Mark Richt got a supportive reception at last night’s Bulldog Club of Metro Atlanta meeting. Most will take that as a sign that the seat the coach sits on isn’t nearly as warm as many outside the program insist it is. (Mark Bradley is still pinching himself over that.) But I’m not so sure, in a way.
I’m having a hard time reconciling the coach who told the assembled multitudes at SEC Media Days that he wasn’t feeling any pressure in his job (“I don’t worry about all that. I don’t worry about the future. I worry about enjoying the ride, you know. We’re in good shape.”) with the man last night who had this to say about some of his former players:
“I’ve probably had a little less patience than I’ve had in the past,” Richt said, drawing applause. “If they’re not going to be a positive force, they need to go.”
On the same subject, the coach also said: “A couple guys left because they wanted to leave the program. A couple left because we helped them out the door.”
Can anyone ever remember Richt talking about the dearly departed like that before? I sure can’t – and there have been a few who’ve left who probably deserved a little opprobrium from the man on their way out of town. But that hasn’t been Richt’s style. At least not until now.
Some will attribute that to a tougher, less patient head coach. Maybe that’s the case, maybe not. Emerson notes that Richt’s comments “drew kudos from the crowd”. I don’t doubt that, judging from the many comments I’ve read and heard from the fan base over the past year expressing frustration about the apparent decline in discipline. I also don’t doubt that Richt knew what kind of reaction he’d get from his audience by telling them that. To me, that’s an indication that the man has been checking the program’s thermometer a little more closely than he lets on.
That’s not necessarily a terrible thing. I think we’re about to find out what kind of coach Richt is when he’s feeling some pressure to succeed. My hope is that if the pressure makes him better at his job than he’s been over the past couple of seasons, he doesn’t lose that edge when the winning comes back.