You shouldn’t take it so personally.

This has to be my favorite Emerson mailbag question evah:

Seth, do you think that Mark Richt’s loyalty to his coaching staff is greater than his loyalty to the Bulldog nation?

Bobby Petrino ain’t got nothing on Mark Richt in terms of being a selfish bastich.

All of which leads me to a question that came to mind yesterday when I was looking over the results of the most recent reader poll.  It gets back to the five-year meme.  Basically, when it comes to the Georgia program, what are reasonable expectations for how it should perform over time?

It’s not as easy to answer that as you might expect, at least not for me.  On the one hand, we’re looking at a program that enjoys favorable demographics (helped even more by Georgia Tech’s mediocre recruiting efforts), solid fan support and plenty of financial resources.  On the other, Georgia hasn’t played for a national title in more than thirty years, has a habit of spitting the bit at the most inopportune times (’92, ’97, ’02 and ’07 all come to mind) and never seems willing to deploy its financial advantages aggressively.

I’d say what I’m looking for is a program that regularly competes for a shot in Atlanta.  By that standard, the last five years have definitely been a mixed bag, and again, how dire you think that period’s been depends on how you view the just concluded season.

But Richt is right when he notes that you can’t really control anything other than winning the conference.  However, I’d say with the advent of a four-team playoff, your chances for postseason glory increase noticeably with an appearance in the SECCG.

I’m guessing that’s probably not enough for some of you.  So I’d like to hear what you think.  Pretend you’re Greg McGarity interviewing candidates for Richt’s successor.  What do you tell them you expect?

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74 Comments

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74 responses to “You shouldn’t take it so personally.

  1. wnc dawg

    I fell, and have always felt, UGA should regularly compete for SEC championships. I don’t feel that is an unreasonable standard. NC is a different ball of wax, b/c it takes (took) more luck than we’ve had. That said, with the 4 team playoff, I believe my expectations would be for UGA to not be a stranger to the bracket, and generally being in the mix for the “contract bowls”. Sometimes things just don’t work out, like 2013. But if we are winning 10, 11, 12 games more times than not, it’d be hard for me to complain too much.

    And for another day- your assertion that appearing in the SECCG will noticeably increase your chances for being a playoff bid, I respectfully disagree with the fine Senator from GA. Being the 2nd place team in the division who wins the SECCG will probably be a big advantage for getting a playoff bid.

    • Russ

      Re: your reasoning about second place team having an advantage over the SECCG runner up – That’s been true in the BCS era for sure (one of the reasons I don’t like the BCS bowl metric for measuring Richt’s performance). However hopefully that will be fixed in the future. If the #1 team lost to #3 or 4 I’d expect them to still be in the pool.

    • Dawgfan Will

      I think your first sentence is a very reasonable standard. Then the question becomes this: what does “regularly” mean? Richt has played in the SECCG 5 times in 13 seasons. Considering that there are always at least 2 other teams in the division with a good chance at making it as well, I think that’s a strong record. Others, of course, may disagree.

      • King Jericho

        Also considering we’re tied for 3rd in appearances since the start of the game (1992) with 5, I think we’ve done pretty well under Richt. 2013 could very well have been 3 in a row had it not gone down the way it did.

        • Chopdawg

          Further considering all those appearances came under Richt. I remember wondering, during the late 90′s, when if ever UGA would get to play in the SECC game.

          • Chopdawg. Me Too. That was a long & dismal 20 year stretch for me,

            I actually gave up on every winning another SEC championship & also gave up my season tickets. I still supported the Dawgs every game of every season.
            Richt brought the Dawgs back & we won again (without Herschel). I do not expect the next HC to do as well.

      • DawgBiscuit

        Your observation made me wonder how many times our SEC East rivals have been to Atlanta. During Coach Richt’s tenure, UGA has won the East 5 times, Florida 3, Tennessee 3, South Carolina 1 and Missouri 1. I agree, I think that’s pretty “regular.”

        • Florida has 2 SEC and National titles during that same period as well.

          Overall the east has been down during Richt’s tenure, compared to the west.

  2. Old DAWG

    I’d say: “Good luck; you’re going to need it. You face several problems that you have no control of. Administratively, I cannot not support you financially as others schools do their programs. Oh yes, I expect you to rake it in (be in the top 3 in income), but we, well….spread the wealth around here (bottom third in conference in expenditures on football). Second, have you ever heard of Jimmy Williams? You have a, how do you say it, um… overzealous police force around here. Your players will be targeted for every minor crime. They and our competitors know it, too. And, it will be used against you in recruiting. And finally, our fans want to win big – but do it the Georgia Way. In other words, win a national championship, but do it with a squeaky clean record with choir boys. I’ll say, given those parameters a 10 win season is good enough; I’ll even give you a pass on not winning “it all” – just get us to the conference championship 2-3 times in 10 years. But our fans, now that’s something different. You ever hear of wanting your cake and eating it, too?”

  3. j4k372

    I would want to feel like he gets the maximum amount out of his players and coaches. The team improves from the first game until the 12th. The only way to really know is to use metrics. Often times someone’s “gut feeling”, is very wrong about actual performance.

    On a side note…
    Can CM send some guys out to Oregon to study their “Sports Science”? Maybe it’s just feel-good, but just hearing about the way they try to analyze the sport and use science to improve impresses me. That’s probably just the geek in me though. So forget a Special Teams coach, I’m calling for a Sports Science coordinator!

  4. heyberto

    I have heard from multiple sources, the same overarching ‘surprise’ about Mark Richt. Away from the public.. he’s very hard on both coaches and players. That’s not to say he’s a dick.. he supports and backs them up mostly. But he has high expectations and hold their feet to the fire that way. He doesn’t air his dirty laundry in the public forum. So when someone say he’s too loyal, I’m not sure it’s blind loyalty. Knowing all of this makes the Lakatos departure much more interesting, but who knows.

  5. South FL Dawg

    I’d like to be top 3 in the East every year and top 6 in the SEC. That means win the SEC every 6 years and win the East every 3 years. In terms of record win 5 SEC games on average, plus 3 non-SEC.. Richt is there for me over the 13 years he’s been in Athens. I think he started off strong though and then fell back, which is what has been frustrating, especially because winning the SEC over the last several years has meant national championship too. If instead of winning the SEC in 2005 he would have won in say 2007, and we won the MNC too, he would have more goodwill built up. But the excuses need to stop about youth, injuries, etc. because we are looking at 13 years under Richt now.

  6. charlottedawg

    Let me preface this by saying that the UGA administration makes Richt’s job harder. That in and of itself is frankly unacceptable but it’s the reality we live in. That being said I think reasonable expectations for a Georgia program fully utilizing its resources are

    -perennial contenders for the SEC Championship
    -have an 85 man roster composed entirely of scholarship SEC caliber athletes at all positions
    -us getting blown out should not be an annual occurrence
    -top half of the league in SEC scoring defense and points per game
    -at least being in the conversation for a NC and playing for it once every 20 years or so would be nice
    -policies from BM that make sense and put us at a competitive advantage (looking at you drug policy)
    -top recruiting class every year – this one’s a little more gray as recruiting rankings are very fluid, although nowadays it seems not having a top 10 class means falling behind your peers in the conference. we’re also probably spoiled in that even Goff and Donnan pulled in top ranked classes.

    On a more qualitative aspect I just want to see a team that’s fundamentally sound. We’re not going to go undefeated every year but at least make the other team beat you don’t do it for them. I don’t want to see guys who still don’t know where to line up on defense in the bowl game or a punt team that can’t well, get a punt off.

    • Sanford222view

      The Dogs did accomplish one of your criteria this year. No one blew Georgia out this year. So we have that going for us. Which is nice.

      • Bulldawg165

        I’d say losing to vandy is about the same as getting blown out by a good team

        • Russ

          Hard to argue that. Even with the refs, we should’ve overcome that. That was the one game where I felt the team let the circumstances get to them. Otherwise I thought they were mentally tough all year.

    • Otto

      Agreed and I’ll add fix regular problems such as specials teams, and dropped balls. The 85 man roster is a big sticking point for me. UGA should have no more than 3 or 4 open spots tops for walk ons to get a scholarship.

      I do not feel that the program is willing to spend enough especially on S&C to compete at the top level.

    • Midtown Dawg

      I could live with this. Just don’t embarrass yourselves and us.

  7. MikeInValdosta

    Within these walls, Mr. Potential Coach, we expect annual growth of our Reserve Fund to eclipse 16 percent. Your football program will be responsible for generating the substantial revenues required to meet this modest goal. Winning championships is a plus, but not a requirement.

  8. Andy

    My reasonable expectations over a 5 year period:
    2 playoff appearances
    4 seasons of at least 10 wins
    Finish each season ranked, barring a season of crazy injuries like this one

    I don’t care about the stats. Just win, baby!

  9. IAmAGurleyMan

    I think it’s reasonable to expect:

    The head coach will jettison incompetent assistants
    The same mistakes won’t be repeated over and over and over and over and over and over and over during a 5+ year period.

    In both of those cases, coach Richt fails miserably.

  10. Hogbody Spradlin

    I expect us to be a 9.5 to 10.5 win team, assuming a 12 game regular season, with the attendant post season rewards.

    I speculate that the fan dissatisfaction is because all of our peers (TN, FLA, AUB, LSU, BAMA) have a BCSNC, and we don’t. We’re the 13th or 14th winningest program of all time, and top 5 in number of bowl appearances. The chips should have fallen our way at some point.

    My personal remedy: sign more guys, right up to the limit, and do some roster management. It’s admirable that Coach Right can tell each recruit that he has a 4 year commitment, but there’s just as much integrity in telling them they’re going to have to compete and there will be attrition.

    • King Jericho

      I’m not sure where to go to find any sort of data that may support my speculation, but all the transfers we’ve seen the past few years, is that commonplace amongst our peers? Could this be Richt’s handling of better roster management for those that won’t contribute?

  11. Scorpio Jones, III

    I think Mark Richt wants to win football games as much as any fan…more than some, in fact. What he is loyal to, I believe, is winning football games, following the rules and working within the framework he is given.

    I think Mark Richt looks at his football team and his coaching staff as one big family, close knit, cohesive and productive.

    When a family member makes a mistake or does not do the job he is paid to do the family member is disciplined. The discipline reflects the magnitude of the mistake or non-performance. Do we, as fans, need to know every little detail about the discipline? Nope.

    Something I view as troublesome, ripples in the water, is the turnover on the defensive staff, which is, considering the offensive staff, pretty high.

    I believe Mark Richt when he talks about continuity. I suspect he views staff turnover as troublesome, too.

    Mark Richt, I suspect, believes being loyal to his coaching staff IS being loyal to the football program, and to the Bulldog Nation, the two are inseparable.

    Dumb question.

  12. Spike

    My two cents.. Never lose to Vandy. Fix the damn #%@&** special teams play, i.e. punt returns, long snaps etc. Get some O linemen. Tackle well. Then, things will take care of themselves.

  13. All good thoughts mentioned above (rational and reasonable) – My thoughts are:
    1) Be fundamentally sound in all 3 phases of the game – we don’t expect undefeated seasons, but we also expect that we will not beat ourselves regularly. We may lose but the other team will know they’ve been in a fight.
    2) Take advantage of Georgia’s inherent talent advantages – focus recruiting on the elite players in state and we’ll give you the resources to evaluate talent and build relationships (4-5 star in-state players according to internal evaluations should leave the state on an exception basis).
    3) Average 9.5 wins per season including bowl games – 73% winning percentage is a reasonable expectation given cupcakes and some conference weaklings
    4) Compete for SEC championships – appear in Atlanta 2 of every 5 years and compete hard when we’re there
    5) Beat the Big 3 + USCe and UT consistently – Georgia coaches are evaluated on the results of these 5 games. Win more than you lose and teams compete hard every time out. No 2008-9 style meltdowns in Jacksonville. No embarrassing losses in Columbia where we look clueless. Keep J-HS as Sanford South and BDS as HMRS@VDF. Use the Hobnail Boot on Rocky Top.
    6) Develop these young men into DGDs for life – be a student-athlete, be upstanding members of the Dawgnation, and become men of character.

    I don’t think any of these are unreasonable expectations of the head football coach at the University of Georgia.

  14. Dog in Fla

    “As always, should you or any of your staff be caught reducing the profit margin or causing any reduction in the reserve fund amount, the Athletic Association Board of Directors will disavow any knowledge of your actions and your employment opportunity will be terminated with prejudice so you may spend more time with your family in the unlikely event you have one. This tape will self-destruct in five seconds. Good luck, a. Mr. Gruden, b. Mr. Saban, c. Big Game Bob, d. Glen Mason, e. Lane, or f. Bobo.”

  15. stoopnagle

    Beat Florida
    2, Beat Florida Like a Rented Mule
    Beat Florida So Bad That They Want to Move the Game from Jacksonville
    Win the SEC

    I think if you can do those three things, I’m ok.

    • +1,000,000,000,000 since billions don’t mean anything in DC anymore :)

      • Macallanlover

        That was once considered “real money” by the people in DC, even Dirkson could figure that out. Best way to bring the US down, cripple the economy. Combine that with weakening the military and now we look like the French, surrendering without a struggle…or firing a shot (as was once predicted).

        CMR will never please the radicals in our fan base. No one can dominate the SEC regularly, no one, and our record under Richt is damned impressive. Anyone can look back at a game here or there that was disappointing that could/should have been won. Given the restrictions we operate under that our opponents are exempt from, it is hard to be wildly critical unless you have an agenda. I don’t think anyone wants Georgia to win any more than Mark Richt does, he just handles it better than the lunatic fringe. I don’t know how much longer he stays, but we will regret the day he steps down; the man has been a model head coach, one that I wouldn’t trade anyone for. I have no problem with those who feel differently but I do take issue with the poor way they express themselves. There is constructive, and destructive ways to criticize. I wish our fans were as high quality as our staff.

  16. fuelk2

    1) Let no team “own” us over a four-year period, most especially our historical rivals.

    2) Any player who spends four years in the program should get to go to the playoffs at least once.

  17. Midtown Dawg

    Mr. Coach,
    We expect you to win at least 10 games in most years, stay atop the SEC East on a consistent basis, compete for the national playoffs frequently and run a tight ship. We want special teams that truly are special, a defense that can keep up with our offense, an offensive line that lives up to its billing, and a stop to perennial season-opening suspensions for so many of our starters. Can you produce this?

  18. Will Trane

    The unanswered reason for the depature of Coach Lakotas raises some questions about CMR and GM management style. We know CMR & GM met Thrusday. End of the day the secondary coach is gone. It is said this was TG’s choice for hire. Understand. Had been publically quiet at the B-M ’til now.

  19. Normaltown Mike

    Don’t emerge from any alleys in your motor-bicycle.

    Especially if your passenger is not your wife.

  20. Will Trane

    A 4 year coach departs. Position coach whose players came under the microscope quick and often over a 2 year period. A lot of plays factor into wins and loses. Secondary mostly loses. 3 big games come to mind. Bama in the SECCG, expiring clock on the plains of All-barn, and in the rain in the dump called JAX.

  21. I love the we care more than they do argument. yeah, cause us sitting our fat butts on a couch, watching and moaning on the internet shows how we care so much more than the guys giving their blood, sweat, tears, and hours upon hours of work every day of the year. You’re damn right Richt cares more about those assistants than some nebulous “Bulldawg Nation” because those are the guys giving their extensive times and energies to winning on the field, not us.

    • Russ

      I agree 100%. It should be obvious but there’s that 0.001% of the fan base that doesn’t see it.

    • Bogey Dawg

      I agree with this comment. I told my friends whining about the bowl game to shut the f-up if they were at home and dry.

    • Dawgfan Will

      Anybody that says this after watching Richt fall to the ground at the end of the Auburn game just doesn’t see what he doesn’t want to see.

  22. Will Trane

    3 plays 2 years from section of the roster. I take notice of how both Lakotas and CMR made and worded their statements. At times I thought the sec played well. None of us know what was happening in Lakotas’s life…distractions, ability, dissatisfied with pay, and etc. My take. GM will give you awhile to straighten it out, but if it does not , well expect a change.

  23. Will Trane

    Not sure of Lakotas’ recruiting area of responsiblity. Thought it was in the middle and southern part of Georgia and north Florida. Another position coach on the D departs over a 2 year period. And during the heat of recruiting. 5 yrs-2 top 25 – 2 coaches – time, money, and competition. Think either CMR or GM made a decisions.

  24. Will Trane

    Secondary hire. Like to see a coach, young and aggressive, come from a spread system.
    For me, here is the deal…pay them. They live under a microscope. Coach Andy Landers we know the 0-3 start must be hell on you. We are with you coach. Just hang tough during this rebuild year.

  25. Will Trane

    TG’s adversary and most admired coach is hired at PSU. Franklin gave TG hell every season. Would it not be a hoot if Lakotas ends up back in the northeast at College Station.

  26. Will Trane

    Think Franklin will take home a little more $’s than TG. He earned it the old fashioned way. He coached.
    My choice for DB and STs coach would be Derek Jones at Duke. Roper left Duke for UF and Coach Boom. Both worked special teams. Plus during the season I watche Duke. Every game their secondary impressed me.

  27. Skeptic Dawg

    This is a great question Senator! There are some great answers above. I would love to see the results of this very same question posed to the AD, those within B-M, and members of the BOR. That being said, my answer is as follows:
    1). Win the East 2-3 times within a 5 year period
    2). Win the SECCG 1-2 times within a 5 year period
    (Accomplishing #’s 1 and 2 will get the Dawgs into the 4 team playoff on a regular basis. That being said, I fully understand that under the 4 team format Richt would have only put one team in based on wins and rankings).

    I am going to stop here. After giving this some thought, and reviewing the numbers, Richt is simply not capable of accomplishing what I am asking. He has proven this throughout his 13 year tenure in Athens. On average, Richt will lead teams to a 3-4 loss season. Under the current 12 game format, and given the decline of both Florida and Tennessee plus 2-3 cupcakes, 10 wins should be low hanging fruit. However, under Richt it is not. In 13 seasons Richt has dropped 3 games or more 9 times! 9 years with 3+ losses. That is unacceptable. I do agree with those how say the administration places internal restrictions upon the program. I do not believe those restrictions have lead to 3+ losses a year. I believe that Richt’s lack of attention to detail has lead to 3+ losses a year. Look no further than ST’s and the O-line. Two areas of recent concern that have gone in corrected for multiple years. Additionally, why is it acceptable to field a team with fewer than the NCAA granted 85 scholarships? I would understand a few years below 85 due to attrition, but not to the levels Richt has allowed this program to fall to. These areas point to a coach unwilling or incapable of fielding a complete team on an annual basis. And the numbers back this up. Maybe I need to lower my expectations. Maybe a
    Richt should increase his expectations. Whatever it is, something has to change.

    • NoAxeToGrind

      Excellently put, Skeptic Dawg. I concur with every point. You are absolutely on the mark. A cogent and well thought out comment.

    • Dawgfan Will

      Out of honest curiosity, I wonder how the SEC coaches who have a better reputation as winners than Richt nationally (Saban, Meyer, Spurrier, maybe Miles; I don’t know maybe some of you think there are others) would perform under these very specific criteria.

    • Dawgfan Will

      Also out of honest curiosity, and without an ounce of snark: how do you stay passionate about a subject that is so obviously disappointing to you on a regular basis? I sympathize, because I was a pretty passionate Braves fan for a long time before I gave it up because they could just never consistently break through to the biggest stage.

      • Skeptic Dawg

        It is simple, I love the University of Georgia. I pull for the “G” and those who proudly wear the Red and Black, not a coach. Coaches will come and go, but UGA and all of its magical splendor will remain forever. I have been disappointed more often than not recently, but dropping the Dawgs is never an option. I came to realize a few years ago that Richt will leave when he decides it is time to go, or when the money stops flowing into
        B-M, and not before.

  28. cube

    I think that we’re one of the top 5 or 6 programs in the conference and we should be winning the conference once every 5 or 6 years, on average.

    • Dawgfan Will

      This seems pretty reasonable as well, considering Alabama, LSU, Auburn (while they have Malzahn), and South Carolina (while they have Spurrier). Missouri is a team to look out for as well. I’ll reserve judgment on Texas A&M until we see how they do after Manziel leaves. Ditto Florida until we see if 2013 was a hiccup.

      Of course, the problem with average one conference championship every 5 or 6 years is that there could be 8-10 years between those championships, and then the natives get restless.

  29. Dawgfan Will

    Here’s a spinoff question: What if our injuries had not happened?

    Considering who was out on offense and when they were out, I think there is a very good chance that we could have gone undefeated in the regular season if that was the case. But the defense would likely have still looked outmatched, and the special teams would likely have still derped it up regularly.

    How would it have affected everyone’s opinion of Richt this season if our offense had not been handicapped and HAD overcome our deficiencies in other areas like we all knew it would have to at the beginning of the season?

    • I think we go 11-1 or 10-2. I think we still lose to Clemson even without Gurley’s injury that kept him out for part of the game. Remember we were down 10 with 2:30 to play and had to score twice. Sure, we had the derp on the field goal, but I just think we probably end up losing a close one, just like we did. The wild card is Missouri. We lost that game by 15 and never could block the edge rush. We definitely whip Vandy and likely beat Auburn with a full, healthy (for that time of year) complement of players. We end up with Alabama again in Atlanta and who knows what happens. I’m sure there are plenty of skeptics who will say it wouldn’t have mattered one bit, and we would have still lost 4 in the regular season.