Georgia football coach Mark Richt has full support of Adams, McGarity, athletic board

Georgia AD Greg McGarity (L) and President Michael Adams will have the most to say about coach Mark Richt's future as the Bulldogs' football coach. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

Georgia AD Greg McGarity (L) and President Michael Adams will have the most to say about coach Mark Richt's future as the Bulldogs' football coach. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

St. Simons Island — Truth or fiction, reality or perception, the general thought on Georgia football is that this is a critical season for head coach Mark Richt. Virtually every preseason story that has been written on the Bulldogs so far, has placed Richt on the proverbial “hot seat.”

But there are only a handful of people whose opinions really matter on this subject, chiefly UGA President Michael Adams and Athletic Director Greg McGarity.

It is them, and to some degree the Georgia Athletic Association executive board gathered here at the King & Prince Resort this week, that will ultimately decide Richt’s fate. So I asked them how they felt about things.

“First of all, the guy that has the most to say about it is the AD,” said Adams, presiding over the board’s annual end-of-the-year meeting here the past two days. “Despite what sometimes gets written, I haven’t done one of these things, pro or con, without heavy consultation with the AD.

“That said, I think you look at a person’s whole body of work. And I think the whole body of work by Mark Richt the last 10 years is very strong. We have very high expectations at the University of Georgia. We didn’t meet them last year. But I’m pretty confident that we’re going to spring back, that he made the kind of adjustments in staffing that needed to be made. Now we’ll do what we always do with every coach every season; we’ll sit down at the end of the season.”

The reason for the speculation is Georgia is coming off a 6-7 campaign — its first losing season since 1996 — and a two-year stretch in which it is just two games over .500 overall (14-12) with a losing SEC record (7-9).

But when you look at Richt’s “body of work” before that, it paints a totally different picture — 82 wins over eight seasons, two SEC championships, four first-place finishes in the SEC East and two second-place finishes.

“Our first requirement is to run the program properly,” Adams said. “You will get in trouble at Georgia more for failure to do that rather than for having a bad season once a decade. But we do think with our resources, with our recruiting base, with our fan base, it’s not unreasonable to expect us to have a winning football program. And we have for 13 of the 14 years I’ve been here. I fully expect we will for 13 of the next 14.”

Richt made some significant changes after last season. He replaced his longtime strength and conditioning coordinator, Dave Van Halanger, with Joe Tereshinski Jr. Tereshinski, a former All-SEC player and strength coach under former head coach Vince Dooley, brings an old-school training approach. The strength staff was also expanded and nutritionists are now overseeing the year-round diets of all the players.

“I think we got off to a wonderful start in January,” McGarity said. “I’ve said many times, how you perform in September and October comes down to what you do in January. You set the tone, you set the expectations, you say this is the way we’re going to run our operation. There’s no question – and I think Mark would acknowledge this and I think the players would acknowledge it— that they’ve gotten off to a good start with nutrition and strength and conditioning.”

Board members who were asked about the direction of the football program all expressed support for Richt while also acknowledging that 2011 will be an important season.

“He’s not in my hot seat; he’s still in my lap,” Bob Bishop, an executive board member for 29 years, said with a laugh. “I love him. I don’t think you can find a better human being anywhere and he’s a fine football coach. He’s proven that time and time again. But we all know it goes in cycles. He had a bad cycle last year and he made a lot of changes to improve on that. If you have a real bad season again there’s going to be a lot of turmoil all over the state and on campus and behind the scenes.”

Said board member emeritus Gary Hill: “I’m firmly in Mark Richt’s corner. I want him to succeed. Everything is in place for him to succeed and I’m pulling for him to do so. Who wants to go through the turmoil of changing coaches and changing staff?”

Bishop was asked if the board would have to respond to alumni or fan dissension.

“You’ve got to listen; that’s why we serve on the board. But most of that doesn’t play into it,” he said. “You evaluate the program independently and how the program is progressing. We’ve had a couple of down years. It will be very nice if he can improve that 6-and-7, at least modestly. But I think our program is in good shape.”

McGarity agrees and expressed confidence in the prospects for this coming season.

“I think there’s tremendous leadership on this team and I think that’s one thing that gets lost in the conversation,” McGarity said. “Individuals like Orson Charles and Aaron Murray and Christian Robinson and Ben Jones, you’ve got some guys like that are taking it upon themselves. If we have problems internally, they’re going to take care of it before it ever reaches anyone anywhere.”

That has been another criticism of the program under Richt. Off-field issues, such as 10 arrests of football players last year, made it appear there was a lack of discipline on the team.

So far there have been no arrests this year.

“Are we always going to stay out of trouble? No, chances are we’ll have our bumps in the road,” McGarity said. “But I think the things that you look at from a leadership standpoint, I feel very good about that. How will that translate into wins and losses? I think sometimes winning is a byproduct of what you do, just like in any other walks of like. If you work hard, you pay attention to details, then winning is going to be a byproduct of that.”

McGarity said he was impressed with the way Richt and his staff responded to last season’s disappointment, particularly by going out and signing a Top 10-ranked recruiting class.

“There’s no question that Mark feels invigorated about the season,” McGarity said. “I think he’s excited to go. All of the sudden it’s going to be June 6 and everybody comes to campus and they’re going to be under our wing at that point.”

Bishop has presided over four football coaching changes in his time on the board, so he knows the realities of today’s high-stakes college game. But he scoffs at the criticism of Richt’s ability to coach.

“I remember back when Bear Bryant was coaching, he had a bad year and everybody was saying the game has passed him by,” Bishop said. “Biggest joke I’ve ever heard. He had a few bad years, but he had a few good years, too. All we need is one more point than Boise State and we’ll be on the road.”

304 comments Add your comment

Dbalcer

May 27th, 2011
12:08 pm

Sounds like the board is thinking long term and not short term which makes me happy. There are too many fans who only remember the last two years which is very short sighted. Go DAWGS and Go Coach Richt! I can’t wait for Saturdays in Athens.

JAWJeRDAWG

May 27th, 2011
12:09 pm

Thanks, again, for the updates, Chip. Hope the Board’s support of Coach Richt will lead to a productive and winning season, and his long-term contract renewal.

Enjoy reading your insight and perspective on all things UGA. Have a safe Memorial Day weekend, all. .. Go Dawgs!

Tobias Funke

May 27th, 2011
12:15 pm

I would like every UGA fan to answer this question: Which scenario do you want to play out:

1. UGA has a good season and Richt gets an extension

or

2. UGA tanks or is even 6-6 and Richt is fired.

One of these will happen. So I ask again true fans, what do you want to happen?

Think about it before you start bashing MY coach.

Reaper

May 27th, 2011
12:17 pm

I have no problem with them supporting him but, he must be held accountabale for the poor showing of the team and I do think he has been. Will they hold him accountable for Bobo if he does not get the job done in preparing the offense for the season, not just the first game. No one can deny that the offense has underperformed under him and that his play callling has caused a lot of aches and pains over the last four years. We need a more creative OC because, if anyone watches UGA games, the offense is very boring and predictable. He has to learn how to make proper adjustments on each posession not just at half time. As of now, he has a lot to prove in his game planning and adjustments against top DC.

Delbert D.

May 27th, 2011
12:17 pm

Uh-oh. The dreaded “vote of confidence”

Ringleader

May 27th, 2011
12:17 pm

Bob Bishop……………

I also remember well, when Citizens & Southern was the bank,
and when Aikens Ford was the store…….but changes must
be made, and one point better than Boise State is not enough.

When you saw the total destruction put on us by Central Florida
you understand there are major problems in the program.

51WTGW50

May 27th, 2011
12:18 pm

All the support from Adams and McGarity will not matter if Richt and the Dawgs lose games and don’t finish at least 2nd in the SEC east. Money Fans will tell the AD what needs to be done.

ForeverADog

May 27th, 2011
12:21 pm

Mark Richt is a ‘Dawg as long as he wants to be, as far as I’m concerned. I can’t say I’d blame him if he left due to some of the naysaying idiots and worms in our fanbase, albeit a small percentage. They all think they know more than the next guy. There’s not one guy whose reading this, albeit it but a few, who knows more about most anything than Mark Richt. Go ‘Dawgs

Joey

May 27th, 2011
12:24 pm

“It will be very nice if he can improve that 6-and-7, at least modestly.”
****************************************
Good news Coach Richt. Sounds like Bishop will be happy with 7-6.

JAWJeRDAWG

May 27th, 2011
12:24 pm

If the football Dawgs win each game by only 1 point and the offense, defense, and special teams play their best with solid continuity and on-going improvement during the season, I’ll be one happy Dawg fan this year! .. Go Dawgs!

Matthews Dawg

May 27th, 2011
12:25 pm

I hope they extend his contract!! I believe he is the right man for the job! But, I’m sure there will be many who look at the last 2 years and will still want to run him out of town. I believe this is what is causing problems right now with recruiting of players for ‘12. But, winning will turn some of them around. Keep CMR and extend his contract! Man of class, character, integrity and honor! Traits that are missing in most of society as a whole! Proud he’s our coach! Go Dawgs!!

ugaclassof2004

May 27th, 2011
12:30 pm

Blah Blah Blah…. This means nothing, absolutely nothing. Greg McGarity WILL clean house if Richt goes below 8 wins, believe that. This is a matter of business. You can’t have a team with UGA’s resources only averaging 6 wins a season, especially when the SEC East is down. If Richt shows improvement this season, he will stay. If he goes 6-6 again, he’ll be gone.

Tobias Funke

May 27th, 2011
12:30 pm

Reaper

Rule of thumb: Whatever you say before the word “but” is not the truth.

He is the head coach at UGA in 2011. Get on board or get the hell off!

Go Dawgs! Win with Richt!

Barack Dawg

May 27th, 2011
12:30 pm

Ring Leader – Don’t remember seeing any total destruction of UGA by anyone last year. We lost 7 games but no total destruction and definitely no total desctruction by UCF. So you need to take your blinders off.

The program is definitely headed in the right direction and please, please – if you don’t like the direction get off the damn band wagon. There is plenty of room at Auburn, Alabama, and Florida for the band wagon fans. UGA does not want or need those type of fans.

51WTGW50 – I would beg to differ on what happens with that regardless of the season this year. Again – you should pay more attention to behind the scenes if you have access to that.

Ignore the media they are not important. The important people know the situation and thank god they are much more intelligent and in tune with the real issues and what needs to be done. All of which has been addressed to this point.

dawgman

May 27th, 2011
12:34 pm

Richt made changes Ring, are they not enough in your estimation?

Yaz

May 27th, 2011
12:37 pm

If they REALLY thought Richt was as good as Bear Bryant, tey’d give him a 10 year contract.

But they didn’t even extend him 1 year.

Nothin but happy talk.

They have ZERO confidence in Richt.

JB

May 27th, 2011
12:38 pm

Well, Adams validated my several post the last 6 months. He said he expects Georgia to a have a winning football program. That is a quote from above. Read it again if you have to. The word ” Championship” program was not used. Regular bloggers on here know that I’ve have posted that is all Adams cares about. 9, maybe 10 wins and a decent bowl is just fine by him. It Mark can deliver that, he’ll be the Georgia coach for life.And truth be known, after reading these blogs the last two years, most Georgia fans are OK with this also.

Yaz

May 27th, 2011
12:43 pm

There’s a LEADERSHIP VACUUM at Georgia.

If Richt’s your guy, give him a long term contract.

If he’s not, fire him.

But showing NO LEADERSHIP, sitting on the fence, adds no help for recruiting, transfers, retention of coaches, morale, etc.

Please

May 27th, 2011
12:47 pm

Will the Towers homerism never end? Yesterday he provides Richt a pulpit and today he tells everyone Richt’s job is safe. Meanwhile, not a word about how and why the program is crumbling into disarray.

Ron Smith

May 27th, 2011
12:48 pm

Time will tell I guess. I’m a Richt fan big time and I’m hoping the changes work. So UGA, Florida and Tennessee all had below par seasons sometimes for 2-3 years. The “worm will turn” or all three, hopefully this year but KEEP RICHT.

Dawglasville

May 27th, 2011
12:49 pm

Everything sounds positive going into next season accept for the problems on the offensive lines.

Glad those who matter are behind Richt. I spent five years working for one of the top 5 contibutors to the athletic dept. We would sit in the sky box and gripe, “When are they going to do something about Coach Goff?” Then it was, “When are they going to do something about Coach Donnan?” Every time my boss would say, “I’m sure that Coach Dooley knows a little more about this than y’all do. Maybe we should let him handle it.” I have an B.A. from UGA which my parents paid for and I earned. They don’t owe me anything else and that includes a national championship.

dawgman

May 27th, 2011
12:51 pm

JB- Averaging 10 wins a year and competing for championships (i.e SEC East and SEC crown and BCS Champ) is good enough for most ALL college football fans. Aside from the last 2 years, Mark Richt has given that. How is that wrong?

dawgman

May 27th, 2011
12:51 pm

Expecting a national championship every 5 or 10 years is a lot to ask for any program. Do I think Mark Richt needs to really improve from the last 2 years. Absolutely, but because he hasn’t won a BCS Champ is no reason to fire him.

***UGA FAN BEFORE 2008

May 27th, 2011
12:52 pm

JB

So with that logic we should fire the coach every time we don’t play in the National Championship Game?

The goal is to win every game. 9 or 10 wins per year SHOULD keep you around in order to be in position for a NC. It’s time to be realistic JB. UGA COULD HAVE PLAYED 3 TIMES IN THAT GAME BEFORE 2008. Is that bad? I believe Richt was our coach during that time span!

Dawglasville

May 27th, 2011
12:52 pm

“Except for the problems”… I owe my parents for wasting some of their money.

JB

May 27th, 2011
12:52 pm

YAZ, Adams is hoping for 9, 10 wins this season( maybe 8) so he can give Mark 6 more years on the contract and let us all move on. We’re waiting on Florida to have an off year to get us in the Dome. This year may be the year, Hope so. Most years 9-10 wins won’t get you in the Dome.

Send'em U hauls

May 27th, 2011
12:53 pm

Mark Richt has full support until UGA loses to Boise, SC, Tenn, the annual beatdown to the Gators,Auburn and to Tech.

reality

May 27th, 2011
12:54 pm

Is that Jimmy Carter with Richt and McGarity?

Ron Smith

May 27th, 2011
12:55 pm

The Beast will return to the East!!

***UGA FAN BEFORE 2008

May 27th, 2011
12:57 pm

America is going down the tubes because the “I want it right now” logic. It takes years and alot of hard work to be successful. Anybody that calls for anyone’s job and has zero experience in that field IS PATHETIC!!!!! How many people on this blawg has been on a recruiting trip or coached in the Sugar Bowl?

JAWJeRDAWG

May 27th, 2011
12:59 pm

@ Chip

I posed you a Mailbag question to you the other day regarding what exactly have the AD, coaching staff, and team members said and done that has lead to no off-field issues thus far this year.

The comments in you post by AD, McGarity:

“Individuals like Orson Charles and Aaron Murray and Christian Robinson and Ben Jones, you’ve got some guys like that are taking it upon themselves. If we have problems internally, they’re going to take care of it before it ever reaches anyone anywhere.”

answered my question, and I thought as much. Thanks for including that comment. .. Go Dawgs!

JB

May 27th, 2011
12:59 pm

I like Mark. I’m hoping for the best. I know that the University is giving him more rope than Maryland and Miami gave their coach’s this past year. Mark, like Obama, has fans that would keep him in place regardless of results. That loyalty can be admired in some circles. Every article written outside of the Georgia reading area has pronounced Mark gone this year if they don’t have a good year. They are not saying that because they want it or have some inside info, they are saying it because college football logic and history has dictated that a coach at a “football school”, and we are one, can not survive a 3-4 year slide.. Mark is like 12-14 in the SEC the last three years. I feel this way because of my head, not my heart. We’ll just see what happens. Go Dawgs

Dr. Phil

May 27th, 2011
1:00 pm

Adams is like Henry VIII. He will support Richt as long as it is in his best interest. That interest, by the way, is dwindling. Another bad season, and Richt’s head will roll just like that of Harrick, Evans, and the basketball team that Adams pulled from the tournament.

dawgman

May 27th, 2011
1:00 pm

The 1st goal is to win the SEC East.

Thank,
Mark Richt

Will Muschamp

May 27th, 2011
1:00 pm

I guarantee this state!

Joey

May 27th, 2011
1:01 pm

Is it “I want it now logic” to want to beat UF more than twice per decade?

If so, I’m guilty . . .

murfdawg

May 27th, 2011
1:01 pm

The plan this year is pure and simple:
1. Beat Boise St
2. Beat South Carolina
3. Beat fl
4. Win the SEC East

Without a championship, even if it is a directional championship(SEC East) Richt will be in big trouble. He has lost the confidence of a lot of BIG money contributors and there is only one way for him to win them back. I’m thinking he gets it done this year, because we have Bama and LSU coming up in the next two years.

dawgman

May 27th, 2011
1:02 pm

Agreed Dr. Phil. JB most fans feel the same was as Dr. Phil, you know?

Matt in Atlanta

May 27th, 2011
1:03 pm

Chip, you’re really turning in some great work – first the Jake Scott interview, and now this. Keep it coming!

dawgman

May 27th, 2011
1:04 pm

What’s so hard to understand about that, you act like we are supporting a loser? A guy who has had 1 bad horrible season.

gdawginkalamazoo

May 27th, 2011
1:09 pm

Richt went 6-7 last season. McGarity was just hired as AD last year. Who was suppose to give Richt that contract extension everybody keeps mentioning? Not McGarity he just got here during a 6-7 season full of discipline problems. Richt knows he needs to win this year. I thought he was crazy going after the “Dream Team” concept after last season. I thought I was crazy when it actually worked. We all know that Damon Evans didn’t provide any leadership or help to Richt. How many arrest this year under McGarity? I will give Richt this season to seek great improvement, meaning win 9-10 games and don’t get embarrassed by anybody. Plus beat Florida.

Central Florida

May 27th, 2011
1:10 pm

Sure it was an embarrassing loss, but don’t read too much into it. Georgia was in a meaningless bowl, not as motivated as UCF, and got beat. Just as you cannot draw much from Louisiana Monroe kicking Saban in his first year at Bama. Look at what Utah did to one of Saban’s best teams- every coach, and I mean every coach is going to periodically have a game where the team’s heart is not in it. That is true unless you believe a motivated Bama team would have lost to Utah or LM.

I expect the Dogs to be competitive, more so than in the last two years, but the SEC is a tough league. Saban is arguably the top coach in the league, and he is batting .250 in SEC titles, one in four years.

Matt in Atlanta

May 27th, 2011
1:10 pm

Yaz, go away. Who would extend a contract when the team is struggling. Unheard of. That doesn’t equate to zero confidence. Would they extend a contract if they had 60% confidence? No, and that’s probably where they’re at. They’re rooting for him like we all are because he’s a great guy, but they also saw the poor product that was put on the field last year, and are scratching their heads (again, like we all are).

OldFan

May 27th, 2011
1:11 pm

Confirmation again that it’s really about the brand and the revenue. When you say that it’s not unreasonable to expect to have a winning football program, you’re really saying that other things are more important. Sure we want to be champions every year, but over the long term it’s about the program’s success in generating revenue and contributor interest. Those are long term activities, and as long as they don’t change radically, there’s little reason to disrupt the program and deal with the resulting uncertainties. So, enjoy the games, be a fan, root for the ole alma mater. But don’t think that wins and losses alone will run CMR out of town.

JAWJeRDAWG

May 27th, 2011
1:11 pm

@ YAZ

Just my opinion, but I’m not so sure about that. I’m sure they are all just waiting to see how the 2011 season plays out. Only time will tell. .. Go Dawgs!

Send'em U hauls

May 27th, 2011
1:11 pm

Richt’s team better score a TD against South Carolina at home.

JB

May 27th, 2011
1:12 pm

dawgman………..I’m not responding to you because I want Mark gone. Stats are for losers, but it’s not the 1 horrible season, it’s the three year trend. Do yourself a favor and research some of this I speak. Someone on here posted a lot of this 2-3 months ago. Look at things like punt return yardage, block punts, fake field goals, yards & points given up. 3 and outs. Average starting field position. Penalty yardage. Games lost in the fourth quarter when we had the lead. It’s shocking, and the record shows it.
At the end of the Day, I want to compete for the SEC title, and if Mark is the coach, great. By the way, I’m an Alum ( Class of 76) and had season tickets until 1997.

Mark (another one)

May 27th, 2011
1:13 pm

Richt has said that being the HC at UGA comes with high expectations and that he isn’t happy with the results of last year. Nothing more needs to be said. It has to be done on the field. I am confident Richt knows what he’s doing and this year will be a major improvement. Its my opinion and I bought my tickets so I can yell my heart out supporting the team.

As for the constant criticism of Bobo, this is a team game. Bobo isn’t in this alone, and the offense did pretty well last year despite the issues with the line. I don’t see any reason to keep bashing Bobo and I am looking for great improvement from the defense.

Every year in college is a reloading year. Players move on and new ones come in. I am enthusiastic about our returning core and I believe the recruits will provide competition. As always it will be important to stay healthy and eligible. The teal leadership, especially the seniors, can do a lot to ensure a great season, and Jones and Tyson will provide a lot of leadership for this team.

I also don’t understand all the emphasis on style points. If we beat Boise by a point, its a win. That’s all that matters. Win them all with an SEC schedule, and that team should have a shot at the MNC. I’m not saying this team will win them all but that is a goal that is within the control of the team.

The off season is a time to get excited for the new season and get over the past. If you can’t do those things, I feel sorry for you.

***UGA FAN BEFORE 2008

May 27th, 2011
1:17 pm

JB

I would say Richt has done a better job running a 14-12 program over Obama running our Country.

Joey

May 27th, 2011
1:21 pm

Contract extension? Didn’t beat a team with a winning record. Lost to Colorado. Lost to UCF. Lost to UF, again.

Now he’s gonna “start studying football, cutting edge football?” I ain’t for firing him. But I also ain’t for paying a coach $3 Million a year who doesn’t schedule some football studying every day.