Daily Archives: December 31, 2014

Two can play at that game.

One problem with airing your management style in the press is that you invite the disgruntled essentially to fight fire with fire.  Enter Mark Schlabach:

Over the next few weeks, Richt and Georgia athletics director Greg McGarity will meet to discuss the future of the program. Richt’s supporters want UGA to invest in its football program like other SEC schools are doing, according to multiple people close to the situation.

Earlier this month, UGA offensive coordinator Mike Bobo left to become Colorado State’s head coach. With Bobo directing the offense, Georgia set a school single-season record for scoring in 2014, despite playing much of the season without star tailback Todd Gurley, receivers Malcolm Mitchell and Justin Scott-Wesley and while playing with a first-year quarterback, Hutson Mason.

Despite the results, Bobo, a former Georgia quarterback, wasn’t among the highest-paid coordinators in the country, making $525,000 annually (he’d received a $240,000 raise in 2013 to make his compensation more competitive). Bobo was only the 40th-highest paid assistant in the country, according to a recent survey of salaries by USA Today.

During the past couple of months, Georgia’s assistants have openly politicked for an indoor practice facility, as well as a renovated locker room and recruiting suite at Sanford Stadium. Georgia’s locker room at Sanford Stadium still has cinder-block walls and probably has had only a few coats of paint since Herschel Walker played there in the early 1980s. Without those improvements, Richt’s supporters say, he can’t be reasonably expected to compete with other SEC schools.

The reference to cinder-block walls is an especially nice touch, don’t you think?  Well played, “Richt’s supporters”.

What McGarity – and McGarity’s bosses – need to realize is that the side with the poorer PR skills isn’t likely to win the sale of the story.  And I think we all know which side that is.

That doesn’t mean ultimately that Richt can’t go, of course.  It just means that the school won’t come out looking good doing it.  And if Richt isn’t dismissed and the program continues to plateau, as the flaws and complaints continue to aired in public, whom do you think will get the bulk of the blame for that?

As I keep saying, what a mess.

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Pithy wisdom: from Herschel to Nick

It’s not just the stats Nick Chubb ran up last night that put his name in the same conversation with the greatest player in Georgia history.  It turns out he’s capable of making a few one liners of his own, too.

This one’s reminiscent of Walker’s immortal “The ball ain’t heavy” pearl:

“I do get tired during the game, but if Coach is going to keep me in there, I’m going to push through it,” Chubb said. “If you score, you get off the field.”  [Emphasis added.]

Enjoy the next couple of years, folks.

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Replay

If you want to watch the Belk Bowl without commercial interruption, here you go.

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The ugliest part of the night

As the bowl game progressed, I started to notice a funky rumor cropping up – that Richt intended to retire afterwards.  It evidently swept through the press box.  He was asked about it in the post game presser.  (Dial it up to about the 10:20 mark.)

Don’t believe Twitter. Mark Richt is Georgia’s head football coach and the end isn’t in sight.

In fact, Richt was not even aware of the rumors until he was asked about them in said press conference. When asked where he thought the rumors stemmed from, Richt pled ignorance.

“I have no idea,” Richt said. “I have no idea. [Returning] is the plan.”

Then Richt turned to freshman tailback Nick Chubb who was also in the room.

“You can ask the team,” Richt said. “Nick? Am I retiring?”

The entire room shifted its focus to the tailback sitting silently and idly on a stool near the room’s exit.

A man of few words, Chubb didn’t even open his mouth. He simply shook his head from side to side.

This is what comes of having an athletic director who wants everyone to know that he’s not afraid to make the tough decisions… while avoiding making the tough decisions.

Look, when it comes to this, I don’t care which side of the Richt should stay/Richt should go divide you find yourself on.  Everyone should be able to agree that throwing your head coach in no-man’s land and leaving him to fend for himself is bad for the program.  If you’re Richt’s boss and you want Richt gone, have the stones to fire him and stand behind your rationale that Georgia needs to do better than settle for 10-win seasons.  But if you can’t bring yourself to pull the trigger, then you have no choice but to back his play.  Because otherwise, the message you’ve sent to the rest of the world is that your coach is still there, but his administrative support is in short supply.  And that’s how you get to depressing moments in a press conference after a big win.

I have no idea why McGarity has let things deteriorate to this point.  Maybe he believes that letting Richt twist in the wind is the way to motivate him.  Maybe he hopes that he can manuever Richt into walking away to avoid paying off the rest of his contract.  Maybe he doesn’t have the stomach to live with the consequences of having to explain a decision to can a SEC head coach who now has nine 10-win seasons on his résumé.  I don’t know much except that McGarity has demonstrated repeatedly throughout this season that he is lacking in PR skills.

This is a full-blown mess.  And it’s why I keep harping on things like coaches’ pay and infrastructure spending.  It’s not that these are necessary items in the sense that the program will collapse without addressing them.  It’s that they’re part and parcel of how the program is perceived and how it is sold to recruits.  And, yes, in the short-run, the latter doesn’t seem to be affected.  But it’s a helluva gamble to expect moments like that presser don’t wind up eroding that over the long haul.

I don’t know who needs to step up at Butts-Mehre.  But somebody does.

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The prettiest part of the night

Georgia lost two bullets out of its offensive gun in the second half, with season-ending injuries to Hutson Mason and Michael Bennett.  Brice Ramsey threw a pick on his first play of the game.  It didn’t take a genius to realize that John Lilly was going to rely heavily on the running game to get the Dawgs across the finish line.

And Todd Grantham’s no dummy.  He proceeded to load the box up with eight and nine defenders to slow Georgia’s offense down.  It didn’t matter.  Georgia’s first score of the third quarter came on a 97-yard drive that consisted of three running plays.  By the fourth quarter, Georgia simply countered by doing its own version of loading, running out of a single wideout I-formation set that mashed the Louisville defense.

Georgia wound up running the ball for 299 yards.  It was the most rushing yardage Louisville had yielded in a game in more than six years.

You know what it reminded me of?  The second half of the 2012 SECCG, when Nick Saban decided the best way to neutralize a Grantham-coached defense was to run the ball down its throat.  Maybe it’s another part of the Alabama process that Mark Richt has taken to heart.  Remember what he said about his offensive coordinator search:

“We’re gonna continue to do what we do offensively,” Richt said. “As far as we’re gonna be very serious about running the football, we’re gonna be very serious about play-action pass…”

Serious is a good way to describe what I saw last night.

We used to bitch a lot about the days when Richt had a finesse offense, one that was willing to settle for field goals in the red zone because it lacked the punch to overwhelm defenses with touchdown scores down there.  No more.  There’s plenty to criticize about Georgia’s 2014 season, but finding an offensive identity isn’t one of them anymore.

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Fan of the day

One of my best friends traveled to the Belk Bowl.  He called me at halftime, because he felt he had to let me know that he was seated next to somebody who spent the entire first half… railing at Mike Bobo.

On the one hand, you have to admire the dedication there.  After all, why let Bobo’s absence spoil a good rant?

Maybe feel a little sorry for the dude, too.  I mean, after all, here’s someone who spent some money and time going to a bowl game, made plans in advance, was obviously raring to go, only to have his preparation messed up less than a week before the game by a selfish decision on Bobo’s part to take a head coaching gig.

The nerve of some people, you know?

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Why the hostility, bro?

As Georgia was in the process of thoroughly emasculating Louisville, Spencer Hall, bless his heart, had the presence of mind to dredge up this Danny Kanell gem:

Not that Kanell was averse to weighing in with some more ass-showing smack last night.

I dunno, maybe he’s jockeying for the Holtz seat opposite Mark May when Lou fades into the sunset.

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Filed under ACC Football, ESPN Is The Devil