Capturing the Zeitgeist

If you haven’t read Seth Emerson’s piece on Mark Richt’s Paul Oliver Network, take a minute to do so now.  It’s a terrific take on how Georgia’s head coach is wired and how he’s lucky enough to be in a position to do something about a matter that concerns him.

But that’s not why you should read it.  This is:

Richt sat in a private room at his office this summer. His voice lowered.

“Paul, somewhere along the way, lost hope,” he said.

Oliver never called Richt looking for help. Richt doesn’t want to presume that the inability to find work was the reason for his depression. But Richt sensed that any man with a wife and kids would feel pressure to provide.

“It’s one of the things that I believe God has ordained us to do, is to provide and protect for our families,” Richt said. “When you’re not able to do that, your ego takes a beating, or however you want to say it.”

The coach took a deep breath.

“I don’t want any one of our guys to feel like, ‘I don’t know where to go, I don’t know where to turn,’ ” he said.

There will be cynics who argue that this will help Richt with recruiting, that it can help his good-guy image and encourage players to go to Georgia.

Richt himself brought up that side of it.

“I can promise you it doesn’t have anything to do with recruiting,” he said. “I’m sure it could help recruiting. But I can assure you I’m doing this because I really care about these guys.”

After fourteen years in Athens, it’s amazing that he still thinks there’s a need to reassure some part of the fan base about his motives.  And that’s not meant as a reflection on him.  But it’s obvious that he does.

This season will be Richt’s 14th as Georgia’s head coach. He’s only 54, and yet there is always speculation that he could walk away to pursue non-football measures.

But the Paul Oliver Network is just that, and Richt feels he can do more good by staying as the head coach at Georgia. It empowers him, because this is a major way he can make a difference on the job.

“It fires me up,” Richt said. “I’ve always had a greater purpose in coaching than trying to get a raise or trying to win a championship or coach a Heisman Trophy winner. I mean I’ve been blessed to win championships, coach Heisman winners, All-Americans, national championships, ACC championships. I know we didn’t do that at Georgia as a national champion. But you know, I experienced all that. And if that’s all there is at the end it’s empty, unless you help these guys.

“And that’s what people misunderstand sometimes. I’m highly motivated to win the national championship. But just because I care about them beyond football they think, ‘Oh he’s more worried about that than he is winning.’ No that’s not true at all. Not true at all. I want to win, and we’re gonna do the best we can to try to win. But I feel like we truly are educators, and we truly have a responsibility to help these guys.”

And, sadly, he’s right about that.

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52 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, Life After Football

52 responses to “Capturing the Zeitgeist

  1. joey Herbness

    Coach Richt is the definition of class.

  2. Derek

    …it’s why I’d gladly let him sign a contract for life. Terry hoage mentioned this a couple of weeks ago. Football at georgia is not just about winning. It isn’t the nfl and shouldn’t try to be. Winning should only be the end result of doing things the right way. If you cut corners and run over people on the way, you aren’t truly winning at all.

  3. Matt R

    And that is why Marc Richt will be one of the best coaches ever at Georgia. He is a great human first!

  4. Bulldog Joe

    Much respect those who take their purpose-driven-life to heart.

    It is never too late to do so ourselves.

    • Rusty

      Speaking from experience, you are right. Never to late while you live. There is always something you can do to help others. Figure out what that something is for you and do it.
      What a mentor Mark Richt is to our guys.

  5. Macallanlover

    I never fail to be impressed whenever I hear CMR expressing himself about his values, perspective, and general state of mind. He is a genuinely good person, and you don’t have to subscribe to his religious doctrine to support how he approaches life or goes about his business.

    The saddest part for me are the fools that attack him for his beliefs; the detractors about his genuineness and commitment to his life’s goals should seriously go take a look at themselves in a mirror because something is wrong with them. You may not like his approach to the Xs and Os, or agree with his staffing decisions, but he is a helluva man and we are fortunate to have him. I feared he would have left us before now because of the stupid ones but am pleased to see he agrees that he can accomplish more with the position he currently holds as a high profile HC. I can almost understand our rivals attacking him because he is what makes us strong, and why they lose games and recruiting battles to UGA. Not saying we win them all, but more than other coaches could do given the uniqueness of our situation. Hang in their coach, the vast majority love having you on our side and will support you as long as you want to stay.

    • Scorpio Jones, III

      Typically thoughtful, Mac, and right on the money. If I may put it my way, if someone does not believe Georgia is truly blessed to have Mark Richt as its football coach, fuck em.

    • Mac, as usual, excellent work. I had my doubts after 2010 whether he had the desire to bring the program back from the brink, but I never doubted his desire to make an eternal difference in the lives of the young men he leads. He is a true gentlemen in a sport that doesn’t really have many gentlemen leading anymore. Well done, CMR.

  6. Keese

    Great article. Really makes you think about all the other things that the coaches are needed for off the football field when it comes to young men’s lives. What parent would not want their son playing for Richt. Makes me proud the be a Dawg!

    • There’s so much you could say about Richt. I love the guy. And I love what he stands for. I especially like the feeling of not having to worry or wonder about what my coaches are doing, because if they work for Richt they are doing it right, and are not breaking any rules. Before Richt arrived, that wasn’t always the case.

      I’ve also adamantly maintained, even throughout the tough times, that he can be successful at Georgia, in terms of winning, without compromising one iota of character or standards. I honestly believe he will. And when he does, it’s going to be more satisfying, knowing that it was done the right way, and with integrity.

      And while I’m excited for us, that the program is finally back on the right track, I’m also excited for Richt. Because everything else about his program is the way it should be.
      ~~~

  7. Charles

    If I had a blog, I could write ten posts on this topic alone. Thankfully, I’ll save the harm of inflicting that on anyone.

    I will say this, though – there’s a mindset in many fanbases that “if you’re not first, you’re last.” One needn’t look a few hours west along I-20 (and an hour and a half down I-85) to see that philosophy in practice. For every program that wins the BCS beauty pageant in a given year, what do we make of the 100+ other teams? Are they all losers? What do we make of the 85 souls on each roster? Is it a bit more difficult to assess the strides they’ve made in life than win/loss record alone?

    I think THAT sentiment was really what Richt was getting at when he made that “in the arena” comment a few years ago.

    Yeah yeah yeah… it’s competition so the outcome is important. That’s why some fans want schedules “optimized” with cupcakes so that the path to a BCS game is less rocky. Administrators, too, want this path optimized because all they see are dollar signs.

    I say let’s coach and mentor ‘em the best we can, challenge them in a way that truly tests them (which builds character) and try to see them as more than just stats in a box score and numbers on a jersey.

  8. Rebar

    God Bless Coach Richt, he is a good man and coach

  9. heytogoober

    Once and for all … D.G.D.

  10. Andy

    All SEC coaches do good stuff off the field.

    But hey Coach, since you brought it up, let’s discuss here:

    Why can’t Richt win the big one at Georgia?

    Is he as driven as guys like Saban, Miles and Meyer?

    Is he as good as a Head Coach?

    Will he ever win the big one as a Head Coach?

    • Why can’t Richt win the big one at Georgia?

      He can. And he will.

    • Cousin Eddie

      The playoff system will help Richt “win the big one.” Guys like Herbstriet likes to pick on the good guys to make theirselves feel better about being a jerk. That is why he shot down UGA for being the number 2 team while not winning the SEC and not allowing Richt a shot. He did this from his seat on espn. He will get his shot.

      Is he as driven as Saban, yes but he is not as consumed with football. Meyer is not as great coach as everyone claims. As long as he has better talent to fit his system than other teams he can win. That is why he chickened out at uf and went to the weak big 10.

      i would say he is as good a head coach as anyone. He has his hands tied to some degree by the athletic department at UGA while Saban can get anything and do almost anything he wants at ua. They are playing on a level field.

      I say he has already won the true “big one” but if you are talking about the mnc, see above on the playoff system.

    • WF Dawg

      “All SEC coaches do good stuff off the field.”

      Yep, like stepping over people convulsing with seizures on their way to their office.

  11. JBrown

    Why can’t Richt win the big one?

    • Thanks for showing your ass, sockpuppet. You can run along now.

    • Macallanlover

      Primarily because, you see, Richt doesn’t play anymore. Hasn’t for over three decades. He didn’t miss that pass, fumble that snap, throw to the wrong receiver, pull the FG wide, jump on the wrong count,decide to smoke that dope, etc. But you can bet he hated that failure as much as any of those players, and he stood by them when they made those mistakes. Sometimes that ball just doesn’t bounce for you, or some media movement turns your back on you for another “cause”.

      But, with fewer players and tougher guidelines, UGA under Richt has won a very high percentage of their games during the best of SEC times, been to Atlanta five times when they had never been before, won 2 SEC titles when they hadn’t in two decades, finished in the Top 10 teams in the final poll a handful of times, and has a winning record against Bama, TN, Auburn, GT, Clemson, and closing the gap in FU. Can’t win the big one? What exactly is the “big one” to you whiners? The one where you haven’t been given your chance because of voters? I think we might have won that game at least twice, perhaps three times. Who knows when you don’t let the champions in to compete?

      And more importantly, we are doing it the right way….as this article indicates. If that doesn’t matter to you, you have joined the wrong fan base, if you are actually a Dawg. As my friend Scorp says above, fuck you. His words fit you better than mine.

  12. rampdawg

    Hey Bill Shanks, you reading this. “Bill (Mark Richt walked offa my show ’cause I keep asking the same stupid question over and over again) Shanks” only wants a head coach that doesn’t give a rats ass about anything but winning it all. If it would’ve been up to “Bill (I know I’m a dumbass, but just can’t help it) Shanks” Bobby Bowden and Tom Osborne and JoePa would have been fired along time ago, because it took them over 15 plus years to win it all. So “Bill ( I’m an alligator mouthed, canary assed fool, and I won’t stop my incessant ranting that CMR isn’t a win it all, at all cost Saban clone.) Shanks. Just shut the fuck up. Yours Truly ..Rampdawg

  13. gingerhead

    God try, releasing this feel good piece right before SEC media days to try and distract people from Richt’s record.

    The real question journalist shyould ask him is :

    Why havn’t you won a BCS Championship yet? Georgia fans have lots of excuses, but 13 tries, and 13 failures.

    Why does he always fail?

    I know Richt tried to shift the talk away from his record, can’t blame him, he’s only won 67% in his last 4 years, so let’s try and talk about something else besides my football achievements here at Georgia, ok fellas?

    Uh, no.

  14. CannonDawg

    When an exhausted, emotion-saturated Mark Richt said “Nobody does it better than Georiga” after the classic LSU victory, I’m certain he was referring to his players, coaches, support staff, and the ecstatic Bulldog fans. He was not referring to himself. That’s never been his style.

    I think it’s entirely appropriate to say to Mark Richt, “Nobody does it better than Georgia” and add, “precisely because of you, coach.”

    I wouldn’t trade him for anyone else. I’d like to win a NC as much as anyone, and I’m confident we will. And when we do, Richt will easily be validated as a HOF coach, I do believe. In the meantime, he’s already a HOF coach when it comes to understanding how a game fits into the truly important things in life. And how, in the end, it’s the truly important things that matter most.

    • Well said, Cannon. The man will earn a spot in Atlanta before his career is over. The trolls and naysayers forget he’s the winningest head coach in Georgia history. He’s done it all except win a national championship, and I believe that’s really close.

    • Dog in Fla

      +1

      I can’t imagine there is a college football head coach anywhere who cares more for the health, safety and welfare of his present and past players than CMR does

      • Cosmic Dawg

        What a minute – where’s my link?!? Where’s the arcane reference to some beat generation bennie eater or quote from some an eastern European royal after trying miniature golf for the first time?!

        Where’s my mascara-stained press conference apology!?

        You’re DOG IN FLORIDA, AND WE STILL GOT SIX WEEKS TO FOOTBALL. YOU HAVE DUTIES, MAN.

    • WF Dawg

      Indeed, Cannon. Well said.

  15. Cosmic Dawg

    +1 to the good sentiments here for our terrific coach, may he be here for as long as he chooses. Cannon, Mac, Scorp, Ivey – you all summed up my thoughts nicely.

  16. Atticus

    I don’t really feel like the criticism has ALWAYS been out of line. He is a very humble man, a very good leader. And yes a good mentor of kids and creates a good family atmosphere in Athens for his coaches, staff and players.

    He hired two defensive coordinators that cost him big time, one in over his head (but deferring to familiarity and friendship) and one as a square peg in a round hole. He can get a pass on both….but at the end of the day they were big mistakes. Hopefully Pruitt is that correction. UGA’s record against ranked teams has been less than stellar and the two biggest areas that need improvement are a very poor special teams (no excuse for this year after year) , especially the opponents success at fakes and the punt return team. His management of the roster #s has been bad (compared to his competition) as he failed to recognize natural attrition and the numbers have always been below the limit. Losing Marshall and Sanders and not immediately filing those spots in with jucos hurt because we had to start freshmen last year and it could’ve been a huge year. You can’t win championships starting freshmen in 3 or 4 spots. But he is all class when it comes to handling the players in terms of kicking them off the team when they need to be, you can’t fault him there.

    Finally my personal feelings if I were a player, my biggest problem with him is his answers given after really poor games against lower competition. But this is a philosophical difference and I would never fault him for that. But if I were a player and busting my butt year after year and day after day and then play a far inferior team, and have my coach simply say “all that matters is winning”, it honestly would make me angry. To me, winning is not the only thing that matters if that performance leads to future losses and the same mistakes aren’t addressed and corrected. To me when he answers that way, and he may not be like that behind closed doors, but it sends a message that playing to the absolute best of your ability and executing and performing at your highest level, regardless of your competition, should be the #1 goal win or lose. That is training, that is discipline and that is the best for these players. For football and for life. Players haven’t been held accountable (see Pruitt) and as a result, we saw a defense that really never got better, same with special teams. As a player on that team it would upset me that I bust my butt and several games into the season players have no idea where to lineup and then lose to Vandy and almost lose to TN (when they should’ve been put away early), it would be bother me and I’d want to see some fire in my coach and know he will do the things to make me better and my teammates and hold us all accountable.

    But I wouldn’t trade him for any other coach including Saban, Stoops, Miles, Meyer or Spurrier. To me he and David Shaw and possibly Dantonio at Michigan State do it the right way.

    • Bingo
      1. Richt hasn’t coached a Heisman winner at UGA.
      2. Richt hasn’t won a BCS Championship at UGA.
      3. The only All-Americans were on the defensive side of the ball, no credit to Richt, none of the offensive players he coached at UGA have won All-American.
      4. His record is 2-11 at winning the conference.

      I don’t know what the excuses are, once players leave UGA, they do great, see Marshall & Mettenberger who never got a start at UGA. Once they get to the NFL, they do well with a new coach.

      Is Richt hungry enough to win it all?

    • I don’t really feel like the criticism has ALWAYS been out of line … But I wouldn’t trade him for any other coach including Saban, Stoops, Miles, Meyer or Spurrier.

      Good post, Atticus. And I suspect Richt himself, were it possible for him to say, would agree with just about everything you said.
      ~~~

      • Atticus

        Thanks

        Possibly he does, but not the last one. He just is either blind to it i.e. doesn’t seem to observe the psychology or he simply fundamentally disagrees because I have heard him asked about it several times and it’s always the same answer. Watch an NFL coach or several other highly successful coaches and when their team plays down to the competition, they answer completely different. Their answers are “this is unacceptable” and “this is not how (insert school) plays” and “we will do everything possible to correct every mistake or get guys in there that will” and “we expect each player to execute at the highest level possible and when making mistakes, we will demand correction” As a player, that is what I would want to hear. I just don’t get it.

        • About that last one …….

          IDK the answer, and I have puzzled over it many times. It’s hard to buy he is blind to it, though it’s possible, I suppose. He seems to be blind to the idea, for example, that in the SEC you need more than just a mediocre, serviceable OL, if you can possibly acquire one.

          The psychology possibility is viable because he has never been much of a psychologist, having trained under Bobby Bowden, who was a poor psychologist himself.

          Though Richt learned a lot from Bowden, who did many things well, these two approaches (OL & psychology) have not served him well in the SEC. And they will continue to affect him in a negative way, unless he rejects them and goes in another direction, consistent with the reality of the League.

          I suppose it’s possible that he just disagrees, but that seems unlikely. Richt is a pretty smart fellow. But he does seems to cover up a lot, for players and coaches, when it’d be better if he just told it straight.

          I have another possibility, and it is my best guess. It’s this .. Richt has been both sucking it up, and covering it up, in those situations, because he doesn’t want to embarrass or step on his DC. Because most of those situations, the great majority, involve defense and defensive players.

          I think he believes strongly that he should let his DC have total control of the defense, and he should stay our of the way when it comes to on the field issues, etc.. If so, it’s a mistake, IMO, not to hold his DC accountable. But it seems pretty clear that he has not held his previous two DC’s feet to the fire. There’s been a lack of accountability somewhere, and maybe Richt, by trying to do the right thing, was a part of it.

          IDK. It’s just a guess. But it also fits right in with my observations over the last 8 years, which fit in with the observations I’ve had since Pruitt arrived. It all seems to fit together. I hope that’s right, because if so we’ll get back to playing solid ball again, and be in the thick of everything. We didn’t seem to have many of these problems (with the exception of Tennessee 2004, who Richt didn’t see coming due to SEC inexperience) until 2005 when they first began to show up.

          Anyway, I believe that Pruitt brings the necessary balance to the staff, a critical element that has been missing since BVG left. If that balance produces results, and we have success, it’ll be interesting to see if and what Richt learns from it.

          I hope that’s it. Because I’m glad Richt’s our coach, and I want him to be successful.
          ~~~

          • Atticus

            Agreed. Good points. Add special teams to that though. And yes Pruitt could possibly change everything.

            • IMHO, our ST’s aren’t poor because we haven’t had a ST’s coach (though one would be welcome if they add that 10th assistant). We’ve had coaches. Just the wrong ones for quite some time now.

              If I’m right, even special teams will change.
              ~~~

  17. Russ

    Glad he’s our coach and I hope he stays as long as he wants. Proud that he represents my alma mater.

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