Mark Richt’s emerging character flaw

I highly recommend that you take a minute and read Kit’s post.  What he has to say there goes for me in spades – except that I’d add to his formula list the development I’ve seen cropping up of late, both here and elsewhere, from people who have no clue grounded in actual knowledge asserting that Richt’s recent shortcomings as the head coach are due to lack of effort and lack of concern because he isn’t living, breathing Georgia football 24-7.

Evidently you can’t succeed unless you’re totally obsessed.  You know, like this guy.

The armchair psychology seems to have kicked up a notch with Richt’s trip to Honduras.  It seems that showing concern for the world’s less fortunate and having sincere religious convictions will get you seven-loss seasons as a direct result.  I’m a Jew (and not a particularly observant one at that) who’s been unhappy with the program’s direction over the past three seasons and I still find this whole line of criticism of Richt’s Christianity obnoxious.

And the flip side of the argument – that the spoils go to the clinically preoccupied – is ridiculous, when you think about it.  Nick Saban, the poster boy for those who think Richt is too balanced to succeed, famously owns a home on Lake Burton.  Maybe he never uses it.  He also took time recently to help victims of the tornadoes that did so much damage in Alabama.  The only difference between that effort and Richt’s is that Saban didn’t have to get a passport.  The coach whose team embarrassed Saban’s in the Iron Bowl and went on to an undefeated, national title-winning season (surely the ultimate proof of complete devotion)  is about to embark on a five-day, four-state tour promoting his new book.  Face it:  relaxed, balanced coaches with outside interests win titles all the time.  (Like Richt in 2002 and 2005, remember?)

I get the frustration some of us have and the burning desire to see Georgia succeed.  I do.  And as I’ve blogged repeatedly, there are things dragging the program down which need to be corrected if Richt is going to survive as head coach.  But the idea that he’s wired to fail and the only way Georgia can become great is to replace him with somebody who doesn’t have a life outside of coaching football – sorry, that’s just something I can’t accept.

Not to mention it’s no guarantee of eternal success, either.

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

UPDATE:  Also, this.

“Now that Belin is back home, he only wishes his parents had lived long enough to see it. His father died in 2006, and his mother died Dec. 4, 2010. During what turned out to be the final five weeks of his mother’s life, Georgia coach Mark Richt allowed Belin to travel home one day a week to be with her.”

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51 Comments

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51 responses to “Mark Richt’s emerging character flaw

  1. Skeptic Dawg

    Very well put sir! However, I still believe my argument from last night is valid. Touche’!

  2. Great post, Senator! I’m tired of people placing the blame on Richt’s personal beliefs especially his deeply held Christian beliefs. The problem has been a lack of a sense of urgency that went through the entire program. We can only hope that he has turned the ship around before it’s too late.

  3. TennesseeDawg

    Time for your Cocks and Coors pregame show live from Columbia! Anyway, totally agree with the post Senator. Any human can only stand so much eat, sleeping and breathing any one thing. I’d rather have a focused coach who takes a breather outside football from time to time than to have one burned out because he has no life.

  4. Tenn_Dawg

    Every coach has down time and they spend it on things that are important to them. Saban cruises around in his boat on the lake among other things. Other guys like the one in West Virginia runs up bar tabs. For Richt it certainly is spreading the Word of God through outreach ministries. I’m sure he has others but his faith certainly is a big part of who he is.

    The part I think Richt struggles with is the balance in his life the whole year. Not just a week or month or two here and there. As a Christian you are taught to put God first. I think Richt knows this and tries to live it all the while being a successful coach. I do think it is a very difficult challenge. More difficult than someone who is a non believer? I certainly think that is can be done. Richt has proven it himself. I think the difficulty is maintaining it in a business where maintaining success long term is already difficult enough. I hope the guy does it. I will shed many tears on the day he does. Not only because I love Georgia and respect Richt but because he is a brother in Christ and it will be a great testimony to see God glorified through Richt on that day and the days after.

    BTW…even though I think Richt struggles with balance I do not think his beliefs are the reasons for Georgia’s issues recently. You have done an excellent job of disecting those reasons in other post over the last year or two. I think things are clearer for Richt now and hopefully he has more time to now, as he has eluded to since McGarity has come in, to make sure the things happen to get Georgia back on top.

  5. Doug

    My girlfriend has been eating, sleeping and breathing tennis for the last few weeks as she’s covered the French Open and Wimbledon for SB Nation. Her favorite player, Roger Federer, has gotten knocked out of both tournaments, and a constant source of irritation for her is the chatter that Federer’s fallen off because he dared to start a family. The nerve of that guy, selfishly having twin girls he’s devoting time and energy to! Clearly they’re the reason he only made it to the finals of the French Open and lost to the world’s top-ranked player.

    The idea that Richt is losing more games because he’s bothering to devote his time to the less fortunate — including the ones in Honduras — is just as ridiculous. If we go 5-7 this season and red flags start going up all over the place, that’s one thing, but God help us if we earn a hard-fought 8-4 record and dump Richt anyway just for being “too nice a guy” to succeed.

  6. Dog in Fla

    Nick doesn’t have time for not being a humanitarian

    “For now, the Sabans have put their second-look plans on hold to help their neighbors in Tuscaloosa, which is recovering from the devastation caused by the recent tornadoes. It might be months before they come back.”

    http://www.tcpalm.com/news/2011/may/06/saban-goeshouse-shoppingin-vero-beach/

  7. What fresh hell is this?

    Thanks for saying what needed to be said Senator, and for being the rare voice of reason.

  8. Larry Lane

    The flaws in not winning championships are not in the character or dedication of our coach. I’m thankful we have a man with such character, and that coach can win a lot of games at Georgia. We have flaws but they lie in failing to recruit some big men we need, discipline to keep them on the team, etc, but a mission trip is not the problem. Some assistants need to step up and make it work, for the head man is more important being in the lime light.

  9. Great post. One quibble: Woody Hayes wasn’t obsessed with football, either. He was a military history nut, so much so that he hosted the broadcast of WWII movies on the local TV station in Columbus:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Woody_hayes#Personal_life

    You don’t acquire Woody’s knowledge of history without being a voracious reader of works other than playbooks. Woody, Bo, and Bobby Knight all shared this passion and were friends with one another because of it. It clearly got in the way of them being successful. [/sarcasm]

    I’m in the same boat as you, Senator. I’m a Jew who likes Richt a lot because he takes his faith seriously and not in a negative, point your finger way. He illustrates what is good about organized religion. I’m willing to cut him every break possible because he simply comes across as a great guy.

    • I know Hayes wasn’t completely obsessed with football. At least not before that moment. It’s more an example of what happens to people who get too tightly wrapped up.

      But I also think there are plenty of people who would point to Hayes as a bad example to follow simply because of this incident. So he’s sort of a metaphor, too.

  10. Irishdawg

    Saban said in a Sports Illustrated interview that he leaves the office at 10 PM, no matter what. He’s not living at the football complex, subsisting solely on Red Bull and game film.

    Coaches either find a balance, or they burn out. Richt’s prioritizing just fine.

  11. Normaltown Mike

    It’s worth noting that SOS is holding a Coors.

    Maybe you weren’t aware of this, but that stuffs made with pure Rockies mountain spring water. Any man given the opportunity to “taste the Rockies” (from George S. Patton to Joe Sixpack) would be a fool to pass it up!

  12. baltimore dawg

    for what it’s worth to the present conversation: all sorts of research shows that genuine obsessive-compulsives are highly dysfunctional people whose manias actually diminish their capacities to perform the very tasks they obsess over.

    the narrative of the high-octane professional who sacrifices everything to the job is frankly a myth, often cultivated by those very individuals themselves.

  13. heyberto

    Very sensible post Senator. I agree 100%

  14. IveyLeaguer

    I like Steve Spurrier and always have … rare for a Dawg, I understand. But I know one thing. If I had mammary protrusion like that there’s no way I would be out in public with my shirt off.
    ~~~

    • UGA Fan Police

      Let’s set the record straight. Your first sentence is simply unconscionable. You may respect SOS…give him his due for play-calling, etc…. but one can NOT be a Dawg fan and LIKE Darth Visor.

      Please amend your feelings accordingly. Thank you.

  15. JasonC

    Senator, you post reminded me of another guy that struggled to win the big one… until…

  16. hasbeen

    good post and a good example of why the subjective side of coaching (interests, desire, abilities, etc.) is so hard to quantify compared to the objective (win loss records, recruiting success, staff resumes, etc). I have defended Goff, Donnan, even Richt against the alleged charges of “have you seen how they practice”, “I heard he has given up”, “he lacks fire in his belly”, “he’s lost control of the team”, or the most recent “we are weak physically”. All may be a concern, but how do you really know unless you are a member of the team or talking with a coach. Few have that knowledge, especially former lettermen who know more than most, but are not fully engaged.

  17. LandDawg

    To answer your part about “Nick Saban, the poster boy for those who think Richt is too balanced to succeed, famously owns a home on Lake Burton. Maybe he never uses it.”
    Well..
    Ole Nick was at Burton all last weekend relaxing. I thought about taking a pic but the man deserves his privacy. So get off the part about Nick never taking a day off. They all do.

  18. Dog in Fla

    “I thought about taking a pic but the man deserves his privacy.”

    Which brings to mind a peaceful and easy time way back when younger buff Nick cared little about privacy or fashion

  19. D.N. Nation

    Cut to Richt’s interview after the game (but you know you want to watch the whole thing).

  20. W Cobb Dawg

    I couldn’t care less about CMR’s personal life, whether he’s a saint or the devil reincarnate. But his career is in coaching and he needs to improve significantly if he wishes to continue being head football coach at UGA.

    • Dog in Fla

      Back in Luddite days of the pay phone, after a remark like that, somebody would say, “Here’s a dime. Go call somebody who gives a shit.”

      Then we’d take the dime outside the pool hall to find a pay phone and go call somebody like a Bob Bishop and the receptionist would say, “And you are…?” and then hangup.

  21. JBJ

    It has been my experience that the people that are obsessed with their work and stressed out are usually not efficient at getting things done.

  22. Cojones

    Finally. Glass half-full. Let’s stretch it to include the team and get to cheering our ass off until the team hears the noise in midsummer. With player conditions as they are, they need our undivided support from a knowledgeable base that empathizes every step they take until they play. Digging at negative sores will not make this team better, but cheering what’s good will.

    Bulldogs were bred to take down big animals. “Eat More Hors!” qualifies as a good cheer until the Broncs hit the ground. Sic’em Dawgs!!

  23. mel

    SOS has moobs!

  24. Krautdawg

    Senator, I’m fully on board with leaving Richt’s religion out of any analysis of our program. Still, I can’t get on board with some of the commentors on this thread who are rooting for Richt BECAUSE OF this same religion. To me, the only relevant questions are these:

    1) To what extent does CMR’s practice of his religion interfere with his execution of his coaching duties? I don’t think anyone can honestly answer with anything other than “no more than the personal pursuits of other top coaches interfere with theirs.”

    2) Does the content of what CMR’s believes steer him away from effective coaching? No one here can answer this, because none of us know the man personally. Even assuming that someone could point to an ineffective coaching action (e.g. 2nd quarter offense versus Auburn), how do you trace it back to one of CMR’s religious beliefs? Assuming a total absence of religion in CMR, he still most likely makes the same call. Note also that our beloved heathen, Nick Saban, made the same mistake against the same team.

    So we’re back looking not at what Richt believes, but at what he does. Nonetheless, it comforts me to know that Richt is praying every night, because with our OL depth, we’re going to need God’s help at some crucial point this fall.

  25. Reptillicide

    I just ignore the criticisms of his life outside of football because frankly I don’t think it’s intelligent enough criticism to warrant a response.

  26. The other Doug

    Well said.

  27. DawgBiscuit

    Funny we should be talking about this today. I was on my honeymoon this week (just got back yesterday), and who should I run into Wednesday on the cruise ship but Coach Spurrier himself. He was ahead of us in line at the dining room with his family, and we got the chance to talk to him and take a pic with him. He was super nice to us, and he was completely unconcerned with football. So if the defending SEC East coach can take a vacation every once in a while, I say CMR is entitled to the same.

  28. Rabbi Grossman

    My friend, i must tell you that to become non-observant is an abomination. What is it that makes you displeased with the direction of the program?

  29. Georgia is down not because of Richt’s commiment to winning but because of three things. First his hire of Martinez combined with keeping him too long. Second not making a change in S&C to keep it fresh once it got a bit stale. I think at one time Van Halanger(sp?) was one of the best but the program under him got a bit stale it now seems. The third one is line play. I am not sure if it was bad evaluations of high school players, bad development of them, taking too many chances on guys who had injuries in high school or what but simply put the offensive line has let the team down. Two of those things have been corrected and the difference should show up this fall. The third one might get better in time as we have a new offensive line coach but for this season he was not left a ton to work with. Hopefully he will get the job done this year well enough to give UGA a chance to have the other aspects take hold.

  30. Will Trane

    The coaching has gone down the past four years. That is CMR’s fault. 2010 was the bright red line for him. If 2011 is like 09 and 10, I think he will have all the time he needs for missionary trips and other charitable events. With about a month left until fall practice I would think this staff is working on postion “film”, opposing film, sets, maybe some changes in their schemes and sets. CMR just seems to have more fire for mission work rather than coaching. He seem conflicted about it. Personally, I like coaches and players committed to a task. Committed with a very strong will to succeed. Lately, I can not get excited about CMR’s coaching. What is his record against UF, SEC east teams, quarters where the coaches and players seem to disappear, a team that disappears during a game, bad calls where staff just seems to pass it off, and the gimmicks. I even stopped going to the tours because CMR seemed to be not interested anymore.

    • Spence

      “CMR just seems to have more fire for mission work rather than coaching”

      Where do you get that notion from? That’ s just an abstract statement born of the fact that you are tired of losing to Florida. It’s like you didn’t read the Senator’s post at all.

      He goes on one mission trip a year, for five days, in the middle of the summer when coaches aren’t allowed to hold practices. Look, even every President of the United States takes vacations, and it’s not fair to say that because Richt uses his vacation time to go on a mission trip that he doesn’t devote himself to football. That’s just ignorant.

    • Dog in Fla

      Leave Mark Alone!

      Religion…‘Just something we do’

      “But for the Bulldogs, worship isn’t limited to between the pews — it’s between the hedges as well.
      Throughout the years, religious traditions have spread to every corner of the program, including gameday weekends.
      Stepping away from the tailgating chaos of the Classic City, the team often meets together in a Lake Lanier hotel the Fridays before games. Typical of the Georgia football program, this is used as an opportunity to grow spiritually.
      “[Richt will] speak about football then he’ll put football to the side,” Figgins said. “He always reminds us there’s a bigger picture. He reminds us that football is just an avenue to use to reach others and to grow spiritually … It’s real nice. I think everyone enjoys going. It’s been a lot of laughs, a lot of tears in that time just with us, but it’s always good.”
      The following morning, the team goes through the usual routine — wrapping ankles, suiting up, working out pregame jitters in warm-ups — but they’ll always make time for even more prayer.”

      http://www.redandblack.com/2011/04/15/%E2%80%98living-it%E2%80%99-religion-now-a-part-of-tradition-for-georgia-football-team/

  31. Cojones

    I disagree with almost all of your “analysis”. The downfall began with the rash of injuries that required cross-training by several coaches to keep positions viable. The action had ramifications with coaches and players alike for several years. When you lose 18-20 players (1st and 2nd tier) at once who have playing time to their credit, it affects your team negatively until the lineup begins to right itself. It didn’t because secondary reasons (off-the-field players’ actions) exascerbated the problem. Add to that the perception of coaching problems because players were new to positions and performed as if they had no coaching. Add to that a couple of underperforming players, an open coaching difference between Martinez and Searels on the sideline during a game, you have the perfect “bad coaching, under-coached and poorly recruited players” perfect storm that we have been embroiled in ever since. It affected player attitude. It affected fan attitude both from an understanding and misunderstood perception of what was going on(because we didn’t and still don’t know what happens inside the team) therefore we depend on what we can see only on the field and judge the team totally from that point. There isn’t a “right or wrong” thing going on in the fan base, only different perceptions of consequence source. I tend to lay most of it at the player’s feet; whereas, some lay it on the coaches. I go crosswise with my fellow Dawgs when it comes to laying this on coaches’ personality and coaching ability. The anti-Martinez rant has changed to an anti-Bobo by some whom (I feel) don’t have the best interests of the team at heart. A good deal of the rant comes from coaching wannabes who undermine our efforts from this point forward. I think their criticisms and desires are misplaced. We are just now beginning to understand some of the festering problems by individuals leaving the team and it has a shock affect upon us all. But crawling through old garbage doesn’t help this team or staff at all. We need to move forward and prepare to scream our butts off at the Dawgs this season, if not from the exultation of winning then out of frustration.

    • Dog in Fla

      Balls, Mark is only going to be as good as the assistants he hires. His mentor is Bobby. When Bobby had good assistants and chose the relatively weak competition of the ACC rather than having FSU make an overture to join the SEC, FSU was great. That was the rise of Bobby. The fall of Bobby started around the time Mark left to go to Georgia.

      While Mark hasn’t hired blood kin at a coordinator position, Mark models the same degree of loyalty to his assistants that Bobby did. Mark did let Willie and others go but I’ve always wondered how much of that may have been at the unsaid direction of Damon Evans rather than Mark getting around to doing it.

      My guess is that McGarity will not be as tolerant and Mark knows it, hence the reassignment of Van Halen,the promotion of JT and a nutritionist somewhere out there, I guess. While Mark clearly has the support of the powers to be above and beyond the AD, it seems to me that Mark knows he and his assistants have to do something different. I hope his goal is to get the team back where it was during his first half decade here when even if we lost games, we were not blown out like we were in some of the losses during the second half of his first decade here.

      Regardless of whether Mark is making those changes on his own or with the strong input of others, at least changes are being made. Frankly, with the present support that Mark has with regard to those who could lay him off if his W-L record doesn’t improve, I think even if he had a losing season in 2011, he would still be coaching here in 2012. After all, Mark could – and to his credit, he hasn’t – take the position like Mike Hamilton at Tennessee and Gordon Gee at Vanderbilt, that his program has brought in a ton of money. Were that not continue to be the case, he would be encouraged to spend more time with his family. I don’t think it’s ever going to reach that stage though because I think Mark hired the best DC available and that hire is going to remove Mark as far away from the hot seat as he was when he first came to Georgia.

      • Puffdawg

        Wow. I think that’s the most (only?) serious post Dog in FL has made sInce I started following Bluto. And he (she?) nailed it. Richt is feeling a little heat and it shows. And he did indeed hire the best DC available, whether it plays out or not. Balls had some good points too. Which means this is the perfect opportunity for Bluto to pick up this ball and run with it. Let’s get behind these ’11 dawgs. Let’s cheer our collective asses off in the dome 9/3. Bluto, start the 2011 SEC Championship support movement. You heard it here first! :)

  32. Cojones

    My remarks were for dawgfan17 and Will Trane.

  33. Mayor of Dawgtown

    DIF, You mentioned Damon Evans and that guy has, IMHO, gotten way too much of a pass for his role the decline of the UGA football program. The timing of the decline is one thing that makes me believe he is at least partly to blame. The scheduling of OOC games at bad times on the schedule for UGA and at distant locations had to have an effect. (Opening the Season at Okie State as fodder for the grand opening of the Pokes’ new stadium was the stupidest scheduling move I have ever seen–bad calls abounded in that game because there was no way those homer refs were going to let UGA out of Stillwater with a win.) We don’t know what was going on behind closed doors at the AD’s office between CMR, the staff and DE. We do know that CMR was not happy about at least some of the scheduling snafus because he said so. Plus DE’s “behavior” was an open secret among the players which had to lead to disrespect among the rank and file team members. McGarity has made several really good moves since his arrival and the program appears to be headed in the correct direction once again. If DE were still there we really would be in deep sh!t. Thank goodness for red panties.

    • WH

      Can’t help but agree. I think Evans did get a pass just because the whole thing was so sordid, people just wanted to put it behind them–self included. (This was the first time since last summer that I didn’t have a visceral reaction to the words “red panties.“)

      In the wake of the whole thing last year, I delivered a speech detailing Damon Evans’ rise through the ranks from player to conference official to Assc. AD to AD. He was a bit of a wunderkind (and made the program a lot of money), but (we now know) lacked the character to deal responsibly with the privileges afforded by his position.

      It’s possible that last season was the bottom of a long, slow slide that started after he took over as AD (it’s also possible that we haven’t seen the bottom yet).

      I don’t mean to say he’s the only one to blame. But if we look back in ten years and this season (or maybe next) marks the beginning of a return to prestige for the program, I will have to say that he was certainly a contributing factor in the aforementioned decline.