I think it’s a common feeling amongst the Bulldawg faithful that sooner or later a Richt-coached team will play in and win a BCS title game. Programs that win roughly eighty percent of their games don’t grow on trees and you have to figure that a level of success like that pays off eventually.
But after you read this column by Bruce Feldman, it may give you some pause for thought about that. College coaches like Richt may be facing the football equivalent of the ticking biological clock.
… Almost all the coaches who have won BCS titles have done so in their first four years at their programs. Look at the list:
- 2009 Florida: Urban Meyer’s 4th year
- 2008 LSU: Les Miles’ 3rd year
- 2007 Florida: Meyer’s 2nd year
- 2006 Texas: Mack Brown’s 8th year
- 2005 USC: Pete Carroll’s 4th year
- 2004 LSU: Nick Saban’s 4th year
- 2003 Ohio State: Jim Tressel’s 2nd year
- 2002 Miami: Larry Coker’s 1st year
- 2001 Oklahoma: Bob Stoops’ 2nd year
- 2000 FSU: Bobby Bowden’s 24th year
- 1999 Tennessee: Phil Fulmer’s 7th year
You will notice that the coach on that list with the most seniority is Richt’s mentor, at 24 years. But from there, the amount of time spent as head coach drops significantly, as no other man on the list had a decade of service under his belt before winning the title game. Mark Richt, as we all know, is entering his ninth year as the Georgia head coach.
Feldman goes on to speculate as to some reasons why the spoils tend to go to the recently hired victors.
… To me that is reflective of a couple of factors: 1.) Coaches who come in bringing a new energy to a program can have huge success; 2.) In many cases they’ve inherited situations with programs that have the talent base but are eager for a change in direction. (Some players initially will respond better to a hard-line staff. Others to a “players’ coach”. Either way, the shift can be the key.) 3.) Successful coaching staffs can get stale over time and players/recruits, just like fans, can be swayed by the next new thing around and they want to be part of a fancy turnaround project.
That sounds like what the UT athletic director tells himself every night before he falls asleep. On the other hand, see if any of this resonates with you:
… That also leads to the flip side to this thing. I’ve always thought that coaches, like most other professionals, get better with added experience, but there are certainly other elements that can fly in the face of that: People do tend to get complacent; the message might no longer be fresh; maybe a coach’s enthusiasm isn’t quite what it once was when there was more determination to prove you belong.
Hi there, 2008! That being said, Richt ain’t no dummy, and when you read stuff like this…
…His idea to fix things is going back to the same attitude he had when he was a first-year coach at Georgia. No detail is too small. No practice is too physical and no mistake is too minor.
In other words, no cutting corners.
“In a lot of ways, we just want to make sure we have a focus on detail,” Richt said. “I remember the very first practice here. We took the coaches and the trainers and the managers, and we went onto the practice field and got the clock going and the horn blowing and we stood where we were going to be for flex and then the horn blew and we transitioned to where we were going to be next and the managers transitioned and the trainers transitioned.
“So when the kids came out, we were organized. We were ready. We’ve got to get that kind of mentality back, not leaving any detail for chance.”
… it makes you think that he’s already reached the same conclusion that Feldman did. And is determined to do something about it.