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.


Filed under Georgia Football

74 responses to “Reinvention

  1. Jim

    “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.”

    Very well said. I loved the 2007 and 2012 teams but always had Knoxville and Columbia debacles in the back of my mind. 2013 was special in that we had every reason to fold as a team, and didn’t always look good, but always fought to the end. Even after Murray went down, which just added insult to injury (pun intended)

  2. Bulldawg165

    “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”

    I can’t help but wonder how much of this was attributable to Aaron Murray’s leadership and how much was attributable to the actual coaching staff, especially considering that the “never failed to show up for a game” isn’t 100% true for the defense. It was the offense that kept us from getting humiliated time and time again. This gives me concern over whether 2013 was an anomaly in that regard or if we can expect it to continue going forward. Maybe, hopefully, I’m overestimating how much a four year starter and record setting QB can help in that regard, but I don’t think I am.

    • I think we should be more specific on the Defense showing up. They were there…they just never showed up on 3rd down.

    • Mayor

      165, it was MURRAY who kept us from being “humiliated time and time again” by showing up for every play of every game last season. The O carried last season’s team and he carried the O on his back when one by one the other offensive stars disappeared because of injury. God bless him!

  3. Spike

    Murray was a warrior. I miss him already…

  4. Bulldog Joe

    Reinvention, not continuity is what we asked for last winter.

    Looks like we have it now. If things go well this year, we can start looking at locations for that Bobby Petrino statue.

  5. Brandon

    As I commented throughout the dark days of circa 2009 the main cancer on our program that developed after BVG’s departure was bad defense, and that was where the real crisis of confidence was between coaches and players was. Our offense throughout Richt’s tenure has largely been productive enough to win at the highest level. The main thing I fault Richt for is keeping Willy for years after it was readily apparent he was over his head as a DC thus squandering Stafford, Moreno, and Green.

    • Bulldawg165

      “The main thing I fault Richt for is keeping Willy for years after it was readily apparent he was over his head as a DC…”

      Yep, and I’m not too happy about the fact we were planning on keeping Grantham either (although I’m sure some consipiracy theorists will chime in to say this was Richt’s plan all along even though they have zero evidence to back such a ridiculous claim up).

      We kept both Grantham and Willie way after it was apparent that the ceiling for our defense was average at best with them at the helm.

      • Brandon

        I have defended Richt for years. I lost faith in him briefly in a bout of madness after the 2010 Florida loss but recovered within a day but after he didn’t fire Grantham I swore I would not defend him any longer. Richt is a man of faith and the happenings with Petrino and Grantham is enough to make you think the man up stairs may have saved Richt from himself last January.

        • Cojones

          If we have a coach saved by God to run our team, then we must expect a drop in the Vegas odds.

          Better get your bets in now, folks. Nah. Some jerk would bet 5-1 against God and blame Richt for putting us behind on Judgement Day.

  6. JT

    I know this camp is markably different from past years. The coaches are not “giving” any players anything. In fact no one is immune from being ripped by the coaches…no one.
    I think the phrase used is “ALL the coaches are a-holes”.

    We needed this badly. A team that is unified and pulling in the same direction. This approach seems to have their attention.

    No quarter given (by coaches) none expected (entitlement) by the players.

  7. Scorpio Jones, III

    I don’t know if Mark Richt, or Spurrier, for that matter, have reinvented themselves as much as adjusted and grown as coach-ceo’s.

    If the intimation is that Richt was somehow too…soft?, nice?…I don’t think that perception holds up with players, who have clearly suggested Richt could be something of an asshole during practice.

    Richt seems to have become more “professional” in the conventional use of that word and maybe as he has matured, his vision of his job has matured to include room for a little harder view of the way things should be done.

    I heard, last night as a matter of fact, that when Spurrier came to South Carolina there was only one $ million-dollar-donor…and they named the stadium after her.

    Spurrier’s challenge was building a program where only the shadow of a program existed before, in spite of Dr. fucking Lou (or maybe because of him.)

    It is also interesting that one of the things Spurrier thought South Carolina needed was more money.

    Something Richt certainly never had to fret about.

    The one thing I would never tell Steve Spurrier is “you just can’t do this or that at South Carolina.” To the great competitor Spurrier is, that’s like pouring gasoline on a fire.

    Richt, I have absolutely no doubt, has heard he will never win a national championship at Georgia because of A or B or C or D.

    Maybe what we are seeing is that the competitor inside Mark Richt has taken control.

    Call me about 9 p.m. Saturday for a futha update.

    • JCDAWG83

      Wow! It only took 14 years to light the competitive fire in Richt. Maybe he should give back some of the millions he has been paid to be competitive up until now? The only program I can think of that has done less with more than Georgia is Texas, and even they have a MNC in the past 14 years.

      If Grantham hadn’t gone to Louisville, Richt would not have changed a thing with the football program, he said that at the end of last season. Unless you think the good, Christian Mark Richt was blatantly lying, I think we would be talking about how Grantham was going to turn the defense around this season. It is not an A or B or C or D reason why Georgia won’t win a national championship, it is a “Richt” thing. Richt is stubborn and a little lazy when it comes to the details of being a head coach. Of course, it’s hard to blame him since there seems to be absolutely no accountability for the results, or lack of results, on the field.

      • Moe Pritchett

        In light of the complete lack of confidence you have in coach Richt, we could always follow the pioneering lead from that bastion of college football in Knoxville. UT had pretty much the same feelings regarding their .760 coach, and set him to the wind in favor of the young tanned and unqualified; the Volnation set fire to their program seven years ago and it burns still.

        • Bulldawg165

          I’m not on the fire Richt bandwagon (as I’ve said before), mostly because I think we agree that it’ll be difficult to find someone who is definitely an upgrade, but I also think it would be difficult to screw it up as bad as Tennessee did, too. I mean that was just a colossal failure on their part.

          • Dawgfan Will

            I say this without an ounce of snark: is there any evidence to show that McGarity WOULDN’T screw it up? I only say this because most of the fanbase on the Internet seems quite underwhelmed by his leadership.

            • JCDAWG83

              I have to agree with you Will. The admin has shown for a long time that they are more than capable of screwing up the hiring of coaches. The folks at BM like to do things on the cheap so they can keep lining their and their buddies pockets. If the did fire Richt, they would not go after a proven winner and lure him away. They would go cheap and probably promote Bobo and we would have the same thing all over again with a new, unproven coach.

              I don’t think they should fire Richt at all. They do need to start demanding more from him. Of course, as long as the fans are happy with 8 wins, bowl losses and almost winning championships, the admin has no motivation to change anything.

              • Puffdawg

                Just curious what parameters or metrics you would use to define a “proven winner.” Serious question.

                • JCDAWG83

                  To quote your president “that’s above my pay grade”. I mean I don’t see them going after an established D1 coach with a winning record and putting enough money on the table to get him. I can’t recall them doing that in any sport, not only football. Our admin is famously cheap, look at the renovations to Stegman if you don’t believe me. They haven’t been finished but for a couple of years and they are having to be redone. I don’t think any money has been spent to upgrade the restrooms or add any televisions inside Sanford since the 80’s. I don’t have a particular guy in mind, but I would like to hire a guy with head coaching experience at the D1 level who has won something. I guess it says a lot about my knowledge that I don’t know some names off the top of my head.

                  I don’t think Kirby would be a great hire, maybe after he was a head coach somewhere for a while, same with most coordinators. Going from coordinator to head coach of a major program is a huge step. Look at the Muschamp experience at Florida if you want to see what I mean. Muschamp was “head coach in waiting” at Texas and he has struggled.

                  I would hope McGarity has a file or list of coaches to replace Richt somewhere. What happens if Richt is in an accident or simply walks in one day and quits? I can’t imagine McGarity would throw up his hands and say “well, that’s it, no more football at Georgia”.

                  • Puffdawg

                    I guess I was just curious if by “proven winner” you had something in mind like winning pct, conference championships, nat’l championships (D-IA? D-IAA? D-II? D-III?), recruiting “championships”…? Admittedly I am a huge Richt homer and I believe he deserves to be here until he decides to hang it up. I don’t think he said be immune from criticism, but I believe it should be expressed with some perspective and respect. I am truly curious when folks dog him and indicate we could and should do better, what benchmarks they are using.

                    If we’re looking at win pct, it’s gonna be hard to find someone to top what he’s done, especially in the context of his level of competition (SEC from day one). If we’re looking at conference championships, I think he’s held his own ok and has had some pretty bad breaks along the way. Perhaps he could have avoided the bad breaks, but I’m not a college coach and I don’t pretend to be one. He lacks in national championships, but personally I’ve never put much stock into that because it was outside of his control to an extent. To say the SEC coaches who won a MNC with one or two losses on their resume did a better job than Richt in 2002, 2007, 2012 (and possibly 2005) is subjective at best. I think those teams could have and did, at some point in the season, play with and beaten anybody in the country. That’s over a decade of putting out HIGHLY competitve teams. I believe Richt has performed VERY well over an extended period of time and has represented the university incredibly well as an ambassador. He’s won a lot of ballgames, some conference championships, and knocked on the door of the big one more than once in his tenure. He runs a clean program and faces some administrative challenges his peers don’t (disciplinary, lack of University support, facilities, etc).

                    So, when we start talking about “lighting a fire,” hiring a “proven winner,” etc, I guess I’m just really curious what you guys are thinking.

                    Thanks for the platform, Bluto. Enjoy the banter, knuckleheads. Love you all, even if we’re dysfunctional at times. At least you’re all Dawgs.

                    • FWIW, I’ve always supported Richt, but also have always pointed out the bad stuff that JCD83 and many others here talk about. But as I said to him earlier, I hope this is all a moot point after this season. I really think we’re going to see a new brand of football, very similar to what we saw Richt’s first 5 years.

                      That means we’ll look and play very different from what we have the past 8 years. We’ll begin to play to our talent level, and not beat ourselves. And that’s all we can ask of any coach. If we do that, IDK what our record will be, but I doubt there’ll be anybody here who isn’t happy with the way we are playing.

                      IMO, if we start doing that, everything else will come. We ARE Georgia.

                    • JCDAWG83

                      I like Richt and want him to succeed, but I’m not going to close my eyes to continuing problems. Until 2008, I was all in on Richt. I thought he would have a couple of national championships by now. Something happened, I don’t know what, maybe it was Mrs. Richt getting cancer, I wouldn’t blame him for that changing his focus. Since ’08, it is obvious Richt is not fully focused, committed, whatever you want to call it, on the football program.

                      I really hope this season is the turn around we need. Again, I really like Richt, I just want him to stop making the same mistakes over and over again.

          • Moe Pritchett

            “I mean that was just a colossal failure on their part.”
            Gasoline poured into a dumpster, and a single match thrown in while walking away.

          • Brandon

            The problem is when you fire someone with a winning percentage of .750 over a dozen years every coach with an ounce of sense and other prospects will recognize your program for the ungrateful, impossible to satisfy, assholes it is run by and steer clear.

      • uglydawg

        Grantham left for LV because he knew he was toast. You’re whole premise is full of unfounded assumptions.

        • Bulldawg165

          Prove it.

          • The other Doug

            I can’t prove it and you can’t prove he wasn’t pushed out. Here is what we know:

            Richt said no changes

            Richt met with Grantham

            Out of no where Grantham immediately gets a new job.

            Out of no where we immediately sign Pruitt. FSU doesn’t even get a chance to counter.

            Now, I see why you think Grantham was safe, but can you see the other possibility? Maybe Richt told Grantham something that made him call his agent and get out of town asap. Richt knew he was leaving way before we did and lined up Pruitt. Richt let Stacy Searles land the Texas job before he was canned, so this wouldn’t be the first time.

            • Bulldawg165

              That’s just it, it’s a possibility. Nothing more. Not fact, and if I had to choose between the two possibilities, I’m going with the one where Grantham leaves on his own because any other theory is pure speculation and is completely contrary to what Richt publicly said.

              I got annoyed because uglydawg stated it as fact and pretended my whole argument was moot because he chooses to believe a hypothetical.

      • ^^ would have fired Tom Osborne in 1987 ^^

      • AusDawg85

        …light the competitive fire…give back some of the millions…stubborn…lazy…

        Best is the “…good, Christian..” sneer. Do you get extra points for throwing that jab in?

        • JCDAWG83

          Wear that religion on your sleeve, claim anti Christian bias, good move. I imagine you are in the camp of the “secret pressure” on Grantham to move on as well. I put the Christian part in to point out to the defenders of Richt, who like to bring up his faith as a reason to think he is a great coach, that if there indeed was pressure being put on Grantham to go away, then Richt was lying when he made the comment about “no changes to the staff in the off season”.

          I admire Richt’s faith and his demeanor much more than I admire his coaching. I think he is a great man and would love to have him as a fiend or neighbor. Unfortunately, he is hired to manage the football program at the University of Georgia and I don’t think he has done a job worthy of the amount of money he is being paid.

          I don’t want him fired, and I don’t think he’s going anywhere any time soon. I do want McGarity to start demanding more from him.

          • I do want McGarity to start demanding more from him.

            I do hope, that after this year, that will be a moot point. I’m really hoping this is the year that the ship gets set straight.

            • “Unfortunately, he is hired to manage the football program at the University of Georgia and I don’t think he has done a job worthy of the amount of money he is being paid.”

              JC, really? You believe Richt isn’t earning his money? If you are spewing philosophical opinions on how college coaches are making entirely too much money compared to the good they give back to society then okay, I’ll bite. But if you truly believe that he hasn’t done the job to a quality and standard expected of a coach being paid that kind of money in today’s SEC while staying in context of his peers’ incomes then I have to believe you have an agenda here… and I think AD85 might have called you out on it. I’m sure someone can help me with the research but Richt isn’t being paid head and shoulders above his peers in the SEC. However, we would pay that and more to bring in the newest and hottest coaching commodity. But, in actuality why do you and I give a crap about what he is earning?

              Now I don’t want to just play devils advocate here but I ask if you could look at this objectively. I will start by giving you the point about keeping the Def coordinators too long. I won’t argue against you, in fact, I’ll argue your point with you. Now, tell me objectively that you believe any program can maintain 13 years of domination? Damn near impossible right? So, what I hear you saying is that 99% of the programs out there should discard their coach within 4-6 years or so because it isn’t going to happen that a coach being paid in today’s tv enhanced salaries are possibly going to “earn” their money in a given one or two year run. As my fellow friend Cojones said in a recent post, “All programs are up and down w/o pinning [all] the rap on the HC. What 13 years of continuity can bring to a program is wisdom and foresight bringing with it the ability to “build” a program the right way and therefore make the incremental changes which can lead to a dynasty, my friend. This coach of “ours” has as damn much fire as Saban and a hell of a lot more integrity than Irwin “my chest hurts because my recruits suck” Myers and what pisses off us UGA faithful is the absolution that comes from pessimists that can’t see all the dynamics of running a program and instead focus on the media driven MNC. Like Ivey and some others, I believe the worm is turning at UGA thanks to the new Defensive Coordinators. Who gives a shit why it happened if the changes bring our boys to laying the wood to our opponents. My only hope is that it is sooner than expected.

  8. Mayor

    Senator, you are the consummate diplomat. You take very serious criticisms of Mark Richt aired frequently on this blog (you left some out, too, like choking at the end of close games) and somehow managed to turn them around into sounding like the maturing process of a head coach leading up to the reincarnation of Bear Bryant. In 2009-10 I was saying on this blog that CMR had lost the team and others here were wanting to beat me up. I have been preaching roster mismanagement by CMR for years and others on this blog wanted to fight me. It ain’t Mark Richt that’s masterminding any of this new stuff. What’s happening in Athens right now is a direct result of one thing and one thing only–the hiring of Pruitt. Period. He has single-handedly changed the culture of the UGA football program, including changing Mark Richt. Let’s all just hope it works.

    • Moe Pritchett

      here, here!

      • I Wanna Red Cup

        So who was it who hired Pruitt and why did Pruitt say he accepted the job? CMR. Give him some credit.

        • Puffdawg

          No kidding.

          “I had the opportunity to sit down with Coach Richt. That was the first time I ever met him, and when I walked out of that room 30 minutes later I was wowed,” Pruitt said. “My father looked at me and said, ‘That’s what college football is all about.’ I said right then and there if I ever had the opportunity to work for him that I wanted to be a part of his staff.”

          “This is the University of Georgia — who wouldn’t be interested in this job?” Pruitt asked. “It’s absolutely one of the premier jobs in college football, and the opportunity to work with Coach Richt is something I just couldn’t turn down.”

  9. Cojones

    Dang! Everyone just feeds off the initial poor observation of who Richt is w/o mentioning NCs and Heisman winners in his O and his 15 yrs at FSU. It’s like bad glaucoma getting worse and with a bad memory of what it was like to see.

    Richt and “lack of football maturity” in the same sentence is Pomme d’ Rue. All programs are up and down w/o pinning the rap on the HC. Last year was a “snakebit” year similar to one 6- 7 yrs ago. I imagine he has had everything to do with eradication of problems and the upsurge of this team. Miraculously his O Coach has been healed from the evil many of you saw in play-calling and use of personnel. If some of you had your way, we would be without Richt and Bobo after the short shrift many of you give of their work.

    I imagine that some of you also think that the firing(?) of the on-campus recruiter was just another odd happening that just was friggin’ osmosis and was out of Richt’s hands. You can’t even see the upsurge in recruiting that’s happened since he was replaced (and that Bama’s recruiting success rate is our target) until someone rubs your nose in it as an afterthought. You will give all the asst coaches credit (as it should be) or even McGarity, but you can’t do that in your perceived vacuum of what went on before that commit and not credit the overall program to Richt. Yeah, you’ll give him credit alright, just as soon as one of them screws up. Another thing; if you don’t think Greg was keeping Grantham here from the beginning, I invite you to read of the raises TG got and that Richt at one time had to come out of pocket to pay asst coaches. Richt had a meeting with TG just before he squirted out of here and that was not coincidental. Richt got Pruitt, the best out there, to try and repair the damage that TG created (Greg’s and the Bd of Regent’s boy) that many of you had turned a deaf eye to.

    Sometimes I wonder if the chrystal ball crowd has taken over the judgement crowd. Certainly you can’t feel the pride in having such a coach as Richt. You just endure him. You take a wart and blow it into a brain tumor.

    Reinvented? Horseshit! Richt’s just hitting his prime.

    • Dang Cojones. Great post. Your synapses are firing on all cylinders. You think you can post your cookie recipe?
      Love it brother. Keep representin’

      • Cojones
        1. Take 1 oz. common weed (var. “Cotton Candy” [CC]) and spread evenly on a cookie paper such that the cookie sheet can’t be seen underneath.
        2. Mix cookie dough (cd) by hand. Take 3 oz. cd (about half a handful) and drop in center of weed spread from a ht. of two ft. This is called a “splat”.

        3.Preheat oven to 190 and take a smoke break.

        1. Carefully take the cd splat from the center of the spread and mix (by hand) all the CC that it touched. Flatten splat and CC mixture (about 3″ diam.) with palm (if you don’t have a palm, try a fig leaf) and place in oven. At this point it’s best to use a cookie pan, but if the mix is stiff enough, it works fine laid on the rack tynes.
      • Take a smoke break. About this time you can also taste-test the batch by licking the oven door handle.

      • Set the oven alarm! Set the oven alarm!

      • Take the CC spread with the 2″ hole in the middle, place all in a ziplock bag and place in freezer awaiting next batch. Place a sign on the freezer as reminder of location. Remove all the old signs first.

      • After checking the entire kitchen for the buzzing sound, sniff. If a burning smell is detected, turn off oven and wait several hours to clean it and to begin again. If it smells good, turn off buzzer and check to see if cookie is done by eating about a third.

      • …Uhh….turn the oven off! Turn the oven off!

      • Take a smoke break and have a little wine (this is for appearances, like you know what you’re doing in the kitchen). Place the roaches in the wine and drink up.

      • Get the cookie out and give to a needy friend.

      • Caution: If you don’t follow this recipe, don’t blame me if you look in your oven some day and see what appears to be a small brown and green loaf of bread that’s kinda toasty around the edges, plus, you can’t find your weed you’ve searched for for a week.