Armchair psychiatrists have lost control of Mark Richt.

This does not look like the face of a worn out man. (Photo via AB-H)

During the past season, I saw plenty of comments here and elsewhere about how tired and less than happy Mark Richt appeared to be coaching.  There was speculation along with that about how much time he might be willing to spend in Athens.

The thing is, Mark Richt doesn’t seem to agree.

“I look so young,” Richt said Wednesday, speaking on Signing Day. “If it weren’t for these extra 40 pounds I’m carrying, I could pass for 40.”

Then this, smiling: “Coach (Bobby) Bowden went until he was 80. So I’ve got another 27 years.”

Then this, still smiling: “I’m young compared to a lot of head coaches. Some guys coach deep into their 60′s and 70′s.”

Then this: “I’ve got a long way to go.”

I don’t know how much of this Richt’s been taking on the recruiting trail of late, but you have to figure if some in the fan base are asking, there are coaches who are more than willing to try to connect the dots.

All I can say is that we underestimate Mark Richt at our own risk.  I gave up in the wake of the two disappointing 2009 and 2010 seasons and Richt turned around and delivered back-to-back appearances in the SECCG to prove me wrong about that.  The program hasn’t fallen into nearly as deep and dark a hole after this past season as it did before, but with the early talk of defensive continuity after the 2013 results, it was easy to fret again.

It sounds like the energy and the desire are still there, though.  With new blood and new eyes, maybe that’s enough to bring focus to making some serious fixes to last year’s shortcomings.  There are a couple of intriguing hints of that in the latest recruiting class.  There’s also one more coaching hire to assess.

In any event, things feel a lot more positive now than they did a month ago.

Earlier in the day, Richt told a group of Georgia fans he feels more sprightly than ever. Offensive coordinator Mike Bobo, who has worked alongside Richt since 2001, said: “I agree with what he said. He’s more energized than he’s ever been. It hadn’t crossed my mind that he might ever step down.”

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54 Comments

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54 responses to “Armchair psychiatrists have lost control of Mark Richt.

  1. Tim

    Gotta think that hip replacement has helped in his rejuvenation. A 30 year old injury that finally gets healed can put a lot of pep in your step.

  2. Rocksalt76

    Bah, read in-between the lines. “I’m as energized as ever” actually means, “I can’t wait to be a missionary to the Honduras”.

  3. I was definitely one of the ones that had commented on how he looked, but I’m not ashamed to have made the comment. There were times this past season that he just looked flat out miserable, in pain, or both. I didn’t think he was on the verge of retiring or anything, but it wouldn’t have completely shocked me either. But I would have put the odds of it being very very low.

    He’s definitely shown he can re-invent himself, and I hope that he truly has gotten a shot in the arm the past month or so. I fall into the camp that a lot of us do…….there have been times I have doubted whether he can get us back to the top again, but I’ve always wanted him to be the guy who gets us back there. There’s simply nobody that deserves it more than he does, and I love everything he stands for as a person. I hated seeing the way he looked at times this past season, because there were times he just really looked bad (physically), but I hope that is a corner that is being turned as well.

    • uglydawg

      A hearty “AMEN” to those words, Rev….Your first paragraph applies also to me.
      I would hope that , “There’s simply nobody that deserves it more than he does”, is the prevailing sentiment among Georgia Bulldog fans.

    • Ginny

      This season in particular took A LOT out of me mentally, emotionally and physically. I can’t blame Richt for looking a little rough around the edges. I’m 28 and probably had the blood pressure of someone twice my age last fall.

      • Both the injuries and third and long ravaged that 2013 season like a norovirus on a cruise ship. Diminishing the outlook and enthusiasm of everyone it touched: players, coaches and fans alike. Coach Richt often resembled a man pushed to his limits and in physical pain when he left the field after tough losses. The high of the LSU victory shined brightly during his his post game interview but was in stark contrast to the grey fatigue that hung over the Vanderbilt defeat.

        • Dog in Fla

          That’s so awesome it needs some music

        • Agreed….this was a team mentally poised for greatness in 2013. “Coming back to win championships” wasn’t just talk for the sake of talk on Aaron’s part.he meant it and the team believed. For Richt, knowing one’s defense was lacking, and then watching your offensive weapons drop week by week, it’s easy to understand how he might be feeling low. His face was being rubbed in the dirt by our opponents crowing about beating UGA. I’d feel crappy, too…and week after week he had hopes dashed.

          Personally, I think he spit fire and blistered Grantham, continuity or not. So much so that the backbone found a place where he would be more valued…hence divine intervention took place. Who would have imagined Pruitt. 2 days later.

          2013 was at the least a character building exercise for the team. I hope the fanbase takes a lesson in how not to give up in the face of adversity even as they perservered. When your hopes are dashed to the ground, look up!

          • this was a team mentally poised for greatness in 2013.

            A lot of us thought it might be. But the Clemson, Missouri & Vanderbilt games, among other things, proved conclusively that wasn’t the case.
            ~~~

            • King Jericho

              I disagree. Clemson was a tough, well played game by both teams where we lost our top WR pretty much immediately when the game started and our Heisman-caliber running back was in and out with an injury after he torched the defense. Missouri was better than we thought and Vanderbilt was a screwjob and our bottom point in regards to injuries. This is actually the first season that I can remember where I don’t think we’ve been out of any game and the mental focus by the team was as high as ever. You can gripe about a lot of things including talent and coaching, but I don’t think mental poise by the players is on that list imo.

              • RocketDawg

                I second the King on this one. This was a season of injuries and plain old bad luck not one of sleepwalking losses and blowouts. Clemson proved to be a very good team this year and the fact that we lost to them at their place by a FG is nothing to be ashamed of. Missouri and Vandy were depleted rosters and some really bad officiating. Auburn doesn’t need to be discussed anymore. We all know what happened there.

  4. Jim

    Pass the Kool Aid. Mmmmmm

    I wonder how long we can keep Bobo around. Would hate to see him leave

    • uglydawg

      When Bobo leaves for a HC position, watch him carefully. If he’s as successful as I think he will be, CMR just may be content to “stop without a farmhouse near to watch his woods fill up with snow”.. Not, of course, dreaming of the “final” rest, as Frost was referencing, but the peaceful rest of knowing you have fought a good and honest battle and can turn things over to the one you groomed and mentored. Barring a Muschamp type crash and burn, MB will probably be the next HC at UGA.

    • Scorpio Jones, III

      He’ll be especially tough to keep with a crystal football (or whatever they are using now) in the trophy case at Butts-Mehre. Its coming folks, sometime soon, to a football field near you.

  5. The other Doug

    What the good Reverend said. I’d add that maybe his hip is better now.

    • uglydawg

      that, other Doug.

    • There is a lot of stretching and strengthening of the muscle involved with the hip post surgery. 12 or 18 months is not unusual to get back to a more normal gait.

      • 202dawg

        Yep. Father in law had his 6 months ago and said he is JUST starting to feel like he is actually the same person. He struggled (and still does) in the cold mountains of Western PA…

    • He said yesterday that the pain in his femur was still a bother. You could see it when he ran onto the field several times in the last few months. It takes a while for that bone to grow into the implant and to feel whole again.

  6. It’s nice to be wrong when you have been pessimistic, negative, and derogatory. Admittedly, I have been all of those things.

    Richt has shown patience with young and/or struggling coaches when it seemed imprudent to do so. He has given his staff the opportunity to succeed. Sometimes they did (McClendon, Bobo). Sometimes they did not (WillieMart, Grantham, Fabris). But, they can never say he didn’t give them enough rope to hang themselves.

    Richt knows what he’s doing. If something needs to be changed, he’ll do it in his own way, behind the scenes, and as professionally and discreetly as possible. Just like when he told Grantham to take a job… any job… no, seriously, go.

  7. Dawgfan Will

    I started my present career the year before Richt became head coach, so I could certainly understand if he did feel burned out. There have been some times the last couple years when I have felt it, so if I was in a job that was constantly criticized in every form of electronic and social media, I might have considered hanging it up. I admire him for sticking with us. 27 more years? If he can keep renewing his passion, I’d be ecstatic for him to be our coach for that long.

  8. Ben

    I had a guy say to me the other day, with a straight face, that he’d heard from a friend that Richt was ready to be a missionary; that Kirby was waiting in the wings; and that Pruitt was the guy Kirby wanted as DC when Richt stepped down. So, these “theories” or “hopes” or whatever people have are pretty elaborate.

    As for me, I fall in line with the other Disney Dawgs here who really, really want Richt to be the guy who gets us to the top. And somehow, I still believe he will be the guy. (Oh, and that Bobo should probably get the first call when the time comes for a new coach.)

    • Scorpio Jones, III

      Ben is this “top” you mention one small point on a continuum? It appears to me we are actually already at the top, but if you need a little cut glass to make it more obvious, I don’t disagree with that.

    • From your mouth and mine to Gods ear. That is exactly what I hope for!

  9. Rebar

    I think the aftermath of this season shows how good Coach Richt is. How many other teams could lose their entire defensive staff and still pull in a top 10 class. Speaks well of our coach.

  10. NoAxeToGrind

    We will see. If things don’t turn out as a lot of people think(and hope), the comments will make entertaining reading this comming season.

  11. Good post.

    … we underestimate Mark Richt at our own risk. I gave up in the wake of the two disappointing 2009 and 2010 seasons and Richt .. (proved) me wrong about that.

    I never quite gave up. I knew he was in the process of rebuilding (I called it “putting Humpty-Dumpty back together again”), but after the two losses to start 2011, I began thinking he wasn’t going to make it. The 10-straight wins that followed were less than impressive, given the two losses that followed.

    2012 gave us hope that things were on track to recovery, but 2013 showed there were still serious fundamental issues.

    The program hasn’t fallen into nearly as deep and dark a hole after this past season as it did before, but with the early talk of defensive continuity after the 2013 results, it was easy to fret again.

    Exactly. We were on a road headed south in a hurry. I’ve never called for Richt to be fired, and wasn’t going to. But things were looking mighty bleak. I saw no hope, really, for the defense, and little hope for the team.

    It sounds like the energy and the desire are still there, though. There are a couple of intriguing hints of that in the latest recruiting class.

    On paper, this is just another average class. Average for the SEC, and that is the measuring stick that counts. But considering everything, it appears the new and refreshed staff did very well.

    With new blood and new eyes, maybe that’s enough to bring focus to making some serious fixes to last year’s shortcomings.

    Serious fixes are needed. We all know that. Going into this year, many of us thought the fixes might already be in. They weren’t.

    No, the defense wasn’t the whole problem, ST’s were pathetic as well. Even the offense got into the act when things went south at Tennessee. It’s amazing how contagious things can be, football really is a team game. But this time it feels different, much different than when Grantham came on board. It just feels right.

    And the defense IS half the staff, and that affects everything – from ST’s to chemistry to culture. Is it just a coincidence we haven’t had a solid season since VanGorder left? I’ve been wondering about that question for at least 5 years. After all, Richt was the head coach of those teams, too.

    Maybe that question will be answered, at least to some extent, this fall. And how will we know? How will we know the program has returned to it’s early form, Richt’s first 4 or 5 years? It certainly won’t be reaching Atlanta, that won’t tell us. It’s possible that winning the SEC won’t tell us.

    The way we’ll know is, at season’s end we look back and see a fundamentally solid, well-coached football team. A team that progressed and got better as the season went along. A team that didn’t beat itself. That’s how we’ll know.

    In any event, things feel a lot more positive now than they did a month ago.

    Sure does. Suddenly, it seems that, at long last, we’re going to have a defense that is well-coached. Yet the new staff has yet to coach a lick on the field. ST’s will have a chance because we’ll have better coaching all around. There’ll be an entirely new feel around Butts-Mehre.

    Looking back at the last month, it’s hard not to wonder whether divine intervention was indeed involved. As a believer myself, it sure looks like the Lord’s hand, as if He isn’t ready for Richt to leave Georgia.

    In any case, we’ll see what happens. Right now, it’s certainly good to see Richt’s renewal of energy and enthusiasm. I’m happy for him. It’s certainly understandable.

    Who knows, maybe Richt has found his ‘Erk’.
    ~~~

    • Anyone who brings up the Tennessee game as a bust, which we won, by the way, needs to seriously look at the day’s events before hacking away. Keith Marshall and Justin Scott Wesley AND Michael Bennet all being knocked off the field…along with Todd being sidelined is a lot for a team to overcome. But overcome they did, even if it took a last minute miracle. You can bet Auburn isn’t saying it was an almost win over us this year, even though it was a fluke situation, also. A win is a win. And a little understanding of the situation might go a long way in interpreting Richt’s frame of mind. Some people are never satisfied.

      • Anyone who brings up the Tennessee game as a bust, which we won, by the way, needs to seriously look at the day’s events before hacking away.

        That’s NOT what I said. So don’t be putting words in my mouth.
        ~~~

        • It’s not be too difficult to connect the dots and see what it took for Georgia to overcome the relentless loss of production on O due to compounded season ending injuries in Knoxvegas. If Georgia won by a bit of luck in overtime lets remind ourselves that uT ain’t even in the game without the deprivation of Bobo’s O production. By the same token, compared to Nashville, all that palls in comparison to the utter collapse of Georgia late in the 3rd and the rest of the fourth and deserves some introspection. Douglas fumbles, Murray throws a pick,Swain muffs a punt, Colin Barber fields another high snap…and Franky is well on the way to enjoying his first upset of a top 25 team and our 13 point lead is melted away by a 17 point 4th quarter surge by the Commodores. A perfect storm with imperfect refs that constructed a ladder for Franklin to climb to a Penn State coaching job. All that enabled an opportunistic coach to pull the handle on a slot machine after Georgia feed it all the quarters allowing him to hit that jackpot.

    • gatorhater27

      Is it just a coincidence we haven’t had a solid season since VanGorder left?

      Notsureifserious.jpeg. I’d say a couple Top 5 finishes, an SEC title, and a few other Top 10 finishes count as pretty damn “solid.”

  12. Macallanlover

    I think the carnage of what happened on the field in Knoxville was more responsible for CMR’s demeanor than his hip problem. He saw the dreams of some damn good kids die that day, accompanied by the tearing of knees. UGA wasn’t the only team to face injury issues this season but the severity of those added to the one’s we had already experienced all to key players was unprecedented. Coming on the heels of the highs from the SC and LSU games, it was particularly deflating. Then next week to see officials absolutely steal a W from these young men, it had to hurt a man that loves these young men so.

    CMR is certainly due for a some good breaks and I am happy he wants to forge on. We spot many of our key competitors with our self imposed policies but we can climb that hill. Having a better, if half ass, play off starting next year helps insure Richt will get his just reward.

  13. wnc dawg

    I think the emotional exhaustion of the end of ’12 through the intensity of Sept through the field hospital of October was a BFD to this program. Regardless of what appears to be coaching upgrades, I think the younger and more enthusiastic coaching additions were much needed.

  14. Cojones

    Spot on, Mac.

    Can’t believe what I’m reading here. Bluto and many others have graduated from cynicism to solid optimism concerning our Coach, our Dawgs and our future. If this is intended as a “Welcome Home” from a hip replacement, then “Thanks!”. If it isn’t intended, it doesn’t matter.

    Somebody has been puttin’ the 100% agave tequila in your Cool-aide.

    Smoke’em if you got’em, group. It’s gonna be nice from here on out.

    Your best optimistic piece, Bluto. Regards.

    • Rebar

      Hope the recovery from your hip operation goes well Cojones.

      • It would be some sort of irony if ObamaCare cost Cojones an extra 10 grand to get that hip repair.

        • shane#1

          Hows it going Cojones? I hope yo have a swift recovery and smoke’em if ya got’em. For medicinal purposes only of course.

          • “It would be some sort of irony if ObamaCare cost Cojones an extra 10 grand to get that hip repair.”
            and I certainly agree to the get well soon vibe and ditto to whatever he chooses to
            ” smoke, drop, shoot, snort, or rub into his belly button,” after all it is none of my business. Unless of course he backs into my vehicle. Just sayin’

  15. Cojones

    Two weeks out and I’m loosing the walker Pretended I was Murray getting back into the ring. It works!. Projected healing was 4-6 mos, has now been shortened to three by the surgeon, but physical therapy folks are betting a dime on 2 mos at the most and I have my sights set on 1 mo. due to all my vital signs looking up(BP was 112/64 today-not bad for 73, eh?) Of course, not smoking or taking a drink for over two weeks helped on those vitals.

    Thanks a bunch for the verbal flowers. They come at a good time. It’s good to get back and scratch my fingernails across the blog again.

    Sic’em Dawgs!

    • ScoutDawg

      Congratulations on the recovery. Give ‘em hell.

    • AthensHomerDawg

      I call that mighty bold talk for a 73 yr old man with a smokers hx.
      Here is some advice. Keep the walker .
      Get in shape, lose the weight, and take better care of your lungs. They will go before your wheels. Just sayin’.