Here’s something I wrote last New Year’s Day in reaction to the turd Georgia laid in the Liberty Bowl:
I hope McGarity is able to drill it into Richt’s head that next season isn’t about a specific number of wins and losses. It’s about making sure that he fields a team that is ready to play week in and week out. It’s been five years since we’ve been able to see that. One way or another, that’s gotta end.
As we await tomorrow’s Outback Bowl, I can’t say that Richt’s hit that target completely, but I certainly think he’s got the team pointed in the right direction. And as the linked post indicates, I questioned whether the staff had it in them to do even that.
So they’re in a different place now.
“You had some really great seniors that year that really bought into the way we were doing it, and this group did the same thing,” Richt said. “There’s a few guys that certainly could’ve gone pro and said, I’m not gonna deal with this mess. But they stayed, and they believed. I thought that was a very positive sign when your Boykins and your (Cordy) Glenns and Ben Jones, the guys that ended up sticking around and believed and led.
“But we also decided as a staff that we were gonna take a big-time positive approach to the season, and we knew all the negativity that was swirling around, and we knew that we had to make our Butts-Mehre Building a place where they could show up and feel good. That was a big part of the approach, and I think it helped out a lot.”
Boykin, Glenn and Ben Jones are seniors who are leaving. But Boykin, in citing his optimism for the program he’s leaving behind, cited leadership and commitment behind the scenes.
“Us winning 10 games this year gave people in our program a lot of confidence that we could do it again,” Boykin said. “Especially with the schedule that we’ve got that people probably consider easy, for an SEC schedule not having to play some of the teams like Alabama, LSU. There’s a great chance for us to be able to go back to Atlanta and play for an SEC championship and maybe even a national championship.”
A year ago such talk would have either been dismissed or mocked. Now with the schedule and the returning starters, it’s likely to be the standard Richt gets held to in the coming season.