During the past season, I saw plenty of comments here and elsewhere about how tired and less than happy Mark Richt appeared to be coaching. There was speculation along with that about how much time he might be willing to spend in Athens.
The thing is, Mark Richt doesn’t seem to agree.
“I look so young,” Richt said Wednesday, speaking on Signing Day. “If it weren’t for these extra 40 pounds I’m carrying, I could pass for 40.”
Then this, smiling: “Coach (Bobby) Bowden went until he was 80. So I’ve got another 27 years.”
Then this, still smiling: “I’m young compared to a lot of head coaches. Some guys coach deep into their 60′s and 70′s.”
Then this: “I’ve got a long way to go.”
I don’t know how much of this Richt’s been taking on the recruiting trail of late, but you have to figure if some in the fan base are asking, there are coaches who are more than willing to try to connect the dots.
All I can say is that we underestimate Mark Richt at our own risk. I gave up in the wake of the two disappointing 2009 and 2010 seasons and Richt turned around and delivered back-to-back appearances in the SECCG to prove me wrong about that. The program hasn’t fallen into nearly as deep and dark a hole after this past season as it did before, but with the early talk of defensive continuity after the 2013 results, it was easy to fret again.
It sounds like the energy and the desire are still there, though. With new blood and new eyes, maybe that’s enough to bring focus to making some serious fixes to last year’s shortcomings. There are a couple of intriguing hints of that in the latest recruiting class. There’s also one more coaching hire to assess.
In any event, things feel a lot more positive now than they did a month ago.
Earlier in the day, Richt told a group of Georgia fans he feels more sprightly than ever. Offensive coordinator Mike Bobo, who has worked alongside Richt since 2001, said: “I agree with what he said. He’s more energized than he’s ever been. It hadn’t crossed my mind that he might ever step down.”