Good piece from Brandon Larrabee on how Steve Spurrier turned the South Carolina program around includes this observation:
In a way, it’s not really surprising to say that facilities, recruiting and coaching all played a role in South Carolina’s emergence as a power in the SEC East. What is perhaps somewhat surprising is that Steve Spurrier — who won a half-dozen SEC titles and a national championship at Florida doing things his way — was able to oversee that kind of reinvention in the twilight of his career.
Larrabee is referring to the reinvention of the program there, but I think Spurrier also reinvented his approach to running a program as well. Not an easy thing to do, especially when you’re somebody who’s had a great deal of success over a long period doing things in a particular way. You have to tip your hat to Spurrier for pulling that off.
You also have to wonder if Mark Richt can pull off the same trick. It’s apparent to me that Richt is in the second phase of reinventing his approach to running the Georgia program since the dark days of the 2009 season, although I’m not sure whether it’s best to characterize what’s been happening this offseason as a continuation of what he started when he dismissed Willie Martinez and the rest of the defensive staff, or if this is a separate development. In any event, it’s apparent that in some ways, business as usual in 2014 isn’t the same business as usual we saw over the previous four seasons.
2009 saw a complete breakdown in confidence between the staff and players. That breakdown has largely been mended, I feel. But it may have masked other issues that came to light later, issues which I would sort of group together under the heading of not paying enough attention to details. That’s how you get the nitpicking crazy stuff about special teams breakdowns I’ve highlighted this week. It’s also how you get poor roster management.
So maybe the new blood that’s arrived has put a charge into Richt, a charge leading him to focus on the details more than he did before. Last year was a valuable experience in that we finally saw a Georgia team that may have lost its composure now and then, but never failed to show up for a game – something we couldn’t say about the prior two seasons (or many seasons before that, honestly), even if both 2011 and 2012 saw SECCG trips along the way. That’s the sign of a team that’s bought back in to what the coaches have to offer. The next step from that is to keep up that focus on all the details, which is over time what separates teams with talent from teams that win consistently.
Is Georgia there yet? I am skeptical you can turn a battleship that quickly, but Richt has surprised me before. Even if there isn’t a complete transformation, there should be early signs of it we should see in the opener if all the preseason talk we’ve gotten is more than just that. I’ll be rooting for reinvention.