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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362 comments Add your comment

ole yeller

April 5th, 2012
6:32 pm

Coach “R” will pull the trigger on what ever player or coach that don’t start out fast this year. TOO much talent to leave on the pine.

A Father

April 5th, 2012
7:15 pm

attamahadawg: please post the date and time that MR signed his contract, please do the same regarding Todd Grantham?

dan

April 5th, 2012
7:50 pm

@Altamaha Dawg

I think if UGA ever does win a National Title again, it will be one of those “lighting in a bottle” kind of deals like what Auburn had with Cam Newton. But see… the thing about that, is you have to have a head coach who realizes what he has in said exceptional athlete, and is willing to get out of the way and let him be the Bell Cow. Gene Chizik was able to do that with Cam Newton, Urban Meyer was able to do that with Tim Tebow, and Vince Dooley was able to do that with Herschel Walker back in the day. Allowing your stars to be stars is such a wise approach.

But the problem we have in Athens is that Richt and Bobo don’t know when to get out of their own way when they have a good thing going. They kinda sorta were able to do that with Knowshon Moreno in 2007, but they didn’t realize what they had there until they already had 2 losses. I think for the Dawgs to win a National Title, they will need a new head coach who might not match Richt in career wins, but for one magical season; knows how to put it all together with the talent he has. Unfortunately, I don’t see any great prospects on the horizon, so unless Richt goes under 8-4 again, he will be our guy.

Lakedawg

April 5th, 2012
9:14 pm

@Dan==Mostly good comments, one stands out Richt is not Saban, AMEN to that.

How bout these facts:Coach Mark Richt has a better career winning %, A better bowl record than, more top 10 final rankings in the coaches poll, more seasons with double digit wins, , same number of consecutive double digit win seasons, same number of SEC championship game appearances, same number of finishes of no worse than tied for first place in division. Yes I am comparing to the guy at Bammer.

Best record in Georgia history 106-38

So Dan do not believe you know what of you speak.

Old Dawg

April 5th, 2012
9:22 pm

Lakedawg – How about SEC championship WINS? How about National Championships? Huh? Huh? Anyone can pad their win record with CUPCAKES!

Lakedawg

April 5th, 2012
9:27 pm

Old dog—Guess you are saying Dawgs play more cupcakes than anyone else???

Mobile Dawg

April 5th, 2012
9:33 pm

Lakedawg @ 9:14, I never resort to namecalling, so I won’t, but, you sport, are a few bricks shy of a full load, your elevator not only doesn’t go to the top floor, your kool aid soaked brain is stuck in the basement. Mark Richt couldn’t be Nick Sabans waterboy, football wise. Get out of the street Son before you get run over.

Lakedawg

April 5th, 2012
9:52 pm

Mobile–What facts I posted do you disagree with???

Son, I am a Dawg fan and support the Dawgs completely. When you and other folks post crap about my football teams coach, then expect a reply.

Your Bammer team will again not reach the championship game this year. And yeah do not believe you dough got rose before it started baking.

Lakedawg

April 5th, 2012
9:55 pm

Ol dog– you got me on National titles, but believe Coach Richt 2 SEC and Nick 1 at Bammer.

Old Dawg

April 5th, 2012
10:04 pm

Cupcakes – we had ten teams that were judged to be “easy” last year (eleven if you count MSU) We won ten games. We played the others and LOST!

Old Dawg

April 5th, 2012
10:07 pm

When was the last time we had an UPSET win? (yes, our OPPONENTS have had UPSET wins against US!)

Mobile Dawg

April 5th, 2012
10:10 pm

None of your “statistical facts” Lakedawg. Just the common sense facts, 3 national titles @ two different schools. You sound like a lower level manager whos been fed the corporate kool aid and is a blind supporter of management regardless of the state of the company. And, I’m neither a Bammer, nor a Troll, I just happen to disagree with your “pie in the sky” presentation of the UGA program.

Fact is that Richt won with Donnans recruits, once they were gone and the influence on the culture that “those” players permeated disappeared, Richt has been an abysmal failure IMO. Your statistical record is just that, statistics. Winners and leaders are measured by Championships. If that’s hard for you to accept and understand thats to bad.

FLA DAWG

April 5th, 2012
11:39 pm

AltamahaDawg,

A Father posted a question to you I’d like to read your answer to; Exactly when did Richt and sign his new contract?

You continue to support Richt despite his inability to beat ANY DECENT TEAM. If you are are Dawg Fan you certainly could not have found pleasure in our loss to Boise State, SC, LSU and MSU.
You want to scribble about how great those teams were? Okay, try this one then……….Univesity of Central Florida – our famous bowl game the season before…………….do you recall who won and who lost?

Gezzzzz man, what does it take to get through to you that Richt cannot successfully coach against the likes of Saban and Miles?

Many in Dawg Nation were proven right when we howled for a change in D.C. In my opinion Grantham is doing a very good job – certainly better than Martinez did.
We can effect an O change is we demand it. Do you believe that Bama or LSU would hire Bobo as an O.C.? Of course not. He cannot cut it and neither can Richt.

With fans like you The Dawgs get nowhere.

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

Freehawk

April 5th, 2012
11:45 pm

Spurrier just said that to be nice. Aaron Murray still sleeps with a nightlight because he has dreams of Jadeveon Clowney ripping him limb from limb. See you in Columbia.

HOP

April 6th, 2012
4:36 am

this will be a very disappointing year for the dawgs who have high expectations ,but who have lost

key players due to broken rules, a qb who cannot win BIG GAMES.

Dawgs will lose to Carolina, Missouri,since both games are on the road.

the dawgs do have a very good defense ,but have serious needs with the offensive line and again a qb who chokes in big game and a head coach who is to loyal and does not play the best players.

Richt will again be on the “hot seat” as the Dawgs cannot compete with the big boys in the SEC.

tell me again

April 6th, 2012
5:58 am

Hey Arkansas ~ I Bet you would love to have our underachieving, overly religious coach about now, wouldn’t you? And Tech fans ~ don’t talk about Damon Evans anymore ~ you have a tennis coach to worry about, don’t you?

Harry Dawg

April 6th, 2012
7:18 am

Nothing is going to change with this program until CMR address the OC position. Poor game planning, play calling, and player development will be his end.

bubba4dawgs

April 6th, 2012
7:22 am

Why is Stacy Searles having so much success at Texas when he must not have done diddlety squat at UGA? Somebody’s been sitting on their duffs in the recruiting department at UGA! Recruiting is a 365 day per year job and UGA should not be getting beat at the gate! True that Florida is loaded with top players but so is Georgia. These two states are the mecca for top players which answers the question about getting a BCS championship! CMR seems to be getting behind it, gee I hope so!! GO DAWGS!!

B C Dawg

April 6th, 2012
7:55 am

bubba–Did Searles not recruit OL while at Ga?

What was Texas record last year?

AltamahaDawg

April 6th, 2012
8:07 am

Well I’ll take em one at a time, so bear with me.

First: Who cares if/when he has signed it? Your point being what? You wonder if he is still not going to be the head coach at Georgia come September? Not even sure why you are asking me that?

FLA DAWG

April 6th, 2012
8:13 am

Happy Easter Dawg Nation!

DawginLex

April 6th, 2012
8:24 am

how is Searles having “great success at Texas” when they suck???

Richt did not win “with Donnan’s players”.

That is the most idiotic thing anyone can say and is total evidence of someone who has never played a down of football.

You can take a basketball coach’s leftovers and win but football? No way.

Donnan never coached David Greene. Not one down.

Across the Wide Missouri

April 6th, 2012
8:27 am

Missouri 37, Georgia 17

AltamahaDawg

April 6th, 2012
8:27 am

FLA DAWG the problem we always have is that you never actually disagree with what I say. You just don’t like that it appears to support a coach that you haven’t.

“fans like me” see Georgia football in term on the whole team/history/experience. It seem to me as if you too often portray it as a single man. My take on it has never been about the name of the head coach.

So, When you bend over backwards to post a patently misleading comment, purposely diminishing what good things the team DID do last year, I call you on it.

I continue to “support” the team. The team is coached By Mark Richt. I’m dealing in reality here. Not platitudes and imaginary schedules.

Of cource I didn’t want to lose ANY games. I never do. So? the point? We weren’t a top 10 team last year. Did anybody say we were? I would liek to be again a top 10 ten. THAT will entail this entire team , who is Coached by a real guy, not a fictional guy, to do that. I support that.

And I am puzzled how you think what I say has any bearing on where” the team gets”. Explain that to me.

Mobile Dawg

April 6th, 2012
8:29 am

Think about what you said Lex, if they weren’t Donnan’s players Richt inherited who recruited them?

AltamahaDawg

April 6th, 2012
8:34 am

Now for fun, lets have you re-arrange that schedule last year and give the Dawg a losing season. (as you say). I don’t think you can do it.

AltamahaDawg

April 6th, 2012
8:54 am

FLA DAWG

April 6th, 2012
8:57 am

Reality check Alta,

We played 10 Patsy Teams last season and we play a bunch more this season.
End result ……….a winning record only to blownout in The SECC Game.
Supporting a team means demanding the best coaching for that team which you do not seem capable of doing.

ItchyZ

April 6th, 2012
9:04 am

Slow news cycle? Yeah, and George Bush causes all the world’s problems. Sounds like you guys have signed up for Saul Alinsky’s activist manifesto. If you print something often enough, people (at least that don’t think for themselves) start believing it.

AltamahaDawg

April 6th, 2012
9:05 am

……and I didn’t mean to gloss over the CF loss. That was not good. Not as bad as Colorado though as any objective person would say that CF was a pretty good team.

So we can conclude that we had a pretty bad team in 2010 with our fresh QB, no running game, a new Defensive staff coaching confussed players lead by a DC coaching his first year in college, questionable conditioning. All of which falls on the HC in the end. He really really, needed to improve dramatically over THAT situation.

I believe no unemotional observer would say otherwise. Isn’t that really more the point, today?

an observer from afar

April 6th, 2012
9:09 am

Richt DID win with Donnan’s kids and benefitted from Donnan’s influence. Face facts boys, Richt is not going to get you to the big game. Unless you consider the Outback Bowl the big game. Which most of you do.

AltamahaDawg

April 6th, 2012
9:15 am

Bottom line. You can’t back that up comment about losing season last year. Cliche’s are not facts.

And we seem to have a different definition of “support”. Which is fine. It’s all opinion as you rightfully point out. And a personal thing.

BUT, I’ve seen you openly “wish we lose every game”. I’ve seen you openly pick our team to lose to (pretty much every one) of those patsies , and then deminish the teams victory after it’s done. I’ve seen you post intentionally exagerated negatives, and can’t really rememebr ever one time posting a positive comment.

So if your definition of support the team boils down to wanting to fire the coach, I’m just going to stick with my plan here. And have a lot more fun at it I can pretty much guarantee.

AltamahaDawg

April 6th, 2012
9:26 am

BTW, you talk down my inability to “demand”. Tell me how you are doing one thing differently in the “reality check” zone.

Because I would define “demand” in term of something real. YOU are the one so convinced we need a new coach. How it doing nothing not FAR worse on you.

SEC Fan Club

April 6th, 2012
9:45 am

please sign Richt for life….we love a good laugh…

FLA DAWG

April 6th, 2012
9:58 am

Case in point…..Dawg Nation demanded a change in D.C. from Martinez.
We got it in Grantham. And Grantham has made big strides in our D.

If Bobo and Richt are the guys you want to hang your Dawg Cap on then forget about being able to compete with Miles or Saban.

Are you with me at least that far?

UGA Always!

April 6th, 2012
10:02 am

“but the coach may be under more pressure with greater expectations.”
-I expect more players to get arrested than last year.

SEC Fan Club

April 6th, 2012
10:05 am

seriously, who in the SEC would rush to hire CMR??….catch-me kiss-me Richt-ball won’t work in the west…UT knows what you have and would pass…UK, probably, but who would care…TAMU or Mizzou might in a couple of years after realizing Big 12 flag-ball won’t work in the SEC…guess you’re stuck for now…

AltamahaDawg

April 6th, 2012
10:06 am

So, you think its was the Dawg Nation’s “demands” that got got us Grantham? You cannot be serious.

James Ainsworth

April 6th, 2012
10:06 am

The point that Coach Richt has had a number of players dismissed or left too me is a good thing and shows that Georgia will not tolerate this type of B.S., Unlike Alabama , or others , just to win a National Championship!

I want Georgia to win a National Championship, but more than that, I like when Georgia recruits players that don’t want to comply with the strict conduct rules are gone. The players that are left are worth more than any star by their name and Georgia can be proud of that!

Oh by the way, how many Georgia players are on the Alabama team and I wonder why? Could it possible be that they are allowed to flaunt rules without any reprecussions? Alabama is a team that has won several championships and I applaud the team for that, but to continously redicule and flaunt their accomplishments without acknowledging their standards are much lower in football that most other teams in the SEC and Nationally for conduct is really unbelievable!

I can think of many coaches that seem to be doing things right, why can’t Alabama? The statue of Coach Saban should include the championship trophy in one hand and in the other hand a paper saying if I over-sign or find a better player, you may not receive your promised and scholarship. Please sign .

an observer from afar

April 6th, 2012
10:10 am

With fans like James, you guys have quite a future. Get your Gator Bowl tickets today. Nothing like watching the dawgs lose twice a year in the state of Florida.

FLA DAWG

April 6th, 2012
10:10 am

You actually think Dawg Nation had nothing to do unloading Martinez!?

You just lost any credibility you had left.

typical uga-holic

April 6th, 2012
10:14 am

We will win a National Championship every year for the next 5-10 years. We are Georgia! Go dawgs!

AltamahaDawg

April 6th, 2012
10:18 am

We obvious exist in two seprate realities.

What I recall is that Richt promoted a member of the staff, who did a pretty admirable job for a couple of years. Then in 2008 the defense was completly decimated by injuries. Richt basically gave his staff 2009 to recover out of fairness, they did not, then he made a move. Took his time, did a complte search and made a great hire.

So you critisize the methods that Richt make staff decision, but its actually the very reason a guy like Grantham left his NFL job to come here.

You liked the hire, But wanted Richt fired in 2010, when everybody knew it was going to be an adjustment to Grantham.

So as is typical, you take a Good thing, and just look for a ways to portray is as a negative.

alpharetta alice

April 6th, 2012
10:20 am

are the rednecks still lined up to ring that stupid bell like in that commercial? what a bunch of clowns. tennessee gonna spank that bottom this year, just get ready.

SEC Fan Club

April 6th, 2012
10:24 am

Took his time, did a complte search and made a great hire.

wasn’t CTG his 4th or 5th choice? after this season, you’ll see the staff slinking away from the carnage of a 6-6 season. see Dooley/Tennessee for details.

AltamahaDawg

April 6th, 2012
10:24 am

So, if you complain loud enough, Richt will fire himself, is the moral to that story.

AltamahaDawg

April 6th, 2012
10:29 am

No I don’t believe he was the 4th or fifth choice. I believe by ALL accounts, Grantham was in the very first short list, along with a few of the best DC in the country. A couple of which were never going to be in a position (and made no sense for them to move). I do think there was a process of setting the market price for the hire, and of the 2 or 3 serious contenders in the end, Grantham was the one that worked out. Isn’t that pretty much how everybody gets hired?

AltamahaDawg

April 6th, 2012
10:31 am

SEC fan, please enlighten us with your unbiased football knowledge. What 6 teams are you willing to go on record as predicting they beat Georgia this year?

typical uga-holic

April 6th, 2012
10:34 am

Hey, I just realized that we are 24-15 in the last 3 years! That sucks big-time. Why am I such a big CMR fan again?

SEC Fan Club

April 6th, 2012
10:37 am

SC, Vandy, UT, UF, Mizzou, Tech…all will beat UGA this season.