UGA’s Richt might face a bigger challenge now that he’s off the hot seat

UGADayLogoMark Richt, along with Mark Fox, will be making the rounds of alumni association gatherings starting April 18 in Rome. The UGA Days tour will hit Albany April 24, Columbus April 25, Macon May 8, Charlotte May 9, the Golden Isles May 15, Valdosta May 16, Birmingham May 22, Tampa May 24 and Atlanta July 23.

This time last year when Richt went out to meet the fans, he was widely considered to be on the “hot seat,” coming off a losing season and a dispiriting bowl performance. The talk was what a challenge Richt faced just to keep his job.

But, actually, I think Richt faces a bigger challenge this season than last.

Consider: Richt had the enormous goodwill generated by the Dream Team in his pocket a year ago and the realization on the part of most fans that Georgia faced tremendous odds in opening the season with Boise State and South Carolina, though the schedule looked pretty manageable after that.

As it played out, the fan optimism surrounding the arrival of Isaiah Crowell and Co. in Athens was enough for Richt to ride out the feared 0-2 start to the season. (It helped considerably that despite looking awful much of the time in the Georgia Dome against Boise, Georgia actually outplayed South Carolina, even in Steve Spurrier’s estimation, in losing a close one a week later.)

The 10-game winning streak that followed put the hot-seat talk on the back burner.

By season’s end, most fans I talked with felt good progress had been made, even if Crowell’s difficulties staying on the field put an end to thoughts of him as the second coming of Herschel.

Still, although most in the Bulldog Nation didn’t really expect the Dawgs to prevail over LSU in the SEC Championship, the return of the all-too-familiar fourth quarter collapse in the bowl against Michigan State left the fan base grumbling a bit.

A year ago when Mark Richt visited with fans, he was on the hot seat. (UGA Alumni Association)

A year ago when Mark Richt visited with fans, he was on the hot seat. (UGA Alumni Association)

Then came signing day, which saw Richt get a solid class of recruits — ranked fifth best in the nation by ESPN — but fall short in a few last-minute courtships, taking a bit of the luster off Georgia’s showing in the minds of some recruitniks.

Actually, the self-dubbed “Ring Team” with Keith Marshall, Todd Gurley and John Theus has just as much potential as the previous year’s signing class, but they arrive in Athens amid a different atmosphere from a year ago.

Much more is expected of the 2012 Georgia Bulldogs, who return a host of starters, including most of last season’s fifth-ranked defense. Early on there was talk that Georgia might start the season as a Top 5 team, though that early optimism might end up being tempered somewhat by the fact that the Dawgs will open SEC play at Missouri with most of the starting secondary suspended.

And then there’s the issue of attrition, which some see as a big deal, though it appears to me to be pretty much business as usual for Georgia and SEC schools in general. Last year also saw some players getting “off the bus” to transfer elsewhere for various reasons and a handful of others shown the door because they couldn’t get in step with what Richt believes is the Georgia Way.

But even when the tailback corps was decimated by transfers last year, there was still that Dream Team fervor to counter it. This year the problems Georgia will face fielding an experienced secondary against Mizzou’s James Franklin seem to loom a bit larger in many people’s minds.

And with Georgia expected by many to win the SEC East, the stakes are just as high, if not higher, for Richt this season than when his job was believed to be on the line. As we’ve already discussed here, winning the SEC East a second year only to lose again to the West team in the Dome and wind up in another non-BCS bowl would be seen by many as underachieving or, at best, standing pat.

The last time a Richt team entered a season with lofty expectations placed on them — remember the preseason No. 1 in in 2008? — the Dawgs came a cropper, starting a slide that didn’t begin to turn around until that 10-game run last year.

Richt definitely doesn’t want to see that happen again. So with all those expectations and this year’s schedule even more favorable, Georgia’s head coach might wind up feeling more pressure now that he’s off the hot seat than when he was on it.

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— Bill King, Junkyard Blawg

362 comments Add your comment

Spike 80DF

April 4th, 2012
5:19 pm

CMR may not win on the field but he sure keeps his guys out of trouble and runs a tight ship…………………wait what?

FRED Russo

April 4th, 2012
5:20 pm

UGA HAS NO INTEREST IN BULDING A SPORTS PROGRAM. JUST LOOK AT ALL OUR SPORTS TEAMS IN THE PAST 10 YEARS. BASKETBALL COME ON! FOOTBALL WILL NEVER WIN A BCS TITLE! BASEBALL ONE GREAT YEAR! TRACK AND FIELD DO WE HAVE A TEAM? ONLY SWIMING AND GYMNASRICS AND TENNIS DO WELL..

Still@theKool-aidBAR

April 4th, 2012
5:29 pm

Fred are you saying the pretty white girl country club type sports teams do well at UGa? You forgot Equestrian (that would be Cowgirl you SEC fans).

Mobile Dawg

April 4th, 2012
5:36 pm

Thanks Alt, my skin is pretty thick. Son, I’ve been a diehard Dawg fan living in enemey camps much of my life. Spent time in Oklahoma in my younger years, a seven year stint in Gator Country (that was much harder than living over here in Mobile), and here quite a while now. I know it’s childish and immature, and in my heart and mind I’m only 12 at the most, but I like ribbing the “over the top” koolaiders like Lakedawg.

I try not to beat the “Richt needs to go drum” to much but when I come on here and read some of the “dripping sugar coated comments” from some of the “love Richt at all costs” supporters (Lakedawg and others) it just strikes my little rebellious soul and elicits a response. But it’s all in a good natured way.

Did you try the meebo bar? I hear they serve great kool aid at that bar.

typical uga-holic

April 4th, 2012
6:29 pm

I love Coach Richt and think the Athletic Dept. is in great shape. We don’t need national titles in order to feel good about our school. I love UGA!! GO DOGS!!! DO YOUR BEST!!!

AltamahaDawg

April 4th, 2012
6:55 pm

Seriously is the AJC putting that link on my screen, or is that some crap i picked up on my journeys around the http://www.?

evil empire

April 4th, 2012
7:08 pm

ahhhh 2008….memories….pressed between the pages of my mind……..memories…..swetened thru the ages just like wine….sang in my best elvis voice….dawgs started season #1, fell to third despite not losing a game, then….SLAM!!!! the blackout fiasco….49-10 hammering down in jax….losing to tech….sweet, sweet memories…..richt and the boys have never recovered from 2008….memories…..

AAA Athens Bail Bonds R Us

April 4th, 2012
7:18 pm

Any more of Richt’s goons arrested today?

Chattanooga chowhound

April 4th, 2012
7:30 pm

What the heck has happened to country music? These wannabe country singers today ain’t livin the life, no experience in the life. Go back and listen to “Out of Hand” , the 1975 album by Gary Stewart. Thats country music. One of the best albums ever. Go Vols!

Still@theKool-aidBAR

April 4th, 2012
7:35 pm

What does “living the life” entail exactly?

Chattanooga chowhound

April 4th, 2012
7:39 pm

Raisin hell, doin time, knockin up somebody else’s old lady, experimenting with drugs, maybe developing a sizeable habit. Stuff like that.

Still@theKool-aidBAR

April 4th, 2012
7:46 pm

So the same thing as Ghetto Rap Stars do. So RAP and Hip Hop are more Country than Country these days.

Chattanooga chowhound

April 4th, 2012
7:47 pm

Shoot, with that job description, I could play football at Georgia.

Chattanooga chowhound

April 4th, 2012
7:49 pm

In a round about way, I guess so.

LakeDawg

April 4th, 2012
8:02 pm

For the record, one more time as a reminder, I am not Lakedawg with a lower case “d”. For one, I don’t post as much as he does (hence the need for a reminder). And two, I’m not a complete idiot.

Mobile Dawg

April 4th, 2012
8:14 pm

Mobile Dawg recognizes the difference in the two. I’m sure most of the intelligent fringe on the blog does too.

I picked up something once traveling Alt, but it wasn’t meebo, if ya know what I mean.

AltamahaDawg

April 4th, 2012
8:56 pm

I’m sure it wasn’t the tab.

Badum ba ching!

Milk Bone

April 4th, 2012
9:28 pm

Snoop…why don’t you just hook up the hose to your car’s tailpipe, roll up the windows and take a few deep breaths. Anyone as negative as you should just do the world a favor…I’ll buy the gas.

Mobile Dawg

April 4th, 2012
9:39 pm

Tab used to be a soft drink sold by Coca Cola, I picked up a few of those in the old days.

AltamahaDawg

April 4th, 2012
10:06 pm

I got nothing.

dan

April 5th, 2012
5:29 am

After 11 years on the job, I think it is safe to say that we pretty know what we’re going to get from Mark Richt. Some Bad, some Great, a whole lot of Good and a whole lot of Underachievement.

Richt is no Nick Saban, who despite his epic failure at the Pro level, CLEARLY knows what he is doing when it comes to building a college powerhouse. Richt is also no Les Miles, who knows how to come into an established program and keep it at peak level. What Richt IS: is a guy who can overachieve with “B-level” talent( the Greene’s, Pollack’s,Shockley’s etc) but when he has the NFL caliber talents like the Knowshon’s, and the Stafford’s, and the AJ Green’s; he just can’t put it all together. Theoretically, a team should improve when their talent improves, but at UGA that is not the case.

So taking into account that Richt overachieves with “B-level talent”( which is what he currently has), I think the Dawgs will have a decent year IF everyone can remain healthy. Overall, the 2012 schedule is very navigable. Getting Bama off the schedule is a huge break, and facing South Carolina in October will benefit the Dawgs as opposed to having to play them at the beginning of the year. Richt’s teams tend to get better as the season goes on, and I think the Dawgs will go on a bit of a run in 2012 like they did in 2011. Florida is horrible, as is Tennessee. The Dawgs will beat both of those teams again, although those games probably won’t be the blowouts we as fans will want/expect them to be.

I like the Dawgs to win the SEC East, go 11-1( losing to a Mizzou team on the road early in the year that they are not familiar with), and get to the SEC title game. However, instead of losing to LSU, I think Arkansas( who I like a LOT as a National Title Darkhorse) will emerge from the West with an identical 11-1 record. I say the Razorbacks win something along the lines of 37-27 or 38-24. The Dawgs will then get hosed and end up at a second tier bowl( Outback or Chick-fil-A) with that game being a tossup depending on how much the players actually give a crap.

I say the Dawgs finish 11-3 or 12-2, leaving the Bulldog faithful with our traditional ” What if’s, shoulda woulda’s, and wait until next(recruiting)season!”

All Saints

April 5th, 2012
6:25 am

Before we all go about our day, let’s please observe a moment of silent prayer for the late St. Jan Kemp, the courageous young lady who gave her life to expose the wrongdoing at UGA. Unfortunately, nothing has changed in Athens, as Mark Richt continues Vince Dooley’s tradition of recruiting athletes who can barely read or write their own name, and coddling players who are drunks and dope addicts.

Thank you, you may go about your business now.

bubba4dawgs

April 5th, 2012
7:12 am

Don’t you just love the naysayers! If they hate the Dawgs so much, why do they even bother to post? I think some major changes are going on in Athens starting with the approach by the coaches. It’s good to see recruiting beginning to look ahead as they have already focused on 2014. It all starts with recruiting and Nick Sabin is courting the State of Georgia like a hot stud looking for a bride. UGA must turn this around and go after the good players with gusto! I think CMR knows this and has turned his jets up a notch! All of them don’t make it, can’t follow the rules, etc. CMR is taking care of that problem as well while most of the other schools are living with it and doing nothing. In the long run, I think CMR wins out! His method is solid and the team will be better for it! GO DAWGS! Oh, and naysayers, thank you for the motivation to say something positive about UGA, CMR and the DAWGS!!

Newnandawg

April 5th, 2012
8:49 am

Just because we point out that Richt is an underachiever at UGA doesn’t mean we don’t love UGA. We want UGA to get the coach it deserves.

The state of Georgia is second only to Florida in high school football talent. We are the richest football program in the SEC. There is no excuse to NEVER be able to compete with top ten teams.

We will remain mediocre as long as we keep accepting mediocre.

AltamahaDawg

April 5th, 2012
9:27 am

So you actually think it’s the fan expectation that determines the product on the field? Wouldn’t it be a lot more interesting (and completely more accurate) to discuss the actualy things that need to improve to get to the point of competing with the better teams than to frame it all in platitudes and cliche’? It’s really not that subjective. We’ve seen what it take, seen it done. We all know pretty much the specific issues. One of them is not fan desire, IMO.

west ga dawg

April 5th, 2012
10:06 am

If you really love uga then stand behine the AD who seems to think coached richt is the right man for the job. CMR is everything good about collage football, he runs a cle an program and is loyal to georgia unlike other coaches in collage football. If not for CMR we wouldn’t have had a shot at the national title, remember the previous 20 years before he came there was nothing going on here. You guys complain about players transfering now how many would leave if you get rid of the coach? But you dummies dont think about stuff like that. You know it’s not up to any of us fans or even the AD if GOD wants him here than st.mark stays.

BulldogBen

April 5th, 2012
10:10 am

With the upcoming Chicken Dinner circuit, I’d be interested in someone, ANYONE, asking Mark Fox some tough questions. Particularly with Frank Martin recently taking the USC job. The SEC East is becoming one of the toughest divisions in college basketball. What is his plan?

We continue to flounder and collapse on the road. How does he expect us to even become competitive much less win in the tournament.

AltamahaDawg

April 5th, 2012
10:12 am

I would be wiling to bet that if any of us, including you folks in here calling for a new coach (and appearantly intent on doing that day after day, all summer), were to be sitting in Greg Mcgarity’s desk, in fact DID have the task of running the UGAAD, that Mark Richt would still be the head coach of Georgia today.

Wanting the man to do a better job is fine, expected. It’ll never be fine to not want improvement. We could win a NC, and it’s still fine to want to improve something. But calling for him to be fired, in April, or back in Dec. is completely dishonest. Because you would not have done it either. So it’s just tired, worn out, and immature to keep beating that drum now.

AltamahaDawg

April 5th, 2012
10:29 am

Dan, Nobody is Saban right now. He is the best coach in the business. He’s going to be paid something like 6 million a year very soon. Alabama burned and churned a number of coaches to get there. Thats great for them.There’s a pretty good article out there about how he is the best at the ugly business of winning, and has the complete backing of his fan base and school to do what it takes. The fact is, this is not Alabama. Not right, not wrong.

He’s winning NC, Our guy is not. That’s a very true and fair statement. I think however that it shouldn’t frame every discussion about our football team , irrespective of the topic. You know what, we don’t employ Saban. That’s the deal.

For example, we have heard plenty of complaining about our attrition for one reason or another, and we have fans calling that an indictment of Richt style or character. One guy said “I bet the players are laughing behind his back” I’d take that bet, they are not, but anyway……

But somehow the fact that Nick Saban has had JUST as many player leaving the program, just as many arrest, and has had to suspend multiple players over the past couple of years…………..means he is just taking care of business somehow.

DawginLex

April 5th, 2012
10:52 am

alt

I think someone has been banned…………

AltamahaDawg

April 5th, 2012
11:35 am

Purely out of compassion, if for no other reason.

AAAAA Athens Bail Bonds R Us

April 5th, 2012
11:52 am

Any more UGA players arrested today?

Dawg89

April 5th, 2012
11:57 am

We will remain mediocre as long as we keep accepting mediocre.

And it all boils down to that simple statement.

AltamahaDawg

April 5th, 2012
12:13 pm

So you are saying that you accept being mediocre?

AltamahaDawg

April 5th, 2012
12:28 pm

Anybody in here accepting of being mediocre? Raise your hand. Anyone? No?
Who is this “we” you are refering to?

Lakedawg

April 5th, 2012
1:02 pm

@lakeDawg & mobile—-Thanks dipsticks Good to see I can still get under the collar of trolls and whiners.

Know its hard for you to understand, but CMR is going to be at UGA for quite a few years to come, and if you cannot do anything but compain and whine about UGA than the Barn ot SC needs a couple more fans.

FLA DAWG

April 5th, 2012
1:26 pm

The Dawgs Ten Game Win Streak was bookended by double losses last season to the only four decent or good teams we played last year.

If it weren’t for the Patsy Schedule from games 3 to 10 Richt would’ve had yet another losing season and any unemotional observation of the games, player execution, stats and win / loss records of the various teams proves it.

Kids are either being suspended or abandoning ship for different reasons. If it were one year that would be one thing but this has been going on for years.

I look at the forthcoming schedule and see it as weak as last season. Richt will likely back into another SEC East Championship Game v Bama not because The Dawgs will be good – but because our opponents are even worse than us.

Of course all of this is just my opinion and I could be wrong.

Kyle

April 5th, 2012
1:39 pm

Jesus, just let the man coach. Knock all the hot seat/challenging season BS. EVERY season is that way, especially in the SEC.

106-38 in 11 years speaks for itself. Just let him coach and fill up your blog with something else.

AltamahaDawg

April 5th, 2012
1:58 pm

Only in here is beating teams that are not as good as you, considered a negative.

A Father

April 5th, 2012
3:06 pm

54 – 25 since 2006 68% Last win against a winning sec team with sec winning record 2007

Now this is a resume for contract extension, no arguing the past four years of success

Old Dog

April 5th, 2012
3:08 pm

“Anybody in here accepting of being mediocre? Raise your hand. Anyone?”

There are a lot of people who agree that we are playing like a mediocre team. There are also a lot of those people wo say we don’t need to change anything (HC or OC or QB). Sounds like they accept mediocrity to me.

AltamahaDawg

April 5th, 2012
3:10 pm

Newsflash. The extention is done, AF. Sounds like you have a decision to make.

Old Dog

April 5th, 2012
3:11 pm

“Only in here is beating teams that are not as good as you, considered a negative.”

Like beating Vandy last year – BARELY! What about Michigan State? What about SC? What about losing to teams everyone said you should win over?

AltamahaDawg

April 5th, 2012
3:20 pm

No Old Dog. What is sounds like is that you are making assumptions about people based on a faulty premise.

AltamahaDawg

April 5th, 2012
3:24 pm

How is MSU or SC disputing the point I made?
Not even close.

AltamahaDawg

April 5th, 2012
3:34 pm

BTW, what is your definition of “everyone said you should win over”?

AltamahaDawg

April 5th, 2012
3:46 pm

Come on now……nobody asked you to quote me. Don’t back away from the debate now.

You know I’d love nothing more than somebody to try to argue with me about what I said, or meant.

How are the 4 losses a justification of calling the 10 wins they did have, negative?
Wouldn’t that be simple the 4 losses were negative? So isnt yur point another based on yet another faulty premise?
Who is everyone, and when did they say we should beat (those 4 teams)?

Ace

April 5th, 2012
4:02 pm

UGA has not done much since 80 and won’t. The other teams will always win the big ones and UGA don’t.

AltamahaDawg

April 5th, 2012
4:06 pm

4 teams all in the Top 10. None of whom won less that 11 games.

So what the real question should be is “what about not having a top 10 team last year, when (nobody) said we were”. Wouldn’t that be a more accurate question?

AceDawg

April 5th, 2012
4:57 pm

Richt isn’t off the hot seat. Our AD just had to give the program stability, and once Richt was allowed to ride out last year, he did well enough to make giving him another shot our best option. A bad season will absolutely sour his standing to a point beyond the lowest point last year with fans. As we all know, UGA lost to the four best teams it played. I want to be optimistic, and I am regarding Grantham running the defense, but the suspensions are hurting even that. Bobo running the offense with Richt has NEVER gone well for UGA if you are comparing talent to results, so we all have to tempur our expectations there.

That said, I sure hope the rest of the players stay out of trouble because there is a sense of opportunity to have a great season, maybe an ultimate one, with some luck and hard work.