Alas, Georgia’s coaching is no longer championship-caliber

It was another hair-raising loss for UGA and Mark Richt. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

It was another hair-raising loss for UGA and Mark Richt. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

On Oct. 27, 2007, Knowshon Moreno scored to give Georgia a 7-0 lead against Florida, prompting the Bulldogs’ semi-planned and twice-penalized on-field celebration. What you knew: Georgia won that day 42-30, marking the only time Mark Richt’s team has beaten Urban Meyer’s.

What you didn’t know: The day of the Gator Stomp marked the first and last time — in six tries, mind you — a Richt team has taken a lead on Meyer’s.

As disheartening as Richt being 1-5 against Meyer is, the repeated failure to nose ahead even 3-0 is more alarming. It’s a direct reflection of coaching, or the lack thereof. Rule 1 in the Coaching Manual: Get your team ready to play. Sad to say, the Bulldogs under Richt are rarely ready.

Say what you will about Meyer, but the man can coach. His work against Ohio State in Glendale, Ariz., in January 2007 was the greatest coaching performance the BCS title game has ever seen, and his work against Georgia on Saturday was no less inspired. In Jacksonville he took the demonstrably lesser team — anybody see an A.J. Green or a Justin Houston or even an Aaron Murray or an Orson Charles among Gators? — and wrung 450 yards and 34 points from it. Meyer tried everything. Richt’s team tried running the ball on second-and-10 in overtime.

The best you can say about Richt’s coaching is that his players didn’t quit when they fell behind. That’s surely because they’ve had so much practice: Georgia hasn’t led in any of its four SEC losses. South Carolina and Arkansas took the ball first and drove to touchdowns. Georgia took the ball against Mississippi State and went three-and0ut; on Saturday Murray threw an interception on the first snap.

We once considered Richt a splendid gameday coach, but that time is gone. Georgia was 52-13 in Richt’s first five season, reaching the SEC title game three times and winning it twice. It’s 42-19 since. Not coincidentally, Richt’s decline dovetails with Meyer’s rise. (Although it must be noted that Richt has a losing record against three Florida coaches: He was 0-1 against Steve Spurrier, 1-2 against Ron Zook.)

There’s still great talent at Georgia — the old Spurrier knock on Ray Goff now attaches itself to this coach: “Georgia gets all these players; I don’t know what happens to them” — but the coaching has fallen below SEC standards. If we’re looking for the sea-change game, we need underscore Sept. 27, 2008, the night Nick Saban and Alabama came to Athens and not only jumped ahead but led by 31 points after 30 minutes.

Back to Saturday: The Bulldogs got the ball to start overtime, which means the worst they should have done was gain no yards and let Blair Walsh try a 42-yard field goal to put them ahead. Instead Murray threw the ball into stacked coverage and saw the Gators nearly end the game without having to play offense. Murray has had a terrific freshman season and had a fabulous second half, but in the season’s biggest moment he made the one play a quarterback cannot make.

That’s what Georgia under Richt has come to do: It makes the one play to lose a game, as opposed to David Greene throwing to Verron Haynes in Knoxville or to Michael Johnson in Auburn. (Or even Matthew Stafford throwing to Mikey Henderson in Tuscaloosa.) Georgia under Richt has become the toothless tiger — the team everyone respects but nobody fears.

Richt’s 10-year body of work stands as a mighty argument for administrative patience. More current events suggest the Richt of 2010 isn’t the Richt of yesteryear. It took four full seasons under this coach and defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder for Georgia to lose 10 games. The Bulldogs lost five times last year, changed defensive coordinators and have already lost five times this.

And now Richt’s gifted Bulldogs have fallen to the worst Florida team Meyer has fielded. In a year where the SEC East was ripe for a young team to rise up and march to the Georgia Dome, that team will not be Mark Richt’s. He’s no longer a championship coach. Dating back to Nov. 29, 2008, his Bulldogs are 13-11, which means he’s barely even a winning coach.

1,352 comments Add your comment

We Drink This State

October 31st, 2010
11:31 am

Mark Bradley

October 31st, 2010
11:34 am

Kudos, We Drink. And now I’m going to Mass.

Benjamin

October 31st, 2010
11:39 am

What are you doing in Massachusetts, Mark? [I kid, I kid...]

But seriously, it’s a depressing time for Bulldog Nation. Do you think there’s any chance Coach will be relieved of his duties this offseason?

Frank Lane

October 31st, 2010
11:39 am

Don’t that this is a fair article. Not sure how I feel about it.

82Dawg

October 31st, 2010
11:41 am

Mark, I disagree with you… enough said.

82Dawg

October 31st, 2010
11:42 am

@Benjamin ….there is no way there will be a new head coach in Athens next year.

ghost

October 31st, 2010
11:42 am

So what do you suggest Mark? More time for Richt or a new coach?

Jeff

October 31st, 2010
11:43 am

Don’t worry Dawgs–the loss to Florida next year won’t be nearly so gut wrenching.

U.G.A

October 31st, 2010
11:44 am

Fire Richt!!!!!!

You Ain't-Know Gaily Whacker

October 31st, 2010
11:45 am

The Reporter: Mr. McGarity, what will Mark do to recover from this let down ?

Greg: He will probably change shoes and do this.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=amznbi0lFaU

sara

October 31st, 2010
11:46 am

i’d put the blame for this one on the players…..

JacketFan

October 31st, 2010
11:47 am

There is no joy in Dawgville,
the mighty preacher has struck out … again.

Benjamin

October 31st, 2010
11:50 am

@ 82: My disappointment with Richt isn’t necessarily the record, but rather the lack of discipline his team has shown the past couple years on and off the field [particularly off]. I don’t think they’ll let him go, either — if anything, because of the potential talent we’ve got coming in 2011 and 2012 on the recruiting front — but I think the case could be made, nonetheless.

Flat Tire on I-95 in Jacksonville

October 31st, 2010
11:50 am

Great article mark its about time

Truth hurts UGA fans,

Ive supported Richt but no more

2-8 against FL and he is the 6th highest paid coach in college football

He either needs to have his salary cut in half and lets just except mediocrity or else changes to need to be made

2-8 and such a high salary does not cut it

Richt's Butt Cut

October 31st, 2010
11:51 am

One more year.. whether you like it or not.

Sweat Socks

October 31st, 2010
11:51 am

@ Frank Lane:

Not a fair article? Why? Because you disagree?

Facts are facts and Richt’s recent record speaks for itself.

JacketFan

October 31st, 2010
11:51 am

There is not joy in Dawgville,
the mighty preacher has struck out … again.

WhiteHotBleedOrange

October 31st, 2010
11:52 am

And now the most delusional fan base in college football can quit howling about the SEC Championship and BCS Bowl. Shheeesshhh, you should be ashamed for even thinking that!!

Tired of the AJC

October 31st, 2010
11:52 am

By winning percentage Richt is the tenth best coach in the country….If you fire him do you think the other nine are coming? NO. Also, poorly written article…you mentioned no murray (+300 yds passing) and no Orson (6 catches for 108 yds)….we had 440 yds of offense to their 444 at the end of the game. Why can’t we just enjoy it as a great game of ups and downs?

e-dawgie dawg

October 31st, 2010
11:52 am

Well said Mark! This business is all about “what have you done for me lately?” Richt’s personality won’t allow him to right this ship. It takes a fiery individual to lead the troops out of war, not some “nice guy” who thinks a hug will end it. I wouldn’t mind seeing Grantham as the head guy. The Defense is making great strides. I think we will be ok on that side of the ball. Grantham had to tone it down because of Richt. As the head man, I believe he would bring in the right personnel to have this team competing for championships instead of praying for one. What do I know? I’m just a former UGA football letterman

ryan

October 31st, 2010
11:54 am

You to give UGA some credit it was disaster in the first half but they never gave up last year they gave up Murray showed me yesterday that he is going to be a good one and that he wont give up .

Sweat Socks

October 31st, 2010
11:54 am

And please don’t even go with an argument of 2011 and 2012 recruiting classes. Richt has that same level of talent right now and he’s still not winning with them like he should be.

young dawg

October 31st, 2010
11:54 am

Mark Richt is only a good coach. Unfortunately this is the SEC, good just doesn’t cut it anymore if you are playing to win championships. There are 5 coaches in the west and 3 in the east that could take Georgia’s team of today and the past, and be much more successful.

JacketFan

October 31st, 2010
11:54 am

There is no joy in Dawgville,
The Mighty Richt-tard has struck out … again

Richt's Butt Cut

October 31st, 2010
11:55 am

To put it in perspective.. we were flying high after beating Tenn (worst team they’ve had in 30 years), Vandy, and KY. Then we get beat by the worst FL team in 20 years… Talent level was obvious yesterday in favor of UGA. Amazing how low we have gotten… Guess it could be worse- like the boys up in Knox- but at least the y do have a NC in the last three decades to fall back on…. Sad day in Athens….

Richard Hamilton

October 31st, 2010
11:57 am

Chris Low said it best. “Florida owns Georgia”. McG said he was worried that people put too much value into this game and that they are all important. He is right, but you when you can’t beat Florida when they are struggling, people get fed up with losing. Winning 18 out of 21 isn’t a beating, it’s absolutely embarrrasing. This was the best I have seen the dawgs play Florida since our touchdown celebration, but we wimpered out of Florida yet again. Dawgs would be better served to just forfeit this game every year and have an extra week of rest so they can finish out the season strong.

skydawg

October 31st, 2010
11:57 am

@sara……..And who recruited these players. Who coaches these players? Who is responsible for having them so well prepared that simple mistakes/bad reads don’t happen? The talent is there. It’s just not being properly coached and prepared anymore. The program, and starting with the Head Coach, has become complacent. And now that they look around, nearly the entire conference has passed passed them by. It’s a very sad state of affairs for a program that has EVERYTHING it needs to exceed at an EXTREMELY high level. Disappointing and disheartening to say the least.

DawgByte

October 31st, 2010
11:58 am

As I have been saying for two years now….This is not the coach to take us to the National title. Sure, once every decade he will win the SEC when LSU, Florida and Bama have subpar years during the same season…(happens about once per ten)…and indeed we won the SEC the last time that occured and played Hawaii. I said at the beginning of this season we should win the East because it was a down year. We had 10 offensive starters back!!! When is the last time we could say that??? And still we lose, lose, lose, lose, and lose. We will beat Tech (they simply are worse than us) but we lose to Auburn and wind up 6-6 on the year. Luckily, we get a bowl bid since there are more bowls than even 6-6 teams can fill. Please, Please, Please…Santa bring me a new coach so I can get optimistic again!!!

Homer N Butts

October 31st, 2010
12:00 pm

What’s really sad is all you people worry more about the actions of 18 and 19 year olds, who could care less about you even if they knew you, instead of spending time with your families who do need you.

io

October 31st, 2010
12:00 pm

Richt, bobo go!!! All sizzle and no steak. it hurts me to say this but johnson is the type we need; all steak

mat

October 31st, 2010
12:00 pm

Can’t beat Florida when their down. God help us all when they become good again. Fire Richt now before it gets so bad that they can’t recover.

Top Dawg

October 31st, 2010
12:01 pm

I have not heard much buzz at all about the 2011 and 2012 recruiting classes. Who thinks they are supposed to be so good, and why do you think that?

Benjamin

October 31st, 2010
12:01 pm

I’ll say this:

If Mark Richt were 5-5 and the kids weren’t getting arrested like they’ve been the past several months, I’d just chalk it up to a bad season. But for all the talk of “Fire Willie,” “Fire Bobo,” etc. the past few years, part of me wonders when people will start to realize that at least some of this stuff falls on Richt’s head. Some fans respond to “Do you think there’s any chance Richt could pay for this?” as if you’d just dropped George Carlin’s seven words in the middle of MB’s Mass.

Leadership begins at the top of the pyramid, not in the middle.

5 stars equals 5 losses

October 31st, 2010
12:01 pm

after each loss, this is what all you dog fans say and then win again, your in line to be the next world champion……good news Sisters of the Idaho is coming soon..whoever scheduled them were Geniuses, who knew and just think you have Charleston Southern in the future to bail you out…Life is Good

Chili Dog

October 31st, 2010
12:01 pm

Own it doggies

mcg dawg

October 31st, 2010
12:01 pm

Until Georgia identifies the Gators as their primary rival and changes the schedule to have an open week BEFORE Jax., I’m afraid the losing WILL continue…..SELAH

e-dawgie dawg

October 31st, 2010
12:01 pm

@ sad day for UGA: please log onto AOL to share your racist views. this blog is about football. grow up!

lu

October 31st, 2010
12:02 pm

next year even worse with green(overrated) gone and O line gone

UGABugKiller

October 31st, 2010
12:03 pm

The Blind Homers are NOT true fans. They refuse to see the facts for what they are.

Blind Homers like 82Dawg would’ve kept Donnan around. They were mad Goff got fired. They of course lie after the fact, because that’s what Blind Homers do.

Mark Richt does not deserve to be the head coach of this football program.

30 arrests in 5 years.

11 arrests THIS year.

2-8 vs. Florida. Can’t even beat the worst of Florida’s teams (INCLUDING the Zook years).

No discipline OFF the field means no discipline ON the field.

He refused to back Broyles Award Winner Brian Van Gorder in his contract negotiations with Adams so he could promote his best friend and TWICE FAILED defensive coordinator Willie Martinez to BVG’s job.

WHAT DOES THAT SAY ABOUT HIS DECISION MAKING ABILITY?

He then REFUSED to fire Martinez while discipline eroded and his program crumbled around him for the 5 seasons prior to this one.

Mark, you talk about Meyer coming in 2005 as a tipping point, but the real tipping point was when Richt didn’t fight for BVG to be fairly compensated and BVG left Georgia angry… all so Richt could hire Soft Willie in his place.

Mark Richt doesn’t deserve to be our coach.

It is HIS fault the program has declined to this point over the last 5+ years.

All you Blind Homers do is add another year or two of decline to the process.

THIS MAN HAS PROVEN HE CANNOT BEAT OUR BIGGEST RIVAL.

What else do you frickin people need???

T. Earl

October 31st, 2010
12:03 pm

I never went to Georgia, but it is the state university of my home and I have taken pride in this institution over the years. Said another way, I am a Georgia Bulldog fan and always have been. Said yet another way, the Bulldogs have broken my heart yet again. I have grown used to it but I don’t like it.

OK, got that out of my system.

Bottom line: It is time for a change. CMR “still” has not been proactive or productive in getting his offensive coordinator (and yes, I find Bobo and his calls very offensive) to “coach up” a good group of players that could truly be GREAT! I don’t blame the players at all, they have the talent. The blame goes on the coaching staff and squarely on Richt’s shoulders. In hindsight, we should have made this assessment after everyone in the Super Dome knew a fake punt was coming back in the Sugar Bowl years ago………. Alumni and administrators, don’t get wrapped around sentiment for a “home grown” replacement (Kirby Smart is not the answer) do a thorough search and restore this program to prominence… Please, I can’t take this for many more years…..

Reggie

October 31st, 2010
12:04 pm

Wow!!! That didn’t take long!!

Howard

October 31st, 2010
12:04 pm

Mark…that was still the best football game I’ve seen in a long time. Being a Texas fan (and hanging my head in befuddlement right now…)I had no dawg in this hunt (no pun intended…) except I’d liked to have seen Richt and UGA win to spite Urban Crier for playing that hoodlum-felon Chris Rainey. I’ve always said Georgia’s problem are its substandard assistant coaches they’ve always had. Good assistant coaches plus talent make a great head coach anyway. Why else did Alabama give Kirby Smart a lot of Benjamins to remain there instead of coming to Georgia??

Hoopster

October 31st, 2010
12:04 pm

Mark, who was the classy UGa football coach that gave Chas Henry the ole choke sign after the freeze time out. What a classy gesture. Screaming at a a back up kicker and giving him the choke sign. Bulldog fans should be proud. What a joke.

West GA Dawg

October 31st, 2010
12:05 pm

Look coaching did not lose the game, had the dawgs quit at half time when they were down then i’ll say it was coaching. Players on the field have to do there jobs like CATCHING THE FOOTBALL and GRABING INTERCEPTION WHEN THEY ARE THROWN RIGHT IN YOUR HANDS and also STOP FUMBLING THE FOOTBALL. But neither team quit in this game. This was an outstanding game and as much as i have to say it give the gators credit they won the game.

type

October 31st, 2010
12:06 pm

uga will NEVER be great cause cant go outside the “family” to get the best and the “family” not talented enough!! Bobo sucks

Benjamin

October 31st, 2010
12:06 pm

I didn’t see the choke sign, Hoopster. He did mouth something and walk up the sideline, though.

TomDAWG

October 31st, 2010
12:10 pm

Why so few throws to A.J.? If it because he had so many defenders on him then someone had to be left wide open. Murray is really good but he does need to find the uncovered man and make his throws quicker. Even the announcer said that he wished he could say that they were not throwing to A.J. because he was covered up, but that was not the case. In O.T., that first pass, wow. If you are going to do that, then throw it up for A.J. in the corner. I still believe if we had gotten a field goal, then we would have put more pressure on the FL. kicker/punter and I don’t think he makes the kick and Georgia wins. As it stands a very disappointing loss.

Ed

October 31st, 2010
12:10 pm

“Dating back to Nov. 29, 2008, his Bulldogs are 13-11, which means he’s barely even a winning coach.”

And if that wasn’t bad enough, take out the cupcake games and adjust the wins accordingly. Against like competition, he’s not even a winning coach anymore.

Another Steve

October 31st, 2010
12:11 pm

What else do I know?

Mark Bradley
Listen up: I like UGA over the Gators. Whaddaya think of that?

1:31 pm October 24, 2010, by Mark Bradley

Hows the fall from the bandwagon going for you?

West GA Dawg

October 31st, 2010
12:11 pm

I’m blaming this one on the players, STOP THE TURNOVERS AND CATCH THE BALL.