Fran Tarkenton on 680 The Fan: UGA ‘is in in big trouble’

If you haven’t heard what Fran Tarkenton had to say regarding Mark Richt last Friday on 680 The Fan, you probably should. The most famous former Georgia Bulldog (non-Herschel division) eviscerated the Bulldogs’ coach and strongly suggested the program needs a new leader.

Francis T. began boldly — “What has happened over the last week with Georgia has been the most disturbing time I have seen in a long time; you know, people don’t want to look at reality” — and didn’t pause for breath. (A partial transcript is available at SportsRadioInterviews.com.)

Richt’s all-is-well press briefing of Jan. 4 apparently set Tarkenton’s teeth to gnashing. Concerning the announcement that Richt would re-immerse himself in the finer points of football, Tarkenton said this:

“Holy cow! Yesterday, where Mark Richt says, ‘I have been freed from administrative duties to spend more time on football.’ Then I quote him, he said, ‘The moves give [me] more time to study the game of football and be an expert and be on the cutting edge.’ What has he been doing for nine years? I have never heard any college, high school, professional coach [say] that [he] was not able to spend enough time on football.”

Asked by host Christopher Rude if Rich might have been devoting too much time to academics or somesuch, Tarkenton said:

“No, it sounds like a cop-out!  It sounds like, ‘I am not taking responsibility.  I have other things.’  We hire people to be football coaches.  We pay him and others millions of dollars to be football coaches, not to be administrators.  He didn’t do a very good job there — we had 12 people arrested this year, including a top-ranked quarterback who was a top kid that is now going to play LSU [Zach Mettenberger], and that has been going on forever.

“[Richt]  is a wonderful guy.  He is a good Christian guy.  He wants to be a missionary.  He goes on missions.  That is a wonderful thing. But do you know the religion of Nick Saban?  Or Gus Malzahn?  Or Chip Kelly playing for the national championship?  I don’t think we care what their religion [is].  We hire them to be football coaches.  If we are hiring religious instructors, let’s go to the Candler School of Theology over here in Decatur and get some of their people to come and coach our football team.”

Let the record note that Tarkenton is himself the son of a preacher. Which isn’t the same as being the son of a diplomat, and is evident throughout this diatribe. More Fran: “You’ve been there nine years [10, actually] and you say [you] haven’t had time to spend on football — if you don’t think that’s a problem, Georgia people, and [athletic director] Greg McGarity, if you don’t think the signs are there, my friend … Bad news does not get better with time.”

Regarding last week’s announcements that two top in-state prospects plan to sign with Alabama and Auburn, Tarkenton said:

” We’re going to lose the elite players this year. We haven’t in the past — we’ve gotten the elite player. We either didn’t choose right or we didn’t coach right, because we didn’t have success.

“Right now our program has had three years of regression, and I don’t see any way this thing is going to get out of the ditch. When I read comments like [Richt's] … we’re putting spin on everything. In the meantime Alabama and Auburn and Tennessee are working and kicking our butts and recruiting people and getting coaches that have spread offenses. I mean, can you imagine? We scored two field goals against Central Florida.”

The son of a preacher then offered a benediction: “I think Greg McGarity has got to look at this awfully hard, I think the signs are that we have a program that is in big trouble.”

And now you’re asking: How noteworthy is this? My answer: Very. It’s one thing for some newspaper guy (like this one) to carp about Richt, quite another for a most distinguished alum to sound the alarm. In the space of nine minutes, Sir Francis essentially said what more and more folks are thinking: That Georgia needs a new coach.

By Mark Bradley

1,032 comments Add your comment

Buck Commander

January 11th, 2011
5:35 pm

First Again!!

Buck Commander

January 11th, 2011
5:36 pm

Rawdawg, you can chew on that for awhile.

Mark Bradley

January 11th, 2011
5:36 pm

Kudos, Buck Commander. And rawdawg has a fight on his hands, it appears.

Buck Commander

January 11th, 2011
5:39 pm

Mark, glad to see you survived the snow, ice and shovel.

waterstim

January 11th, 2011
5:41 pm

Having read this, I hope and pray that this guy gets it figured out next year.

moboman

January 11th, 2011
5:42 pm

Kudos to Fran, for not mincing words. Enough diplomacy.

Andrew Hall

January 11th, 2011
5:44 pm

couldnt have said it better myself

find something else

January 11th, 2011
5:45 pm

Seriously? You report a week old radio interview that has already been reported. How no talented can you get?

Warawls

January 11th, 2011
5:46 pm

Who cares who is first? You people need to get a life…seriously, this whole first thing is sad. Do you add how many times you are first to post on a resume? Does it put money in your pocket? Does it improve the quality of your life? No one cares if you are first on a blog. Get a life! And Mark B., why do you encourage this?

Bob in SF

January 11th, 2011
5:46 pm

Fran is in 4 HOFs. When one on of the football team’s most famous alumni throws you under the bus, people pay attention. CMR is on borrowed time and the recruits know it. 18 year old kids are not interested in saving someones job, they want to win.

Michael

January 11th, 2011
5:46 pm

Maybe someone should ask Fran if losing teams made Vince Dooley a bad coach. Richt has a better record than Dooley did after about the same number of games. Shoot, Gene Chizik had a couple of losing seasons at Iowa State (correct?) before coming to Auburn. If Crowell were to commit to UGA and be some Herschel-like running back, all of this nuttiness will be forgotten. When you play games, you lose some.

JDW

January 11th, 2011
5:47 pm

Mark Richt is the fifth winningest active college football coach in the country…Fran Tarkenton has lost more Super Bowls than anyone save Jim Kelly.

I think we might be going a bit overboard here…it’s 18-21 year old kids. Some years are good some are not. Grab a bit of perspective and be a fan not a critic.

Eddie

January 11th, 2011
5:47 pm

I don’t know. Love Fran and other in the Bulldawg Nation calling for Richt to go, but just don’t think it’s the right choice. I think it’s the easy choice.

Mark

January 11th, 2011
5:47 pm

I totally agree with Mr. Tarkenton. I think Mark Richt is a wonderful guy, but our program has totally spun out of control. The arrests that the program is experiencing is totally embarrassing, and it just seems to get worse every year. When not one , but two Georgia alumni say Thanks but no thanks to an opportunity to come back and be a coach has got to bring attention to the fact their is a problem at UGA. If you are not winning and also getting offensively shut down by UCF kids are not gonna want to play here. You can’t blame them for not wanting to be a part of a rebuilding phase. They want to win and win now because they only have four years to do it. I love UGA and will till I die so I hope and pray they pull it together soon.

beaufortdawg

January 11th, 2011
5:47 pm

I thought Terence Moore was gone! Is Bradley still on vacation? If you read the articles without seeing the by-line you’d swear Moore was back. That’s projectile vomit nostalgia as far as I’m concerned.

find something else

January 11th, 2011
5:48 pm

Bradley, I look forward to your, I was wrong article, when UGA beats Boise State. I realize you have burnt this bridge but c’mon, at least do good work.

jimmy deal

January 11th, 2011
5:48 pm

Loved the sonofa diplomat comment and at first wondered if Fran was just worried about whether the basketball team’s success might hurt the football team’s recruiting or future success.I’m sure Fran has UGA’s best interest at heart but not so sure he is correct on this one. I don’t recall negativity as his normal football or business development most important consideration. Of course, putting your head in the sand isn’t on the list either.
How long till Auburn is stripped of the title?

Herschel Talker

January 11th, 2011
5:49 pm

MB:

Thank you very much for finally flipping to the correct side of this issue. Better late than never. Keep hammering him please. This program has fallen off a cliff the last 3 years, and no one is calling for accountability. Keep up the great work.

FIRE MARK RICHT

HT

Matthews Dawg

January 11th, 2011
5:49 pm

I hope CMR works it out! I guess time will tell! I like Fran and he was a great Dawg, but none of us have been in the conversations that CMR and McGarity had. We all know that CMR will not throw anyone under the bus! Which is a reason his asst’s have been loyal. We aren’t losing ALL the top recruits either. Let’s see what happens and things can change quickly! Just look at who won last night! One or two key players make a huge difference. Hopefully, Coach T will make us stronger too! That is a huge key! Go Dawgs!

Old Gold

January 11th, 2011
5:50 pm

First of all Fran, it’s the CANDLER School of Theology, not Campbell. Second, I don’t have a dog in this fight (as my posting name might imply), but it’s a sad day for any school, UGA included, when a fine man gets skewered like this for two off seasons. Clearly there are problems in Athens, but they are fixable. All of the uproar seems about one season premature – appropriate if the Dawgs stumble again next year, not now. It would serve Fran well to remember that coaching changes can backfire, too.

Doc Reem

January 11th, 2011
5:50 pm

Whew…I love it Fran.

Your Breath Smells like Fish Fry Tacos

January 11th, 2011
5:51 pm

Fran the Man – needs to shut his pie hole.

Not Don Waddell

January 11th, 2011
5:51 pm

Fran Tarkenton running off at the mouth, no! That is the first time that’s ever happened.

A lot of what he says is true, and I am glad that not everyone is toeing the company line, but some of it is a little hyperbolic.

dcbl

January 11th, 2011
5:51 pm

Congrats Mark – great topic for a double digit page blog!

In other news:

NCBulldawg86

January 11th, 2011
5:51 pm

y-a-w-n…….

find something else

January 11th, 2011
5:52 pm

Bradley, look at the company you keep.

Buck Commander

January 11th, 2011
5:52 pm

Warawls, let us know who cares what you think about anything.

dcbl

January 11th, 2011
5:52 pm

JAPS BOMB PEARL HARBOR!! Will Roosevelt react??? – more breaking news :-)

Lindsey

January 11th, 2011
5:53 pm

Although some people may not like that CMR is going to be UGA’s Head Coach in 2011, what good does it do saying negative stuff like this. The team and coaches need support, from what I read Tarkenton acts like CMR has done nothing for our program. Let us not forget the Goff years! CMR has improved our program so much, that is why we are upset when we don’t meet those expectations. This Dawg fan wishes nothing but the best for the UGA program, GO DAWGS!!

Jwall

January 11th, 2011
5:54 pm

I’ve heard Fran a few times on radio and he is old and senile. Keep up the good work Richt!!

dawgfan

January 11th, 2011
5:54 pm

In all fairness, Richt rarely talks about his religion publicly or makes any kind of issue about it in my opinion. I don’t think its fair to accuse Richt of putting himself on some moral pedastal when he has never done any such thing.

With that said, the rest of what Tarkenton said is spot on. We are screwed.

Doggone

January 11th, 2011
5:54 pm

Quit selling red trucks and carpet and start coaching football. That IS your job.

dawgfan0711

January 11th, 2011
5:55 pm

When did Fran become god almighty in the coaching ranks? Shut up and watch your old Super Bowl films.

Matthews Dawg

January 11th, 2011
5:56 pm

Herschel Talker…to just to keep it balanced (since all you say is fire CMR) I say keep CMR! I hope you all have to eat crow and I get to say I told you so! Time will tell. Also, doesn’t matter that Fran was the son of a preacher man! My question is “What did Fran do to help UGA football with recruiting right there with those comments”? Not a thing! We need these good Ga kids and those remarks at this time of year don’t help. After NSD, ok, but not before. Go Dawgs!!

wolfey

January 11th, 2011
5:57 pm

Frannie really needs to keep his mouth shut. What does he possibly think he knows about heading a college football program? Things aren’t great but I think the end of the world stuff is his way of getting attention…

jp

January 11th, 2011
5:57 pm

Go get em Fran. Get Mark Richt out of here

SoCal Dawg

January 11th, 2011
5:58 pm

Really Mark? A little late don’t you think?

Paul in RDU

January 11th, 2011
5:59 pm

It’s not everyday that a famous former great slams the HC like that.
Maybe the people at 680 The Fan should go for a similar interview with John Salley – he’s a better interview than Mark Price.

Big Dawg

January 11th, 2011
5:59 pm

Finally, someone with the credentials of Fran Tarkenton is speaking out. Any Mark Richt sympathizers want to follow him after next season, have at it. Till then, let’s hold the Georgia coaching staff accountable like they should be. Fran is also a great businessman, and he knows when something is not working and he is not afraid to call it like it is. Mark Richt not only has lost control of the program this year, he is 2-8 against Florida. If that’s anyone’s idea of a winner, you obviously don’t know what a winner is and never will be one. Ten years is long enough to get your act together, and Greg McGarity was gracious enough to give him one more. Time to go!!

back atcha

January 11th, 2011
5:59 pm

Ole ‘Lost the last game Fran’…maybe should have studied more… then he might have won something…

Matthews Dawg

January 11th, 2011
6:00 pm

Buck Commander…Great point to Warawls!! He can’t be first so he bashes you! Trust me, just to have fun with it, if I was first I would have put first also! Maybe one day! Warawls go somewhere else and try to be first! Go Dawgs!

falcon

January 11th, 2011
6:00 pm

Looks like next year is going to be make it or break it for CMR. I hope he wins enough games to restore himself in the eyes of Bulldog Nation. He is in a tough spot about now……but then how tough can it be when you’re raking in 4-5M per?

Elvis Dog

January 11th, 2011
6:00 pm

Fran is 100% correct!!! Hopefully, we can have change sooner than later. CMR’s press conference made me sick as well. He said no personell changes, but he is now energized and ready to work hard. What the hell has he been doing? We need major changes not a coach that has been paid to coach to now decide to act like one.CMR is horrible. Everyone except him knows we need major changes. People please quit supporting him. I would like any one of his supporters to explain to me how running Thomas up the middle on 2 and 25 made sense. No one will ask CMR if he will make good decisions. We do not need him to work harder we need him to hire good people and for him to begin to make good decisions. He is not ready to and you supporters are happy with his response. You people are idiots.

Buck Commander

January 11th, 2011
6:00 pm

CMR should do the right thing and fire all of his staff including the watergirl, then look in the mirror and fire himself. What Fran said is dead on and a shame to UGA.

dawgfan0711

January 11th, 2011
6:00 pm

Back the program or jump ship. Real fans don’t bash the coach until he has been let loose. Richt has really done well for UGA, has had a couple bad years and he will rebound from it.

older1

January 11th, 2011
6:01 pm

hey all u football recruits if u want to be PLAYING next year on the field , instead of sitting on the BENCH u r needed at UGA.

Bob

January 11th, 2011
6:02 pm

Very interesting

Richt after 10 years 96-34 and 2 SEC titles, 6 Top Ten finishes and a 7-3 Bowl record
Dooley after 10 years 73-32-5 and 2 SEC titles, 3 Top Ten finishes and a 4-3 Bowl record

Where was Sir Francis in 73?

Mark, did you run out of current information to talk about? You have a fixation on Richt and Hewitt. There are other things to talk about.

Elvis Dog

January 11th, 2011
6:02 pm

Thank you Mark, CMR needs serious heat on him until he proves he is ready to make changes. He has said he is not.

Ronnie

January 11th, 2011
6:04 pm

He was drunk. Don’t mind him.

dawgfan0711

January 11th, 2011
6:04 pm

Doggone- I agree with what you are saying but we don’t know what has been put on his plate by former AD Damon Evans. So let’s give him one more year to right this thing.