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August 1, 2011

Mark Richt's Future

(Image: Hipple)

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.



Scott said...

I am not a fan. I am alumnus. Even though I do not live in Athens, but in the middle of ACC country, I will always be a proud alumnus of the University of Georgia.

As an alumnus, I consider my ties stronger to UGA than just a fan. Fans can be fickle and move on. I will always be a proud alumnus of the University of Georgia.

I not only want to see my Dawgs win, but be respected as a top program in the nation. I was proud when we were ranked pre-season #1 before the 2008 season but devastated after. I crow before every game and have done a lot of crying as of late. But I will always cheer the team on. I will always be a proud alumnus of the University of Georgia.

It has been a long time since I was a member of the Redcoat Band. I was a tuba player and rank leader in 1980. I was in Knoxville to see Herschel Walker's first game and I was in New Orleans to watch his last touchdown of the season. But I was also in the Redcoat Band in 1979, a not-so-good year before Herschel's arrival. Even in the wake of 1979, I will always be a proud alumnus of the University of Georgia.

But being an alumnus does not mean I will take mediocrity. Ray Goff was one of us, an alumnus. But Goff wasn't up to the task and was probably kept a year longer than necessary because he was an alumnus. Then there was Jim Donnan. Forget his current issues, he was full of promise, even after his 10-2 season in 1997. But his downward decline was stopped after three years because he was not one of us. But I still cheered because I am alumnus. I will always be a proud alumnus of the University of Georgia.

The came Mark Richt all full of primes. Richt got us back to the national scene. Back to the sUGAr Bowl. Back to the top of the SEC. It was easier to show off being a proud alumnus of the University of Georgia. We were flying hight until after the sUGAr Bowl game with Hawaii. Then it started to crumble.

Has Richt worn out his welcome? Does his style no longer work? How long do we wait? Is it time? Richt may be a nice guy, but he's not one of us. How long do we wait? Richt is a Miami alumnus. How long do we wait?

As an alumnus, my patience has worn thin. As an alumnus I will go into every Saturday feeling we can win that day and march to an undefeated season. As an alumnus I will be an unabashed homer for the Dawgs. But as an alumnus, if Georgia does not win the SEC or lose to Florida, it will be time for Richt to go.

I will always be a proud alumnus of the University of Georgia.


Paul Westerdawg said...

The defense needs 1 more stop per game. 1 more stop and we beat UCF, Colorado, Arkansas and UF last year.

Can the improved DL and hopefully improved LB corp get us 1 more stop per game against a weaker schedule? Hopefully.

On offense, we need 4 fewer catastrophic turnovers. Turnovers are one thing. Everyone has some. But the type of catastrophic turnovers we've seen the past 2 years under Richt have been potential program killers.

One fewer turnover against SC, Colorado, UF, UCF, MSU...and where would we have finished?

Conditioning can play into addressing those 2 issues. So can talent.

We're not that far away. But at the same time. We are.

Anonymous said...

Thanks to Tyler & Scott for a balanced, sane, reasonable approach to Mark Richt's future & expectations for this season. It seems as if there's a growing chasm between fans & UGA alum. Sad, but not entirely unexpected. It's easy to claim the mantle of fandom superiority when you have little to nothing invested in UGA or it's Athletics program. Graduates like myself have been here long before Richt stepped foot in Athens and will be here long after he leaves. Hopefully, that time will come later rather than sooner. Either way though, Georgia will survive.

Glory Glory & Go Dawgs!

sUGArdaddy said...

2010 Georgia Bulldogs

-1 or worse T/O ratio: 0-4
Zero T/O ratio: 0-2
+1 or better T/O ratio: 6-1 with a lone loss @ undefeated Auburn

It's a simple game.

Anonymous said...

Some very good insights. I look at Richt like a parent who's kid has brought home three consecutive crappy report cards. I'd love to see straight A's next time but I'm also ready to bring the hammer down.

And buying into the "we were just a few plays away game" is grasping at fool's gold. Both Goff and Donnan watched "one play away " games sink their careers at UGA. The key is to have the ability and confidence to win a majority of games decisively enough to not be on the "one play" bubble every week.

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