Q&A: Vince Dooley says Mark Richt will be at Georgia ‘for a long time’

Vince Dooley

Vince Dooley

Q&A WITH VINCE DOOLEY

With an 0-2 start on the heels of 6-7 season, UGA President Michael Adams and Athletic Director Greg McGarity have found themselves having to answer questions lately about Mark Richt’s long-term security as the Bulldogs’ football coach. Of course, they’re both very non-committal on the issue, considering there are 10 games remaining in the regular season. President Adams was asked about it again on Thursday at UGA’s cabinet meeting. “I think this is the time for all of us to come together and get behind this group of guys who played a heck of a game last Saturday and deserve our support,” he said. “I’ve never folded on anything 15 or 20 percent into it. That’s what we would be doing. . . . It’s time for us as a community to get behind this team.” Earlier this week, McGarity told me, “I’m not going to do a weekly scorecard on our football coach. We’ve got 10 more games to play.”

Vince Dooley is uniquely qualified to talk about the situation since he’s a former AD and head football coach at Georgia and actually was the man responsible for hiring Richt. Dooley was at both of the Bulldogs’ games this season and will be there Saturday as his 1971 team is honored on the 40th anniversary of its 11-1 season. So here’s what he had to say when I asked him Thursday to share his thoughts on Richt’s situation:

Q: Coach Richt has endured a lot of criticism lately in the wake of the Bulldogs’ 0-2 start and declining win totals the last three seasons. What are your thoughts on the job he’s doing?

A: “If you stay in this business long enough, you’re going to go through some down times. Joe Paterno had about four losing seasons in five years before he went on his run. Bear Bryant, in 1969 and ‘70, had some struggling times. He got beat by Vanderbilt up in Nashville. I remember his athletic director saying he was going to look for a new coach. At the end of the season he said, ‘I looked all over the country and can’t find one better than the one I got right now.’ I’ve been through it myself. In fact, we’re celebrating the ‘71 team reunion this week. That was an 11-1 team that finished sixth or seventh in the county. But the two years before that were down years. We won the SEC championship in ‘66 and ‘68 prior to that. So you have to be able to weather those down years and go forward. Every coach has to go through it. And usually you come out a better coach by having gone through it. So I’m confident Coach Richt is going to address it.”

Q: What were your impressions of the first two games this season and what do you think about the 2011 team?

A: “That first team we played this year, Boise State, is really good. They’re great, in fact. They’re great because of that defensive line and that quarterback. They can play with anybody. We played good enough to win that ballgame against South Carolina. They out-played them. But you have these turnovers – and they’re all bad – but these were disastrous because they resulted in touchdowns. They were touchdown turnovers. They weren’t turnovers that just gave them an opportunity to score touchdowns; they were touchdowns. So this team probably should have won that game and is very capable of ending up with a very strong year. You can look to the example of Virginia Tech last year. That was a lot worse than this. After they got beat by Boise they lost to James Madison. I think South Carolina is a little better than James Madison. So, anyway, it’s just what you have to go through.

“Coach Richt is a proven coach. He’s the type of guy you want at Georgia, the way he conducts himself, his character and the way he represents the university. I think he has the support of the greatest majority of people because they believe in him. I believe in him, too. So I think he’ll come out of it as other coaches have gone through it and have come out of it. He’ll be fine. He’ll be here a long time.”

Q: So what happened? How do you explain the downturn of late?

A: “I don’t think we’ve gotten quite the production from our players. Maybe we haven’t recruited quite as well. We haven’t been fortunate with some of these athletes. You can go back to that as well. And other teams have come on strong. It’s hard to think that other teams may have caused this but other teams are good. They’re trying to win, too. You’ve got new blood coming in every year and competitors each and every year that are all striving to make it. So everybody can’t be on top all the time.”

Q: Do you think giving up total control of the offense was a mistake for Richt?

A: “I don’t think so. The offensive production has actually been better. And I did the same thing after five years. As you take on more and more responsibilities as the head coach, the quarterbacks and offensive still demand more and more time and you’re not able to give it to them. I did the same thing and I think he made the right decision. He’s certainly still involved. You have to remain involved, but you can’t be totally involved. Even Steve Spurrier, as much as he’s involved, he’s got a guy who is coordinating and working with the quarterbacks. He still runs it from the sideline. So, no, I don’t think that’s the reason things haven’t gone as well. But people feel like they have to point to something when we’re not doing as well and that’s just one variant they point to based on the fact that it’s a change from what we’d been doing.”

Q: Let me ask you to put on your AD’s hat for a minute. Coach Richt will have only two years remaining on his contract heading into next season. So the decision is not just whether to keep him, but whether to extend his contract as well. So what has to happen for Richt for that to happen?

A: “My thoughts are we just started the season. People are talking about things we ought to be thinking about after the season. You just started. Yeah, there are some concerns. Coach Richt is concerned; we’re all concerned. But he’s got to be able to address the issues and he’s just getting started. At the end of the season, we’ll see where we are. The assumption is it’s going to be bad. Let’s wait and see. I think we’ve got a chance to have a good football season. I really do.”

– Chip Towers

455 comments Add your comment

Flat Tire on I-95 in Jacksonville

September 15th, 2011
1:45 pm

Flat Tire on I-95 in Jacksonville

September 15th, 2011
1:46 pm

Flat Tire on I-95 in Jacksonville

September 15th, 2011
1:46 pm

Flat Tire on I-95 in Jacksonville

September 15th, 2011
1:47 pm

Football Insider

September 15th, 2011
1:47 pm

Richt is staying? Thank god! I love watching UGA lose week in and week out and become the laughing stock of the SEC.

Flat Tire on I-95 in Jacksonville

September 15th, 2011
1:48 pm

DawginLex

September 15th, 2011
1:50 pm

How do Dooley and Adams get along these days?

Dooley giving this interview is real interesting.

He is clearly in Richt’s corner.

If we go 7-5, i wonder if Adams would boot Richt just to upset Dooley?

volsdeep

September 15th, 2011
1:56 pm

no argument here!

gdawginkalamazoo

September 15th, 2011
1:59 pm

Coach Richt does deserve the opportunity to turn this team around. IMO I think he already has after watching how well those kids responded against SC. They played their hearts out in that game. Every coach no matter how good has a down cycle. Mark Richt knows how to win. He knows how to develope these kids too. He has been doing it the better part of the past 20 years at FSU & UGA. He had problems with the D in 2007 & 2008. A QB in 2009 that didn’t have much playing time and last year with a new D and Frosh QB. Things are coming together form and the program. Stop complaining and support these kids and the coach. You might be suprised at how much confidence that can give a team. If you have a hard time doing that then just keep quiet till the end of the year. GO Dawgs!

Born2Bark

September 15th, 2011
1:59 pm

Well said Vince! Give the man the season and see where we are then. We lost to two Top 10 teams, both very good. The guys played their hearts out last week and we were not out coached, turnovers lost that game. People need to shut up and let the players play and coaches coach.

Ginger

September 15th, 2011
1:59 pm

Interesting story Chip–great idea to interview Coach Dooley.

My gut feeling is that CMR and company are going to get the program going.

cyberdawg

September 15th, 2011
2:00 pm

I’m glad to hear the sound of wisdom from Coach Dooley in his support for Richt. Coach Richt is an A+ coach as well as his staff in everything that is off field. Of course we are all disappointed in the last few years for on field losses, but every long term coach has them. The bloggers who think they went from good coaches to bad coaches in the last few years obviously don’t know much about coaching. As Dooley points out, the production from the players is the main change from a few years ago…..but that is changing beginning this year.

Andybob

September 15th, 2011
2:01 pm

Dooley and McGarity have a lot more sense than many of those who will post after me.

DawginLex

September 15th, 2011
2:03 pm

I go back and think about a similar situation up here at Kentucky.

rich brooks inherited a depleted mess in 2003 after Guy morriss left

Kentucky got blown out in several games during the 2005 season and were about to play Vandy in Nashville.

AD Mitch Barnhart gave Brooks a contact extension the week leading up to the game.

The team went on to win that game and then went to 4 straight bowl games before Brooks retired after the 2009 season

He never had SEC title success but he got a public vote of support from his AD and his kids went out and played great.

He also beat # 1 LSU in 2007.

Something to think about.

Reality Check

September 15th, 2011
2:04 pm

This is like the night mare that re-occurs. The 800lb gorilla in the room that nobody notices. Dooley must have very low standard. Im tired or watching. Nothing can take away this negative feeling the last 4 years of underachieving has given Georgia. This program is not a 2nd perhaps 3rd tier program. Judging by the number of responses nobody cares any more.

fire BO-CMR-ZO-

Saban

September 15th, 2011
2:04 pm

You people are beginnig to sound like Georgia Tech. Keep Richt and go to the ACC.

JAWJeRDAWG

September 15th, 2011
2:05 pm

I’m hoping for a good season going forward for UGA.

Baring the turnovers against SC, if we can play as well on offense and defense as we did against them, we should be in every game this year.

Yes, they did play good enough to have won that game. With better focus on special teams, those mistakes won’t happen again.

And if we have have any luck, we’ll have a good enough winning season that Coach Richt will be able to sit down with AD McGarity at the end of the season, and assess where changes might have to be made and make them; be it position coaches, OC play calling whatever.

I’m behind Coach Richt and this team for the balance of this season and know that Georgia football is in good hands with the assessments / decisions that will have to be made. .. Go Dawgs!

Reality Check

September 15th, 2011
2:05 pm

DawginLex

September 15th, 2011
2:05 pm

Shutup Saban you fraud.

Everyone knows you are a Tech fan

Crap

September 15th, 2011
2:05 pm

No, Saban: we have you on this blog for that.

Homer

September 15th, 2011
2:07 pm

Just waite until next year

Henne Patchinko

September 15th, 2011
2:07 pm

10-0 rest of the way.

Saban

September 15th, 2011
2:08 pm

Think you ladies can handle Coastal Carolina this weekend?

Joey

September 15th, 2011
2:08 pm

Dooley had a great team that year – only got beat by a Heisman Trophy winner, Auburn’s Pat Sullivan.

hipdawg

September 15th, 2011
2:09 pm

Comical.I’m sure other teams are laughing…..thinking another easy win for years to come.What is CMR record against Fla.? …there you go!!!

Joey

September 15th, 2011
2:09 pm

beebee

September 15th, 2011
2:09 pm

At Alabama, we honor anniversaries of National Championship teams. Not also-rans that finished 6th or 7th in the country.

UGA, you’re a middle of the road program.

Kirby Smart

September 15th, 2011
2:09 pm

I beg to differ…I will be name the head coach later this year. I am the greatest coach since Nick Satan.

Saban

September 15th, 2011
2:12 pm

Why yes you are Kirby? Good luck in Athens.

TallaDawg

September 15th, 2011
2:12 pm

DawginLex- The obvious difference is that two years in Richt was not getting blown out like Brooks, he was winning real Championships. Now, 8 to 10 years later we are not seeing a blip on the screen, we are seeing a pronounced downward trend. I love UGa and like Richt, but I no longer believe that he can make the adjustments that are necessary.

Kirby Smart

September 15th, 2011
2:12 pm

Should you bed wetting, cry baby dawg fans not want to pay the price for my services, I suggest to transfer to the ACC…you could then at least finish in 2nd place.

Kerryb

September 15th, 2011
2:12 pm

Coach Dooley is right. Everyone get off of coach Richt’s back. Compare these stats:
Bobby Bowden
1981 6-5
1982 9-3
1983 8-4
1984 7-3
1985 9-3
1986 7-4-1

Did all the FSU fans whine and cry and wanted him fired? I don’t know but it was a good thing they stuck with him because the next 14 years he was no worse that 10-2 and most of the time he was 11-1 and won two National Championships. It took Bobby Bowden 18 years to win a NC. It took Joe Paterno 14 years an he had some down years too. All of the fickle fair weather fans need to shut it and watch whats about to happen because I was pretty impresses with the way this young team played and held together through some adversity. How many times do you give up 28 points in an SEC game and lose by only 3. This team is going to get better every week because it has some great young talent.

ben

September 15th, 2011
2:12 pm

LUKE CHAPTER 6 VERSE 31…”AND AS YE WOULD THAT MEN SHOULD DO TO YOU, DO YE ALSO TO THEM”….the BIBLE is the truth no matter what anyone says….”IF YOU DONT WANT COACH RICHT TO LEAVE YOU DONT LEAVE HIM”…….I LOVE COACH RICHT AND I LOVE OUR PLAYERS…if they never win another game “THEY ARE MY DAWGS AND I WILL ALWAYS SUPPORT THEM”……..there is more to football than winning ……and remember:::::: most dont know what they have until its gone….so either support coach richt and the dawgs or take that G t-shirt off your back..because u AINT worthy to wear it…. LOVE BEN (:+)

Little Kirby Not So Smart

September 15th, 2011
2:14 pm

I have never been a head coach … but, that does not matter because the Dawg Nation is getting desperate.

DawginLex

September 15th, 2011
2:15 pm

talla

My point was that the UK fanbase was furious with Brooks. Many were calling for his head.

His AD stuck his neck out and gave him the contract.

It could have gotten him fired but instead got the AD a get out of jail free card that he needed to play when he hired the drunk b-ball coach Gillispie.

Ken

September 15th, 2011
2:18 pm

Vince, we are with you, Coach Richt should be our coach for at least another ten years, He will turn this team around and we will win many games with him at the helm. For you non-believers who are UGA haters, please just comment on your own team. Go dawgs, good luck Mark, and thanks Vince.

The voice of reason

September 15th, 2011
2:19 pm

Ah… the voice of reason. A lot of folks will read this and respond, ” … la, la , la, can’t hear you! Don’t confuse me with a reasoned approach. The sky is falling… we haven’t been great for 3 years. The 7 years before that was just smoke & mirrors… blah, blah, blah”
There is a lot to be learned from history. Programs with great coaches go through down cycles from time to time. We need to support the DAWGs and let he team and season develop.

The Bottom Line

September 15th, 2011
2:20 pm

Loser mentality.

WDE

September 15th, 2011
2:20 pm

@Kirby Smart what exactly is your record as a HC ?

jimdawg

September 15th, 2011
2:21 pm

I believe we will run the table based on what I saw against SC. Aaron Murray needs to get rid of the ball quicker and be a little more decisive other than that and holding on to the football (or just not botching the hand off) we will be hard to beat the rest of the way. I really believe in this team and this Coach! Lets support our team because its obvious he aint going nowhere until the end of it anyway and the guy deserves our support for atleast the rest of the way!

Why you may ask! Because he is the coach of our beloved team thats reason enough for me!

A TRUE FAN

7576DAWG

September 15th, 2011
2:22 pm

This interview does say a lot as to where CMR is with the decision makers at Georgia. If we win at least 8 games nothing will happen except a 4 year extension for Richt. If that happens I hope McGarity will realize that we need help with play calling and if CMR can’t do it we need a new offensive coordinator. We also need help with evaluating recruit’s . That means you hire a co- recruiting coordinator or you get a new recruiting coordinator. That only thing left is for Richt to accept that Murray isn’t getting the job done. Would any coach in America not give someone else a try if their QB was 2-9 against ranked opponents.

Nick Saban

September 15th, 2011
2:23 pm

Please make an offer to Little Kirby Not So Smart … I’m ready to get rid of him. Beside…with Kirby at the helm over in Athens, it would make for an easy win for Bama.

GTBob

September 15th, 2011
2:23 pm

Richt couldn’t make it to the SEC championship with Stafford, Moreno, and AJ Green on the team. He couldn’t beat Central Florida or Boise St with an enormous talent difference. He has lost his edge and the SEC has passed him by.

D Fence

September 15th, 2011
2:24 pm

IF the team plays like they did against SC the rest of the way out – they can win them all and win many in convincing fashion. There is some special talent on this team that is just beginning to show. The problem has been the inconsistency from week to week over the last couple of years but also even some unexplained losses in years that we were really good – see 05 and 07 to SC for one. I hope we are creative and man enough to do something about it the rest of the way or it will be time for a change.

TampaDawg

September 15th, 2011
2:25 pm

well, apparently Reality Check (there is a fraud just in the name itself) knows more about coaching college football than Vince Dooley. Ok, we know that isn’t true. And the Saban(GT fan) nut job can’t even come on here and support his own team. I mean,it’s bad enough just going to some other teams blog to talk trash but posing as something you’re not in the process? Nice work.

NateDawg

September 15th, 2011
2:29 pm

Dooley doesn’t want anyone to come along that makes everyone forget about him.

jr

September 15th, 2011
2:29 pm

He’s a great guy and he has the capability of being a great coach (as we’ve seen), but I don’t think his heart and mind are in it anymore. Emotionally and mentally, he’s with his wife…as it should be…but you can’t be emotionally and mentally absent as the head coach in this conference and experience success. Saturday’s opponent has also faced top-10 competition. Florida, Miss St and possibly Auburn will face us in must-win games for their programs. GT always sees us as a must-win game, and Johnson has figured out Richt’s soft spots.

So, while a 10 win streak and a great bowl to finish out the season is possible given the team’s talent and coaches, and I’ll cheer for such a result, I don’t think it’s likely. I think the likely result is 3-4 more losses, including some to hated rivals, and UGA’s leadership wondering whether or not this is the time to hire someone who isn’t distracted.

.

layinlow

September 15th, 2011
2:30 pm

I continue to be amazed at the number of fans who are screaming moral victory in the loss at home to South Carolina. UGA lost at HOME to SOUTH CAROLINA and the pollyanna richt lovers are happy because we looked better than we did in the Boise loss. This is incredulous. All I heard before the season started by players, media, coaches, etc was how important these first two games of the season were. Now we sit at 0-2 and the rationalizing has began in full force. South Carolina is way overrated and reality will sit in when we play UT, UF, MISS ST, Auburn, etc. This team is not much better than last years squad and it barely crack .500 if that. We need change at seasons end.

Please hire an elite coach

September 15th, 2011
2:32 pm

jimdawd,

You are dillusional if you think UGA can “run the table”. What’s wrong with you people… are you blind or something?

'94 UGA Alumni

September 15th, 2011
2:32 pm

I’m glad to know I’m only turning 30 next Monday instead of 40 since I was born in 1971. :)