Every so often (about 10 times a day), I get asked my opinion on Mark Richt. There is one thing that is clear about him, not many people are torn about him. You either love him or you don't. I think that puts me in the minority, in that I am glad he is our coach, but sincerely wonder if he can make the changes, changes personally and corporately, necessary to get back to the successes of the early 2000s. I want him to succeed and wildly, but am less than convinced that he can do so again.
First, let me say I want Mark Richt to coach Georgia until he retires, whenever that is. I am proud to call Mark Richt the man My Coach. However, we can't ignore the level of play and how that level has degraded in the past couple of years. I firmly believe Richt has the personal tools at his disposal to bring that level back to what we saw in the early and mid-2000s. He also has the corporate tools at his disposal to do so. I have questions about Richt's ability to employ those tools, based on the past couple of years. Not that he doesn't want to succeed, I believe he does. Does he have the ability to see the issues, whatever they are, and apply those tools as needed? Can he?
Georgia has been close, very close, to remaining in the upper echelon of the the SEC. They are just as close to becoming what they were in the late 90s; a nice surprise pick every once in a while, but never a real threat to play in Atlanta regularly.
Second, I don't like feeling that Georgia has regressed to the level of 1990s play. Upon the hiring of Mark Richt, we made great strides as a program talent wise, coach wise, and fan wise. Regression is the real danger. I don't believe we 'have' to beat this team or that team every year for us to support a particular coach. I do believe we can look back over seasons and see an upward progression, a downward progression or a steady level of play (good or bad). We have been on a downward track.
I enjoy going to Sanford stadium, seeing the Dawgs play and fellowshiping with fellow Dawgs, win or lose. I love showing my kids where I went to college and where their momma and I met. I don't enjoy going to Boulder or Nashville or Starkeville or Columbia or Athens to watch this team play poorly. I don't enjoy looking at stuff like this and thinking about how the Dawgs never got whipped on the goal line or late in games in the early 2000s. I don't like hearing about 'cancers' and seeing a noticeable lack of leadership on the field, especially when the team is playing from behind.
I write all of this to those that say I am not a real fan, that somehow I can't be a fan if I don't unconditionally support the University, Coach, and Players without question forever and ever, amen. Those that hate Mark Richt and want him gone and you that unconditionally support him are all real fans. We all want the same thing: Georgia Success.
If my kids had to go to court for something they did, I'd still love them, but I'd not be happily chi about their actions. They'd still be my kids; I'd still love them unconditionally; I'd still support them anyway I could. I wouldn't act like their actions are irrelevant to me.
Same goes for the Dawgs. I'm not a booer; I'm not calling for anyone's job. I'm pointing out that it is my belief that Georgia has to play better than they have the past couple of years for continued support of the fans that the decision makers in Athens do pay attention to. At this point, it is impossible to say that Georgia has to win X games for Richt to stay around. It is easy to say playing with the same lack of urgency and general lack of concern about outcomes of games will result in that number being moot.