing to do his job when the game was on the line seems fitting and proper, and fans appreciate Richt’s new and public approach towards lousy play. Hopefully, Richt’s done what it takes to wake Washaun up. Neither bench-sitting in Athens nor playing in Statesboro this year will earn Ealey respect and a chance to play in the NFL next year. The bottom line: Richt’s comments in Augusta calling Washaun out seem likely to be productive.

Richt’s sarcasm toward the Macon fan is a horse of a different color, however.

You don’t need 25 years experience coaching football to feel the humiliation of losses to Colorado and Central Florida. Heck, you don’t even have to know the difference between a defensive lineman and a placekicker to know that Florida has owned us the past 25 years.

As irritating as the Macon fan’s questions and comments undoubtedly were, Richt’s sarcastic response seems petty from afar. I wasn’t there, but, unless I’m reading too much into it, Richt’s interrogator seems an elder Georgia man who’s supported the Bulldogs longer than Richt’s been on this earth.

Even if I’m wrong, Richt’s public impatience with fan frustration just doesn’t seem productive in contrast to Richt’s well-aimed Augusta critique of Washaun.

Mark, I love you man.!

But beating up on disappointed Georgia fans won’t get the job done.

Beating up on BSU, South Carolina, Tennessee, Florida, Auburn, and Georgia Tech is the only thing that makes the statement, ‘This is my job, I’m taking it and I’m keeping it.”

edumacated

April 29th, 2011
12:24 pm

Dawg Gone,

No that wasn’t me. LOL. I was wondering if someone would ask that.
Seriously, that guy who was asking questions is probably the same guy who has an entire room of his house devoted to UGA. Richt needs to remember who butters his bread. It’s easy to answer to your fans when you can have the phone calls screened on the radio show. Getting out there in person is different.
Own up to it, tell us what you are doing to correct it, and politely move on. Simple enough.
Show your fire and passion on the sidelines.

Coachdawg 2000

April 29th, 2011
12:24 pm

Edumacated-
Not every question is a good one and paying $20 for rubber chicken doesn’t equal badgering the coach. as someone who has actually coached football I can tell you that EVERY coach hasn’t wanted to do that umpteen times to idiots fans/parents who know more than they do.

RichmondDawg

April 29th, 2011
12:26 pm

I’m more happy that he called out King and Ealey. About time.

Mitch Kramer

April 29th, 2011
12:27 pm

Go get ‘em CMR!! It’s about time a coach stood up to one of these know it all idiots. It’s probably the morbidly obeist guy that sits next to me in 322. A. Murray could throw a game winning 60 yard bomb and he’s scream that his spiral wasn’t tight enough. Unfortunatly, just like any other program, we have D-bags that think they know more about football than the guys on the field.

Dawg Gone

April 29th, 2011
12:29 pm

edumacated good points but I for the life of me couldn’t take some of the attitudes some fans have. I think CMR is much better equipped to handle some of these folks than I could ever be.

Bryan G.

April 29th, 2011
12:36 pm

Talk is cheap, coach.

Still Nauseated from the Liberty Bowl

April 29th, 2011
12:36 pm

Give me Evil Richt or Preacher Richt, I don’t care. Just don’t give me a team like the one I saw at the Liberty Bowl. I’m still having trouble keeping down that Memphis BBQ.

Alabama | MrSEC.com

April 29th, 2011
12:36 pm

[...] says Will Muschamp is already a better disciplinarian than Urban Meyer.12.  This AJC blogger is glad Mark Richt is losing his patience.13.  New scoreboards at Kentucky’s Commonwealth Stadium will be paid for with private [...]

DawginLex

April 29th, 2011
12:37 pm

go Dawgs!

I saw WM was the problem in 2005.

The sugar Bowl was all i needed to see.

He was in over his head.

If we have Van Gorder in 2007, we are BCS champions. UT would have never scored 35 on us.

Grantham gives me hope that we can get our D back to where it needs to be but he has to cut the ppg to 15 and the games giving up 30 or more to ZERO

edumacated

April 29th, 2011
12:38 pm

CoachDawg 2000,

I’m sure it is a hassle, and difficult to always be polite to jerk fans, but I would say it is part of the job description. I bagged groceries in high school, and managed to be poite to some pretty darn rude people for minimum wage. Pay me 2 million a year, and you can call me whatever you want.

Earl

April 29th, 2011
12:43 pm

If Richt doesn’t think Ealey’s 5.5 yards per carry, and scoring a td every 14 carries last year was enough to win the starting poisition, he needs to be fired immediately. Just to put Ealey’s productivity in perspective, 5.5 beats Herschel Walker’s average, and 14 to 1 td to carry ratio matches Moreno’s. Richt is lost in space.

Earl

April 29th, 2011
12:49 pm

Richt’s interview reminds me of Derek Dooley, lots of passion from a 6-7 coach. Obviously, passion doesn’t translate to winning for either 6-7 coach. The pasison is more likely frustration underneath from most of their plans leading to losses.

Timbodog

April 29th, 2011
12:50 pm

Just as I suspected…Richt could have said ANYTHING…

And the Mark Richt-worshiping Dittoheads purporting to be Bulldog fans would say “right on Markie.”

You guys are such sycophants.

Some guy had some real concerns, and Richt just goes off on him, embarrassing him in front of everyone.

Way to keep a cool head Richt.

Timbodog

April 29th, 2011
12:51 pm

Is THAT the kind of behavior we expect a “Christian man” to exhibit?

D A moron

April 29th, 2011
12:56 pm

its The Georgia Institute of Technology D A. I know you just loathe Tech but say it right. There’s only one Institute. THWG! How is PJ a complete bathoon? Because he won’t change his offense philosophy? He’s proved you wrong already. Keep on hatin son. See you in November. The days of beating us over and over again are over.

Timbodog

April 29th, 2011
12:57 pm

The point is you have a fan here (who pays Richt’s salary, by the way) with legitimate concerns who asks Richt some questions.

And Richt basically responds with contempt, like he is above even having to take the question seriously. He goes so far as to mock the man, saying you are “obviously close to an expert.”

When things are tough, people’s true colors come through. This totally changes my opinion of Richt. I think he needs to apologize for this immediately.