In the depths of my despair after the debacle that was the loss to Tennessee in 2009, I posted this:
But… but. I’ve read Macon Dawg’s reasoned, thoughtful comments about how this isn’t the first time Georgia’s suffered a humiliating loss, and while I agree to a point with his reasoning, I think there’s more going on than that. Mark Richt wakes up this morning as the captain of a very dysfunctional ship. I doubt there’s anyone in the Dawgnation, including the head coach, who feels same way about the program today as I did in Jacksonville seven years ago.
If I had to put my finger on what’s wrong, I’d call it a crisis of faith. I don’t mean that in a religious sense. (By the way, of all the arguments I’ve seen about what’s wrong, blaming Coach Richt’s religious convictions for the slide has to rank as the dumbest.) Rather, it’s a systemic doubt: the coaches lack faith in the players to execute and the players lack faith in the coaches’ ability to deploy them efficiently and effectively.
It’s that last point that led me to doubt Mark Richt’s future in Athens. And I’ll be honest with you – after watching Georgia’s disappointing play against Boise State to begin this season, I thought that all the changes that had been wrought by him since that UT game had amounted to nothing more than rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. I’ve long subscribed to the battleship theory of running a college football program in that it’s impossible to turn either of those things around on a dime, especially when you appear to be rudderless.
But you don’t execute a near-perfect game against your oldest conference rival in a series that practically defines evenness without having everyone on board rowing together in the same direction (okay, I’m done flogging the naval analogies). Yesterday I saw a team that was confident in every phase of the game, players who knew what was expected of them and coaches who knew where to put those players so they could excel.
I’m not stupid enough to start making crazy predictions, other than I don’t see how this team loses to Kentucky, so don’t expect to see grandiose visions of Georgia’s future coming from me. But I do know this – this program wasn’t going anywhere without a sea change (sorry) in attitude from the top down. I was skeptical that Mark Richt had it in him, but I’m ecstatic to say that it seems he did. And I couldn’t be happier for him and everyone else who has a stake in Georgia football.
Boy, this is going to be a fun week.