Hot seat, huh? Says Richt: ‘I plan on having a hell of a year’

An action figure of Vince Dooley (middle) was on sale at the Galleria. (Photo by M. Bradley)

An action figure of Vince Dooley (middle) was on sale at the Galleria. (Photo by M. Bradley)

On the final day of 2010, Georgia lost to Central Florida to finish 6-7. If you’d asked then, or even a month later, what the mood of Bulldog Nation would be come July, I’d have said, “As grim as Nick Saban with an impacted wisdom tooth.”

Which shows, not for the first time, how wrong I can be.

The Bulldog Club of Metro Atlanta held its kickoff meeting Monday night at the Cobb Galleria, and I’ve attended this annual event — I saw Vince Dooley address these folks, or perhaps their parents, in his final season as coach — often enough to be attuned to nuance in the Red & Black. I’ve seen some tepid Bulldog Club gatherings. This wasn’t one.

Even Georgia’s coach conceded that things could have been different. “This room could have been empty,” Mark Richt told the throng. “Everyone could have said, ‘Georgia’s in the tank.’ ”

Last week Richt sat in Hoover, Ala., and said, “There’s no sense of gloom and doom.” To the assembled SEC media not based in this state, that sounded strange. Wasn’t this guy perched on the hottest seat in the college game? Who was he kidding?

Well, I’m here to attest: Richt’s not kidding. The outside world might look on Georgia and see a program poised to dump its coach, but that’s not the reality. At least not yet, and maybe anytime soon. Indeed, the first question from Monday’s gathering began: “Coach, we love you.”

“There are a lot of good vibes,” said Greg McGarity, the Bulldog grad who’s now the Georgia athletic director. And how, someone asked, do you go from not scoring a touchdown against Central Florida to believing you can take the SEC East?

The Dream Team happened. “That was a salve,” McGarity said, speaking of the ballyhooed recruiting class. “We needed something to calm the waters.”

But it wasn’t just one signing class. (Although Richt did tell the gathering that three incoming freshmen have “Dream Team” tattooed on their arms.) Said McGarity: “People also responded to the [staff and personnel] moves Coach Richt made. That sent the message that it was not just business as usual. They sensed a renewed sense of passion.”

And then? “We had a quiet summer,” McGarity said.

Here he knocked on a wooden tabletop. His obvious point of reference: No Bulldog has lately made the sort of summer headlines — meaning: gotten arrested — too many had made in summers past. Said McGarity: “We’ve had good news on top of good news on top of good news.”

Moments earlier, Richt had sought to explain how this fire has been rekindled. “I think, ‘We’re Georgia, ‘ ” he said. “We’ve got good players. We stumbled last year, but we weren’t far off. Greg has done a good job supporting us. The fans have done a great job supporting us.”

Then this, indirectly addressing his job status: “No one’s pushing the panic button. We believe in what we’re doing.”

Yeah, you’re doubtless asking, but will anyone still believe if Georgia is 0-2? The Bulldogs open against Boise State and then face South Carolina, the reigning SEC East champ. Two victories would thrust UGA into the top 10. One would be considered acceptable. None would prove problematic.

“That’s the thing,” Richt said. “If [0-2] happens, can we withstand all the stuff that will come? But just looking at it on paper, those might be the two best teams we play all year.”

For all the emphasis on Boise and Carolina, we forget this part: Even at 0-2, Georgia wouldn’t necessarily be sunk. There’s a chance it could still be favored in every remaining game, a chance — at least on the proverbial paper — 0-2 could become 10-2. And 10-2, in the grand scheme, would be viewed as a Bulldog resurgence.

And Richt, whom the watching world expects to be as restless as a Dawg on a hot tin roof, looks serene even by his own famous standards. He acts as if he knows something something others don’t. “I plan on having a hell of a year,” he said.

(And yes, Mark Richt really did say “hell” — but he meant it in a heavenly way.)

By Mark Bradley

408 comments Add your comment

Cobb Dawg

July 25th, 2011
8:48 pm

Cobb Dawg

July 25th, 2011
8:48 pm

Mark Bradley

July 25th, 2011
8:49 pm

Kudos, Cobb Dawg.

Were you in the house?

Cobb Dawg

July 25th, 2011
8:49 pm

T-Dawg

July 25th, 2011
8:51 pm

Let’s play!

Cobb Kat

July 25th, 2011
8:51 pm

rawdawg

July 25th, 2011
8:52 pm

PMC

July 25th, 2011
8:53 pm

There will be no need to knee jerk if they go 0-2 and there’s a slim chance, very slim that they go 2-0.

If they go 2-0, that should probably be tempered as well.

We have a tendency in this fair city to always look on the horizon, mainly because the present (not winning, failing in the playoffs, failing in general) is so common I guess.

It’s probably why recruiting is popular here, everyone is hoping for better, because the present, sports wise, is always lacking.

boots

July 25th, 2011
8:54 pm

I think you misheard him. Heck of a year. It is funny that the NCAA champs are on our schedule, and we have it chalked up as a win. Just goes to prove, money cannot buy consistent success. Anyway, we have to applaud the senior leadership on this team to keep the players out of the headlines. Headlines in Sept – January are good, but not so good during the summer. Now, bring on the dancing horses…

todd grantham

July 25th, 2011
8:58 pm

Mark, you know very well hell can mean good or hell can mean bad.

“that’s a helluva team!!” or “I’m having a helluva bad time.”

TechLiesCheats

July 25th, 2011
9:00 pm

todd grantham

July 25th, 2011
9:00 pm

if Georgia starts out 0-2, that question will begin “Coach, we hate you”

damn gone dawg

July 25th, 2011
9:00 pm

Wasn’t the “dream team” something like the 3rd best class in the SEC? I mean, it was probably a top 5 recruiting class overall but this is a school that already averages finishing in the top 10 over the last decade. How is this supposed to be the panacea?

todd grantham

July 25th, 2011
9:02 pm

Georgia wont be favored in Jacksonville until Grantham chokes for real.

todd grantham

July 25th, 2011
9:04 pm

Georgia is always at or near the top in recruiting. The problematic areas are they recruit thugs, and so often waste the talents of other young men.

Dawginit.

July 25th, 2011
9:05 pm

boots, have you seen what AU brings back. Most people have them picked to come in 5th in the West. I’m not saying UGA is a sure thing but I like our chances.

todd grantham

July 25th, 2011
9:05 pm

I think Cobb Dawg may be a Bradley stalker.

Ricardo Montalban

July 25th, 2011
9:08 pm

(Yawnnnnnnnn) More Bradley drinking the kool aid. Yadda, Yadda, Yadda “Georgie wins the East”, Yadda, Yadda, Yadda “Georgie has RB’s no matter how many quit, fail, puke in a trash can”, Yadda, Yadda, Yadda “Reverend Richt has an Olympic High Dive that even Jesus is envious of!”

In fairness, you came clean last year and provided links to your most boneheaded predictions. I just hope you’re man enough to reproduce the mindless drivel you’ve penned the past six weeks when mentioning the in-state programs.

P-Man

July 25th, 2011
9:09 pm

I’ve said it before- I believe in this team and this coaching staff. I believe they will work and play hard for 4 quarters, and we will be proud of them, win or lose.

@techies

July 25th, 2011
9:11 pm

You know who you are. This could be one nightmare of a year for you. Be afraid; be very afraid.

Lowcountry Bulldawg

July 25th, 2011
9:14 pm

Plenty of good things to feel positive about. Second year under the 3-4 defense, returning the All SEC QB. Sure we have some depth issues but thats the game in College ball. Every team is going to have some question marks. Spurrier today pointed out that fact. Lattimore last season ran behind four returning OL men. This year with only two OL men returning will he have that same type success? So sure UGA was down last year but anything is very possible. Thats the beauty of the SEC. Its always great to be a Georgia Bulldawg!!!!

slydog

July 25th, 2011
9:17 pm

Indeed, there are good vibes, accompanied by the background noise of miscontent. And to the upper crust of southern society who keeps calling these young players “thugs”, i bet your life your closet isn’t all the way clean. How many 18-25 yr olds around the world make immature decisions? It comes with the territory. Most of these “thugs” would turn out different IF these coaches and their institutions actually cared about turning them into young men instead of modern day gladiators.

gtfanfrom1951

July 25th, 2011
9:25 pm

No running game + no offensive line = 0-2 start

Chris

July 25th, 2011
9:26 pm

I’m sorry, but I don’t see where all the excitement should be. Excitement for the upcoming football season…yes. As a fan of Georgia football and football in general, I am excited. Excited about Georgia getting back to the top…..no.

What have we done Mark? Having a great recruiting class means nothing at this point. We have them every year, and every class under performs. And what big changes has Richt made? We will still have the worst damn offensive coordinator in college football calling plays which still baffles me to no end. Does anyone really think changing the strength and conditioning coach was the only change that needed to be made. It was not.

Oh, and while we haven’t had any arrest this summer, we have lost several key, albeit dumb players. We loose our number 1 and 2 runningbacks from last year, we loose Sturdivant to injury, we have two players quit and transfer, and one of our projected starting linebackers status is in limbo because of possible NCAA violations. Do you call that a quiet offseason? I for one, do not.

There is no need to be excited now. If we somehow start of 2-0, then we can get excited. However, at this point, I haven’t seen anything to get excited about. Richt is having his anual we are going to be wonderful speach before we fail. Remember how he guaranteed a victory over Florida last year???

Tekkie

July 25th, 2011
9:27 pm

Cheer! Cheer! Richt’s always happy this time of year. He won’t be there a year from now.

cantondawg

July 25th, 2011
9:28 pm

I really believe that Grantham makes a huge impact this year. The biggest question at the end of the year will be “Can we keep him in Athens” or will he get a head coaching job elsewhere.

Rubik

July 25th, 2011
9:29 pm

Georgia is always at or near the top in recruiting. The problematic areas are they recruit thugs, and so often waste the talents of other young men.

And that’s exactly the problem with CMR. Richt knows up front that half of his recruits will end up in jail for DUI or driving on suspended licenses or assault and battery, or they can’t even pass remedial studies. Richt has brought nothing but disgrace to UGA because of his shady recruiting practices.

Win P.

July 25th, 2011
9:31 pm

Is Richt going to coach this season? I hope.

ATLBadger

July 25th, 2011
9:34 pm

“Dream Team” tattooed on their arms before they even play a down at the collegiate level? CMR should be embarrassed by that. Talk about a sense of entitlement! I doubt the upperclassmen like that either.

Lowcountry Bulldawg

July 25th, 2011
9:35 pm

Well plenty of things to get excited about. Second year in the 3-4 defense. Good talent abound on that side of the ball. Secondary has some really good talent in it. Linebackers are skilled, defensive line now has the athletes required to successfully free the backers to make plays.

Offensively Aaron Murray is back to distribute the ball. Plenty of question marks for sure, but each year teams have to replace players. Sure this year UGA has more than we would like but thats the cards we are dealt with. Excuses cannot be made.

Steve Spurrier noted as much this afternoon in speaking of how Lattimore had it made with four linemen returning lst year. This year only two return. So will they be able to have as much success on the ground? The only way to find out is playing the games. Spurrier will not make excuses, nor should UGA.

This is big boy football and Richt surely has a fire lit in him for the dimple fact he knows how critical this season is. This season UGA has to play like there pants are on fire and attack,attack and attack some more. Nothing is going to be given to them. This is a team that could win 10-11 games, but could win 6-7 games. The first two weeks are critical to positive vibes in Athens.

RedPantsDawg

July 25th, 2011
9:35 pm

All talk. Heard it before. See what happens on the field.

jesus gave it all, mark richt cant give 4 quarters.

July 25th, 2011
9:35 pm

mark richt had a #1 preseason ranking….and how many NFL draft picks and couldn’t win the SEC east.

you people are delusional.

Hook is Set!

July 25th, 2011
9:39 pm

Mark Richt must have some great P.R. people at his disposal. A year after we saw the UGA nation have probably the worst single year of Public Relations hits to this branded Optimisim.

Just think for a moment, an AD caught with a woman half his age,not his wife,with panties between his legs while driving drunk, players collected the uncoveted Fulmer Cup award, players missing court dates, arrest that were off the chain, a player suspended for dealing with a street agent who he sold his jersey to, losing to a pitiful Coloradao team on the road, a first year Defensive coach caught on television giving the choke sign to a kicker, struggling to beat a weak GT team, losing to UCF in a third tier bowl game.

What does Mark Richt and his PR chronies do? They make up this great name “Dream Team” to put together about the 6th or 7th best recruiting class during his tenure at UGA. Not a recruiting coup like we saw with UF or USC a few years back, but the 5 to 8th best recruiting class in the nation. And the UGA fans borrowed from the future, took out mortgages and forfeited their dignity to back CMR in his big year.

Well folks, the schedule is the easiest conference schedule in the league this year and Mark Richt’s easiest since he took over for Donnan. If he does not have “a hellava year” he needs to understand a Dream Team II moniker will not hook anymore UGA fans.

CMR

July 25th, 2011
9:43 pm

Anybody seen my bong?

Hook is Set!

July 25th, 2011
9:45 pm

You UGA fans are so gullible. You can spin it like a liberal democrat trying to save a program that guarantees him votes, but in the end it is still spin.

2nd year with Grantham and his system…..that system was pretty good against UCF, but the offense stayed in Athens and went south for christmas break for warmer destinations.

Crowell is going to make a difference. Lets see, the SEC across the boards signs approximately 49 running backs each year, and about 1.4 make a difference his freshmann year….better hope that one is Crowell.

Spin Spin, faster than an industrial strenth washing machine.

Shultz

July 25th, 2011
9:50 pm

Hey, Bradley, what the hell is wrong with you? Why don’t you go back to Kentucky? They accept mediocrity there.

Hate Atlanta

July 25th, 2011
9:53 pm

Only UGA would claim “Dream Team” when finishing 3rd in the SEC in Recruiting by ESPN.. And they finished middle of the road in every SEC defensive statistical category in 2010… In 2011 No Offensive Line and True Freshman Running back. Can you say Delirious?

ESPN.com 2011 Recruiting
1. Florida State
2. Alabama
3. Auburn
4. USC
5. Texas
6. Georgia

uga2002

July 25th, 2011
9:54 pm

Of course there is optimism! It’s the Dawgs we’re talking about here! Every year, 10 win season at a minimum. Why?

Well excellent coaches of course! Notice all of the BCS National Titles? You may have missed them, after Auburn, Alabama, LSU, Florida and Tennessee. But they’re there I’m sure of it. Kind of like our 7-6 season we had printed on our trophies.

Best recruits, on paper. Lots of arrests. Lots of dirty plays. Lots of personal fouls. Lots of personal fouls after great plays. No defense. Childish coordinators giving choke signs to a teenage kicker who ends up kicking the winning FG. Short quarterback with a great arm. No receivers. Fumbling running backs. No discipline (see fight at the end of the Auburn game). Relying on high school kids to change the tone against players who will start in the NFL next year.

Yeah, add it all up. It’s a winning combination. 0-2 start. 1-6 after that. 5-12 when it’s all said and done and doubt there will be a single change because 6-7 was acceptable wasn’t it? We’ve sunk to the point beating GaTech is a highlight because we frankly didn’t beat a single team with a winning record.

Do I hope for a better year? No. Because it will be a fluke. It’s time to part ways with Richt and start new. This conference is littered with new coaches to their teams winning national titles, I don’t see any old coaches who’ve never won winning.

Time for change. If losing a no name bowl game to UCF wasn’t a wake up call then you’re blind as a bat.

.

July 25th, 2011
9:59 pm

AJC — When are you going to police the site of the ‘Barbara Dooley’ smut that is polluting the site? Obviously, there is a 12 year old on here who has gained access to mom’s computer.

East Repeat

July 25th, 2011
10:01 pm

Was it just Grape or did they serve Cherry kool-aid also? Oh, the vince, barbara, herschel poster, that has no place on here- you should be “moderated”.

Nub

July 25th, 2011
10:02 pm

Win the east ……!

why not

July 25th, 2011
10:05 pm

Go Dawgs! I’m glad to see some Fire in the belly of the big Dawg!

JTH

July 25th, 2011
10:05 pm

Richt is getting me fired up for the season. Sic em Dawgs!

Sopwith Camel

July 25th, 2011
10:06 pm

For my own way of thinking, Chris makes some good points. Year after year after year the UGA fans get excited and hopeful before the start of the season………and then are disappointed. There are as many reasons to be concerned about this upcoming year as there are to be hopeful. Let’s just play some ball and see! Lowcountry is right………this team could win 10-11 games or as easily end up with 6-7 wins. I’m personally predicting they go 8-4.

uga2002

July 25th, 2011
10:08 pm

I’ll put it this way, after our losing performance in the Boise St game ESPN will move the South Carolina game to the 12 o’clock ESPN U game.

uga2002

July 25th, 2011
10:09 pm

I didn’t mean ESPN U. What’s the channel that some games are broadcast on and you hope you get it but you don’t? ESPN 360 or something? ESPN 360 II, no HD. It’ll be 98 degrees on the field. There will be golf games that had a louder crowd.

Greg

July 25th, 2011
10:15 pm

You trolls are something else. First, to the guy who wonders why it’s a big deal that UGA had a top 10 recruiting class again. They had a losing year in conference and lost to a conf USA team in a low level bowl. Yet they had one of the best recruiting classes in the country and one that was only marginally less than the team that won the national title.

And to the other hater who speaks of all the thugs Richt recruits, go back and look at the list of schools who wanted most of the guys who eventually signed with UGA. The vast majority of problems are traffic or alcohol-related…typical college student behavior. Not firing guns off at a party or using credit cards of dead people or dealing drugs or getting multiple DUI’s like some other schools.

LHarding Dawg

July 25th, 2011
10:18 pm

This low life uga2002 needs to bet against Georgia in Vegas. With his knowledge about the Bulldogs he could get rich and perhaps buy a new double wide.

The Georgia real fans need to chill. We are going to be fine.

Cmon man

July 25th, 2011
10:20 pm

Everybody has so many negative things to say about cmr and the football team why didnt you guys say all of this directly to him? I guess its easier to hide behind screen names and ajc blogs!!!

gt4ever

July 25th, 2011
10:28 pm

This is sooooooo funny,,,, Dream team, yeah right…. You UGA fans are delusional. This coach has had a DREAM team every year…. Priceless