Even as Richt focuses on Tech, there’s a grim big picture

Turnovers are a sympton, but they're not the problem itself. (AP photo by John Amis)

Turnovers are a symptom, but they're not the problem itself. (AP photo by John Amis)

In the grand scheme, the Kentucky loss should be a blessing. It should yield the sort of clarity needed when quality control has slipped. A coach can fool himself for a while, but when he loses at home to Kentucky after leading by 14 points, he has to acknowledge the obvious. Doesn’t he?

Even as he approached a game against the best team in the state his Georgia Bulldogs long ruled, Mark Richt still wouldn’t address the greater issue, at least not on the record. “I’ve never been one to focus on several things at one time,” he said Wednesday. This week he would speak only of Georgia Tech, saying, “My feeling right now is on the next game; it’s such a crucial game for our program.”

But there he’s wrong. Beating Tech might mean the difference between a bowl in Nashville and one in Shreveport, but winning at Bobby Dodd Stadium won’t cure the systemic ill. On the contrary, it might offer Richt another reason not to change, and if that’s the case, this would be the one time when beating an in-state rival proved injurious to a program’s long-term health.

Because Georgia must change to keep pace, not just with Tech but with Tennessee and Kiffin and Auburn and Chizik. (Forget Florida and Alabama and LSU — they’ve already lapped the Bulldogs.) And it isn’t a one-year blip, as apologists insist, but a trend. In the first five seasons under Richt, Georgia played for the SEC title three times, winning twice, and had a record of 52-13. In these past four seasons, Georgia hasn’t reached the conference championship game and is 36-14, having gone 2-2 against Kentucky.

Think hard about that last part. Vince Dooley lost four times to the Wildcats in a quarter-century of coaching. Ray Goff lost once to Kentucky in six tries, Jim Donnan once in five. Richt has now done it twice. It’s one thing to lose to Florida, as Richt has managed seven times in nine tries, something else again to lose to a basketball school.

Asked about the need for change in his program on the SEC teleconference this week, Richt instead dissected the Kentucky loss. “Turnovers were the story of that game,” he said. “If it was zero-zero in turnovers or we’d have won the turnover battle, that’s a different game.” And it’s true that Georgia had four turnovers to Kentucky’s none, but ultimately Richt seemed to concede the futility of his argument: “Of course, you can’t throw out the turnovers.”

And you can’t. There’s no reason Georgia should be giving the ball to a lesser team four times without once being able to snatch it back. There’s no reason Georgia should be next-to-last in the nation in turnover margin, no reason it should rank 116th among 120 teams in penalties. Richt and his staff have stopped coaching effectively and have begun to rely on recruiting to see them through, and when you lose to Kentucky you see why recruiting is never enough. (If it were, Ron Zook would be Urban Meyer.)

No matter what happens against Tech, Richt will have to change his staff and his approach if he hopes again to play in the Georgia Dome for anything more than a Chick-fil-A Bowl trophy. Is there one Bulldog assistant who has gotten the most from his charges? Mike Bobo? Jon Fabris? John Jancek? Stacy Searels? Dave Van Halanger? Willie Martinez?

Forget this staff’s perceived February successes; even Rodney Garner, the chief recruiter, has insisted: “I’m a coach who recruits,” and not the other way around. But even with the gifted freshmen on campus — Branden Smith, Orson Charles, Washaun Ealey, Rantavious Wooten, Aaron Murray, Marlon Brown — is there any assurance they’ll flourish under these coaches?

Mark Richt is a smart man. He has to realize declining results call for an upgrade in standards. He has to know the only way back to the pinnacle of the SEC isn’t to stay the course but to change the navigators. He has to grasp this. Doesn’t he?

425 comments Add your comment

james

November 27th, 2009
6:45 am

"Chef" Tim Dix

November 27th, 2009
6:52 am

First loser.

Kennesaw Dawg

November 27th, 2009
6:54 am

Kennesaw Dawg

November 27th, 2009
6:55 am

"Chef" Tim Dix

November 27th, 2009
6:57 am

Valid points Mark, but the die has been cast and change is on the horizon. The Tech game will have little to do with UGA coaches trying to save their jobs and more with the very same impressing possible new suitors.

Kennesaw Dawg

November 27th, 2009
7:02 am

Mark, you are right again. I think the coaches actually gave up on coaching 2 years ago. I don’t think they know what to do now. As I learned in management many years ago, the old saying is true that when you have ignorant people and you decide to have a meeting (or in this case form a coaching staff), all you get is a pool of ignorance. I kind of see this as what has happened at UGA. I don’t think making any changes in strategy or coaching style will accomplish anything. The program needs some different thinking and nobody has ever had much success changing anyone’s thinking. You just have to start with new people.

Here's hoping

November 27th, 2009
7:03 am

I’m afraid richt won’t make any changes just to show he can’t be swayed by public opinion rather than out if any type of loyalty. It is so obvious that a change us needed that he might not do it just to prove he is the head coach. Head coaches can be very defensive but since the dawgs have no defense maybe he will make the necessary changes!

1eyedJack

November 27th, 2009
7:03 am

We’re gonna win!!
Go DAWGS!

KornDawg

November 27th, 2009
7:08 am

Mark, I enjoy your columns and look forward to reading them, but you’re not making me feel very optimistic about the Dawgs lately. All this negative, negative, negative. How about a positive column about UGA for a change? Maybe focus on the condition of the football field, which has been great compared to last year when we had drought. Or how clean the uniforms are before the games? Just something positive, man, you’re bringing me down. Although I agree that Richt is unlikely to change anything with the staff win or lose vs. Tech.

Willie

November 27th, 2009
7:08 am

Enter your comments here

falcon 71

November 27th, 2009
7:18 am

if it happens again next year Mark must go

scott

November 27th, 2009
7:24 am

Thank you Mark. Thanks very much. All your points all year on this selfish head coach of ours are dead on, and I’m glad the media finally caught on to what a fraud this guy is. Mark Richt is a fraud. He won big early because of the sorry state of the conference (declining UT, UF with Zook, typical SC, down Bama), Yech with Gailey, and Brian Van Gorder. UGA won in spite of Richt’s pitiful offense then. Now, our offense is slightly better but still outdated, but there’s no Van Gorder, and the conference is upgraded. Richt is selfish and blind to the fact that he’s let this program slip considerably. I want him out, and MANY other Bulldogs know the Mark Richt ship has sailed in Athens. Thanks again.

Techman

November 27th, 2009
7:24 am

Donnan got the boot after three in a row. Bulldog nation will give Richt three losses to Tech, but not four.

WHY DO MUTTS BARK?CAUSE BUMBLE BEES STING

November 27th, 2009
7:28 am

AS A CHRISTMAS PRESENT TO THE BUMBLE BEES,UGAY WILL KEEP WILLIE AND BOBO,MERRY CHRISTMAS AND GO TECH!

FLA DAWG

November 27th, 2009
7:28 am

Mark,

Are you saying that Richt is still not convinced he must make coaching changes!?

Or do you think he is just keeping quiet until he announces it?

gators81

November 27th, 2009
7:28 am

spot on…perfect diagnosis on what is wrong in athens….now,…my pet goat wants to know what georgia is going to do about it????????…you could make me happy and do nothing!
what’s it going to be georgia fans???? what are the necessary changes???

Best Friends-Best Man-Roomate-College Teamate

November 27th, 2009
7:28 am

Let’s concede that CMR is the most “competitive person on earth” for arguments sake, which we hear ad nauseum from players and especially Pollack. That quality is separate and distinct from the quality of being able to correct a problem, intelligence, and success. Oftentimes our most competitive friend is also our most stubborn. How many of us have seen a friend who is a good golfer lose his long game, hit drive after drive into the woods, and refuse to put up his driver. That friend may be ultra competitive but his competitiveness is trumped by his own stubborness because something worked in the past he continues to do it and refuses to change. He will lose and lose big now. CMR-Willie is your driver, put him in the bag. While you are at it, put your five-wood Bobo in the bag also. His slice will never straighten out.

Yellow Fuzz

November 27th, 2009
7:29 am

……………………….georgia = Tech’s bitch for the last 364 days!!!!
…………………..georgia = Tech’s bitch for the last 364 days!!!!!
………………..georgia = Tech’s bitch for the last 364 days!!!!!
…………..…georgia = Tech’s bitch for the last 364 days!!!!!
………..….georgia = Tech’s bitch for the last 364 days!!!!
…….. ..georgia = Tech’s bitch for the last 364 days!!!!
…..……georgia = Tech’s bitch for the last 364 days!!!
…….georgia = Tech’s bitch for the last 364 days!!!!!!!
……..georgia = Tech’s bitch for the last 364 days!!!!!!!!
……..georgia = Tech’s bitch for the last 364 days!!!!!!!!!!
……….georgia = Tech’s bitch for the last 364 days!!!!!!!!!!
………..georgia = Tech’s bitch for the last 364 days!!!!!!!!!!!
…………georgia = Tech’s bitch for the last 364 days!!!!!!!!!!!!
………….georgia = Tech’s bitch for the last 364 days!!!!!!!!!!!!!
…………..georgia = Tech’s bitch for the last 364 days!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
……………georgia = Tech’s bitch for the last 364 days!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
……………georgia = Tech’s bitch for the last 364 days!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
…………….georgia = Tech’s bitch for the last 364 days!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
……………..georgia = Tech’s bitch for the last 364 days!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
………………georgia = Tech’s bitch for the last 364 days!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
……………….georgia = Tech’s bitch for the last 364 days!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
………………georgia = Tech’s bitch for the last 364 days!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
……………georgia = Tech’s bitch for the last 364 days!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
…………georgia = Tech’s bitch for the last 364 days!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
………georgia = Tech’s bitch for the last 364 days!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
……georgia = Tech’s bitch for the last 364 days!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
…georgia = Tech’s bitch for the last 364 days!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
georgia = Tech’s bitch for the last 364 days!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
georgia = Tech’s bitch for the last 364 days!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
.georgia = Tech’s bitch for the last 364 days!!!!!!!!!!!!!
..georgia = Tech’s bitch for the last 364 days!!!!!!!!!!
…georgia = Tech’s bitch for the last 364 days!!!!!!!!
….georgia = Tech’s bitch for the last 364 days!!!!!!
…..georgia = Tech’s bitch for the last 364 days!!!
……georgia = Tech’s bitch for the last 364 days!

Eddie

November 27th, 2009
7:29 am

Mr. Bradley—Your continued shots at Coach Richt and the UGA program never cease to amaze me.There is not discounting the fact that we have had a bad year this year, but trend. We did finish #2 in the nation after ‘07 and went 10-3 in ‘08. As far as Kentucky goes, Coach Brooks has that program on a much higher level than when the previous coaches you mentioned coach.I have not doubt that , if Coach Richt has the patience to put up with ignorant media and so-called fans, he will make necessary changes and get us back to the top! GO DAWGS!!

HH

November 27th, 2009
7:30 am

If he doesn’t grasp it, then in two years’ time at the most, he won’t have to worry about it. It won’t be his problem any longer. Of course, Bradley, as do a lot of others, you are crediting Richt with too much intelligence. I don’t think he is quite as smart as s lot of people think. I will put forth the opinion that, instead, he has been quite lucky. Luck makes up for a lot.

WHY DO MUTTS BARK?CAUSE BUMBLE BEES STING

November 27th, 2009
7:31 am

IF YOU WANT A PREACHER THEN GO TO CHURCH,BECAUSE THATS WHERE MARK RICHT NEEDS TO BE ON SAT,DURING THE TECH GAME!

smiba1

November 27th, 2009
7:33 am

End of the year coaching changes:
1. Willlie demoted to DB coach, New DC comes in.
2. Bobo demoted to QB coach.
3. Mark Richt takes over calling plays again.
4. Fabris gone.

Anyone who thinks CMR will bring in a NEW OC has lost their mind. The offense is his baby that he brought in from fsu.. Bobo is his protege and calls CMR plays.. I only see the possibilty of 2 new coaches. DC and Special teams..

SatchelBuzz

November 27th, 2009
7:33 am

That “big picture” is about to get worse for ugag nation. Can’t wait ’til tomorrow,..sun up to sun down on the Flats. Going to be a great day.

THWG!!!

banders1

November 27th, 2009
7:33 am

I remember last year when Alabama was “young” – they only went 10-2 because they had good coaching. UGA, on the other hand, has no coaching but plenty of excuses.

Pup Dawg

November 27th, 2009
7:35 am

Mark, finally the media has opened their eyes to UGA’s problems. It started when BVG left. UGA football is in a tailspin & Richt won’t face it. Fans like Eddie are eternal optimists like Richt, but their comes a time when reality & inadequacy outweigh optimism.

FLA DAWG

November 27th, 2009
7:35 am

Head Coach: Spurrier
OC: Weiss (Don’t be fooled by his HC performance folks. This guy can run an Offense.)
DC: Tubberville

A Dawg Team with these guys coaching would be Fearsome to say the least.

Lowcountry Bulldawg

November 27th, 2009
7:36 am

Yellow Fuzz = “….NERD ALERT!!!!”

falcon 71

November 27th, 2009
7:38 am

you may be right smiba

Dan

November 27th, 2009
7:39 am

I think it goes too far to say UGA has been lapped by UF,ALA and LSU. If a year like this one happens again next year then it might be a fair statement.

JV

November 27th, 2009
7:39 am

Beating Tech (unlikely but possible) would be sweet, but I can’t believe that would lead CMR to kid himself that everything is OK.

FLA DAWG

November 27th, 2009
7:42 am

Hey banders1,

I don’t read many excuses on this site. Dawg Nation is demanding coaching changes. The only excuses I read are those of the coaches (the same ones we want changed!)

And to all of you Gator and GT Fans out there. chances are that one of your Head Coaches is packing his bag for South Bend so enjoy your last, great season.

Papadawg.

November 27th, 2009
7:43 am

Comparing Kentuckys team to teams of the past is wrong. The Dooley years was at a time where all big college teams picked all and as many great players they wanted while teams like Kentucky got average players at best but now with the scholarship limits the big schools can’t sign all the blue chippers. Just look at the top 25 and you’ll see teams like Boise St who were once homecoming picks for the big schools while teams like Georgia, Oklahoma, Nortre Dame are trying to get into ANY bowl. this does not hide the fact that so many other teams have Gotten better while Georgia has become stationary. I don’t know what needs to be done to turn this DAWG team around except have patience and see if these young players, which we have so many of, will live up to their 5 star high school ranking. Maybe just maybe Coach Richt can get the right prayers answered and replace coaches when and where needed

gators81

November 27th, 2009
7:45 am

meyer> richt…..by a mile….what changes are you..the fan base going to demand!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1

Douglas

November 27th, 2009
7:46 am

Eddie: you are delusional. Mark Richt is either in denial or just plain stupid. All you have to do is look at the stats…or maybe you are in denial or just as stupid as Richt. UGA needs to get rid of their DC, their LB’s coach, and their special teams coach. They need to tell Bobo to play power football or else he is gone.

SatchelBuzz

November 27th, 2009
7:47 am

Dan,…..slower traffic should pull over to the side of track.

THWG!!!

Creative Writing Idea

November 27th, 2009
7:54 am

See if you can find another way to say that UGA is going down the tubes. I think you have now written this column 57 times. It’s amazing that you get paid for this. BTW, please explain how LSU has lapped the Dawgs? 5 losses last year, 3 (so far) in ‘09. That is a moronic statement. Bama is on the way up…but hasn’t won anything (much like your hero Paul Johnson). Florida…I agree with that one. They’ve lapped the nation, though, so there is no shame in that. For the record; I agree that UGA is not in good shape right now. Richt has given no indication that he isn’t capable of fixing it…shut up and give him a chance to do it.

Duke

November 27th, 2009
7:56 am

Tech fans are not attractive people. Paul Johnson looks like a troll.

David Crisp

November 27th, 2009
7:57 am

I have heard that Willie will resign on Sunday. Any credibility to that report?

chiefdawg

November 27th, 2009
7:57 am

Unfounately there will be no changes.

War Jacket

November 27th, 2009
7:58 am

I hope that the ignorant Georgia fans get their wishes and Adams finds a way to fire Richt. Richt is a quality coach and has earned more respect than he is getting now. Other potential coaching candidates will then see how a quality coach is utimately treated by these yahoos and will then shun the job, and Georgia will be stuck in another lost 20 years. Just like the end of the Dooley era and those under Goff and Donnan. Come on Georgia idiots, fire Mark Richt, fire Mark Richt!!! This will ensure your rightful return to college football mediocrity for years to come.

Burdell

November 27th, 2009
7:59 am

“It’s been the emphasis all year,” Dobbs said. “We’ve looked to this game and tried to prepare for it mentally. We know we had a lot of scrutiny come down on us last year after we lost to Tech, and the only way to redeem ourselves is after this win.” from Macon Telegraph, Nov. 27, 2009

All year huh? Maybe that explains the 5 losses…looking ahead to Tech all year. But I thought this game against the nerds and their high-powered high school offense wasn’t even a rivalry anymore.?.?

GO JACKETS!!!

Big Al

November 27th, 2009
8:00 am

There have been many interviews with Coach Richt. There have been many (maybe more) interviews with Joe Cox. There have been a few interviews with Bobo. Why has no one been interviewing Martinez? What he might have to say on this deplorable situation would be interesting.

Cantonese Dawg

November 27th, 2009
8:01 am

Yawn. Mark you are writing like the jilted lover. You jumped on bandwagon in the glory years and now that there are some tough times you are piling on the trash. You and all the so called what have you done for me this week Bulldog fan deserve anything you get if you keep working towards getting Richt fired, which whether you admit or not, is what you are writing towards. The short attention span and the small mindedness is amazing. All this coach has done is to run a clean program with high moral and ethical standards; the parents and the kids love and admire; who has brought nothing but good to this University. I grew up in Athens during the Dooley years and this coach has brought that same level of class back to UGA. Sure I am as disappointed as anyone with the level of play this year. But i have the utmost confidence in Coach Richt and if I was in the position to decide his future, I would afford him as much time as necessary. He deserves it. Do you think the record amount of money that has been pouring in is because of your good looks and award winning journalism? There is nothing wrong with some agitation and change. I understand what you are trying to do with all your jabs. I wonder if there is a way to get some editorial comments published to get some muckrakers at the local fish wrapper rag canned?

Florida Dawg

November 27th, 2009
8:01 am

I look for Michael Adams to get involved…he’s good at crisis situations. Maybe it will help his character issues.
It is apparent that Bulldog Nation needs for him to act…say something at the very least.

AU True Blue

November 27th, 2009
8:02 am

Mark:

I am amazed at the short term perspective that you are exhibiting, in lieu of expert analysis. Florida, Alabama, and LSU have lapped Georgia and the rest of the SEC? Maybe during this current cycle, which in the SEC is a 2-3 year climb up the ladder followed by an inevitable step backwards. Florida will have to replace Tebow after this season, and that will bring them back to the pack. Alabama will find out that success won’t keep $aban in Tuscaloosa because he is restless (see LSU), and that will bring them back to the pack. LSU is probably going to fire Les Miles after the 2010 season, because they are already drifting back to the pack. I am an Auburn grad but my father is a Florida grad. Recently we attended the Florida – Vanderbilt game in Gainesville. I was amazed at how much they depended on Tebow, even to beat Vanderbilt. Florida will come back to the pack next season, because Tebow will leave too big of a hole for them to fill. Those Meyer to Notre Dame rumors may turn out to be true. Georgia caught a bad break when Stafford left early and Moreno left early. If they had stayed, Georgia would have been pretty stout this year. Stafford leaving early is the main reason Georgia stumbled this year.

FLA DAWG

November 27th, 2009
8:03 am

Amazing how many in Dawg Nation refuse to see the obvious.

This program is getting worse – not better. We drag the anchor with penalties, turnovers, points allowed, yardage allowed. Yet we have been among the Top 5 or 10 in recruiting almost every year. Our players are out of position, not prepared for gameday, execute poorly and have sometimes laid down on Martinez and given up.

We have not prepared even ONE QB for next season. I submit Richt and his band should go but there will likely only be a couple of other coaching changes that will help but not provide the player performance needed to win the SEC. This will eventually be Richt’s downfall.

The pity is that the players, students, alums and all Dawg Fans will see another year or two of embarrassment before it happens.

Paddy

November 27th, 2009
8:03 am

Eddie….those “so called fans” you allude to are good fans with honest instincts that want what is good for Georgia. Blaming the media and the fan base for football problems is hiding your head in the sand. It is like blaming the teachers for their childs bad behavior.

Herschel Talker

November 27th, 2009
8:03 am

MB:

Your finest article in months! I am glad you and Schultzie are finally discussing what us in the know have known for years, that Richt is an emperor with no clothes. Take away Greene, Shockley, Pollack, and Van Gorder, and you have nothing. This is a complete and utter disaster.

thought there was a game saturday..Mr. write Badley

November 27th, 2009
8:05 am

moron city…write about Saturday’s game Mark flag boy dorko bradley

Ozzy

November 27th, 2009
8:06 am

I heard Richt and the entire staff resigned this morning but will coach the Tech game just to piss off Georgia fans.