Just how smart is Mark Richt?

Upon initial reflection, I thought The Celebration was a brilliant move on Mark Richt’s part because it got Georgia’s players out of the funk they’d been in for much of the previous three games. As the game went on, I was even more impressed because I saw the effect it had on Florida’s players, too.

But after reading this overwrought letter posted for public consumption by one Franz Beard, who is the managing editor of Gator Country, a Florida online site (h/t Best of the SEC Blogs), my attitude is beginning to border on flat-out awe.

When this guy writes “I shake to think what might have happened”, I don’t doubt it. My bet is that he was still shaking with righteous indignation when he wrote the letter. Listen carefully and you can hear his voice quiver.

… I’ve been at Florida-Georgia games since 1962 and I know the hair-trigger emotions both on the field and in the stands. One ill-timed remark, one bump of a Georgia player into a Florida player and we could have very easily had an on the field incident that would have made Miami-Florida International look like something you see on Sesame Street. It is only by God’s grace and the restraint of the Florida coaches, who prevented the UF team from charging the field by their quick, positive response, that there was no incident on the field.

I’ve got to tell you, I had no idea of the grave danger I was in at that moment.

But skip that – my point here isn’t to mock what Franz Beard wrote (BestofSEC does a fine job of that all on his lonesome). It’s to note that Mark Richt and Georgia football are in their heads. All of that Gator superiority we’ve come to know and love have vanished from this guy’s mindset. It’s all ghosts now. Three out of the last eighteen? Gone. Visor Boy? Gone. Danny the All-American? Gone. At this point, Franz may not even remember that his team won the last MNC, so consumed is he with wrath over Richt’s perfidy.

And this from a guy who runs what I presume to be a popular Gator fan site and shares a conviction about Florida football with a large following. He’s representative, in other words.

This ain’t going away anytime soon, folks. It’s going to eat at the Gator Nation at least until next year’s WLOCP. And with that one little gesture, Mark Richt has managed to destroy the psychological status quo of this series that Spurrier built and had grown over the better part of two decades. Easy, comfortable arrogance has been replaced with a burning desire to even the score.

The worm has turned. What do you think Urban Meyer is going to hear at every Gator Club breakfast, lunch and dinner meeting he attends in the offseason next year? He’s gonna hear the same incessant complaint that every Georgia coach has been forced to suffer through for nigh on about twenty years: Coach, you gotta beat Georgia this year. You just gotta.

How delicious.

And so I ask one more time: just how smart is Mark Richt? Did he actually see this coming? Because if he did, all I can say is, man, I can’t wait to see what he has up his sleeve for next year’s game.

************************************************************************

UPDATE: For all my Gator commenters in denial, here’s more of what I’m referring to. Feel free to keep insisting otherwise, though.

(h/t Dawgbone)

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58 Comments

Filed under Gators, Gators..., Georgia Football

58 responses to “Just how smart is Mark Richt?

  1. Tony W

    Senator, your most salient observation is this: Mark Richt and Georgia football are in their heads. I couldn’t put my finger on why this moment so changed the tenor of the series, but that is it. For the longest time I felt the 1990 date was just an arbitrary point in time, but I now realize it was much more. That date was important because it was when Florida gained the psychological edge by virtue of hiring Duke’s coach. 2007 has become that date for Georgia, by virtue of The Celebration. Well played, indeed.

    PS. Wow, I didn’t know Richt was nearly as dangerous as Franz Beard would have us believe. Last time I heard such hyperbole, my ex-wife’s lawyer had floor.

  2. It has also raised the stakes for us next year, which I also love. Richt knows that the Gators will see and hear about that stunt for YEARS.

    Our players knew they would have to back up a stunt like that for 1 game. But realistically, they’re going to have to back up that stunt for a very long time.

    I love it.

  3. ga dog

    the folks that have a prob w/the situation, most likely grew up in a bad environment, bad childhood, getto neighborhood, etc, i like to think coach richt has made good citizens out of every player he has met, regardless of their beginning, i praise the gators for not trying to get involved and pushing or throwing a punch, because their coach, taught them not to, saying a riot could have started like terrance moore is a racist thing to say, things happened just like they were suppose to for coach richt and the dawgs, they played a incredible game and won

  4. I, for one, am exceedingly grateful that the Florida coaches and players showed such tremendous restraint. I encourage them to be restrained again next year we score another 42 points. Gator restraint and God’s Grace… Great for the Georgia Bulldogs.

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  6. I was hoping someone else read the Best of the SEC Blogs piece about Mrs. Beard. If you looked up “inflated sense of self-worth” in Wikipedia, it would have his quote/picture plastered right at the top.

    But to a more salient point, we HAVE to win next year. While I’m not sure we reversed anything quite yet, imagine after 364 days of buildup and emotion we beat them next year down there. I think it would be fair to say that Urban would go from Golden Child to Hot Seat faster than a Knowshon spin move in the open field.

    Great job-

  7. SonuvaDawg

    Great article. Great point. We are SO in their heads- on their boards I don’t even think they know who they play next and it’s wednesday!!

    I’m sure Crier and the team have moved on but I love it that their arrogant fans are still singing the blues this long after the fact!!

  8. Joel

    In UFs head? No way. Yeah, the loss stings, losing to rivals hurts…Georgia should know about that. This one loss though, does not put UGAy into a psychological advantage, not one bit.

  9. Riiiight. I’m sure ol’ Franz writes Mike Slive regularly with stuff like that. ;)

  10. YesDawg

    Senator, I’ve not even thought this far ahead, but you are right on. My good friend Gator is still quiet, and that is a miracle.

  11. Davebg8r

    Unfortunately for your ego’s you are not in our heads. Im sorry, but to win 3 times in 18 or so years does not qualify. You guys played a good game and caught us at the right time. Tebow was hurt and obviously not playing as he normally does and the we were missing some starters from the O-line. Thats not an excuse but it is the reality. You guys simply executed better than we did.

    But as to being in our heads. Not really. Most of us had assumed this would be somewhat of a down year since we had so many young players.

    Dont worry though. We already assume that you guys will lose atleast 1 more during the rest of the year and well get to the SEC Champ game. If not, we rest assured knowing that we will most likely beat you the next couple of years like we usually do.

  12. But as to being in our heads. Not really. Most of us had assumed this would be somewhat of a down year since we had so many young players.

    Dave, there’s an awful lot of bandwidth from Gator land that says otherwise, I’m afraid…

  13. kckd

    “One ill-timed remark, one bump of a Georgia player into a Florida player and we could have very easily had an on the field incident that would have made Miami-Florida International look like something you see on Sesame Street. ”

    That bump he’s referring to, was that when the Gaytor came through the line and popped Stafford with his knee on the ground.

  14. fetch

    Senator, do you feel, as I do, that it helped that our players are young (frosh, RS frosh, and soph)? Not to mention that our playmakers, Staf and Knowshon, aren’t from GA. Heck, they probably didn’t realize that they were supposed to lose to UF. They surely have heard about our bad luck in the WLOCP, but they haven’t lived with it for long enough for it to be in their heads.

  15. Dawgblogit

    I would like to say based off the analysis of his article no player should be able to gator chomp. Or do any type of celebrating whatsoever. Based off his analysis the only people who can celebrate are the fans.
    What would we do if someone takes offense at a FLA gator doing a gator chomp on the field and then all h*ll will break loose and people in the streets will be fighting!! Switzerland will declare war on Mozambique..

    In all seriousness. I would say that I was worried about fighting on that event. However, if fighting is going to occur it is going to occur. What is more serious a cheap shot at a quarterback, punching someone in the face at the end of a play (hands to the facemask), or jumping up and down in the endzone?

    I was afraid one of our guys would accidentally knock someone down and then they would overreact. It wasn’t like our guys were going there to start a fight so if a fight was coming FLA was bringing it. But players fighting comes down more to coaching. Coaching players to be above the play.

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  17. Senator, do you feel, as I do, that it helped that our players are young (frosh, RS frosh, and soph)? Not to mention that our playmakers, Staf and Knowshon, aren’t from GA. Heck, they probably didn’t realize that they were supposed to lose to UF. They surely have heard about our bad luck in the WLOCP, but they haven’t lived with it for long enough for it to be in their heads.

    I think there’s some truth to that. There were some quotes from the players leading up to the game that indicated something like that.

    But I always thought that there was more pressure on the coaches than the players for this game, anyway. I also thought that Richt was more concerned about his team’s lack of energy for the better part of the last three games than about the WLOCP streak. That he was able to stir things up against the Gators was almost a bonus.

  18. RV

    I agree with Joel in his comment [In UFs head? No way. Yeah, the loss stings, losing to rivals hurts…Georgia should know about that. This one loss though, does not put UGAy into a psychological advantage, not one bit.]

    I think is was a tactless move and have lost all respect for Richt and the Bullcrap Dogs!

    Fortunate for GA to catch tha Gators with so many key injured players! It won’t happen next year!

  19. Davebg8r

    Senator:

    Really and what bandwidth is that? I read the message boards and last weekend is already forgotten. Most of us dont really care about Georgia. Sure, many of the really old timers do, but the rest of us dont. We are more concerned with the continuing problems we have had all year: lack of a lead RB, getting the balls in more players hands rather than just the 3 or 4 they rely on too much, the lack of play selection, and the poor play of the secondary. These are the things we are concerned about.

  20. Good grief, Dave, being “in your heads” doesn’t mean I expect you guys to spend every waking hour obsessing about Georgia… even our worst fans haven’t done that about the Gators.

    If you don’t think an inordinate amount of time has been spent blogging and posting about The Celebration on Gator message boards and sites, fine, more power to ‘ya. I respectfully disagree.

    Further, you are kidding yourself if you don’t think it’s an event that will be revisited on multiple occasions in the media and on the ‘Net in the months to come… and that it’s not going to crowd out a lot of the usual attitude you folks have had about the rivalry over the past few years.

  21. gatorgrl

    In our heads??? This is the team that celebrated a 3 point victory over Vandy (yes, Vandy). And your team seemed totally surprised to have scored first against the mighty Gators by having the entire team come onto the field. When was the last time you saw the Gators do that. Oh, wait a minute. We did go on the field AFTER the game in January. You do remember that game? Against Ohio State. In our heads. Yea, right.

  22. gg, thanks for dropping in, but what does what Georgia did after beating Vanderbilt have to do with the Gator Nation?

    Listen, if I’m wrong about this, then I’ll never hear another word from you folks about The Celebration. Ever. How likely do you think it is that that will be the case? ;)

  23. gatorgrl

    It has everything to do with how far the Bulldog program has fallen. Could you imagine a Vince Dooley team doing this. They would feel no need to storm the field after a score against the Gators. It was expected. I can understand why your team celebrated. Desperation. Maybe we are more in your head. Win like you have been there before.

  24. It looks like you’re making my case for me. Thanks.

  25. gatorgrl

    I rest my case. :)

  26. Davebg8r

    We have no control over what the media obsesses about, but thats separate from any gators. And sure some gators will bring it up, but every loss will be brought up so thats nothing special.

    Look, you need to face the fact that for most gator fans, Georgia is nothing special to us. Yeah its a party at a neutral field but we dont really care. We are so used to beating Georgia its like playing Kentucky or Vanderbilt. Yeah, youll win one every so often cause no one can win all the time, but other than that, its no big deal.

    It seems like you are having a hard time dealing with the fact, well, youre just not special to us anymore. We can still be friends, but our relationshop is not the same. Weve moved on. We dont love you anymore. We hope you have luck in your next relationship.

  27. Dave, of course you have no control over what the media emits, but you guys will still have to live with it.

  28. Greater Gator

    Typical Bull Dawg S—T! Every now and then we don’t bring it and you dawgs break the leash and run around the park. Next year when its time to walk the dawg you’ll be reminded what it feels like when a pooch ticks off his Master. Steve Spurier hates Georgia for a reason and now the college football world has seen why. You have no class from the coach on down. It’s still great to be a Florida Gator. See ya next year Gator Bait!

  29. nland7

    LMAO!!!!! You mutts win 3 games in 18 frickin years and you think you’re in our heads? Wow you guys are as dumb as your football program is bad. Enjoy your little win, I’m still enjoying a national championship. When was the last time Georia won one of those? HAHA…..you mutts crack me up!

  30. It seems that I’ve struck a nerve… ;)

  31. It was only a matter of time until Richt turned UGA into The U north. Congratulations, you should be so proud.

  32. Honestly, Wade, with this “U North” stuff, do you really want to go there? Or have you already forgotten about the numerous legal problems several Gator players have faced recently?

    Look, if you want to disagree with my reasoning, that’s fine. I’m a big boy. But let’s leave the cheap shots against the players out of it, OK?

  33. Jules8271

    I call BS ! You win every 5 years.

  34. Actually, we’ve split the last four, but who’s counting? :)

  35. Gators!

    Wow … some of yall are really stretching this whole celebration thing to be a bit more than it really is. The fact that you attribute “the celebration” as the turning point in the series that erases all the gigantic suckfest dog moments of the last few years (18 to be exact) really shows more about how much the GATORS are in your head than vice versa.
    Good game … good win … enjoy it … but you guys are getting a bit to philosophical and cute over a bush-league, low-class move on your guys part. You guys should concentrate more on your next game … because you are about to lose it. You can attribute “the celebration” to that as well.

  36. The great thing about this is how much you guys sound like Georgia fans circa 1990… ;)

  37. Gatrchuck86

    Thats it Mutts !!! Its not the fact that the defense in composed of 9 Freshmen and sophomores.

    Nah! It’s that Mark Richt got in our heads. Yeah thats it!!! Never mind that we blew by you and scored within 2 minutes of getting the ball back.

    Next year we’ll be back to beating your sorry butts so enjoy your 3rd victory in 20 years boys. Anyone want to make a wager that you loose at least one of your remaining SEC games?

  38. John Stokley

    Now I’ve heard it all…ONE game does not turn a series… keep dreaming UGA fans. When Urban keeps throwing down field with under a minute left in next years game (and in subsequent years )despite hanging 50+ you better not complain. It’s coming and you know it…

  39. Andrew

    Senator,
    You amaze me with your utter ignorance of football, as well as the human psyche. First off, Richt took a big risk by having his team run out on to the field. It paid off for him and his team, but in all honesty it was an extremely stupid move. In a football game, especially a rivarly game, emotions are high, and pulling a stunt like that can quickly lead to several players from both sides getting ejected, or worse a kid getting seriously hurt. You not understanding that tells me that you never played football or for that matter any sport where you played against a hated rival.

    As for your comment about being in the Gators heads, Freud you are not. The loss to UGA is not the topic of our conversation since we lost. The topic of our conversations is how do we replace the players that we lost from that game due to injury, and how do we fix our defense. I mean come on dude in our heads? You are 3-18 against us in the last 21 years, that puts you about as much in our heads as Vanderbilt. Which is one week out of 52. You guys have become for the most part a gimmie win. In our heads….ha ha ha.

  40. Hell, John, I didn’t complain when Steve and Danny hung 50+ on Georgia in Sanford. If the fans didn’t like it, the team should’ve stopped it on the scoreboard. If it happens next year, I’ll take the whuppin’ like a man.

    Which is my whole point here. If your guys didn’t like The Celebration, they had almost the entire game to do something about it. Instead, your Gators lost, and guys like Beard show their ass with that ridiculous letter.

    If you read my posts, I’m not predicting that Georgia’s about to go off on a long tear of its own. I’m just saying, based on what I heard from your fan base immediately after the game, and what I’ve seen posted on the ‘Net, the mindset of the fans has changed dramatically. Deny it if you want, but this thread is a perfect example of what I’m talking about.

  41. Andrew, when you write “You are 3-18 against us in the last 21 years, that puts you about as much in our heads as Vanderbilt…”, does that mean that Vandy is a “hated rival” in your mind, too?

    That certainly makes about as much sense as the rest of your comment.

    By the way, speaking of “utter ignorance of football”, you may want to go back and check your math on the series over the last 21 years… just sayin’. ;)

  42. Davebg8r

    “Andrew, when you write “You are 3-18 against us in the last 21 years, that puts you about as much in our heads as Vanderbilt…”, does that mean that Vandy is a “hated rival” in your mind, too?” No it means neither one is a hated rival. I thought that was pretty clear.

    And see the problem is your ‘whole point here’ is wrong. And its quite frustrating when someone thinks they are right when they are so wrong. Very, very few of the whole cared about the celebration. It was bizarre, so that created a buzz about it. But beyond that, we just dont care.

    It was very risky. You saw how we came right back and scored and I bet that scared the bajesus out of Richt and he had a ‘oh crap I might have screwed up’ moment. However, with Tebow hurt and the way we had been playing lately, you guys took advantage, played better and got the win. If this was the same team (health wise) as when we played Tenn earlier in the year, you woudnt have had chance.

  43. rickdog

    Sorry I’m late to the party.

    I don’t know if the celebration affected the outcome of the game; I’d say Florida’s generous defense and a couple turnovers decided the game. And I don’t know if we’re in Meyer’s/the players’ heads, but judging by these comments, we’re definitely in the fans’ heads.

    Keep up the good work, Senator.

  44. Dave, so now you’re gonna play the “if” game with me? You guys are morphing so fast into what our fan base has been like for the last 15 years over this game, it’s not even funny.

    This is the longest comment thread I’ve had on this site since I started blogging almost a year ago. If you guys truly don’t care about this, why is that?

  45. Will

    “Look, you need to face the fact that for most gator fans, Georgia is nothing special to us. Yeah its a party at a neutral field but we dont really care. We are so used to beating Georgia its like playing Kentucky or Vanderbilt. Yeah, youll win one every so often cause no one can win all the time, but other than that, its no big deal.

    It seems like you are having a hard time dealing with the fact, well, youre just not special to us anymore. We can still be friends, but our relationshop is not the same. Weve moved on. We dont love you anymore. We hope you have luck in your next relationship.”

    Which, of course, is why more Florida fans than Georgia fans have posted comments to this blog post.

  46. Dawgblogit

    I just like the fact that all the gators look at the last 18 years and not at the series record.

    Georgia was in control of the field pre late 80’s. Florida pretty much controlled the field in the 90’s. They had a clearly better program. Georgia, lost some really close games in the 00’s.

    The point being if you want to talk about a teams current dominance going back beyond 4 years is fairly useless because it doesn’t indicate the on field talent.

    But on the other hand if you want to look for bragging rights why stop at the last 18 years??

    Florida has won 15 of the last 18 and they are still trailing the series by 9.

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  48. kckd

    It’s obvious we’re not in there heads, this blog entry has 47 replies, half of which are multiple gators who have never posted here before. Senator, why would you think we’re in their heads???LMAO

  49. This thread has nearly 50 replies. The biggest Gator of ‘em all, Spurrier, takes time out from discussing a loss to UT to talk about The Celebration. Franz Beard and every Florida message board and newspaper can write about nothing else.

    Yet we are not in their heads.

    Cognitive dissonance, thy name is Florida.

  50. Actually, it’s more than 50. I’ve had to delete two or three obscene responses.

    And, no, they weren’t from Dawg fans.

  51. KG

    This must be your most popular post ever GTP!

    One win does not significantly change a series but an event during a game that transcends the game itself can. Despite the 3 wins in 18 games the Bulldogs have managed to make this a series again by giving the current generation something that they themselves can hold onto. The older fans had lots of memories to feed the rivalry but the younger generation knew only success.

    There are things that can feed a rivalry: outlandish quotes in the media, a brawl in a game, a particularly disgusting cheap shot that leads to injury, etc, etc. While older fans have their memories my generation looked at the Bulldogs with less trepidation than Vandy. It was as if no matter how good the Bulldogs were they would find a way to lose to Florida. It was hard to dislike Marc Richt also since he seems affable and honest enough.

    Florida fans now have that slap to their honor, that calling out of their manhood, that they needed to renew the vigor of this rivalry. More important perhaps, this coaching staff did not see the Georgia game as any bigger than the other rivalry games. Now Richt has made it a much more personal issue. It should be fun to see the intensity ON THE FIELD of this series increase to a new level.

  52. KG, well said.

    I, too, am looking forward to the passion of next year’s game. I believe that the battle between our schools next year both in the SEC and nationally will be a big one.

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  58. Jimmy Harper

    Three years later, I guess Franz Beard was right on the money about Mark Richt. We were looking through glasses tainted by a lucky win. Florida wins championships. We get hosed by the damn Gators every year.

    I heard the guy speak on radio in 2008 after SEC Media Days and he predicted that if Richt lost to Florida a couple more years, Georgia fans would see the light.

    Let’s hope Magarity does something smart like stealing Dan Mullen. If we’re going to beat Florida we better get someone who knows how Urban Meyer thinks.