Fan talk: Is Mark Richt too loyal, plus special teams, stadium expansion, slowing down the hurry-up and basketball!

Should Mark Richt be quicker to get rid of assistant coaches? (Associated Press)

Should Mark Richt be quicker to get rid of assistant coaches? (Associated Press)

It was kind of a crazy week, what with an ice storm and an earth quake, but that hasn’t managed to stop the flow of Junkyard Mail. Let’s dip into some of it. …

Geoff from Marietta writes: Hi Bill, With the recent promotion of [Bryan] McClendon to the position of recruiting coordinator after spending a year without officially awarding the title to anyone, it has me contemplating the departure and phoenix-like re-emergence of our last one, Mr. Rodney Garner. Obviously, no one involved with Georgia football would go on record with their true thoughts about Mr. Garner but I was just wondering if you’ve been able to take the temperature of the program, so to speak. Over the past few years, we’d read story after story of recruits stating that they didn’t have much interest in Georgia because they hadn’t been contacted. At the time, it was portrayed as Georgia just being more selective and rigorous in their process before they got involved with a high school player. Turns out, Garner goes to Auburn, gets a raise, and suddenly has this new found enthusiasm for life and is all over these same recruits (ie. Lawson, Adams, Russell, Williams, etc.) that he couldn’t be bothered to give the time of day to before! This also segues well into a bigger issue, IMO, which is Coach Richt’s seeming inability to hold his staff to high levels of excellence on a consistent basis. From an otherwise very solid head coach, this appears to be his only recurring and glaring deficiency. Whether it be Martinez, Grantham, Garner or whomever, CMR’s loyalty to his staff members, while making him a good person, is often a weakness as the big boss. What are your thoughts and do you see this the same way?

Well, first of all, I think loyalty on the part of a boss toward his staff is a good thing. But you’re right that Mark Richt’s loyalty to his staff probably did contribute to him keeping Willie Martinez as defensive coordinator at least a season or two longer than he should have. Todd Grantham? I doubt that would have been the case; had he stayed at UGA and had the defense not showed remarkable improvement this coming season, I don’t think Grantham’s contract would have been renewed. As for Rodney Garner, who was already at Georgia when Richt arrived, I do tend to think his effectiveness declined the longer he stayed at UGA. But while recruiting perhaps lost a step in his last couple of seasons, at Georgia it is very much a by-committee pursuit, with the various assistant coaches responsible for certain territories or positions. Garner does probably share some of the blame, though, for the school getting a late start on too many in-state recruits. As for his other job, while Garner’s defensive line was a bit of an underperformer in his last season in Athens, part of that probably was attributable to Grantham’s tendency to not rotate players enough on defense. Keep in mind, Georgia made it to the SEC championship both of Garner’s last two seasons in Athens, so it’s not like there was an obvious need for a change. However, seeing how the move back to his alma mater re-energized Garner both as a recruiter and a coach, I think it’s fair to conclude he stayed too long at UGA for both his own good and the Georgia program’s.

Matt McGahee writes: Bill, I have often read your column and enjoyed your insights, even if I have not always agreed with them. I believe the naming of two special teams coordinators is excellent. It gives that coach a sense of pride and accountability that has been absent before. Those coaches will own those responsibilities and will not allow the lack of good play in those situations to tarnish their good names. John Lilly has been fantastic and will not allow his reputation to be tarnished. In turn, Mike Ekeler has quite a reputation already and is the new guy, so I highly doubt he will allow it to continue to be as bad as it was last year. What Coach Richt has done is take a page right from “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” by appointing these guys with a title, they will feel more important and will want to be successful in their special team endeavours. If they don’t, now everyone has someone to blame. I also think the signing of Isaiah McKenzie for the return game will be HUGE, and so will be the return of Malcolm Mitchell. At signing day Richt said that Bulldog Nation will be very happy with what happens with special teams this year. I honestly believe our coach and think great things are ahead for the Georgia Bulldogs this year.

You’ve summed up pretty well the optimistic view, Matt. I certainly hope you’re right about the two coaches taking ownership of the special teams situation. A bit of competition between the two special teams (offensive and defensive) likely wouldn’t hurt, either.

Does Sanford Stadium really need to be expanded? (University of Georgia)

Does Sanford Stadium really need to be expanded? (University of Georgia)

Ed Rocker writes: When do you think Sanford Stadium will be expanded? I really think this needs to be addressed very soon. Look at what LSU and Texas A&M are doing.

I don’t think UGA needs to be in any stadium capacity race, Ed, despite Texas A&M expanding Kyle Field’s capacity to 102,000 and LSU planning an expansion of Tiger Stadium to 100,000. While those schools apparently think they can fill those seats, generally speaking college football attendance is on the downswing, even in the SEC, thanks to high ticket prices, parking hassles and the appeal of flat-screen high definition television sets at home. Sanford is still mostly sold out, but just barely for some games, and overall UGA registered a minor attendance decrease in 2012 with an average of 92,723. And that was in a successful season in which the Dogs won their second consecutive SEC East title. There are already more than enough seats for the cupcake games. The most feasible expansion plan for Sanford is adding seats on the east end to take the capacity to 102,000 to 104,000, but unless the possible addition of a ninth conference game sometime in the next couple of seasons gooses fan interest, I wouldn’t think that’s likely to happen any time soon.

Sam Mattson writes: Bill, what are your thoughts on the proposed NCAA football legislation that would prevent an offensive team from snapping the ball until after 10 seconds of the 40-second clock had elapsed, allowing defenses to substitute against hurry-up offenses? I know it’s being presented as a “safety” issue, but this is mostly to placate Nick Saban, an outspoken critic of the hurry-up game, isn’t it?

That’s probably a fair assessment, Sam. While I think the other major NCAA rules change proposal — fixing the “targeting” rule so that if targeting is overruled, the 15-yard penalty doesn’t apply — is a much-needed tweak to an ill-conceived rules change from last year, the move to slow down hurry-up offenses strikes me as completely unnecessary. I’ve seen no reports of hard evidence that defenses having to go with who they already have on the field against a no-huddle, hurry-up attack has resulted in any more injuries. And the hurry-up certainly adds to the college game’s fan appeal. In terms of Georgia, I think it’s pretty much been a wash. While the Dogs’ defense has been burned from time to time by a hurry-up — particularly when Todd Grantham had trouble getting his defensive calls in on a timely basis — on the other side of the ball Mike Bobo has had some success with his occasional use of the hurry-up. Basically, I don’t think it’s a change that needs to be made and I’ll frankly be surprised if it passes.

An NCAA bid is unlikely, but the Dogs probably have saved Mark Fox's job. (Associated Press)

An NCAA bid is unlikely, but the Dogs probably have saved Mark Fox's job. (Associated Press)

Griffin Boone writes: If UGA finishes 17-11 (11-5 SEC) will we have a chance to make NCAA tournament if we win a couple SEC tournament games?

I don’t think so, Griffin. Most college basketball experts agree Georgia doesn’t have a chance of making the NCAA tournament unless they win the SEC tourney and get an automatic bid. The problem is UGA has a very weak RPI (currently 105) thanks to a mediocre nonconference schedule (against which the Dogs weren’t that impressive), and not a lot of really big wins. I think the Dogs’ best hope, if they finish strong, is an NIT bid. I do think, however, that the Dogs’ resilient play this season — which sees them going for four wins in a row Saturday as they face Ole Miss for third place in the conference behind Florida and Kentucky — likely has saved Mark Fox’s job for another year, even if the Dogs go .500 the rest of the way. Beyond that, Fox probably does need to make the NCAA tournament next season if he wants to stick around in Athens. And, with his continuing problems signing a major recruit, that could be difficult.

Got something you want to discuss concerning the Dawgs? Or a question you want the Junkyard Blawg to tackle? Email me at  junkyardblawg@gmail.com.

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— Bill King, Junkyard Blawg

137 comments Add your comment

True DAWG

February 15th, 2014
11:10 am

I think Garner was sandbaggig the last couple of years not giving 100 percent to Richt. He has had too much success at Auburn and with kids he would not even recruit for us. I hope Pruitt stops his GA success with recruits very much!

valricodawg

February 15th, 2014
11:31 am

Hairy Dawg

February 15th, 2014
11:37 am

Coach Richt is loyal to Dawgs and being Christian. But dont mistake keeping players and coaches on team that turns out stinkys for being loyal. Coach Richt have to do that cause rules from admins like Morehead. Some players show up on campus and wont expose SEC talent on field and ends up stinkys instead of SEC level player that play for Dawgs. Christian thing is to follow rule that casts out them that not exposing talents to play at SEC level like they recruited for doing. And Coach Richt knows rule but handcuffed by restrictoins from admin like Morehead. Fixing that requires fans being loyal supporting Coach Richt by showing faith and how pointy head admins in ivy tower got to support Dawgs with rules for winning like Saban gets at Bammer or fans replace pointy heads admin with new admins for helping Dawgs win. And that the kind a loyalty fans should showing and some not doing it and that hurts Dawgs by giving pointy heads admin too much power to begin with.

Russell Hall

February 15th, 2014
11:49 am

DawgVoiceofReason

February 15th, 2014
12:02 pm

Bill,
Any plans to fix the blog software?

DawgVoiceofReason

February 15th, 2014
12:06 pm

Yeah, we don’t want to get the cart before the horse with stadium expansion. Win a championship or two, and then you’ve got a case for expansion.

RollDog

February 15th, 2014
12:29 pm

DO NOT add one more seat to Sanford Stadium. The architectural symmetry of the stadium was perfect before the north side expansion, but adding another deck to the east end zone would be awful. Besides, have any of you watched a game from the 600-level seats? I’d rather listen to a game on the radio than sit up there for a game with free tickets.

Judge Dawg

February 15th, 2014
2:29 pm

Coach Fox only has one scholarship to give this year so I do not see how he could be hurt that much in recruiting. Mann, Gaines and Morris are developing into very good players. I would rather develop talent rather than have a bunch of one and gone guys.

Owen Scott, III

February 15th, 2014
2:34 pm

In college basketball, recruiting is everything. Mark Fox is an outstanding coach and person but he hasn’t been able to recruit and retain enough stars to compete. The winning programs have coaches with brand recognition that stands out in the crowd. This years team is benefitting from players staying around long enough to jell as a team. I hope CMF is able to land one or two future NBA players this year to move the program forward and establish his name but I’m not betting my IRA on it.

Owen Scott, III

February 15th, 2014
2:36 pm

And I’ll be watching the game today down in Louisiana and hoping to see the Dawgs take sole possession of 3rd in the SEC.

DawgByte

February 15th, 2014
2:50 pm

Count me as someone who believes Sanford Stadium should seat over 100K. There’s plenty of options to get us to that capacity. However, I think Bill’s reasoning for no immediate plans is on target.

CEPH

February 15th, 2014
3:45 pm

Richt has preached all these years that UGA didn’t need a special teams coach because Bobby didn’t have a special teams coach at FSU and if Bobby didn’t need one neither does UGA. Richt thinks the sun rises and sets on Bowden. I will never forget when he made a statement referring to something Bowden said “that if Bobby said then it has to be true”. If he all of a sudden says “that we need to hire a special teams coach” then he would have to admit that he and Bobby have been wrong all these years. Trust me, if McGarity hadn’t put pressure on Richt, we still wouldn’t have a special teams coach!!!!!

7576DAWG

February 15th, 2014
4:21 pm

I am definitely not for expanding Sanford stadium . Half of our games at home every year are against teams that we score 50 plus point on and that is a conservative number. That only leaves 2 or 3 games that are SEC related and would be a premium contest to see.
I would be for expanding the stadium but two things MUST happen:
1- For god sake bring the Florida game to Athens every other year. It’s time that the retail establishments of Atens Georgia , Motels, restaurants, etc., made the millions that Jacksonville is make right now.
2- The SEC go’s to a 9 team SEC schedule. That would mean we would have 4 SEC games in Athens one year and in the next year we would play 5.

7576DAWG

February 15th, 2014
4:32 pm

I’m for slowing the game down a little bit. No huddle is a way that teams who don’t have DEPTH on the Offense can even the playing field. This does not mean they are as good as the other team by using a gimmick to keep the Defense on the team. What the hurry up does is turn College Football into a scoring battle. The team that has the Depth and is better go’s down the field in 10 plays and scores . The team that uses Hurry up , no huddle scores in 3 plays because they catch a Defensive player out of position.
I don’t want to make the Defense in the SEC irrelevant and turn us into another Big -12 Conference.

Gertbeet Frobe

February 15th, 2014
5:16 pm

No, No, No on stadium expansion. There are already too many people in Athens on game day and enclosing the stadium over the bridge would kill the look of the stadium.

dawgfan

February 15th, 2014
5:54 pm

No expansion. We have one of the coolest stadium’s in the nation.

Plus all those empty seats in 2 or 3 years as Richt is on his way out won’t look good on TV.

Flo-Ri-Duh

February 15th, 2014
6:50 pm

The game has already been slowed down by stopping the clock when a team gets a 1st down. They should keep the clock running. Also, there are a multitude of timeouts created by TV commercials. Saban needs to quit complaining and find a way to adjust to the rules instead of wanting to change the rules to benefit himself. Not everyone has Saban’s resources to work with…. quit whining – you already have an advantage over most teams with extra coaches and extra resources at your disposal.

SavDawg

February 15th, 2014
7:26 pm

It seems to me the rules have been tilted for the offense foe years. I think some change to benefit the defense is in order.

Love the dawgs

February 15th, 2014
7:31 pm

Bill King, you are the best!!!! Can you answer a question for me? Is Mike Bobo giving UGA the “home team” discount? His offense has been fabulous the past two years, while the defense has been pathetic while led by Todd Grantham. Then another DC comes in and gets hundreds of thousands more than Bobo. Is this because Bobo is a DGD and loyal to his Alma Mater? Regardless, I am glad he is with us! He is a heck of a coach.

DawgVoiceofReason

February 15th, 2014
7:38 pm

SavDawg,

Good point. Personally, I don’t like the fast-paced offenses. They look ridiculous going up to the line, appearing to get set, and then the whole team turns to the bench to see what the calls are. Except at end of games and end of halves, the hurry up should not be run by anyone unless they can do it without the look to the sideline. I also think, once the offensive line is in position on the line, they should be considered set and any motion (like turning around to look to the sideline) should be considered a false-start.

sicemdawgs141

February 15th, 2014
7:41 pm

As far as stadium expansion goes, I think the biggest factor that goes unmentioned is the duration of the football games. It’s hard to get excited to sit in the stands for 3.5-4 hours to watch a non-conference game while you have two ranked teams playing shortly after. Short and simple, the commercial breaks are way too long and need to be drastically reduced. I recall several times in the past 3 years when they have played clips of other games on the jumbotron while we wait for commercials to finish. This is utterly absurd, if games were closer to 2-2.5 hours I bet attendance would rise drastically.

DawgVoiceofReason

February 15th, 2014
7:41 pm

SavDawg,

Good point. Personally, I don’t like the hurry up offense for anybody. It looks just silly when the entire team turns to the sideline to figure out what the play calls are. That’s the whole point of a huddle, for everyone to know what the play is. Once the offensive line comes into position on the line of scrimmage, they should be considered set and not allowed to turn around. It should be a false start penalty if they do.

DawgVoiceofReason

February 15th, 2014
7:42 pm

Bill,

It is ri-dic-u-lous how the blog software won’t allow the use of the word I just hyphenated when spelled normally. Please get the blog software fixed!!!

DawgVoiceofReason

February 15th, 2014
7:57 pm

Hoop Dawgs in 3rd place in SEC!!!

RHall55

February 15th, 2014
8:01 pm

The thought that Tubby Garner was not doing his job is last few years was so evident it’s scary….not showing up for visits @ UGA from recruits (ie Davin Bellamy)….not returning calls (ie several prospects made that comment)….not recruiting such talents as Carl Adams and Andrew Williams while @ UGA but signing them @ AU…and the fact that many local Coaches stated they rarely saw him during those last years is very, very evident he did not do his job….and CMR should have held him accountable as the Head Coach….others to hold accountable in the near future: OL Coach: Will Friend; WR Coach Tony Ball; D of Player Development: Dave VanHalenger; and S&C Coach: Joe Tereschinski!!! Wait and see…Time to win a NC!!!

Flat Tire doesnt live in Delusionalville Ga.

February 15th, 2014
9:04 pm

Well since Saban has these so called “advantages”……

then UGA kool-aiders need stop saying “wait til next year” or talking pre-season national titles and buy a time share in Florida since thats where UGA is going bowling every year…..

since Saban has all the “advantages” that no one else can have

Dawgmeat

February 15th, 2014
10:35 pm

what a bunch of junk!

NoAxeToGrind

February 16th, 2014
5:58 am

dawgfan @5:54PM: Hope springs eternal.

eldawg

February 16th, 2014
8:05 am

I guess continuity is not a good thing when it comes to finding a punt/kick returner.

dawgfan

February 16th, 2014
8:30 am

And the Kool Aiders say I’m not optimistic.

Snoop Dawg

February 16th, 2014
9:45 am

This is funny! Every day brings a new diversion!

Folks, get out your pencils and paper. Write this down.

Richt isn’t too loyal. He is. Just incompetent as a coach…

But he is extremely sly and cunning in covering it up through his manufactured “persona.”

Don’t be fooled by all the constant diversions that prevent the average hound Dawg from discovering the obvious. When the Dawg Nation wakes up and demands more incompetent mediocrity for millions a year, the Glory Days will return and the money will flood into Athens GA.

Snoop Dawg

February 16th, 2014
9:47 am

Hmmm… Make that “more THAN mediocre incompetence…

GHWB

February 16th, 2014
9:47 am

Hurry up offenses lead to more missed calls against the offense by the officials. They have to “hurry up” too, you know. For instance, Auburn got away with an offensive play several times last year that features illegal down-field receivers. I never saw them get called for it.

Bulldawg35

February 16th, 2014
9:49 am

We can’t hardly win a bowl game anymore . We can’t stop anybody in the bowl games.

roughrider

February 16th, 2014
10:53 am

Just think what could have been accomplished if UGA had a dominant line to open holes for it’s running backs and to keep the defense off the qb.

Mr. P

February 16th, 2014
11:20 am

Getting the girth of Garner gone was great for Georgia!

dawgfan

February 16th, 2014
12:23 pm

Yeah, the “too loyal” thing is a crock. He’s just too lazy to make changes. That’s my opinion. I don’t think his persona is manufactured at all. That mellowed out goofy nice guy is the real Richt.

He’d be a great golfing buddy but I’m not sure I want him running my favorite college football team.

Castle pine canine

February 16th, 2014
12:37 pm

No offense, but Oklahoma didn’t run the hurry up! They were on a father clip, but Smart had time to get players on and off the field! Maybe the coach should teach that a true champion plays like a champion even when they are bot playing for the biggest championship,

Auburn did a great job! They led UGA by 28 points, and FSU by 21 point, squeaked by UGA, and lost to FSU. In the works of CFB we have today, it is hard to load up one side of the ball, and not be weaker on the other,

dawgfan

February 16th, 2014
12:47 pm

Alabama has won 3 of the past 5 national titles. Mark Richt is 2-3 in meaningless crap bowl games during that time.

I don’t think we’re in any position to give them advice on how to play like a champion in any situation.

7576DAWG

February 16th, 2014
1:30 pm

What will be the biggest difference in 2014 from what we had in 2013? Takeaways will far out pace turnovers. I hope we can keep the entire Defensive staff together for at least the next 3 years.

Bulldawg35

February 16th, 2014
2:19 pm

We will have a bunch turnovers again this season….because Hutson mason looks a turnover machine. I don’t think he is even better than joe cox.

Bulldawg35

February 16th, 2014
2:34 pm

Greg Mcgarity is also another joke. Damon Evans was better than him….and Evans even was partying all night long!

maconexpress

February 16th, 2014
2:46 pm

Bulldawg35, I wouldn’t count out Hudson Mason just yet he’s a ga native. David Greene and DJ Shockley (ga native) = 2 sec titles.

dawgfan

February 16th, 2014
3:00 pm

Yep. That’s why we won the SEC those years, because our quarterback was from Georgia. Fair enough. So can we please fire Richt for taking QBs from Texas, North Carolina and Florida? Pretty please? It cost us SEC titles according to your twisted Kool Aider logic.

Oh the mind of a Kool Aider.

Bulldawg35

February 16th, 2014
3:17 pm

Macon express

Joe T and Joe cox….and Greg talley were also from UGA and how did they turn out??? Mason is the next Greg talley…..both slow and a weak arm.

maconexpress

February 16th, 2014
3:21 pm

Not logic sir, fact. Not saying Hudson Mason will be the next ga native to win a sec title but if he does it most be something to it being a ga native.

Bulldawg35

February 16th, 2014
3:25 pm

Hahahahahahahaha….I can’t believe that guy asked if UGA had a shot at making the NCAA tournament!!!! That’s pure comedy gold there brotha! Lol

Bulldawg35

February 16th, 2014
3:27 pm

Garner should of been ran out of town after the Kentucky game in 2012! I’ve never seen our DL get destroyed by such inferior competition in my life!

maconexpress

February 16th, 2014
3:29 pm

Bulldawg35, I should of said during the Richt era. Isn’t Cox from NC? Joe T didn’t play a full season.

Bulldawg35

February 16th, 2014
3:29 pm

Sad but true…sad but true….if Richt had it his way….willie would still be around…..whether as our DC or our a substitute for hairy the bulldawg.