Tag Archives: Mark Richt

Another year, another Richt narrative?

I get that Georgia’s drug policy is less tolerant than most schools.  I also get that Richt strongly supports it, to the point that he’s willing to accept the consequences of being tougher than others. He reiterated that at SEC Media Days, when he said,

“No, we’re not worried about that part of it,” Richt said. “We don’t want our guys to do drugs, okay? I don’t want my son to do drugs. We’ve got policies that are stronger maybe than some when it comes to the punitive part of it. That’s kind of what everybody talks about. Georgia ends up suspending their guys a little bit sooner in the policy, which I’ve got no problems with.”

The same can be said for Richt’s stance on player transfers.

Richt also reiterated his philosophy on granting players the right to transfer wherever they like. He was asked about it in the aftermath of the rash of offseason departures that saw two key players go to Louisville and another to Auburn.

“When guys leave our program, my goal for them is that they continue their career and they continue and realize all their dreams,” Richt said. “Life’s too short. They’re young men that make mistakes. If somewhere along the way you learn from your mistake, you turn it around, finish your career strong, I’m happy for the guy.”

After that, things got a little fuzzy.  First, Nick Saban, who’s dealing with his own rash of player problems, followed Richt with his philosophy, which I suppose was supposed to come off as a justification for some tough love, but instead sounded a little like he was pointing fingers.  (The irony of Saban having a former Georgia player on his roster isn’t lost on me.)

“I want you to know that there’s not one player, not one player, since I’ve been a head coach that I kicked off the team that ever went anywhere and amounted to anything and accomplished anything, playing or academically,” Saban said. “That’s not always the answer. Discipline is not punishment. Punishment is only effective when it can help change somebody’s behavior.

“When you have a family and you have someone in your family who disappoints you, we certainly can’t kick them out of our family. I think we have to try to support them, teach them, get them to do the right things because we love them, we care about them.”

I wasn’t the only one who got that impression, either.

It’s puzzling, because I’m not really sure what Saban wanted to accomplish with his stance, other than to try to state a case for why he feels his players may be entitled to more second chances than players at other programs.  And if that’s all that was about, it’s hard to understand why he felt the need to justify that to the media in the first place.

Needless to say, some in the media took the ball and ran with it in one direction.

Maybe Saban will take a cue from the SEC coach once excoriated for disciplinary problems — Georgia’s Mark Richt.

Richt actually seems harder on crime than ever. The Bulldogs dismissed safeties Tray Matthews and Josh Harvey-Clemons this offseason.

“Just because we’ve got guys suspended isn’t evidence we have a discipline problem,” Richt said. “It’s evidence that we discipline our players. It’s evidence there’s accountability. … Sometimes when you make part of your discipline playing time, it becomes a very public thing. Some of your dirty laundry gets out there in public. I’m willing to take that risk if the process will help these guys grow into men. If we ignore stuff they do and act like it didn’t happen and sweep it under the rug, let them get away with it or whatever, what are we teaching? We are setting them up for failure down the road.”

And that’s certainly one way of looking at it, although Saban didn’t sound like someone waiting for a cue.

But there was also this strange take from SI’s Andy Staples and Zac Ellis, which took a mash-up of the two themes and actually posed the question whether Richt’s morality is interfering with the success of the program.  (It also glosses over the fact that Richt has no control over where a dismissed player lands, but we’ll leave that for another day.)

The thing is, for all this supposed strictness, all the players cited on that clip received second chances at Georgia.  So where’s the sweet spot supposed to be? It sure beats me, but you can bet Richt won’t hear the last of this if Georgia doesn’t at least get to the SECCG this season.

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Filed under Crime and Punishment, Georgia Football, Media Punditry/Foibles, Nick Saban Rules

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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Filed under Georgia Football, Life After Football

Wednesday morning buffet

The buffet line never ends.

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Filed under College Football, Georgia Football, It's Just Bidness, Media Punditry/Foibles, PAWWWLLL!!!, Phil Steele Makes My Eyes Water, SEC Football, The NCAA, Tommy Tuberville - Mythical National Champ, Whoa, oh, Alabama

“Once you’re a Bulldog, you’re always a Bulldog.”

As easy as it is to wax cynical about so much of what goes on in college football, there is something authentic about Mark Richt that is always worth appreciating.

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Filed under Georgia Football

“Maybe I will, maybe I won’t. I don’t know. If there’s something to announce, I’ll announce it.”

Mark Richt walks a mile in Dabo Swinney’s shoes.

Richt understands what Swinney endured Monday, when he announced the dismissal of sophomore quarterback Chad Kelly. Before the spring game on Saturday, Kelly battled for the starting role with senior Cole Stoudt and freshman Deshaun Watson. A series of regrettable offenses, including Kelly’s verbal lash to an assistant coach on the sideline Saturday, provoked Swinney’s decision.

Richt said he does not need to know all the private details to understand Swinney’s motivation — the fundamental responsibility to protect the long-term interests of the program.

“I don’t know how good Kelly is. I don’t know where he was in their mindset, and I don’t even know what happened,” Richt said, “but somewhere along the line, they were like, ‘We can’t have this and sustain this program the way we want to sustain it.’

Uneasy lies the head that wears a headset.

According to Georgia coach Mark Richt, few truly grasp the responsibility required of his position.

Few realize the breadth and depth with which difficult decisions must be weighed. Few understand the complex duty of managing the consequences of those decisions in public when many of the details provoking them must remain private.

“People are like ‘Why is he doing that’ or ‘What is he thinking?’” Richt said Wednesday evening before visiting fans at the TD Convention Center in Greenville, the second stop along the Bulldog Club Tour with Georgia men’s basketball coach Mark Fox.

“There have been times where I wish I could just explain to everybody what I know, so they’d understand,” Richt said. “Until you sit in the chair you really don’t know what that’s like.”

All of which may explain why he often appears coy discussing player discipline.

Georgia coach Mark Richt said he may not announce any discipline including possible suspensions for the four players who were arrested on the eve of spring practice before the Clemson opener.

“Every time I discipline a guy I don’t tell everybody what I do all the time,” Richt said. “Sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t.”

Or maybe that’s what comes of us not being in the arena.  It’s a fine line to walk between honest decency and patronizing the fan base.  Richt handles that about as well as we should probably expect from a head coach these days.

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Was a sunny day.

Boy, a little nice weather and Mark Richt is ready to wax poetic.

Georgia football coach Mark Richt seemed to be in a pretty good mood after his team’s second spring scrimmage Saturday morning in Sanford Stadium.

“Beautiful day, beautiful weather,” Richt said. “The dogwoods are blooming, red buds. The sun is shining. The leaves are turning green. It was a good day.”

Maybe that inspired the offense.

It was a good day for the offense, especially when you compare it to the mood offensive coordinator Mike Bobo was in after Thursday’s practice.

“The offense played way better than they did last scrimmage,” said defensive end Toby Johnson, who had three tackles.

Heavy rain hit during the first scrimmage a week earlier but this one was held under mostly sunny skies with temperatures hitting the lower 60s.

“We came out with a lot more passion and energy,” quarterback Hutson Mason said. “I don’t know if today the sun was out or what it was. Guys came ready to go and the offense definitely was much better than last Saturday.”

Enjoy it while you can, fellas.  Summer is coming.

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Richt’s Tuesday presser

(If you’re pressed for time and don’t want to watch, you can read David Paschall’s summary here.)

Sure, it’s not an earth shattering eight minutes or so, but a couple of things worth watching are Richt’s reaction to the question about punishment for Wiggins’ and Scott-Wesley’s problems last year – he had to be reminded what they were – and the last minute, when Richt gets into an interesting discussion of how the roles of the offensive tackles have changed from when he started in Athens.  I always enjoy listening to him get into nuts and bolts stuff and wish he did it more often.

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