Both finished 6-7, but UGA’s woes run deeper than Tech’s

"How about you recruit for me, and I'll coach for you?" (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

"How about you recruit for me, and I'll coach for you?" (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

Georgia and Georgia Tech each finished 6-7 after being ranked in the preseason Top 25, but that’s all the programs have in common. Tech lacks players. Georgia lacks coaching. All things considered, you’d rather be Tech.

There’s a chance Paul Johnson, stylized offense and all, can sign enough players to lift Tech to another ACC title. There’s less a chance Mark Richt will ever again take his Bulldogs to the SEC summit. What used to be an anomaly has become the norm: When it comes to a big game against an opponent of similar resources, Georgia loses.

Given that Tech lost three of its leading lights — Derrick Morgan, Demaryius Thomas and Jonathan Dwyer — off its conference championship team to the NFL a year early and then lost Joshua Nesbitt, its best remaining player, to a broken arm, a case can be made that 6-7 was close to what the Jackets deserved. Yeah, they should have won at Kansas and maybe at Clemson, but in the big picture they underachieved only slightly.

Contrast this with Georgia, which underachieved massively. The Bulldogs returned 10 of 11 offensive starters and saw the one exception — quarterback Aaron Murray — become the team MVP, and still they couldn’t beat anybody of note. The records of its victims: Louisiana-Lafayette, 3-9; Tennessee, 6-7; Vanderbilt, 2-10; Kentucky, 6-6; Idaho State, 1-10, and  Tech, 6-7.

Think about that: A team with Murray and A.J. Green (for nine of 13 games, anyway) and Justin Houston and Washaun Ealey and Kris Durham could not beat a single team that has finished with a winning record. (Kentucky still has a no-account bowl to play.) To borrow Urban Meyer’s pithy description: Whenever the checkers were nearly equal, Richt and his staff proceeded to get double-jumped.

The belief here is that matters will get no better so long as Richt is place. Whatever was working when he was winning SEC titles has stopped working. This isn’t a case of One Down Year. If we look back to 2006, when Georgia was 9-4 coming off a conference championship, it has been a downward spiral interrupted only by the 11-2 uptick of 2007. Over his first five seasons Richt lost 13 games; over the past five he has lost 21.

At Tech, Johnson still must prove he can win without benefit of Chan Gailey’s players. In Athens, Richt still must prove he can win with his own players. There was no reason that a team of such resources should have failed to score a touchdown against Central Florida — East Carolina managed five touchdowns against the Knights on Oct. 30 — but that, sad to say, is the new reality: Whatever it takes to lose, Georgia does.

Having dumped three defensive assistants last winter and re-assigned his strength coach last month, Richt has fired pretty much everyone around him. The greater problem remains: Richt is no longer the daring young coach who restored Georgia to eminence. Going for a field goal on the game’s first drive against Central Florida? Would that have happened in 2002? For all his offseason declarations that the fire in his belly had been re-stoked, his gastric flame has been reduced to embers.

Which losing program is in worse shape?

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Tech’s issues are of a different sort. Johnson cannot simply seek to outflank everyone all the time. When you’re as clever as he is, you tend to rely on cleverness, but we saw Nov. 27 the limits of that approach: Johnson outcoached Richt all ends, but Johnson’s team lost. Afterward Tech folks were incongruously giddy because they came fully expecting to be embarrassed, but a program in a BCS league cannot subsist long on moral victories.

The trouble with Tech is that its talent base has slipped into the ACC’s lower half. The trouble with Georgia is that its coach has been rendered substandard. Would any updated ranking of SEC coaches put Richt in the upper half? The upper two-thirds? Add it up: Three of the coaches who lost to the Bulldogs in 2010 are no longer employed; the other three include two first-year men and Johnson. And now you’re saying, “Doesn’t that mean Tech is in worse shape than Georgia?”

Er, no. For Tech to rise again to the top of its conference, Johnson has only to find new players. For Georgia to rise again to the top of its league, it will have to find a new coach.

By Mark Bradley

593 comments Add your comment

mmgtfan

January 3rd, 2011
11:37 am

mmgtfan

January 3rd, 2011
11:38 am

Saw you on the TV last night Mark, moving on up in the world huh? haha

Brandon from Warner Robins

January 3rd, 2011
11:39 am

Interesting. 6-7 wake up call for Richt. Dawgs rebound next season.

Greg

January 3rd, 2011
11:41 am

i dont think tech will EVER win another conference title- let alone make it to the game- with this gimmicky offense that was rendered ancient over 20 years ago… for that reason, and that alone, i think tech is in infinitely worse shape than UGA. Richt needs an attitude check for sure, but bet you Johnson doesnt make it through the next 3 years with tech… Richt is already on year #11

Dasher

January 3rd, 2011
11:42 am

Only Bradley……

I guess when both teams finish 6-7, you should look at the loser of the head to head matchup as the better team.

That makes PLENTY of sense to me……..

42-34

Mark Bradley

January 3rd, 2011
11:42 am

Kudos, mmgtfan.

NOVAJacket

January 3rd, 2011
11:43 am

To his credit, Johnson has been disciplined in his redshirting which will start paying dividends soon. The roster issue was an aberration this year for Tech due to the early departures and the 2008 transition year.

hind tit

January 3rd, 2011
11:44 am

People don’t expect as much from tech as they do from uga is the reason.

Mark Richt

January 3rd, 2011
11:46 am

Georgia fans are fine with sacking me, but I’m still 9-1 against Tech, 2-1 against Paul Johnson, and have never lost at Grant Field.

But hey, Tech’s gonna get Talent! Somehow! Mark Bradley says so!

RazorCatchPrey

January 3rd, 2011
11:46 am

My U(sic)GA fan (not grad) buddy told me after their loss that UCF was a lot better than Air Force. Not a chance. UCF lost to NC State, Kansas State, and Southern Miss and beat Georgia and East Carolina. Not that impressive. Air Force lost to Oklahoma, TCU, and Utah, all of whom were ranked in the top 10 at the time, plus SD State. Air Force beat Navy, Colorado State, and BYU.

Not to knock George O’Learey and George Godsey’s boys, but in what bulldog-centric universe is UCF a more respectable loss than Air Force?

Beast from the East

January 3rd, 2011
11:48 am

Both programs have lots of work to do, but it is much easier to win the ACC than the SEC.
UGA has a much higher hill to climb than Tech does because of that.

Herschel Talker

January 3rd, 2011
11:48 am

MB:

Welcome back! We missed you!

Thank you for finally saying what needs to be said: MARK RICHT NEEDS TO BE FIRED!!!

HT

Dasher

January 3rd, 2011
11:49 am

Without Nesbitt, Tech went 1 – 3 1/2 (losing the second half of Va Tech)

The only good thikng Tech had going without Nesbitt was Anthony Allen.

Since they both will be world renowned Engineers this time next year, Tech will have NOBODY.

UGA has a proven clutch young QB (when he doesn;t wear a Michael Jackson glove on his throwing hand), who is VERY worthy of building an offense around.

UGA will have Isaiah Crowell next year, and IF (which is a big word in the world of recruiting) he is able to make the “Marcus Lattimore Type” instant impact like projected, that UGA should be a fun team to watch next year.

Without AJ Green, UGA still has talented receivers, who will for the first time as Dawgs be #1 targets. So we haven’t even been able to see them showcased yet. I have no worries about AJ leaving.

UGA rebounds next year, and at least competes for the East Title. Tech fans will be burning down the house of Paul Johnson mid season next year. Unless he reads about something that the rest of the Football Universe calls the “Forward Pass”,…… let me help get him started…. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forward_pass

Joycee Banicheck

January 3rd, 2011
11:50 am

Bottom line is they both SUCK. Big ones

SmyrnaMan

January 3rd, 2011
11:51 am

Who wants to play for UGA’s vaunted O? I mean yall put up 6 points and your “chosen one” threw 2 picks and under 200 yards. UGA is down, way down

Edsel

January 3rd, 2011
11:52 am

Might seem like a lot to fix, but in the SEC, with all that talent, UGA is 1 player away, RB like Lattimore, QB like Newton, Percy Harvin type of guy, 3-4 NT like Mt Cody. Get 1 of those type of move, and 2011 will be much better, get 2, or 3 or 4, and it gets pretty exciting.

You’re probably looking at these changes, based on the above models:
1- Murray’s done. Look for Lemay or Mason to get their chance.
2- Look for Ealey or Crowell or King to become the 1 back and get 35 carries a game, no more 2 back rotation. After all, richt is 43-3 when he gets a 100 yard rusher. Just go to 1 best back, run him like crazy.
3- Go get Jenkins, top JUCO NT, to plug the 3-4 and anchor the defense.
4- Move Branden Smith to offense, and give him the Percy role, and let him get 10-15 touches a game, depending on productivity, and ball protection. Or consider Logan Gray, Wooten, or King there.

Bradley's 80's Afro

January 3rd, 2011
11:52 am

Well said, Bradley.

Paul in RDU

January 3rd, 2011
11:52 am

Wow – Looks like some UGA fans have taken their predictions for 2010 and reused them for 2011.
GT neeeds better players – we will find out in 2011 and 2012 whether Johnson is an effective recruiter. If he is not he won’t be around in 2013.

kent

January 3rd, 2011
11:53 am

why delay the inevitable. Offer Kirby Smart Head Coaching position now. Richt is in over his head- if it weren’t for the choir boy image, he would be long gone. It is all a veneer- he can’t coach.

oh, well

January 3rd, 2011
11:53 am

And like mentioned above me,…..

As much as Tech fans LOVE to bash Mark Richt, and say he doesn;t know how to coach, the numbers speak for themselves……

Mark Richt is 9-1 against Tech. 2-1 against Paul “the genius” Johnson.

Mark Richt is basically the Nerd’s DADDY

Dawg Fud

January 3rd, 2011
11:53 am

Richt is toast. McGarity will let the axe fall next year because donations have officially stopped.

Richt gives the perception that his head is elsewhere.

Florida just hired Charlie Weiss. Georgia has Mike Bobo.

Georgia is not committed to winning like the majority of the SEC. I am confident McGarity will act properly.

Kiss my Richter

January 3rd, 2011
11:54 am

Dasher, you’re an idiot!

You don’t look as much at head to head, when the dawgs have 4 and 5 star recruits, verses 2 and 3 stars. Is Johnson the best coach ever? Not even close… Tech has issues, but for the Dawgs, the problems are MUCH bigger! They have talent, but year in and year out, they still SUCK! If beating a bad Tech team is what you want to hang your hat on, then you’re even dumber than I thought…

oh, well

January 3rd, 2011
11:55 am

9-1
2-1
Mark Richt owes Property Taxes on North Ave….. because he OWNS TECH.

joe

January 3rd, 2011
11:55 am

UGA will have another losing season next year:

Boise-L
USC-L
CC-W
at Ole Miss-L
MSU-L
at TN-L
at vandy-W
open date-L (just kidding)
FL-L
NMS-W
auburn-L
KY-W
Tech-W

5-7 and no bowl game…Richt will be fired in 2011…book it.

Not Don Waddell

January 3rd, 2011
11:56 am

How can the only two programs in a state that is a top 5 producer of talent combine to go 12-14?

Both of them are pitiful.

Coach Richt had better be writing $200,000 checks to the parents of every blue-chipper in the state. If you still think that UGA’s talent is on par with the upper-echelon of the SEC, then you have not been watching.

Chris Clemons has 11 sacks for the Seahawks this year, and was a rotational guy for UGA. The talent dropoff is staggering. They have been settling for scrubs like Jeremy Longo, Chase Vasser, Bryce Ros, Mike Gilliard, Logan Gray, Ben Harden, and on and on. A couple of non-contributors here and there is fine, but when you have 15 or so guys out of 85 who are not SEC caliber talents, then you are severely hampering the roster.

Coach Richt may be a fine Christian man, but money will spoil anyone, and he has gotten rich beyond his wildest dreams. I don’t see him turning it around, but the administration is going to give him another year regardless of what I think.

Paul Johnson’s success was predicated on having Adrian Peterson at Georgia Southern and by getting to tailor his schedule at Navy so that he was able to play different teams each year who were not prepared for his offense. If he can keep Vad Lee committed, he may be a difference-maker, but they are still woefully undermanned on the lines of scrimmage and defense.

I also think that Johnson may become a victim of his own success, as other 2nd tier schools may begin running the Wishbone to try and compete, therefore other teams will be able to prepare for it.

Regardless, Johnson’s teams will never have great defenses, because when you practice against option QB’s every day, it is frightening to see a real QB on Saturdays.

Beast from the East

January 3rd, 2011
11:57 am

Dasher and Edsel,
Stay away from the kool-aid. We all heard the same thing 12 months ago and what did that produce? This was the ABSOLUTE WORST you will ever see the SEC East and UGA finished 3-5 in the conference. I wouldn’t set my expectations too high for 2011. South Carloina will be the pre-season favorites to make it to Atlanta.

Kiss my Richter

January 3rd, 2011
11:58 am

13-1…. Gators OWN the dawgs!

Oh well…

HAHAHAHAHAH…. it’ll be 14-1 next year!

Gawdfather

January 3rd, 2011
11:58 am

When Brian Van Gorder left UGA, so did the edge and attitude of the early years of the Richt era (i.e. our defense was the key to the success of those teams). You can’t be milquetoast and win in the SEC. Sadly, it is going to take a new head coach to bring it back.

sogadog

January 3rd, 2011
11:58 am

Are you officially saying UGA should fire CMR?

You make many good points in this article, but still, UGA and CMR have a much more solid foundation to work from. Johnson’s gimmicky offense and compete absence of a passing game will not work over the long haul. He also cant recruit and that will kill his program in about three years. CMR had a good long run from 2002 through 2008 winning nine or more games those years and recruiting great talent. I agree the assistant coaching has been poor at UGA the last few years, (Martinez and his bunch, Bobo and Searles) but that can be remedied.

This time next year we will have a clear picture of the future of UGA football.

oh, well

January 3rd, 2011
11:58 am

you Nerds LOVE to point out that UGA has all this talent, and fails to win National Championships…

So basically, you expect UGA to win a National Championship EVERY year. For that, I think you, and take it as a HUGE compliment coming from the State of Georgia’s JV team.

In a year where all UGA has to brag about is beating Tech, all Tech has to brag about is the fact that all UGA has to brag about is beating Tech….. you able to follow that???

THAT is what is pathetic.

42-34
9-1
Mark Richt is your DADDY

Luke J

January 3rd, 2011
11:58 am

Both teamw were mediocre this year. I would NEVER rather be Tech than Georgia, however. That’s ridiculous. The two progams, of which I am a fan of neither, are not comparable in most respects. Tech draws 35,000 a game (mabye). UGA draws nearly 100,000. Georgia has pretty much dominated Tech for years, and is certainly the better program, and has vastly more upside and potential. Don’t get me wrong- UGA sucked this year, but the sky is not falling. They will weather the storm, whether with or without Mark Richt as coach. Tech cannot win with that silly offense on a regular basis. The top offensive players will never think about 4 years of option football, and being overlooked by the NFL. Mark, your logic is way off at times.

Kiss my Richter

January 3rd, 2011
12:00 pm

No… you MORONS love to point out how much talent you have EVERY year… but you still SUCK! And ALL you get is beating a BAD Tech team… and even then, you really SHOULDN’T have. Beat the Gators, and then run your mouth!

jtmdawg

January 3rd, 2011
12:00 pm

CMR needs to man up and do the right thing, step down and let someone who knows how to coach lead the bulldogs. I thought we were in trouble in the late eighties, man we are in a bad way. Please, can we get a football program?

Edsel

January 3rd, 2011
12:01 pm

Mark-

if UGA’s problem are deep, why did Richt go from 1-4 to 5-2, in 1 season?

oh, well

January 3rd, 2011
12:02 pm

At least UGA doesn’t have to live vicariously through another team when smack talking Tech.

For that, I am thankful.

Cannot wait for G-Day on April 16th

Edsel

January 3rd, 2011
12:02 pm

Mark-

Remember back in 2006, you were pretty hard on Richt, rpedicting a really bad season. Remember what happened?

2007, richt turned it around lighning like, shot up to #2 finish in 2007.

Kiss my Richter

January 3rd, 2011
12:03 pm

34-31!!!

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH

dawgfan

January 3rd, 2011
12:04 pm

I guess if winning the worst BCS league in America and getting pounded in bowl games is what you’re going for then Tech has it better than UGA. Point conceded Mark.

I really don’t even know why we play Georgia Tech anymore. What’s the point? First of all, everyone knows we’ll win. Look at the record. Secondly, Techies will throw out a bunch of lame excuses and refuse to acknowledge our victory. When was the last time you heard a Techie admit that UGA beat them fair and square without any kind of qualification or rationalization? It just doesn’t happen. Bragging rights? You might as well be speaking japanese because Techies have no idea what that means. And last but not least, a win apparently means nothing to the local media who routinely tell us that Tech is in much better shape than UGA despite final scores that suggest otherwise.

So why in the hell do we play this game?

Hal

January 3rd, 2011
12:04 pm

But…..but Georgia owns this state………….

gtfanfrom1951

January 3rd, 2011
12:04 pm

Remember Bobby Dodd used to win with less talent. If we get special teams fixed this year who know how many we might win. How many games did the special teams cost us last year 3 or 4? How many bad years did VD have? Maybe EM will come and help the special teams if we ask him?

markright?

January 3rd, 2011
12:05 pm

I thought you said you were going to try and be right this year???? And this is your first blog of the year, puhleeze, you are 0 for 1 already!!!

Buck Commander

January 3rd, 2011
12:06 pm

Looks like you hit the nail on the head, Mark. Hope you had a good New Year also.

Dawg Tired

January 3rd, 2011
12:06 pm

Mark – I think you got this right. As a long time supporter of Coach Richt, I have concluded he has lost control of his program. That decision to kick a field goal on 4th and inches defies all logic. First, it was a bowl game – have fun. Second, UCF had shown no ability to stop any play claled during that entire drive. Third, there is no way Coach Richt would have kicked a field goal 5 years ago.

The team clearly quit on him after that decision to kick the field goal. While I am not defending their decision to “tank it’ after he made Richt’s decision, I certainly can understand their frustration.

Bottom line, CMR has lost his ability to motivate his players. They no longer trust him. After all, he clearly does not trust them. 4th and inches, come on man!

If McGarity keeps Richt after that clear display of incompetence, he needs to move on as well.

Mark Bradley

January 3rd, 2011
12:07 pm

Thanks, Buck Commander. Best wishes to you, too.

oh, well

January 3rd, 2011
12:08 pm

I’d say based on what i see here……

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-KDrPUcUsFY

Tech has more issues that UGA when compared HEAD TO HEAD.

42-34

Dawg Tired

January 3rd, 2011
12:08 pm

Sorry about the typos.

wildbill

January 3rd, 2011
12:08 pm

I saw CMR on tv several times during the holidays driving a new Ford truck. I hope he rides it out of town ASAP!

Whopper Dawg

January 3rd, 2011
12:08 pm

The wheels are off at UGA. The problems are so severe you can’t fix them in from year to year and not with current staff So, Mark, how long does Richt get to raise UGA from the bottom three of the SEC where they now reside?

balismith

January 3rd, 2011
12:08 pm

sad to say but i agree with most of what you stated concerning uga….the only other offseason move i would make before firing richt would be to fire bobo…let richt have one more year with him calling the plays and see what happens,,,if the fire is still in his belly, maybe by him being the main signal caller would help…all the other problems…jeez i never thought ugawould roll over and just quit and play and act like they have this season

kent

January 3rd, 2011
12:10 pm

This will get done when blue chip recruits start refusing to come to Georgia and play for such an incompetent group of coaches where their talents will be wasted.