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.