Giving the people what they want

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.

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58 Comments

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58 responses to “Giving the people what they want

  1. Something tells me a certain new Athletic Director might have something to do with your point (which is spot on).

    I’ve never cared what those guys say in public, as long as they’re saying the right things in private.

  2. Greg

    I think Richt realizes his Achilles Heel has been having too much patience with players and especially coaches. He’s obviously the kind of guy who sees the good in people and wants to give them every opportunity to succeed. Unfortunately for him, that philosophy has not and will not ever serve him well in the cutthroat world of SEC football.

    Richt has done a great job of offsetting the negativity from the media and rival coaches this offseason and I think UGA has the talent to compete with anyone in the SEC(barring injury to a handful of key players). The big question that remains is if Richt has put together a coaching staff that is among the elite in the conference? If you take our coaches position by position, how do they rank compared to their SEC peers in terms of what they have accomplished at UGA and elsewhere?

    • heyberto

      I think your first couple of sentences are spot on.. I was coming here to post the same thought. The difference to me in the first half of Richt’s career at UGA and the second half is simple.. Willie Martinez. I’m not trying to place blame on Willie per se.. but our defense just didn’t perform under Martinez as it did under VanGorder, but that’s as much Richt’s fault as anyone’s for not recognizing the problem sooner than he did. I think Todd Grantham is going to be a lot more like VanGorder.. but if he ends up being more like Willie (for the record, I don’t think that’s the case) I hope Richt will not hesitate to pull the trigger on letting the guy go… but if that happens, I’m not sure Richt will be around to pull the trigger either.. so we’ll see. I’m optimistic though.

  3. Turd Ferguson

    At the end of 2010, I was one of those who thought Richt’s seat was about as hot as it could get. Especially after that bowl game. If you’d asked me then, I probably would’ve said that his job depended upon an appearance in the 2011 SEC Championship game.

    Now, though, I don’t think it’s nearly that hot. I think, as far as McGarity is concerned, the problem isn’t necessarily the win-loss record, but just the general culture of the program. And as long as Richt is on board with changing that culture (which he certainly seems to be), McGarity wants him around.

    Now, granted, if we have another losing season this year, it won’t surprise me if Richt is let go. But on the other hand, I no longer think that we need to win the East in order for him to keep his job. With the current coaching staff, and the sort of talent we’ve got on the team, I’m confident that we’ll at least be in contention for a divisional title for the next few years.

  4. baltimore dawg

    i’ve sometimes wondered about richt’s savvy (in the sense that he has appeared to me rather guileless from time to time), but it think he’s handled the rhetoric of this off-season masterfully, actually. of course, that’s been helped by the quietness of this off-season. but that, in turn, has likely been the outcome of programmatic changes, so there is some suggestion of evidence for optimism (even for this admitted pessimist on the situation).

    my biggest fear after ucf was that richt would just let things continue more or less as they have been, trusting his firm belief in his way of having done things rather than seeing the mountain of evidence in front of him that that way wasn’t working anymore. that fear has subsided (mostly) as this off-season has gone on since it’s increasingly evident to outsiders like me that there have been some major operational changes. i still worry that those changes might not be enough or have come too late to arrest the downward trend, but there’s a lot more for someone like me to hang his hat on today than there was a few months ago.

    • Have no fear smith is here

      please dont use the word ARREST in your post- AJC has dispatched a team of reporters [ok a team of 2, 1 a part timer] and prepared a slew of FOIA motions to see whats up. They called Radakovich and he said he was certain there was something going on in Athens {and “nothing to see here on the flats “]. AJS is seeking UGA and Athens Clarke police chieftains for a summit on who the perps are …

  5. Marmot

    “If they’re not going to be a positive force, they need to go.”

    This is the battle cry of all great oversigners. It’s ironic that the Dawg Nation appears to finally be winning the political and moral war against oversigning while their coach is going in the exact opposite direction. Mark, welcome to the party, even if it is about to be shut down.

  6. zdub

    “A couple left because we helped them out the door.”

    Folks like Marmot are going to jump all over these kinds of statements and cry about oversigning. What they tend to forget is that we have not oversigned and the attrition within the program has generally been about removing the bad (or lazy) apples from the good ones; it is not about making room for new players. But people will only see what they want to see and in the end it doesn’t matter what the message boards and blog commenters assert. Richt runs a clean ship and I’m proud of that.

    • FisheriesDawg

      That, and the fact that we’re already under the limit on scholarships. That’s a major point that he conveniently left out.

      • Mayor of Dawgtown

        It really wouldn’t matter if we were at or even slightly over the limit on scholarships. The guys who got “helped out the door” were “helped” because of a bad attitude not to make room for someone who was better athletically.

        • hailtogeorgia

          Exactly. How often are you running off your two leading rushers from the previous year for oversigning purposes?

  7. Uglydawg

    CMR realizes or at least has been told to act like he believes the team culture has been soft. Does he realize, though, that HE is the ultimate source of that culture? The early field goal against UCF is a microcosm of the attitude that finally came to an ugly head last year. If CMR really has changed his mindset, I hope it’s not going to be to the point of going too far the other way. Can a man really change his mindset? CMR has been a contridiction in (football) cultural philosophies from the beginning. Remember when he said that he didn’t put much stock in “playing with emotion”? Remember when he defended the two qb system, only to abandon it when Green graduated?….Of course, flexibility to some degree is also a coaching virtue (it could be argued). In the end, CMR has no choice but to change philosophies and thus affect the culture of this program. Softness and lacadasical performances begat losses to teams like Colorado and UCF. Since the days of Donnan, UGA has played to the level of the opponent. CMR must say “no more”. He should require every player to read “The Art of War”. He has finally got a Erk-ish assistant in Grantham, which was a huge step….kill doggies kill!

    • CoachSpurlock

      Would you classify Richt’s first four teams as “soft”? I certainly wouldn’t. What is the difference? Damon Evans. Several former players have insinuated that Evans forced Richt to change his Dooley-era discipline because it was too strict. As a result, we saw a steady increase in Fulmer Cup points (with the outlier exception of 2009) during Evans’ tenure culminating in our “winning” of the cup last season. New AD = New Attitude. However, I would argue that this is a result of McGarity allowing Richt to be Richt instead of handcuffing him like Evans did.

      • BulldogBen

        Are you honestly saying that an AD at a big time D-1 college program told a head coach to enforce less discipline?? I’m sorry but this is 100% blog fodder and total speculation.

        As unceremoniously as Evans went out the door, I still credit him with being partially responsible for implementing mandatory alcohol related arrest disciplinary actions (oh, the irony)

        • Mayor of Dawgtown

          I think you give DE too much credit and not enough blame. I don’t know exactly what went on behind closed doors but the decline of the UGA football program happened on DE’s watch and I do not think he should get a free pass on that. Bad scheduling is the most obvious thing he did wrong but it goes much deeper. His behavior for which he was fired had been going on for years and every jock in Athens knew about it. How can a coach expect to have discipline when the AD is acting like that–apparently with no consequences? Good riddance! Thank goodness for red panties.

          • AthensHomerDawg

            That and McGarity’s statement about Richt needed to coach and he (GM) would handle some of the duties that DE apparently saddled CMR with.

            • Mayor of Dawgtown

              +1.

            • BulldogBen

              AthensHomerDawg, now THAT I can agree with. There’s a difference between saddling a coach with duties that he shouldn’t have to deal with and “forcing” him to ease up on discipline.

    • Dawgfan Will

      Have to disagree with you there. Calling Richt the source of his team’s softness is like calling a teacher the source of his class’s disruptive behavior. The teacher is responsible for managing the students’ behavior, but the students are the ones being disruptive. Richt may have enabled this behavior in the past, but he didn’t make the players lazy, disruptive, etc.

      And as far as the much-ballyhooed field goal against UCF goes, everyone should stop blaming that on Richt’s so-called softness and recognize what it actually was (from the man’s own words, no less): the running game had not shown him all season that they could convert in such a situation. He made a decision based on his prior knowledge of his team’s capabilities.

      • James Stephenson

        Plus, didn’t they fail on 3rd and 1? It would be one thing if it were third and 5 and you bullrushed their D-line and the carrier gained 4 yards. But you had just failed on a 3rd and 1. So, taking the gimme points is always the answer in my mind. Else, the dawgs don’t make it and they lose 10-3 instead of 10-6 and all you guys are saying we should have taken the points there. Sheesh, I am beginning to believe we will never be happy.

        • AthensHomerDawg

          +1

        • Stoopnagle

          On that FG…. It’s much bally-hooed because it’s emblematic of the UGA program since the end of the 2007 season. Would “Evil Richt” have made that call? Would FSU have kicked a FG in the same context back in the day? I’m so totally not over it. (Not that it matters).

          But just for fun, look at the context. Go back and look at play-by-play of our series on espn, etc: We had not one negative yardage play (save for a 5 yard penalty) on the entire drive that started on our own 2 yard line and reached the UCF 3 where it was 4th and inches.

          Not only that, but it’s the Liberty Bowl (reserved for the next to last choice of teams from the SEC) and it’s versus a C-USA team. If there was ever a time to let it all hang out, this was it.

          • James Stephenson

            Again, we just failed on 3rd and 1. So even without a negative play, we failed on 3rd and 1. Would you have been happy to fail on 4th and 1 and lose 10-3? Let’s be honest the team just was not into that game.

            • Yeah, I would. Even if you fail to convert, you pin them back on their own 3 and take your chances on getting the ball back with good field position again. The offense was not the strength of that UCF team. Their defense was. Chances are they would have to punt deep in their own territory.

              It was a terrible call, and it’s silly to try and justify it.

  8. BC

    I am not surprised at the warm reception Richt received. Everyone I know likes him and wants him to succeed. Although, I believe how many THINK he can succeed is a minority at this point. Grantham -and the D- is the key this year. The offense has not really changed during Richt’s tenure (other than a few superstars here and there). In the early 2000s the D was responsible for a majority of wins. When the good D went away with Willie so did the winning seasons. I think Grantham is the right man but this season will tell the tale. For me anything less than 9 wins with this schedule is unacceptable.

    • Mayor of Dawgtown

      In fairness to Willie (not my favorite coach and I’m not saying he shouldn’t have been let go–he should have) but UGA never had a losing season while Willie was DC. 8-5 was the worst with him as DC.

      • Greg

        You are being overly fair to Willie with that comment. We won almost without exception when we scored 20 points under VanGorder. Under Willie’s guidance, we usually needed 35 to feel comfortable.

        It was obvious that Willie was on way over his head when Tennessee overcame a 24-7 deficit to beat us 51-33 in Athens. Disgraceful performance by our D. Willie didn’t have the first clue how to stop Ainge and the UT offense…and the trend continued from there.

        If VanGorder and Martinez swapped places in terms of the years they were the D-coordinator, Matthew Stafford and David Greene would both have much different legacies at UGA as well.

  9. BulldogBen

    This is why I stopped going to the ATL Bulldog club annual meeting. Where the hell is the vitriol? Standing O?

    At least Macon or Dalton had some pointed questions for him.

    I swear our fanbase is entirely too forgiving sometimes.

    • Dawgfan Will

      You know, the Crimson Tide could probably use another fan…

      • BulldogBen

        So expressing annoyance that the ATL Bulldog club claps like trained seals after a 6-7 season = “go pull for someone else”?

        That’s quite a leap Will.

        • AthensHomerDawg

          “that the ATL Bulldog club claps like trained seals” is a bit of a leap as well. You’ve made a valid point 6-7 ain’t very Georgia! Last stop on a speaking tour….ending on a positive and uplifting note. Yeah, I can live with that. With a handle “Bulldog Ben” I can see your a fan. So is Will.
          just sayin’

        • Charles

          But, it’s not such a leap from wondering “where thel hell is the vitriol.”

          Repeat after me: “Rammer Jammer…”

        • Dawgfan Will

          I apologize for the tone, Ben. You are obviously a passionate fan, as am I. My vitriol wore out earlier in the offseason. In my eyes, Richt has done everything right since then. I’m not going to spend the last few weeks before the new season begins pissed at the guy for last season; I’m going to give him credit for the changes he’s made and wish him well for the games ahead.

  10. HVL Dawg

    I think most fans will put up with a losing season every now and then if the coach seems a little pissed off about it. The problem over the last few years is that CMR has been sending out the fair catch punt returner 7-8 times a game, takes the field goal after driving it 79 yards, apologizes to the refererees after they’ve blown a call, and doesn’t seem pissed off when we lose.

    • WH

      In our “seeing is believing” culture (hello, viral Youtube hoaxes!), I get that some people really want to see Richt wear his emotions on his sleeve. Many assume that unless he’s throwing his headset on the sideline or spitting-mad during the post-game presser, he’s not really bothered by the loss. Same goes for the season as a whole.

      I can attest that the assumption is 100% bogus.

      My beliefs line up to a large degree with Richt’s, and I can tell you that the calm demeanor is evidence to me not that he is devoid of emotion, but to the contrary, that he has learned to control himself in exactly the way Scripture demands. I’ve never met Coach Richt, but listening to him speak, I can tell that the man always chooses his words carefully and measures his tone because he thinks there’s a right way and a wrong way to act. (See Tony Dungee for another great example.)

      For the record, I’m not trying to model my life after Mark Richt. But I think I’m following the same model he does. I think CMR has made mistakes, but I don’t think emotion is really his problem area.

      • James Stephenson

        And to be honest, do we beat UT at Tennessee his first year, if he would have just out and out lost his mind when UT scored late. Hell no. You have to take the good with the bad. The good is, he never really panics, the bad is, it seems like he doesn’t care.

        My boss at the time, who is an Alabama fan, said man he has ice water running through his veins and he was gonna be a good one.

        • Go Dawgs!

          Another example is the 2002 Auburn game. If he panicked at halftime, or at any point in the game, really, then we likely wouldn’t have been in position to steal a win and go to our first SEC Championship Game.

  11. I think McGarity believes he’s got a demonstrably successful coach who’s in the midst of a downswing that’s almost guaranteed by the law of averages if you’ve been in the game this long. As opposed to a coach with a low ceiling, or one who’s burned out, etc. Plus, he’s got a coach who’s shown that he can win championships at this program without being dependent on a single group of players (the 2002 and 2005 teams won with very different styles of play, different D-coordinators, and different personnel).

    When you’ve got that level of assurance about an employee’s competency, you probably need to validate first that you’re giving him everything he needs to succeed before you go back to questioning whether he’s still got it. McGarity has been very transparent about the fact that that’s the process he’s going through in 2011.

    • Mayor of Dawgtown

      Put another way, McGarity is the best thing that could have happened to CMR. He’s giving CMR all the support he could ever want and a fair chance to turn things around. Unless the season goes totally in the crapper (6-7 or worse) CMR is back for 2012. I actually think that the Dawgs are going to have a good year in ’11.

      • Dawgfan Will

        I agree. Barring another losing season, I think Richt is back for 2012. I think he’s earned it.

        • Jim

          No offense but i think blanket statements like this are ridiculous. If we sleep walk to 6-6 or 7-5 and generally play like we dont want to be in the stadium (as we have done too many times for my liking the last few years, i do not think richt will survive that nor does he deserve to

          • Dawgfan Will

            No offense taken, but the idea of “sleepwalking” is so subjective that it’s almost useless to me. Some look at last season and see sleepwalking, but I saw a season in which we were in every game right into the 4th quarter (at least as far as I can remember). For me, right now, without any games having been played, the only real standard I will commit to is a winning season. I ain’t good enough at algebra to use it to decide whether Richt had a successful season.

  12. Keese

    Which 3 freshmen got dreamteam tattoos? Anyone know…?

  13. Cojones

    Can’t believe that I agree with your proceed-with-slight-caution premise, but find I do. Good analysis of speaking to the audience’s predelectations. That, pulled together with “To me, that’s an indication that the man has been checking the program’s thermometer a little more closely than he lets on” is all viable to your assessment.

    He ain’t stupid nor naive is what we get. Playing to the audience is fair at this point considering the acidic atmosphere that was present only months ago. Good for him. He has been quoted in print that he is partially to blame for the softer attitude. Years ago he quoted his father as getting more with honey than vinegar. The recipe has now changed to more vinegar with a little honey thrown in for a complete salad dressing for this team. A few more bring-home-the-bacon bits along with huge amounts of “Let-Us” can lower the amount of tomatoes tossed during his salad days. Certainly this optimistic mixture is a prelude to a sumptious banquet presentation to this year’s football table.

    Instead of finishing with a fine wine, I sincerely hope we have a boilermaker in Atlanta. Hell, I can drink to that!

    GO DAWGS!! SIC’EM!!