Where things stand.

I remember when I first realized that Mark Richt was taking the program some place it hadn’t been in a long time.  Ironically, that time came during a loss – the ’02 Florida game.  But it was at some time during the first half when I saw the defense routinely (key word, there) stuffing an offense that had given it nothing but fits for more than a decade that I knew those guys could play with anybody.  There was an attitude, a confidence about the way they went about their business that made me feel like that.  And it started with the guy at the top.

So if you’re expecting me to start raving about how it’s time for Richt to go, or how Damon needs to start issuing ultimatums today, by Gawd, then this post is going to be a disappointment.  Mark Richt is a good man and a great head coach.  He hasn’t stopped being either of those.

But… but.  I’ve read Macon Dawg’s reasoned, thoughtful comments about how this isn’t the first time Georgia’s suffered a humiliating loss, and while I agree to a point with his reasoning, I think there’s more going on than that.  Mark Richt wakes up this morning as the captain of a very dysfunctional ship.  I doubt there’s anyone in the Dawgnation, including the head coach, who feels same way about the program today as I did in Jacksonville seven years ago.

If I had to put my finger on what’s wrong, I’d call it a crisis of faith.  I don’t mean that in a religious sense.  (By the way, of all the arguments I’ve seen about what’s wrong, blaming Coach Richt’s religious convictions for the slide has to rank as the dumbest.)  Rather, it’s a systemic doubt:  the coaches lack faith in the players to execute and the players lack faith in the coaches’ ability to deploy them efficiently and effectively.

Speaking of irony, how else can you describe that in Richt’s self-proclaimed year without stars, this team seems more reliant than ever on hoping that it can ride sheer talent to get through a game?  That’s why the offense goes through complete games where the winning strategy is little more than throw it to A.J.  And that’s why you see dumb decisions on the field every week, like Prince Miller electing to return a punt from his goal line.

I’m certain Miller knows in the aftermath it was a silly thing to do.  We’ll probably hear an acknowledgement from him of that some time this week, just like we heard from Brandon Boykin last week about his decision to run back an interception from deep in his end zone.  But in the heat of the moment, look for these kids to keep doing things just like that – because that’s what Georgia football boils down to these days, hoping that somebody can pull off a game saving play all by their lonesome.  It’s certainly entertaining, but it’s no way to sustain a program over the course of a season.  Or seasons, as it’s starting to appear.

And that’s why I have to beg to differ with Macon Dawg, at least a little.  What depresses me the most about what I saw yesterday is that none of the bad happened in a vacuum.  There were plenty of little instances and bigger things that echo developments we’ve been observing for some time now.

Here are three of those things for you to ponder as much as I have:

  • Blair Walsh. Here’s a stat that should blow you away – Walsh leads the SEC in touchbacks.  Let me say that again.  Blair Walsh has had more kickoffs result in touchbacks than any other kicker in the SEC. He’s made all his PATs and he’s 9 of 10 in field goal attempts.  50+ yard field goals are getting to be the norm for him.  In short, he’s having an all-SEC season.  Yet to hear it from his coaches, you’d think he’s a significant part of Georgia’s special teams problems.  The insistence on directional kicking in the face of Walsh’s leg strength has gone from puzzling to frustrating to absurd.  Insane is just around the corner, I’m afraid.
  • Jonathan Crompton had a career day. Willie Martinez’ epitaph?  If not his, sad to say, it may wind up as Richt’s.  You simply can’t survive as a head coach at Georgia if your teams can’t play defense competently.  And at this point, I’d settle quite happily for competence.  There’s no other way to say it than that Georgia’s defense is flat out bad right now.  The team’s Pavlovian reactions to misdirection and play action are predictable, to the point of being reliable – just ask Kiffin – and are exacerbated by poor fundamentals.  The number of quarterbacks (and tight ends) who have enjoyed Georgia’s defensive bounty grows at a consistent and alarming rate.  That’s the worst part of Crompton’s performance:  nobody was surprised.
  • Spiking the ball with one second on the clock. I don’t know who made that Reggie-Ball-on-fourth-down-esque decision.  But it’s embarrassing that anyone associated with this program did.  In fact, I’m hard-pressed to think of another SEC coach that would try something like that.

If it sounds like I’m putting the onus of the situation on the coaches’ shoulders, you’re right.  The first responsibility of a good coach isn’t recruiting or scheme or play calling, although they’re all important.  It’s motivation.  It’s getting your kids to buy into what you’re doing and believing that the program has an identity.  It’s why Tennessee smoked Georgia yesterday.  It’s why Georgia is going to struggle to win seven games this year.

And there simply isn’t a valid excuse as to why this program, with all of the talent and resources it has at hand, should have to struggle to do that.  The rock music critic Greil Marcus had a great line about Rod Stewart – rarely has a singer betrayed his talent so completely – that isn’t on point for Mark Richt, at least not yet.  But it concerns me that it still came to mind unbidden after watching yesterday’s loss.  Right now, if there’s a bigger underachiever in college football than this Georgia squad, I can’t think of it.

It’s not realistic to expect changes between now and season’s end.  And I don’t want Richt rushing off half cocked on big changes, anyway.  (Besides, who could he bring in midseason, even if he wanted to make a change in coaching?)

But there’s one change he could and should make now.  They need to quit throwing kids under the bus in public.  That’s not to say that there aren’t some decisions on the personnel front that are due.  But the comments in the press need to stop.  In some cases, like Walsh’s, they’re not only disheartening, they’re increasingly stupid in light of the performance on the field.  And whatever else Richt has to say to Martinez this week, something needs to be said about behaving like a petulant adolescent during a game when a player makes a mistake.  Throwing a clipboard after a penalty may feel good, but it looks bad.  There’s a reason Spurrier is mocked for acting like that.  There’s also a reason he gets away with it.  And Willie doesn’t have that luxury.

It’s apparent from their post game comments that these kids are hurting.  Yet they’ve managed to acknowledge how things are falling short without pointing fingers in the press at themselves or their coaches.  There’s a dignity in kids like Rennie Curran that deserves our support.  And that of the coaches.

One last thing.  I hope this is just a sentiment of the moment, and I know it’s hard to resist circling the wagons when things are going badly, but Mark Richt needs to reconsider and reject this kind of thinking:

“If you’re a leader or a player and you are brave enough to be in the arena, there’s going to be people outside the arena that want to throw things at you and say things about you,” Richt said. “But there’s honor in being in the arena, and a lot of people don’t understand it because they’ve never been in there.”

Coach, you’re better than that.  We’re not the issue here.  The real problems you face are fixable, although the fix won’t be pleasant.  It’s time to roll up your sleeves and get to work.  After all, it’s not like you haven’t done it before.  I’ve no doubt you’re capable of doing it again.

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129 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football

129 responses to “Where things stand.

  1. Christian

    Senator – well said.

  2. heyberto

    Excellent Post.. in some ways it hurts to read, too.. but… the truth hurts.

  3. JasonC

    I agree.
    We have gotten by on individual performances and you can’t do that.
    It’s time for the coaches to say, “We (the coaches) need to do a better job, because we aren’t getting it done” and lay off the kids. We know the kids are making mistakes; we can see it. We don’t need the coaches to accentuate it.

  4. BlunderingAmerican

    Good post, though I’m not sure Richt has the fire in his belly to do what it takes. It’s not always easy to recapture it once it’s lost.

    By the way, are you the same Senator on the DawgVent?

    • Senator Blutarsky was my handle on the pre-Rivals Vent. When Rivals took it over, it required re-registration and that gentleman beat me to the punch, unfortunately.

      So the short answer is no.

      • BlunderingAmerican

        Someone else has a “Get the Picture” handle but that person doesn’t strike me as being the same person, but I wonder how much confusion there is.

      • cjwestbrook

        Oh, I just assumed it was the same. I guess I’ll stop making a priority to read that guy’s stuff now. Though he does strike a resemblance.

  5. SilverDawgFrank

    I plead on the altar of forgiveness, Senator, for my passions running amuck yesterday and yanking tangential arguments of the air (and elsewhere). Usually a more reasonable man prevails in my old frame. My better spirit was decidedly undercoached.

    Great column. Well said. Richt can right the ship.

    That I do believe.

  6. Hogbody Spradlin

    Nice commentary.

    I have a different opinion of what a coach’s first responsibility is. I think teaching technique is co-equal with motivation. Technique is molecular level football: where do linemen put their hands, how many steps in a pattern, who do I look at to do my reads.

    The position coaches are supposed to teach technique, and the coordinators and head coach are the motivators and planners. The head coach and coordinators tell the position coaches what techniques to teach.

    The combination of technique and motivation produces confident well trained 20 year olds. The closest analogy is military basic training.

    I don’t know enough X’s and O’s to judge where the fault lies here, but I think our coordinators have lost faith in themselves, and players can tell when that happens.

    • Brandon

      Dead on man, a scene from the movie Patton has been popping through my head since yesterday, the scene where General Patton says: ”You want to know why this army got the hell kicked out of it at Kasserine, a blind man could see it in a minute, they don’t look like soldiers, they don’t act like soldiers, why the hell should they be expected to fight like soldiers”. It is obvious our defense is poorly trained and disciplined, we are not lacking raw talent. One of the reasons I have always thought Richt had a chance to be a great one was that he did not appear to have too much pride to see his own faults, learn and adapt. He appears to have a blind spot when it comes to his friend Willie Martinez though, I have the feeling he would not tolerate that kind of failure out of himself. I know he is a loyal guy and I respect that but as head football coach at UGA his duty to his players and his fans must override his duty to his friend. Willie has got to go and Richt has got to find someone who can light a fire under the defense again (not Muschamp).

    • The Original Chuck

      I think that’s fundamental, and unfortunately, it appears to be the thing Richt least understands. All this talk about execution in very vague terms rather than as a biproduct of process is not good.

  7. B

    Great post Senator.

    During the game, I was bothered by what I perceived to be Richt’s lack of emotion, almost looking aloof even. After a night to sleep on it, I’m wondering if what I saw was more like a man who is appalled at what he’s seeing and knows he’s going to have to fire some people that are very close to him. He’s a good man to be sure, so if he’s feeling that way (and I hope he is), then that’s the only rationale I can see for his demeanor yesterday. Any thoughts?

    • JasonC

      B,
      Richt usually doesn’t get too emotional on the sidelines- he has, but usually he doesn’t. It is part of who he is and also was developed while he was an OC, so that instead of venting, he could call the next play. This point was commented on by several writers and announcers back in the good days, stating that while at times some fire would be good, the calm would also help when things got bad, the team wouldn’t panic and would just go to work at rallying.

  8. NebraskaDawg

    Will Richt wind up like Fulmer and fall on the sword instead of firing some of his assisstants? I hope not. But if Richt continues with the status quo then he may go that route. How long have we been talking about the same problems under Richt? The team looks poorly coached. We look so predictable on both sides of the ball it is pathetic. They make no adjustments and continue to fall for the same shit on defense (especially play action pass of which you’d think our defense would be good against since it the same exact damn thing we run on our offense). If Richt decides not to make any changes then accountablility lies squarely on his shoulders.

    • rbubp

      Accountability always lies squarely on the head coach’s shoulders. It’s one of the beautiful things about college football–you can’t blame the meddling owner, the salary cap, or the idiot GM.

      • Mayor of Dawgtown

        Actually there is a “meddling owner” and “idiot GM.” He’s called an AD and his name is Damon Evans. I will not go into everything he has done to facilitate where we are now in this post but, suffice to say, he definitely deserves at least some of the blame.

        • John

          You sound like prototypical message board guy.

          “I’m not gonna say anything, but I know something that you don’t, thereby increasing my anonymous credibility when anything happens, allowing me to point back to me saying I knew something. Granted what I knew wasn’t what happened, but it was something, so I was still right.”

          • Mayor of Dawgtown

            You must be new to this blog. I have made NUMEROUS detailed posts here over the entire course of the season about Damon Evans’ deficiencies as AD. First, the entire season got off to an awful start when he subjected his team to the indignity of opening on the road as cannonfodder for the grand reopening of a top 10 ranked team’s stadium where they got mercilessly home-cooked by the refs. I figure in an honestly reffed game the Dawgs win that one 17-10 or at worst it goes into OT.( I bet you didn’t know that Jerry Jones offered $8.5 Million to move that game to the new Dallas Cowboy Stadium-a neutral site-and Okie State turned it down. I wonder why?) Second, by now it is beyond argument that something rotten has been going on with the Dawgs and SEC referees. What has Damon Evans done about that? Nothing! The theft by the refs of what should have been a win over LSU had as much to do with the TN loss as anything ( I wrote a detailed post on how fragile the confidence of 19 year old kids is) and our AD does nothing. Third, the scheduling miscues that have come to fruition this season are monumental. UGA had at least 4 “trap games” on the schedule this year. We finish the season against KY and GT back to back and both of them have a bye week before playing UGA but UGA does not. This is systematically setting your team up for failure. So, if you don’t know about what is going on, just read and maybe you’ll learn something.

            • rbubp

              The usual BS.

              Conspiracy-laden crap with no actual information, just pure outlandish speculation–”the refs are agin’ us”–come on.

              • rbubp

                and by the way, the referees didn’t make us give up a huge kickoff return after the TD–for the umpteenth time this year!!!, or make us miss a field goal that would have changed the last LSU series, or allow a running play to go 30+ yards with the game on the line.

                Refs didn’t do any of that. Shut your face about the damn referees already.

              • Mayor of Dawgtown

                Excuse me? How do refs have anything to do with scheduling games where the other teams have an extra week to get ready and your team doesn’t? We have THREE of those ( Arkansas was one, too) on the schedule this year.

            • Dude, KY doesn’t have a bye before playing us, and even if they did, they are KY. We really shouldn’t need them to be worn out to beat them.

  9. Dawggonepanic

    We are a football program in trouble! We can’t block anyone and we can’t tackle anyone. This is the worst secondary I can remember in UGA history. Yet week after week we see the same people make the same mistakes and they still remain starters. It make me wonder what is going on in Athens w/ our coaches. This year has been unbelievable. Are the players really this bad or are the coaches this bad. According to the recruiting rankings it is the coaches. I thought they could turn things around after last year but I was wrong and this is unacceptable. Some changes must be made!

  10. NebraskaDawg

    Oh by the way, solid anaylsis Senator.

  11. Section Z alum

    i’ve wondered before about richt’s staffing choices (duh). he’s had remarkable stability in terms of low turnover. i thought last season that stability played a role in keeping martinez – take a chance on him improving so that you don’t have turmoil in the ranks with coaches vying for the dc slot and the silver-medalist leaving (i.e. – rodney garner going somewhere else in the conference). but dear lord he’s going to have to do something now. no revelations here, but i wonder how this shakes up beyond the dc level.

    bobo is more of a puzzle. does richt resume play calling and keep bobo on? i dunno. but he certainly appears to be the one who is most lost without stafford and moreno.

    i completely agree that richt is a great coach and person having one hell of a bad year. but when he has screwed things up before he has taken responsibility (recall the jasper-dive with seconds evaporating against auburn, and richt ‘fessing up to his own fault and addressing it explicitly in the off season).

    lastly – i think we now more fully understand just how good of a coach van gorder is…

    • God I hope not…Bobo does what he can although lately his game calling has been off and I can give no reason why that should be. I think it’s as the great senator said, its a crisis of faith.

      I saw Richt try to do things that didnt work until they did way more than bobo ever has. Bobo is good for a few failed plays before he moves onto something else, rather than trying it the whole game. Richt doesn’t always seem to have that going for him.

  12. Athens Avenger

    Excellent treatment. Richt has a tough road ahead to get back to where he was, but I believe he will get there.

    I am going to write off the “honor in the arena” remark as regrettable words spoken in a moment of personal crisis. In a world where the average fan lives in fear of the next mortgage payment, I know (hope?) that Richt would never intentionally imply that only he and his well-paid staff understand the “honor” inherent in fighting to survive.

  13. NebraskaDawg

    I’ve also been perplexed at the lack of confidence in Blair Walsh. The kid has been for the most part fantastic. He is one of only a handful of kickers in the country that is almost automatic from 50+. They bring in yet another scholarship kicker in the off season when Walsh could kick it in the endzone all along. Fabris is a joke.

  14. S.E. Dawg

    On-point and well said Senator. If changes are to be made and I doubt that will happen, I hope it’s after signing day. If changes are made mid-stream I’m afraid some of the kids will jump ship. I don’t think re-evaluating is going to cut it this time. That was supposed to have already been done last year. I know Coach Richt knows 100 time more about football than I and I’m sure he knows what the coaches are capable of, but when you have a former player that was a receiver coaching running backs and a former running back coaching receivers there is doubt that they are up to the task. I wish we all knew what the answers are and I guess the coaches do too. It’s sad that we can’t compete against a new coaching staff as in Tenn. and ours have been there for 9 years. I think coach Richt is trying his best to be a head coach without being an actual coach but he may need to be more hands on again and that’s tough row to hoe.

  15. rbubp

    Excellent post, Senator.

    I too am very disheartened by Mark Richt’s increasing penchant for blaming the players or the critics. It doesn’t look good, it doesn’t set a good tone, and most of all it won’t work.

  16. from a buddy...

    This came from a buddy of mine…

    “Check out these stats:

    Season Highs (For most Career Highs)

    Arkansas Ryan Mallet 408 yards vs UGA (next best game was 309 yards vs Missouri State)
    South Carolina Stephen Garcia 313 yards vs UGA (next best game was 222 yards vs Florida Atlantic)
    Tennessee Jonathan Crompton 310 yards vs UGA (next best game was 259 yards vs Auburn)

    Next Best Game
    LSU Jordan Jefferson 212 yards vs UGA (best game was 233 vs Mississippi State)”

  17. Bryant Denny

    Nice post, Senator. I enjoy your work.

  18. Senator,

    When hiring partners or C-level execs, venture capitalists often talk of “pattern recognition.” They’re looking for people who’ve seen enough startup trajectories to see parallels, to ask the right questions and to understand the implications of acting and not acting.

    I look at Richt from 2006 on, and I’m unshakably led to Fulmer, 2005-2008; Donnan, 1998-2000, Dooley, 1984-1988; Tuberville, 2006-2008; Majors and Dye, 1990-1992. Each coach saw the competitive landscape around him change, and each was eventually overwhelmed.

    Some stood pat, wrongly thinking that football strategy is a carved-in-stone thing: what works, works — always and forever.

    Others flailed about, juggling staff. But the new hires were hired by the same guy who hired the last batch. Sometimes they caught lightning in a bottle (Borges, 2004; Garner, 2000). But, in the big picture, it amounted to rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.

    I want to see Richt succeed. I like him as a person. But I don’t see many second acts in this game, and Richt is at the end of his first.

    I haven’t felt this grim about Georgia football since my student years (1993-1996). Going forward, we can be occasionally good under Richt, but the longer we accept good, the longer we postpone great.

    • Problem is too many people here are fine with good. Talk to people at the game, and to a man they’ll tell you how come you’ve got crazy expectations if you’re unhappy with the fact that we win roughly 10 games a year. They tend to ignore the ways we’ve managed to loose the other 3ish games each season, however. The amount of excuses after last years amazingly disappointing 10-3 was completely stunning on so many levels I almost gave up then.

      • Do you really think the coach is the reason a team shot through with injuries and an OL with no one older than their sophomore year is the reason UGA didn’t beat Florida and win the MNC? How many SECCs or MNCs have had such problems?

        Yeah, you do have very irrational expectations if you think firing a head coach who had Georgia (historically, an upper Tier 2 program, by the way), in the top 10 6 of his first 8 seasons including 2 SECC seasons and 2 seasons that have been good enough to make the MNC game for other SEC MNC winners this decade (who simply got a better luck of the draw, which the MNC game requires), is a good idea.

        The problem isn’t people settling. The problem is all yours… and it is a very common error made by CFB fans with tunnel vision on their own team.

    • Um, we finished #2 in the country in 2007, fwiw. Where does that fit in the patterns of the others you mentioned?

      • Pretty consistently, I’d say. Fulmer rebounded after 2005′s 5-7 season to kick our asses twice in a row and went to Atlanta in 2007. We thought Ray Goff was on to something in ’92. Auburn was ranked #5 coming into Athens in ’07. All were mirages.

        I’m glad you brought up 2007, because that’s lynchpin for every status-quo-er in our fanbase. That was a great team that had no business watching the SECC from home. That said, way too much has been made of the strong finish. That ’07 Florida team was a broken one, as was Auburn. Gailey was on the way out at Tech, and Hawai’i, well, come on. We beat those teams like we should have, and we lost to SC and Tennessee like we shouldn’t have.

        I don’t know that I’m ready to see Richt fired. But when I ask myself if I believe Richt is going to get us back in Atlanta in early December, I look at what’s brewing in Gainesville and Knoxville and no rational part of me can come up with an argument for why I should say yes.

        • “Status quo-er.”

          That’s cute. (Especially coming from someone who admits he too supports the status quo (keeping Richt).)

          Nice downplaying of 2007, fwiw, but it is what it is: a year in which, comparing the full resumes of every CFB program that year, Georgia had the 2nd best performance of all of them.

          And the Fulmer comparison is cute… but his 2006 and 2007 teams each lost 4 games. He then had a 2008 that completely melted down. Richt’s 2007-2009 is not even remotely close to that.

          • I’m not going to get in a pissing match online, especially with someone who appears to be in violent agreement with me.

            I’ve acknowledged the possibility that Richt could surprise me by radically overhauling his staff (Mack Brown is a case study of how episodes like this can be overcome), while expressing my skepticism that he’ll do so.

            But who knows? Richt has surprised me before. When a 9-year veteran of the league and a full roster of top-10 recruiting classes gets run out of the stadium by a rookie coach with an incomplete roster, it would be hard to see that as anything other than a cataclysmic event. Richt just hasn’t acknowledged it as such, hence my skepticism.

  19. Raleigh

    Senator – very well put.

    I agree completely that throwing kids under the bus is ludicrous. But I’m amazed at the expectations of many bloggers/posters that the coaches are going to say something really introspective or uplifting in a post-loss press conference. Some act like they want to hear Richt/Willie/Bobo/Fabris throw each other under the bus or bang on the table and act like lunatics to prove they’re angry about losing. That’s a ridiculous expectation that wouldn’t do a damn thing to change anyone’s feelings about the loss. They probably understand that the more they say, the more ammunition they give to their critics. Specific tactics are easier to assail than general remarks.

    Frustration is high after such a brutal loss and accountability should be expected in any profession. But it’s not going to be debated publicly by the coaching staff or administrators and no changes are going to be made mid-season. I realize that many feel like changes were due at the end of last season so they’re extrapolating to the end of this year and assuming that the same will hold true (because of Richt’s “loyalty”). I say let it play out before making judgments. Even though the beginnings of the “systemic doubt” may have come last year or earlier, I didn’t really expect that UGA would make changes after finishing #2 in 2007 and starting #1, finishing #10 and winning 10 games in 2008 (that hardly sounds like rock-bottom where change would be a given).

    This year, the confusion and lack of productivity on both sides of the ball is, I believe, apparent to everyone – including the coaches. Candidly, I don’t expect or want Richt to start publicly stating that things need to change in the next six games or someone’s getting fired. But I do hold hope that appropriate personnel decisions are made if/when (depending on your perspective) the same problems continue through the remainder of the season.

    As self-serving as they may have been, Bobby Bowden’s comments aired during last night’s game were applicable – “a head coach ain’t nothin’ but a dadgum problem solver” (or something very close to that). UGA needs to solve some problems and it’s looking like personnel changes may be warranted at the end of the year. If Richt has truly transformed from position coach to head coach, then he’ll manage change for the good of the program rather than the good of his staff and friends. I’m not going to assume he won’t act in that manner. It appears that this might be the kind of season where it’s a lot easier to make those kind of decisions when the season is done.

    The only thing that I’m virtually certain of is that Mark Richt will be UGA’s coach next year. Any speculation about next year should focus on who would be part of Richt’s staff – not who will replace Richt and who will he bring with him. I do wonder about the staff dynamics at UGA versus at other schools. I’m quite sure that the everyday environment at UGA (under Richt) is quite different than at places like Tennessee. The kind of coach that will be attracted to some places won’t be attracted to UGA. And, if they would be offered and accept, the fit might be dysfunctional (see Tony Franklin at Auburn). Could you ever see a guy like Orgeron working with someone like Richt?

    It’s likely that coordinator selections would have to come from lower divisions, second-tier BCS conferences or second-rate teams in first-tier BCS conferences. Sometimes, selections work out OK (Fresno State OC to Bama; Malzahn to Auburn – so far) and other times not so well (Richmond coach to UT; Franklin). Unfortunately, many Dawg fans seem to think we should be able to attract Tony Dungy as our D.C. and Bill Walsh (if he wasn’t dead) as our O.C. I very much doubt that UGA’s selections will come from the NFL. And, if they do, they’ll probably be someone we’ve never heard of (no, it won’t be Van Gorder).

    Last, Richt will have to concern himself with how his hiring decisions affect current coaches he wants to keep. Will Garner leave if he doesn’t get the D.C. job? Given his recruiting prowess, he may be the one person that is deemed irreplaceable on the staff. What would the reaction be if we hire unknown coordinators and Garner bolts?

    Most of the short lists that are thrown out by bloggers and posters focus on head coaches. And most of them are crazy (Gruden, Cowher, D. Dooley). Some are coordinator suggestions but typically “homers” (Muschamp, Smart). I think it would be interesting for more educated fans than me to speculate on who the most interesting coordinators are (i.e., who is this year’s Malzahn? where’s the up and coming Charlie Strong?)

    • Prosticutor

      Putting things in perpective (as you have here), I was listening to a national sports call-in show after Southern Cal lost a few weeks ago. Wouldn’t you know it, people were screaming for Carrol’s head, that he’s lost his touch, the game has moved past him, that he can’t recruit anymore, ad nausem.

      That crazy talk sure did sound familiar, and all I could do was chuckle at those comments.

      • rbubp

        Thanks for the perspective. I absolutely agree about all of the coaching stuff; it will be people we’ve not heard of–college coaches, come on no NFL guy wants to step down from college and have to recruit unless they are just run completely out of there or came from it first, like Kiffin–unless we’re lucky enough to score perhaps Tommy Tuberville (which would seem to depend of personalities and how/if TT would want to get back in the game). But it would be nice to have a substantial discussion on this, and even whether CWM would be able to resume as secondary coach.

        But I do have to dissent about the coaching comments. No, Richt is not going to blame his coaches or discuss strategy in a detailed way, and he is right to do that.

        But what gets people so hopping, including me, is that he seems to want to lay blame everywhere else in subtle ways, i.e. Blair Walsh, Joe Cox’s “regression” non-denial yesterday, the constant execution excuse, the scheduling, being number one pre-season, having “stars,” being the favorite, the travel between games…

        It seems that this crap didn’t happen a few years ago.

    • Will (the other one)

      In that vein, I’d say shoot for Dana Holgoren (Houston OC, former Texas Tech OC but they had a 1,200 yard rusher last year and put up solid #s against every auto-BCS team they faced) for OC and TCU’s Dick Bumpas for DC.
      And longshot (maybe) DC? Tuberville. He was DC for wrecking crew Texas A&M and Miami under Jimmy Johnson, and other than against us, his last few Auburn squads weren’t giving up 40 spots (plus he held that record-breaking 2007 Florida team to 17 points.)
      His biggest weakness before the Tony Franklin Project fizzled was losing to teams he shouldn’t, but was excellent at beating rivals and Florida.

      Also, it doesn’t get said enough, but Jancek should join Willie on the way out–other than Rennie we don’t hear much about our linebackers, and it’s the entire back seven biting on seemingly every play-action fake.

      • Raleigh

        Those are the kind of interesting names (Holgoren, Bumpas) that I ‘m talking about. I agree that Tuberville is a longshot and, probably, a poor fit. But I think fans and players could get excited about coordinators that would put us in a position to win with a combination of scheme and athleticism rather than athleticism alone. (Even then, Richt and Evans will never please everyone – I’m sure you can imagine the reaction of some long-time Dawgs about hiring a Texas Tech coordinator)

        Next year, whoever the coordinators are, I’d like to see opposing defenses looking confused and desperate (like our D often looks). And I’d like to see opposing offenses looking confused and timid (like our O often looks).

        Another thing I’ve wondered about is what goes on in the offseason amongst a long-tenured staff like Georgia has. I believe one of the reasons that staffs wear out their welcome is because of their tenure and tendency to keep doing the same things year in and year out. Over time, there’s plenty of film to use to see what works and what doesn’t. Rather than solely thinking about how we’re going to scheme for other teams and their tendencies, are our coaches asking “how do other teams scheme for us” and “how can we make changes to make sure our schemes are evolving/unpredictable”? I really haven’t seen much evidence that’s the case.

        We’re not going to get that kind of insight from our current SEC competitors but I would think ex-coaches like Tuberville and Croom would be able to provide great insight that would help our coaches to improve scheme. It’s apparent that coaches have learned how to prepare for UGA and there are quite a few game tapes that now act as a handbook for game prep.

        • JasonC

          I just don’t see Tubberville taking a step back to DC. I think he will wait for another HC job. Maybe at A&M or something like that.

      • Raleigh

        One other thing I wonder about on offense is whether Richt is married to the idea of having QBs read the defense and make adjustments at the line. That’s an area that I think was ripe for evolution this year with a first year – albeit “experienced” – quarterback. Next year will be even more pronounced with a RS sophomore or freshman starting at QB with no game experience.

        I recognize that UGA’s pro-style approach with the QB making the reads and running the offense is what attracts guys like Stafford to sign up. And reading comments like Schwartz’s about Stafford’s preparation for the NFL are flattering to UGA’s approach. But isn’t it too much to ask a typical 20 year old kid at ground level to make the necessary adjustments to beat top-notch defenses?

    • I will one-up your crazy….

      We get Monte Kiffin as DC.

  20. DallasDawg

    “Georgia Embarrassed” That’s the headline in today’s Dallas Morning News which gives quite a bit of coverage to UGA; the lasting impact of Stafford I guess.

    Seriously, as I’ve watched our opponents (even the losers) this season I generally think they’ve come into the game with a plan that plays to their strengths and exploits our (many it seems) weaknesses yet I don’t see that UGA approaches the games with any real plan at all. We seem to trot out the same the same group and tell them (via the play calling and defensive schemes) to do the same things regardless of who we are playing. Maybe a break a the directional kicking thing isn’t an example of this but otherwise I think I’m right. Are we not looking at who’s on the schedule and trying to come up with a plan to beat that specific team?
    While we’ve still got time maybe we should start practicing with only one thing in mind: beating Tech. I don’t see us doing much else at this point that would salvage the season any meaningful way.

    • rbubp

      It is pretty obvious that this is happening. Along with the play-action, Kiffin determined that a. his QB sucks under pressure but can roll out ok; b. our LBs cannot cover any receivers; c. we blitz up the middle this year, for personnel, scheme, or whatever other reasons.

      So a and b we can’t much help in-game. But C, we can do something about that. Did we try to bring pressure from the edges? I gave up on the game in the 3rd after it was 31-19 and wasn’t looking for this. Anyone?

  21. dave

    There is one simple problem with our team (hint it’s NOT Richt): it’s Van Gorder vs. Willie….that’s almost the only difference here (we run the same offense – I think Bobo is better than Richt was).

    Simple fact is, we haven’t had a defense play WEEK IN AND WEEK OUT since 2004. In 2005, we had the Auburn collapse and West Virginia. 2006, Tennessee 2nd half. 2007, Tennessee again. 2008, umm….Bama, Florida, Kentucky, Tech…lol. 2009, we have South Carolina, Arkansas, and Tennessee. These are all absolute utter collapses. I was in Knoxville yesterday, and I was laughing it was so bad. We will never again win consistently with Willie has our defensive coordinator. Yes our offense is horrible this year…..but in the past, that didn’t mean an automatic loss.

    There is one thing to do and everyone either knows or SHOULD know what it is by now. Facts don’t lie, and our defense is terrible. They even cracked during the Florida-LSU game about LSU driving late in the game that, “this isn’t any Georgia defense” and laughed and said, “True.” We’re the punch line to jokes about defense in the SEC.

    • If that isn’t enough to make something happen, I don’t know what will do it. When we’re the national laughingstock for defense, Georgia has fallen hard and fast.

    • scott

      “They even cracked during the Florida-LSU game about LSU driving late in the game that, “this isn’t any Georgia defense” and laughed and said, “True.” We’re the punch line to jokes about defense in the SEC.” -WOW …I did not hear that. Sad.

  22. Farsider

    “…. I had to put my finger on what’s wrong, I’d call it a crisis of faith…….”

    Brother you read my mind. All night I was thinking about things and I kept coming back to a phrase of “lack of belief” or “crisis of confidence” in describing this team. But motivation is not all on the coaches. Players have to buy in and motivate themselves, too. And as you pointed out so well, that just is not happening because the players don’t have faith/confidence/belief.

  23. D.N. Nation

    It would really, really, really behoove the coaching staff to stop the passive-aggressive bullsh*t with the fans.

    The fans say directional kicking isn’t working. The fans are 106% right. Admit it and move on.

  24. jdawg

    The disheartening part is that the team had “faith” in the pre-season and up to the LSU game. That game seems to have broken the players. The offense hasn’t moved the ball effectively in the past 3 games. The Defense must be getting tired of playing all game. Seems as though they are sensing that something isn’t working.

    We were unquestionably outcoached AND out played against Tenn. The offense and defense were completely out schemed. They had a plan to exploit what we have been doing: the same plays over and over, the same offensive and defensive formations. I believe that Richt can turn it around, but wish the bye was this week.

    • 69Dawg

      The sad part is that being from the NFL they didn’t have to work too hard to scheme us. On both sides of the ball the Pro’s handled the amateurs with great ease.

  25. I see very few people blaming his religion. Instead, I see people pointing out that our fans use his religion as an excuse so as to never put any pressure on the man. I’m thrilled he’s a great human being and a wonderful Christian, but the amount of people who that placates after every loss is ultimately the most frustrating thing about our team. “Well, he’s a good Christian man.” Wonderful, but we’re paying him to be a good coach first. I just wish the fanbase would stop using his faith as a reason behind keeping him as coach.

    • Tenn_Dawg

      My thoughts exactly. Our fans are using his Christiany as a crutch. I am a man of faith and I am glad he is a man of faith as well…..but he is paid for running a clean program and winning football games.

      I have realistic expectations. I know we are not going to win every game, win SEC championships every year and NCs every five years. I do however expect the team to compete at a certain level given the resources of our program and the recruiting prowless. Getting blown out by comparable teams and barely beating teams that are not on our level is getting old.

      Is it just me or does it rub others the wrong way that Richt has very little interaction with the players during the game. I never see him coaching guys up, calming them down, getting in their face, etc. He seems almost disinterested. I hate to bring the guys names up but Saban and Meyer both do this. They seem like they are involved with every aspect of the game during the game. They are interacting with the position coaches, players and co-ordinators. I know it is probably not Richt’s style but the current approach is not working.

      • Ausdawg85

        I’ve seen this critisism several times and think it’s just way off base. Mark is very involved with the players coming on and off the field. He just doesn’t nuzzle and kiss like Meyer does to the Chosen One…thank God.

      • D.N. Nation

        “I hate to bring the guys names up but Saban and Meyer both do this. They seem like they are involved with every aspect of the game during the game.”

        So is Richt.

        And FWIW, not sure what you’re seeing with Saban. 90% of the time that guy looks like he’s just strolling around.

    • scott

      I heard Loren Smith defend the continued employment of CWM on the grounds that his daughters go to UGA and that they bleed red and black.

      BTW, I tuned into radio broadcast. The current broadcast team is great with Butler, Green, Zeier, Dantzer, Howard, Loren Smith, Williamson nd Dowdle.

      But it was comical when they went to Loren on the sidelines for a comment in the 2nd half, with the score 24-19, and Loren’s sideline comment is about the good fishing in Donaldsonville, GA, where Bacarri Rambo is from.

  26. Turd Ferguson

    The hardest part about all of this for me is the faith that I’m losing in Richt. Since he came to UGA, I’ve been as big a supporter of Richt as anyone. I just love so many things about the guy. He’s a great man; a wonderful husband; and an outstanding father.

    But as of right now, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t quickly losing faith in his ability to coach, part of which involves making whatever tough decisions are necessary for the good of the program. Surely he realizes what is involved in being a CEO-figure. I mean, … surely.

    If you’d told me back in 2007 (the year of the emergence of Evil Richt) that I’d be thinking the sorts of thoughts that I am now, … I’d have said you were crazy. But if some sort of decisive changes are not made between now and Jacksonville, I’m afraid my days of Mark Richt apologia will be numbered.

    • Do you really think there is any way we beat Florida now? I mean, at this point I’m just hoping to upset Auburn and Georgia Tech. Asking for a victory over Florida with this group, when Richt’s GREATEST teams couldn’t pull that off, seems like asking too much.

      • Turd Ferguson

        Oh, absolutely not. I’m just thinking that, if Richt makes some sort of drastic change between now and Florida, I’d at least take that as a sign that he still recognizes that his job is first-and-foremost about winning games. But if, between now and what is arguably the biggest game of our season each year, Richt makes no observable effort whatsoever to right the ship … then I’ll take that as a sign that he’s simply conceding the rest of the season, which no coach should ever do. (The Vandy game, as far as I’m concerned, is totally irrelevant.)

        • D.N. Nation

          There is no way that Richt or any other college coach (so no “But Saban…,” witness 2007) would make drastic changes on the order of what you’re wanting at mid-season.

          • Turd Ferguson

            Well, I never specified what sorts of changes I want made, so I find it impossible to understand how you could be so confident that Richt would never make the sorts of changes I want made mid-season.

            • rbubp

              In agreement here, but food for thought (and perhaps faith) is that CMR has made changes before (2006 and 2007, for example).

              This year does seem different, though.

              • DallasDawg

                I fully expect to take a huge beat down by Florida, probably the worse loss ever at the hands of the gators and possibly in program history. Tebow will want to do once more just to pay us back for beating him once. I’ll beat Meyey holds all of this time outs to the last minute and calls them then just to relish in the moment.
                I’d gladly take the inevitable massive loss one more time if we played Murray or whomever we think the QB of the future is just to give him some PT and put a bad taste in his mouth that I hope would turn into motivation for revenge. If he’s all people have said he is he won’t stay four years anyway so why bother with the redshirt?

      • Turd Ferguson

        To be clear, I absolutely expect us to lose to Florida. But the loss will be much easier for me to swallow if I think that, between now and then, steps have been taken to turn this back into a respected, winning football program.

        • 69Dawg

          I have zero hope that any action will be taken during the season. As far as UF bend over and grab your ankles because it’s not going to be pretty.

  27. K

    http://www.firemarkricht.net . It’s the opposite of the eric berry campaign.

  28. 69Dawg

    If I am an OC and I look at our D I’m a happy man if I have a semi-competent passer and a good TE. We do as we have done for 9 years and I think Lane pointed it out nicely. If an NFL coach (even a bad one)can’t beat a cover 2 then he would have never been in the NFL no matter who his father was.

    In defense of the O, Monty was doing back flips and said as much to see a pro type O coming to town. The man did not have to scheme for us he invented the D to stop us and he cut our heart out. Anyone that thinks Mike Bobo could make a Monty Kiffin D break a sweat is just plain nuts. We are lucky we made any 1st downs at all.

    All day I watched some really great SEC D’s and what I saw made me sad. We used to have great D’s that rose up and stopped the opponent, now we have Rennie trying to cover the entire field to make saving tackles on D and kickoffs. He is being wasted. Our DC reminds me of Donald Duck as he waves his arms and whistles to get the attention of the players who are looking at him like they don’t know what the heck is going on.

    Great D’s like great soldiers perform on instinct honed by training. When things start to go bad you act decisively you don’t stop to think. Lack of training causes hesitation and that causes the kind of play we are getting from our D.

    Having followed UGA football for 50+ years and seen plenty of good, bad and ugly teams this is the first time I have just felt sad. I guess it comes with getting old and knowing that there are so few next years to wait and see if the Dawgs can do it.

    Thanks for the blog.

  29. RC

    Couldn’t agree more re: the “Arena” quote, which obviously borrows liberally from Teddy Roosevelt. Very disappointing coming from Richt. I really expect more accountability from him.

    • 69Dawg

      Mark really needs to consider the “Pride goeth before a fall” quote. All the great coaches of the past would never ever point fingers at anyone except themselves. Bear, Dooley, Dodd etc. they were not going to lay it off on anyone. CMR lost a lot of points with me when he made the statement about Blair’s KO’s. Just say it’s my fault and leave it at that.

      • D.N. Nation

        The staff did the “let’s blame the best player” crap with Lumpkin in 2006. Dude whiffed on one (1) block, and he was in the doghouse the rest of the year, despite being the only offensive weapon grounded in sanity (unlike that year’s version of Stafford).

  30. CataulaDawg

    The only thing that disappoints me more than the trajectory of the season is the ruthless, irrational reaction of some of the “fans”. I appreciate seeing an articulate assessment like the Senator’s and I agree that radical coaching changes during the middle of a season won’t usually turn the season around (see: Felton, Dennis).

    It’s been my observation that in leadership, if your team isn’t producing, it’s your responsibility to do something about it. If you don’t, someone up the food chain will make those decisions for you and you may not agree with the outcome.

    Paging Mark Richt: please don’t let this happen.

    We’ll have to see this season through, but hopefully at its conclusion we will have a coaching staff that can leverage the abundant talent and resources to maximum potential.

    • D.N. Nation

      “I agree that radical coaching changes during the middle of a season won’t usually turn the season around (see: Felton, Dennis).”

      It’s worth noting that Georgia managed to essentially knock both Florida and Kentucky out of the NCAA tournament field after Felton was fired. No, the team didn’t really get worlds better, but they at least won a few conference games.

  31. PNWDawg

    I’ll gladly forgive Richt for any quotes considered in bad taste. He’s a very good man and is human like the rest of us. I’m sure it’s a very difficult day for him.
    I know from personal experiences that sometimes you have to hit an all-time low for change to occur. That’s even if you knew change was necessary to begin with. I believe great things will come from this.
    We all have talked about the problems over and over now. It’s no secret anymore what’s going wrong. There’s really not a whole lot we can do to change how the staff manages the team. IMO, the ONLY thing we can do is to show an unwavering support of our team and help them back onto their feet. No, that’s not looking at the season with rose-colored glasses. It’s called being a fan. Let’s not take our frustrations out on the players by continuing to bitch about the same things. Yeah, it sucks our coaches continue to do things that drive us crazy and I have done my fair share of bitching this year. I just think a strong showing up support will do a lot more for the team at this point. Go Dawgs!!!

  32. MacAttack

    As someone said on another forum, the players were NOT running to Richt before the game (on the field) and have not been ALL SEASON LONG

    The players did not respect the coaches and it shows

    We are poorly coached, under-performing almost all over, and are losing by BLOWOUTS

    Major changes do in fact need to be made and if we keep coming up with new excuses….we will go another 4+ years without a single SECCG appearence

  33. Wes G

    I was never a “Fire Willie Martinez” guy (out loud anyway), though I wouldn’t have been upset to see him go.

    But I guess now I have to be. It’s awful to see great players killing themselves on the field, betrayed by scheme and a lack of practice against certain plays (play action bootleg, anyone?).

    So I say he has to go. I think Richt will fire him. Richt is a competitive guy, and he doesn’t want to get fired (which he will be in a few years if he doesn’t let Willie go). So I look forward to that problem getting fixed.

    But Richt isn’t the problem. Richt is a great coach. And our players are great players. And out program is a great program. It’s still great to be a Georgia Bulldog, and this ship will right, one way or another.

  34. S.E. Dawg

    As of 2:00 pm there were 1,385 comments on one of the AJC stories. That tells me the natives are restless. People certainly do not like what’s going on with this program.

    • Turd Ferguson

      It also goes to show how positively giddy Georgia Tech fans are at this point in the season.

      1st win over Georgia in 8 years + turmoil in the Georgia fanbase = the only thing better than a great night of drinkin’ Zimas and playin’ World of Warcraft.

  35. scott

    Has Richt ever demoted or fired an assistant? serious question, and I don’t know the answer.

    • NebraskaDawg

      The answer is no.

    • Julie

      He did fire our first running backs coach, apparently for some indiscretions, but the details were never made public.

      Richt needs to realize our player talent deserves the same level of coaching talent.

    • I don’t think so. I don’t think any have ever reached a point where assistants are normally fired at major programs though. It just doesn’t happen as often as many people think.

      Is Richt too loyal? Maybe. But we have no way of knowing at this point given there haven’t been any situations where a coach under Richt has reached a situation that usually results in firing/demotion elsewhere in CFB.

  36. Great post, Senator.

    Even great programs occasionally have bad teams. And we have one this year.

    And seasons with bad teams are never pretty. They are filled with errors, bad coaching decisions, etc. But you don’t just fire proven coaches with great track records because of one (or even two) bad years. You let them work through it. Not just because they have earned that right, but because it is more often than not going to be the best choice for future results.

  37. scott

    Richt was a good enough judge of coaching talent to shock us all by giving the DC job to an obscure defensive coach at Western Illinois. We need another wise pick like back then.

    —Enlightening Article from 2001 season.—

    VanGorder has defense on upswing at end of season

    Charles Odum
    DawgPost.com Nov 27, 2001

    ATHENS, Ga. — It doesn’t require a great deal of technical football knowledge to see the difference in the Georgia defense in the last few weeks.

    Most obviously and simply, Georgia is making the tackles that it missed only a few weeks ago.

    In last Saturday night’s 31-17 win at Georgia Tech, the Bulldogs held Tech’s highly ranked offense to only 63 yards rushing and 242 total yards.

    The week before against a Mississippi offense that ranked second in the Southeastern Conference in scoring, Georgia’s defense was similarly impressive in a 35-15 win. The Rebels were held to a net of 28 yards rushing and 261 total yards.

    Is Georgia tackling better?

    “I don’t think there’s any doubt about it,’’ said defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder before Monday’s practice for Saturday’s final regular-season game against Houston.

    VanGorder said he and the other defensive assistants discussed the decline in missed tackles in meetings Monday.

    “The missed tackles between Florida compared to the last two weeks are dramatically different,’’ said VanGorder, who wouldn’t release any numbers on missed tackles. “Poor tackling is a cancer on defense and we’ve been able to do better in that area.’’

    Through most of the season, VanGorder was most proud of his unit’s effort in a 14-9 loss to South Carolina in the second week of the season. The last two weeks were the best efforts in consecutive games and have provided encouragement that the players have become more comfortable with VanGorder’s defense and what he demands of players.

    “I think we’re playing better football and I think we’re preparing better, with a better focus,’’ he said. “That obviously has given us the momentum.’’

    The key to improved play has been improved practice.

    “What you see out there is how we prepare in practice,’’ said senior rover Jermaine Phillips. “I think it’s the way we are practicing that’s made the biggest difference.’’

    Now when VanGorder sends in a play, each player on defense has a better grasp of his responsibility.

    “I think everybody knows now what to do and what their assignment is,’’ Phillips said.

    Said VanGorder: “As coaches, it has definitely been a big part of our mission statement to create a tempo in practice that carries over into the game.’’

    Georgia has not allowed as many as 30 points in a game this season, but after allowing big yards in midseason games against Kentucky, Florida and Auburn, there were concerns about the defense under VanGorder.

    Now No. 16 Georgia ranks fourth in the Southeastern Conference and 24th in the nation in scoring defense, allowing 20.1 points per game. The Bulldogs rank third in the SEC and 19th in the nation with their average of 115.1 yards rushing allowed per game.

    Coach Mark Richt is especially happy with the way VanGorder has devised schemes to combat the opponent’s strength.

    “That’s about what I was expecting from Coach VanGorder when I hired him,’’ Richt said. “He’s not a guy who’s gonna put a cookie-cutter defense out there. He does a great job, he along with our staff, of really dissecting what teams will do and taking away what they do best.’’

    The defense has stiffened late in the season even after losing starting defensive end Bruce Adrine to a season-ending knee injury and, in a more devastating loss, starting defensive tackle David Jacobs to a stroke.

    The defensive line is left with very little depth, but still the plan is to have another week of physical practices.

    “That is a tough thing in making that decision,’’ VanGorder said. “That tempo issue is so important, you don’t want to lose that edge.’’

    • Good lord, I’m not particularly into bashing Willie (or at least I wasn’t), but that article is damning. Considering how we use to speak about our D coordinator, Willie’s tenure has definitely been a disappointment.

  38. Great post, Senator. I woke up on Sunday not sure what I thought about that disaster. I finished your post pretty darn certain about it.

    The Richt reaction caught me off guard, primarily because he’s ended the last two seasons with a defining narrative about leadership and team chemistry. In 2007, he says he righted the ship when he realized that the seniors weren’t leading, the team was adrift, and he had to do something to create fun and focus. Hence, the Celebration, the Blackout, and a #2 ranking.

    In 2008, we spent the offseason committed to the meme that last year’s team was too complacent, that they waited for one of the future draft picks to bail them out. Richt led us all to believe that this line of thinking wasn’t too far wrong, and that this offseason was mostly about getting back to working hard, playing as a team, and not waiting for someone else to make a play.

    Now here we are again – a team in disarray, a locker room in the dumps, and a coaching staff looking for a magic bullet. Richt may very well find a way to pull it together and get us to a bowl game. But even that won’t change the fact that we’ll have had three straight years (and possibly four, if you count the multi-QB, lost half-season of 2006) where our teams are total headcases needing psychological (and strategic) interventions to maintain the level of success Georgia fans have come to expect from the Richt Era.

    Like you, Senator, I remember the days when I didn’t worry about whether we were ready to play. Even when things didn’t go well, it was because of good play by the other team, or a known chink in our armor. But beginning with the trend in 2007 of sleepwalking through entire halves, and continuing through yesterday, we’ve completely lost that most important characteristic of a big-time program: reliability. No temporary patch imposed by Richt for this season will restore it — only time, stability, and success can do that. Without it, we’re a program in decline.

    • I think there’s a bit of revisionism going on with UGA fans thinking UGA was unbeatable the first half of Richt’s tenure. I’ve read some variation of this “I remember when I didn’t worry about…” thing in several places now.

      UGA has only had one 7-1 SEC season under Richt. And it came with several very close calls (including a game-ending goalline fumble, a last minute field goal, and a virtual Hail Mary on 4th and a lot). It also came in one of the weakest SECs in the past couple decades, thanks largely to Florida being in the tank.

      The other early Richt years were no better than 6-2. And in two UGA got very good breaks (in addition to Florida still being in the tank) to get into the SECC game… breaks it didn’t get in its 6-2 seasons in 2007 and 2008.

      • Texas_Dawg, I don’t disagree about the revisionism. My concern isn’t that we lose – it’s HOW we’re losing. During the first 5 years of Richt’s tenure, I don’t recall his teams having the problem that has been in evidence of late – that they disappear for entire halves, or in the case of yesterday, entire games. We may not have played our best in every contest, but we didn’t just s**t the bed as we have lately.

        For the first three years of Richt’s tenure, we only lost one game by more than one score — Florida in 2001, 24-10. We didn’t lose again by more than one score until we lost to the undefeated 2004 Auburn team 24-6. We didn’t lose by more than one score after that until … 2006, when we lost to Tennessee 51-33. Since then, we’ve lost five games by more than one score: Tennessee 2007, Alabama 2008, Florida 2008, OK State 2009, Tennessee 2009.

        That doesn’t even take into account our team’s recent penchant for getting into high-scoring contests. From 2001 to 2006, the Dawgs averaged one game a year where the opponent scored more than 28 points. From 2007 to the present, they are averaging four per season (3 in 2007, 5 in 2008, 3 so far in 2009).

        I agree that we weren’t perfect in the early years, but we knew who we were — a team that didn’t beat itself, ran the ball well, and played very-good-to-great defense. When we lost, it was usually in a squeaker. That’s not the case anymore, and things seemed to change in a fundamental way somewhere around 2006-07.

        • OK.

          I don’t really get into margin-of-victory.

          I look at Ws and Ls over full seasons, and the 2007/2008 teams were 6-2 SEC teams in a stronger SEC than the 2003/2004/2005 6-2 SEC teams played in.

          Part of the problem here is that UGA fans got huge expectations after a very fast start by Richt. So the more recent 6-2s feel less impressive and rewarding… even though they were arguably tougher accomplishments (that didn’t get the benefits of Florida going in the tank or the luck of the draw in the division tie (as 2003 did)).

          • Even if it’s true that the SEC of 2007-09 was stronger than the SEC of 2003-05, I think most people would say that our talent level kept up with that. Aside from the O-line, which was decimated in 2007 due to recruiting issues beyond comprehension, I can’t think of a single position where, on paper, Georgia was supposed to have taken a step back.

            So taking your perspective, are you saying that Georgia’s success in the early part of the decade is less-impressive than Florida and LSU’s at the end of it? And should Georgia fans just get used to being 5-3 in the East, going to the Outback Bowl, because everyone else has caught up?

            Like you, I’m not in the “fire Richt” camp. But if it’s true that the rest of the league just “caught up,” that catching up seems mostly to have involved other programs hiring new coaches, who then beat our coaches (or at least our teams). If this was basketball, it would mean it was time to get a new coach. This isn’t basketball, and I think the answer is more nuanced. But I don’t think it just comes down to saying that Georgia fans were irrationally exuberant about their program in the early part of this decade.

            • I think we took advantage of some good breaks and a down time for Florida and others in the SEC.

              That said, the 2002 team was good enough to win even in today’s SEC and got a terrible break in having 2 other undefeated BCS conference teams.

              Florida has had a run, based mainly off a 2006 class that is done after this year, that is one of the best in CFB history. We just got a bad break that it happened at the same time we had some of our best players come through the program (and additionally had a ridiculous run of injuries gut the best opportunity with that group). But fortunately, such a run isn’t permanently sustainable. Yes, Florida will still be very good as long as Meyer is there… but it will be a little more beatable once Tebow and Spikes are gone (the offense has already taken a big step back with the loss of Harvin… it’s the 11 starters returning defense that is carrying them this year).

              I’m not worried about Mark Richt. He is among a select few (out of thousands who have tried) at the top of the list of men who have tried their hand at coaching CFB players over the last 2 decades. And he still badly wants to win, and the recruiting pipeline continues to be as strong as ever.

              We came 5 more yards by Kentucky in 2007 (at the end of their game with UT) from playing a very inexperienced Ryan Perrilloux in the Georgia Dome in what would have been the de facto MNC game. Those 5 yards and this year’s rebuilding year is treated for what it is with hopes of more good things to come in the future, with all of this Richt doubting permanently erased.

              5 yards may often be the difference in a lot of frustration or not in CFB… but it isn’t the difference in Mark Richt knowing how to coach CFB or not.

              • Mayor of Dawgtown

                Don’t forget about the missed Vandy field goal at the end of the 2007 UT-Vandy game. If that goes through UGA is in the SECC game, too. Plain old bad luck.

          • NebraskaDawg

            TexasDawg are you Mark Richt in disguise?

      • D.N. Nation

        Urban helped ’05 Georgia by epic choking in Columbia…but know what? DJ Shockley got hurt. I say it evens out.

        That team still had to win the SECCG. Which they did. By a lot.

        • I know, but we still got into that game as a 6-2 team. Without the rest of the division being 6-2 or worse, we don’t get the chance.

          If the division (i.e. Tennessee) had done the same in 2007 as it did in 2005 (and 2003), we’d have won the MNC and all these conversations about Richt would be permanently ended. (Ask Mack Brown.) Unfortunately it didn’t. But that’s just the luck of the draw in CFB… not some indictment of Richt’s coaching abilities.

          • D.N. Nation

            Yep.

            Concerning Mack Brown- That 2005 team was the only time he’s ever won the Big 12. Ever.

          • The problem is the questions about Richt aren’t “when should we fire him?” but “when will he man up and do what needs to be done?”

            In other words, unlike Mac Brown who does a good job of getting the top talent at Coordinator positions (specifically D), Richt is willing to sink or float with what he’s got currently. Now, if firing Willie means giving Rodney Garner a shot, fine. I’m alright with that happening, since Garner is so obviously important to our recruiting, but I do not want it to dictate how we’re going to play forever. If Garner can’t get it done in a couple years coordinating, then he’s not worth his salt (look at Coach O at Ole Miss). BUT DO SOMETHING. Don’t play your oboe as the Titanic sinks around you if you can make it into the lifeboats!

  39. Dog in Fla

    Here’s where things stand to me:

    To fill air time during the massacre, one of the two announcers made a comment I think after Tennessee got 45 that Tennessee had not scored that many points on Georgia since 2006 when they scored 51 against Georgia.

    It’s 2009. Three years ago they scored 51 on us. That year Tennessee lost to Florida, LSU, Arkansas and Penn State.

    This is Tennessee. It’s not like it’s Florida who everybody rightfully expects will beat Georgia. Florida is the better program. This is Tennessee, the dysfunctional program that ran off its coach last year.

    Then I read a comment from Lane to the effect that he told his players he never wanted Tennessee to lose to Georgia because, among other things, he needed to recruit the state of Georgia. This is Lane. It’s not Knute Rockne. Lane Kiffin.

    So not only do we make opposing QB’s look like Heisman candidates, we make Lane look like Mack Brown.

    And as someone mentioned above or elsewhere, how can Richt look so calm on the sidelines during the beating. Had I been him, I would have been trying to kill something. But I guess that’s why they don’t let people with explosive temper disorders coach.

    • And as someone mentioned above or elsewhere, how can Richt look so calm on the sidelines during the beating. Had I been him, I would have been trying to kill something. But I guess that’s why they don’t let people with explosive temper disorders coach.

      That’s you.

      Tom Landry, Bill Walsh, Bear Bryant, and a long line of other great football coaches have had similar demeanors on the sideline. Not sure why people are so into this. The coach freaking out and acting like a child doesn’t really do much for me. Certainly doesn’t change the scoreboard.

      • Totally agree. It’s a comfort that our coach is reliably classy. Not only does it help in recruiting, but it rubs off on players and speaks highly of our program and our school.

        • Yeah, I don’t give a crap about Richt’s demeanor.

          Everyone said Tony Dungy was too nice. They won a super bowl and built a dynasty.

          I care about wins and losses, and our team showing up for games being fully competitive and delivering up to their talent.

          I also care about coaches being held ACCOUNTABLE for their failures.

          And for god sakes, stop throwing players under the bus.

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  41. Ugh. How embarassing:

    FRONT PAGE of rivals.com:

    “Georgia coach Mark Richt should be safe, but that doesn’t mean changes aren’t coming in Athens. The Bulldogs’ struggles continued in a blowout loss to Tennessee, and it could spell trouble for some on Richt’s staff. Get the scoop on that and much more as we find out what our Rivals.com experts learned in Week 6.”

    • I saw that as well, Muckbeast, but for those who want Martinez (and/or others) gone, that is a good sign.

      CFB coaches aren’t usually fired when it’s only the fanbase saying the firings should happen. They are fired when outside, impartial and rational CFB observers are widely suggesting the firings as well.

      As bad as the defense was last year, or has been in other games even before that, there have not been outside CFB observers from reputable organizations or publications saying Willie Martinez should be fired. They are starting to say that now though…

      That makes Richt’s job somewhat easier should he decide to make a move. And it also raises the possibility that Martinez just makes the move himself.

  42. Martinez, sensing the heat coming down on his good friend and boss, offers to take a demotion back to DBs coach.

    UGA brings in Tuberville as DC.

    • D.N. Nation

      Please?

      • No. Freaking. Chance.

        Tubs wants a head coaching job, as he’s said on numerous occasions. No way he coaches D for Richt. Maybe for the Bear if he returned from the Crypt, but not for Richt. Good friend and all, he didn’t go down in flames so bad that he needs a coordinating job to get his name back out in the market. Now, Larry Coker a couple of years ago should have angled for an offensive coordinating job, and he would’ve done better than that D-III team he’s coaching now.

        • Not likely of course, but does he really want to move to the obscurity of coaching in, say, Arizona? Really? I mean, yeah, sure… we all want to be the boss… but at what cost? Half empty stadiums and 11PM ET kickoffs on Fox Sports Pacific… for years? Fonk that.

          Take the DC job, flip the tables on UF and Bama in recruiting and the field, win the SECC/MNC, have a lot of fun for a few years doing it, and then jump to the first major program HC opening available.

          This is a sale that could be made.

          • a former redcoat

            that would be absolutely beautiful, wouldn’t it?

            honestly if we threw about a million and a half in with that sales pitch (and why not “associate head coach” to go with the DC job), maybe we get tubbs. fire bobo and let coach richt take over QBs and OC again. ya gotta question bobo’s abilities as a QB coach since he’s had cox all to himself for a while (i know richt worked with stafford… but since he wasn’t officially the QB coach any more, maybe he didn’t pay any real attention to cox) and cox makes some pretty bad decisions, can’t look off defenders, etc. honestly, best deal is fire bobo, do ANYTHING for the offense and find a great DC. we definitely have the money, the fans, and the players to attract one. plus we could always point out how many YEARS of poor coaching you can get by with before you have a chance to actually lose your job

            • Dude, Richt was HORRIBLE as OC. Total revisionist history going on here. Go check out our production against the other “Big 6″ in the SEC when Richt was OC. It was as bad as, or worse, than Bobo.

              • a former redcoat

                might want to re-read my post there. never said he was a great OC here. he was a great OC at FSU though and it’s hard to say he’d be worse than bobo is right now. but, no revisionist history. maybe you just didn’t read what i wrote in the first place…

                but, remember that we managed to score 10 points against florida last year and get shut out in the first half against bama with stafford, moreno, massaquoi, and AJ green all on the roster. that’s gotta fall on bobo.

                my point was more that richt would be better than bobo and it would be worth doing that if it made it possible to get an incredible DC.

              • Mayor of Dawgtown

                It’s really tough to be head coach and OC at the same time. very few have been able to pull that off long term and be successful. Richt needs an OC rather than to do it himself.

          • Gen. Stoopnagle

            Tubs is going to be at the top of a lot of team’s lists for HC *this* year. He won’t need a DC job to find it. He’s not Tommy Bowden or anything…

  43. LOBO

    Amazing did no one watch this game ?UGA rushed for nothing that counted(could not gain 1 yd on 3rd and short). Remember when CJD hired the bozo from ut ? Can’t anyone else see CSS is that same guy ? It looks like he talks to players , same as the media. Wake up , you must run the fb in sec or at least appear you can).CMB is not ready for this league as oc.

  44. CMR doesnt need to go…yet..but theres something systemic that needs fixing and if CMR has a flaw it’s loyalty to the point of stupidity (Tereshinski ?)

    I’ll also say this. And its not directed at any one individual here or anywhere else but is more directed at the vibe I’m getting from a lot of people I know in many areas of the world, work and friends, people online and off:

    If nothing else we’re thinning out the fan heard. Take your fair weather and shove it up your ass. You want a team thats easy to root for? Go buy some jorts…but go on and sell all your early 90s FSU memorabilia on ebay as one wouldnt want to be too much of a hippocrate.

    Your reward for loyalty is upgraded season tix.

    And remember ye this, the year isnt shot although plenty of people act like it is. As someone who’s been a die hard falcon’s fan his whole life (Suwanee native, so the falcon inn kinda helped things along); I’d like to remind people that it could be much much worse.

    Enjoy the rest of the season….

  45. Mayor of Dawgtown

    Brady Ackerman of “Talkin’ Football” on CSS made the following comment on this week’s show about what happened to UGA this season: “Georgia really needed to open up with a couple of cupcakes to get into their offense and defense. They couldn’t because the schedule was too tough.” This is why top programs open up at home with a walkover team before they start playing their regular schedule. It gives the new players a chance to get game experience and gives the coaches a chance to evaluate players in a real game to see what they have and make necessary adjustments. It also builds confidence for the young players. Suppose instead of going to Stillwater and being cannonfodder for the grand re-opening of T. Boone Pickens’ $300 Million playground (with his name on it) the Dawgs had opened up between the hedges with a Western Carolina-type team. Maybe they get some of the bugs out. They certainly don’t lose the first game. Maybe they are covering kicks better and tackling better at the end of the LSU game and LSU doesn’t score and they win that game and are 5-0 going to UT. Even if Willie and Bobo do get outschemed and the Dawgs lose they are only 5-1 (or at worst 4-2). Think about it. There is a reason why Florida opened up with 2 walkover teams back to back. That’s why Florida is Florida. Not because they have better athletes. They don’t make bonehead decisions.

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