Fifty shades of Mark Richt

My last post got me to thinking (“Oh, Gawd,” you’re saying, “what now?”) about some of the ongoing debates we’ve had in the comments section – okay, the debate we’ve had in the comments section – and I can’t help but believe most people are missing the bigger picture surrounding the football program at present.

It strikes me that what the pessimists get correct is Mark Richt’s failings as a game manager.  It’s not his strong suit, to be sure.  We’ve all seen (or recited) the litany of games where there’s either been a head scratcher of a decision at a key moment, or a game where the team came out unprepared, mentally or emotionally, to play at the level expected.  It’s a reality and it’s probably not going away.  If that’s not something you’re prepared to concede, you, friend, are a blind optimist.

That being said, it ain’t necessarily the end of the world.  If it were, I’d expect to hear a lot of similar comments about the dire straits Alabama is headed towards.  After all, consider how the Tide’s last two seasons have ended – in 2013, a loss to Auburn on a play that Saban’s team looked totally unprepared to handle that knocked them out of the SEC and national title hunt, followed by a listless performance against Big Game Bob (!) and then last season’s smoking at the hands of Ohio State, a team Kirby Smart admitted Alabama took lightly because it was starting a third-string quarterback.  Gee, where have I heard that before?

But that’s not really the point I’m trying to make here.  Instead, my main point is directed toward those who’ve wanted a coaching change.  Well, in essence, I’d say you already have that coaching change.

Consider the following:

  • Assistant staff.  With Tony Ball’s departure, there is only one are only two assistant coaches on the staff left from 2013, and one of them, Brian McClendon, is not at the same position he occupied a mere two seasons ago.  You’d expect to have a similar amount of turnover if Georgia had replaced Richt, wouldn’t you?
  • Recruiting.  As I said in my earlier post today, to go from the days of voluntarily running a roster with less than 70 scholarship players on it to the aggressive signing of a legit recruit four+ months after national signing day is a 180 degree turn of events.  When you consider that was Georgia’s second such signing of an offensive lineman it plucked from another major program in this class (Madden) and what Georgia did to secure Roquan Smith’s commitment, recruiting is clearly in a different and better place than the one it occupied just a few seasons ago.
  • Special teams.  If serial undersigning has been Richt’s biggest sin over the last six years or so, the second biggest has been how he let special teams deteriorate.  Georgia went from having return games that were weapons to a fair catch specialist.  Inexcusable.  I’m not saying the Dawgs are out of the woods completely, but anyone who watched special teams play last season has to concede that things are moving in the proper direction.  That only happens when a head coach wakes up and realizes what he’s done wrong.  (Or the new guy corrects the predecessor’s glaring mistake.)
  • Infrastructure.  You may not think an IPF is all that necessary, but one is still in the works.  There’s been a robust increase in the size of the support staff for the program.  The recruiting budget has been seriously jacked up.  All of this is stuff that a new head coach at a program like Georgia would likely demand as a condition for taking the job.  Which leads to…
  • Administrative support.  We’ve come a long way from Greg McGarity’s interview with Mark Bradley and the weirdness surrounding the post game Belk Bowl.  And again, there’s no way somebody comes in after Richt without making demands that B-M quit working at cross-purposes with the football staff.

You wanted wholesale change; you got it, brother.  The only thing you didn’t get was a different name at the top.  And maybe that spoils the whole thing for you.  You’d call yourself a realist for that.  I’d argue, instead, that it makes you a blind pessimist.

I have no idea if all these changes are going to pay off.  (Then, again, I’d have no idea if a new head coach would pay off, either.)  But there’s enough happening to intrigue me sufficiently to want to see what Richt can do with this over the next two or three seasons.

If Richt’s greatest flaw has been loyalty to a fault – really, that explains Martinez overstaying his welcome as defensive coordinator and Richt’s reluctance to put himself in a position where he might potentially screw over a kid who committed to Georgia – his greatest strength has been his willingness to look at himself in the mirror, see his strategic mistakes and take concrete steps to correct them.  There are a lot of head coaches at programs inferior to Georgia who could never remake themselves.

And Richt, to his credit, has done that once already.  Tell me – after the debacles of the ’09 and ’10 seasons, how many of you anticipated Georgia would reel off back-to-back SECCG appearances and come within a whisker of playing for a national title in the next two seasons?  I know I thought Richt’s departure was a more likely outcome than that.

I’m not saying this because I’m a Richt apologist or because I’m satisfied with Georgia football failing to win a championship of any sort for a decade.  I’m saying this because it’s hard to think of any other major program that’s remade itself to the extent ours has in such a short period without a change at head coach.  And that’s a big enough deal for me to want to see how the story plays out.

It’s a helluva lot more interesting a story than the bullshit the national media spins out about Richt and his program these days, that’s for sure.  Maybe you should stick around for the ride, too.  With your eyes open.

135 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football

135 responses to “Fifty shades of Mark Richt

  1. bulldogbry

    MAN, I hate it when you sum up my thoughts before I do.

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    • Carlton Thomas

      Senator – wasn’t Lilly there in ’13 and well before?

      Am I misreading your “staff” comment?

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      • Shoot, you’re right. My bad.

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        • HVL Dawg

          Great. The clock is now ticking on Lilly.

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          • Carlton Thomas

            Lilly is a rare bird:
            1) good at his job (tight ends have been great excepting Tripp “Cement Hands” Chandler)
            2) great recruiter, who has probably improved as time has progressed
            3) content where he is

            He must just really like Richt/UGA. It’s amazing with his track record he’s not more front-of-mind.

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        • Mayor

          Let me take this opportunity to compliment you on one of your all-time most insightful and well thought out posts, Senator. Keep up the good work! The only thing I disagree with in your fine post, concerning end-of-game game mismanagement, is: “It’s a reality and it’s probably not going away.” I disagree. I think there is a high probability that at least some, if not most, of the end-of-game mistakes were on Bobo and CMR, being the type of guy he is, just wouldn’t throw Bobo under the bus. Bobo, as we all know, won’t be in Athens this coming season. Plus, even if those mistakes were all on CMR, given the changes he has made in the last couple of years I believe he has demonstrated that he is an intelligent man capable of changing his own behavior. Either way, I think we won’t see those types of mistakes that we have seen in the past. I’m optimistic for the coming season and going forward. (Damn that Kool-Aid sure tastes good!)

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  2. Jack Klompus

    Well put and spot on. It seems the ball has bounced Richt’s way the last two years, finally. Beginning with the exit of Grantham, hiring of Pruitt and entrance of Moorehead, Richt has picked up a couple of guys, in obviously very key positions, on his side that have helped him move in the right direction. Here’s hoping his “luck” continues and he gets what he and we deserve!

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  3. Good read. I didn’t realize that the coaching staff had turned over that much. I am excited about this year and I hope all the new coaches will have our guys jacked for every game regardless of distractions (i.e. Gurley’s suspension through the Florida game, Missouri winning the east the day before Tech game, etc.)

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  4. TnTom

    Along for the ride! I’m curious as to how influential Jeremy Pruitt has been in recent changes in McGarity and Richt?

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    • Regardless, it was still Richt’s call to bring Pruitt to Athens.

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      • TnTom

        Absolutely.

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      • Irishdawg

        And Pruitt wanted to come to Athens to work under Richt.

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      • Granthams replacement

        Only after the guy he wanted to retain quit

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        • Cosmic Dawg

          Yes, no chance a jerk like Richt would give someone the opportunity to exit gracefully.

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          • Ben

            Yeah, I wonder every now and then how much Richt knew when he said there were no planned changes. He had to know Grantham was going to bail, right? How else could he have his replacement picked out in a day or two?

            And if we’re going to bag on game management, we’ve got to admit that there have been some times that we’ve seen our staff completely out-coach and out-scheme the other guys, and when things are tight we’ve controlled the 4th quarter. When everyone is a D1 coach, sometimes someone is going to beat you, and that’s okay. Sometimes you’re going to get outreached and outplayed, and that sucks, but it happens, even to Alabama.

            Thanks for this post, Senator. It makes kickoff that much more difficult to wait for.

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          • charlottedawg

            This is highly unlikely given that Willie was fired after the tech game. The same should have been done to Grantham. The most plausible explanation is that Richt had every intention of retaining Grantham which would’ve been a huge mistake.

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            • The other Doug

              Those were different situations. Martinez obviously had to go. Grantham’s seat was hot, but the fan base would have allowed him one more year.

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              • Mayor

                Plus, I’m betting Willie wouldn’t leave voluntarily. He had to be shown the door. Grantham apparently can take a hint.

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            • Cosmic Dawg

              Lots of ways it could have happened, but it seems unlikely CTG was not nudged out, one way or another, but done so in a very kind and non-public way. I’m also not sure what was left on his contract, but the way it went down did not appear to cost us any money, either.

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        • Um, you seriously think he was chummy w (or at least really high on…) Grantham AND Grantham left despite that and the potential bargaining power gained by having a high paying offer from Louisville? No, Richt and admin didn’t offer to match (would’ve been a raise of $150k…).

          Think it’s a coincidence that CMR stole the best assistant coach – in a lateral move – from the still honeymooning national champions FSU…so quickly that the news at UGA, FSU, and Louisville basically wound up as a one big, and to many…puzzling story.

          Unlike Grantham…Pruitt was highly coveted by his present and future team. FSU, in position to be a favorite to repeat or at least slice through the ACC to the Playoff…tried to match the offer, which wasn’t outlandish. And yet, within a wk of winning the BCS championship, Pruitt makes a lateral move to UGA, only 2 days removed from “resignation” of Grantham.

          Really think this wasn’t in the works…considering that we had a valued OC leave this year and navigated that process patiently, despite potential recruiting damage…it’s pretty clear how differently things were handled when a valued coordinator left vs one who’s “resignation” was in the making behind closed doors with a game changing improvement already in the works.

          Were you joking, am I mistaken…or does your face need some toilet paper and butthole need sutures, because what u call yoga, we call “head up ur a$$…”

          The love for Grantham was one sided…much like the Belk Bowl. Now, move off the bridge or get run over…troll.

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    • Pruitt has been helpful and I appreciate his willingness to speak about some of our issues publicly, but it seems to me that Jere Morehead’s ascension to President of the University has been the primary catalyst for the changes we’re seeing in the football program. It’s no secret that Michael Adams didn’t give a damn about our athletic programs. We now have a President that seems to be, at worst, mildly interested in the success of our football team.

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      • Rugbydawg79

        +1 I was just about to say that

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      • Jere Morehead is the academic version of a DGD. The man bleeds red and black and loves UGA more than we know. I came down from NC to see my daughter in the University Chorus’ holiday concert in December five days after the tech debacle. He was there on opening night for the concert, interacting with other attendees. Knowing now what was likely happening in B-M at the time, I would have imagined he had more important things to do that night other than be at a chorus concert (which was excellent), but he was there and engaged.

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        • Probably should have just gotten my verbal rocks off w my own blog now that I’m commenting a cumulative, pent-up UGA football dissertation…so I apologize, mr “blutarsky” (ps, hope ur name doesn’t mean what I just realized it certainly could…), but this is my first time reading and I really like your analysis, so I felt compelled to comment on some of these topics- not to mention defend against some of these less lucid, but none the less fellow dawgs’ comments/opinions, so no offense yall…) but can we not call our front office the same abbreviation as is typically known to mean “old people poop…?” *Even if it is ironically enough pronounced identically to a shit stain…? (“Butt-smear…”). 😉

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          • Sorry for the offense. It’s easier to type than the whole name of the building. I certainly didn’t mean it as a pejorative. Honestly, the University administration should have thought of this when they named the place.

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      • adam

        Morehead is Pruitt’s pawn. You didn’t know that?

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      • charlottedawg

        Based on what? Let’s not forget that Morehead accompanied mcgarity up to Indianapolis for Gurley gate. The only thing we KNOW that has changed at butts mehre is that they’re now willing to spend money. That’s it.we have no idea if the culture of nepotism and tolerance of incompetence still remains. Given that mcgarity still has his job and the fact the last time the football program needed the administration (Gurley ) the admin failed in an extremely public way I think it’s foolish to think that simply spending more Money makes or problems suddenly disappear.

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        • Mayor

          I am concerned that some of the same rubes are still working at B-M. That said, there is clearly a new fire being lit under their collective asses plus a lot of competent people have been added to the B-M staff.

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        • What do you mean by them failing, or insinuating admin’s guilt in respect to the Gurley situation…?
          Todd is my favorite player in my lifetime…it destroyed me. But the bottom line was that HE made a mistake…one that no superiors could have known of or mitigated… That is, unless Gurley and Richt were Jameis and Jimbo, and lied/blindly believed their way around it, risking the program’s future to cover one young person’s mistake.
          A disgruntled UF fan exposed the shit, Gurley was honest and admitted things to Richt straight up…and Richt took the action he had to given the admission.
          Hell, I wished so much at the time that he’d lie…and get around it like all these other sleazy programs do….but I have no respect for those programs for a reason. You want to win how the crooks win…? FSU…Auburn…UF (under Urban Meyer), USC? I want to win as much as anyone- believe that! But not like that. I want to be proud of what we accomplish with no psychological asterisks…I don’t want to be that kind of a hypocrite. I want to be proud of what makes me proud…comprende?

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          • Once the dealer stepped up and notified B-M of his contact with Gurley, the administration’s hands were tied. It couldn’t ignore the situation. And McGarity, as I noted at the time, got off to a good start.

            But after setting up legal representation, things went off the track. There was a clear misreading of what the NCAA penalty was going to be and as a result Richt was led to believe Gurley would be declared eligible in time for the Florida game. I also think the Bauerle situation compromised how aggressively McGarity was willing to act in resolving Gurley’s situation.

            That’s all pretty much on the administration.

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      • Cannot agree more. Haters don’t realize that
        CMR got handcuffed right after his meteoric rise as a newly minted HC in his first few years at UGA…due to Michael Adams’ opposition to keep up w the Jones’s in terms of salaries, support, facilities, and other football infrastructure that skyrocketed in the SEC as the beginning of the SEC dominance and BCS streak was just being established. Saw it with my own eyes…in person. So frustrating, esp in hindsight…

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  5. Spike

    your turn, JCDAWG83…

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    • JCDAWG83

      I agree with the Senator’s post. I’ve said for awhile that I think Richt has been given everything he’s asked for is in a put up or shut up position. I think Richt has about 3 years to either win a championship or at least stop the inexplicable face plant losses to inferior opponents or he’ll be able to go into full time ministry.

      I hope he wins championships. I like Richt as a man and he’s a great ambassador for the university and a great recruiter. I like what I’ve seen so far with Pruitt. Let’s hope he can correct the weak DL situation this year like he did with the dbs last season. Shotty worries me a little, I’m not sold on the idea of another NFL coach as a coordinator. I think the rest of the coaching changes are positives without a doubt.

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      • Uglydawg

        JCDAWG83. You’re snark about CMR’s faith is classless. I’m wondering if that’s where your deep disdain for the man originates.
        Surely you can make your points about him without putting him down for his faith. You’re attitude borders on religous bigotry..there’s some reason you resent what most see as a fine quality in the man.

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        • Debby Balcer

          +1,000,000 not once but twice in these comments alone.

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          • JCDAWG83

            Sorry Debby, I know you view anything other than profuse praise for Richt as an unpardonable insult. I really think Richt’s true calling in life is the ministry and in no way do I mean that as an attack on him. I said I wanted him to win championships. If he can’t do that, I’d like to see him move on into something he is passionate about.

            If you take that as a religious attack, you are the one with a problem, not me.

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            • Debby Balcer

              The ways you phrase is insulting to both his ministry and the ministry believe me I don’t have the problem. You convincingly bring it up as if his faith is a short coming. Being a good coach and being a man of faith are not mutually exclusive ask Tony Dungy.

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            • OdontoDawg

              I believe it’s insulting to the man that you believe you know best what his calling is and you believe he is not passionate about his current calling. You have quite an inside track on his heart and soul.

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        • JCDAWG83

          No snark, I think everyone knows Richt will go into some sort of ministry after he quits coaching. He already does some ministry, I’ve been to a couple of prayer breakfasts/lunches where he was the speaker and he’s very good at delivering a “sermon”, if you want to call it that. Richt is a great man and a great Christian. I fully expect he will move into some sort of religious job or ministry when he stops coaching whether the end of his coaching career is his decision or someone else’s.

          I don’t see him going the tv route, or doing nothing. I think full time ministry is where he is headed. I’m sorry your faith is so shaky that you are always on the lookout for any opportunity to have your feelings hurt when someone mentions anything regarding religion in other than glowing praise. I realize some people are very touchy about religion. I suggest you learn to take yourself a little less seriously.

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          • Uglydawg

            You lost me at “No snark”.

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            • Mayor

              Ug, you and I usually get along very well on this blog. But this time I think you and Debby are being waaay too touchy. I read the same thing JC wrote multiple times and didn’t see the comment as offensive–an unfunny wisecrack from someone thinking he’s Milton Berle perhaps–but not offensive. I think taking offense to such an innocuous reference to religion says more about you than it does about JC. And calling JC a religious bigot was out of line. Both of you should be ashamed. Both of you are jumping on JC because you disagree with his posts about CMR and that’s fine. You should refute him on the merits of his posts rather than attack him for some made-up bigotry.

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      • Listen- There is no comparison between Grantham and Schottie’s pedigree’s and potential… My uncle coached w Grantham in Dallas when we came knocking…Jerry wouldn’t let UGA talk to any defensive assistants besides Grantham… they were fine with him leaving.
        Now, actually being responsible for play calling duties in the NFL for that long at such a young age is way more impressive than he gets credit for…he rarely had any kind of talent to compete with in the context of folks hating on his NFL resume…and the bottom line is that is says something when NFL franchises put that much trust in a man…a very young man’s hands. He’s also got a pretty solid mentor for college play calling in a guy who’s done it before…and winning Titles in doing so…spoiler: it’s CMR. He is going to be fine.
        I actually really like the hire and the dynamic…we’ve got a guy who fits the system, should coexist well with fellow coaches, conceptually and personally (having played SEC ball…QB @ UF), but brings his own style, is established enough to not cave in and just be a replacement for Bobo…or a sheer puppet/product of Richt’s teaching. Instead, he will keep the ship steadily, but now with a mix of two similar, compatible coaches that can accumulate their individual strengths to broaden our scope of offensive philosophy…and learn from the very different circumstances they’ve come from…

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  6. I agree…but what the hell do we know? We’ve never been in the Arena…

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  7. You really are pretty good at this.

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  8. JoshG

    I simply can not tolerate a reasonable commentary about Georgia football, or entertain any glimmer of hope without Kirby Bumpus as our head coach. Thanks, but no thanks, Senator. It’s Sports n Crayons still blogging? Because I need to wash this off my eyeballs quickly.

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  9. Athens Dog

    I’ve been very critical of our ability to always lose a game when we should not, but have also been unable to come up with a better option that CMR. I could not agree more that there’s been some kind of sea change at BM. My eyes are open and i’m in for the ride………….as always. Dogs.

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  10. Senator – you summed up my thoughts very well on the subject. I legitimately believe the story isn’t complete and I want to see what the wholesale changes mean for Richt and co. If we’re sitting here in the summer of 2018 and haven’t won any meaningful championship by that point, then it seems to be an easy decision for me.

    I also appreciate your commitment to putting your thoughts out here, but this whole “debate” just bores me at this point because the pessimists go to far lengths to bog down all discussion by turning every damned topic into a referendum on Richt. It just makes for a more boring blog with warring factions (I’m certainly guilty of engaging this, I suppose), but no real substantive discussion on the actual topics you blog about. That high level of discourse is what has attracted me to your site for years now and I hate that it’s being hijacked by a few commenters everyday that repeat the same talking points ad nauseam.

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  11. Not a whole lot to say other than what’s been said. Senator, this is truly one of the best posts you’ve authored. Just waiting for the blind pessimists to tell everyone how much smarter they are than everyone else.

    CMR has had his failings as a game manager and as a motivator. They are well documented and some high profile, and nobody would disagree. I would say every coach makes in-game errors in judgment, and motivating 100 “amateur” 18-22 year old males every week would be a challenge even for Vince Lombardi.

    CMR has traditionally been a great game planner. He’s a great recruiter trusted by parents and HS coaches. Along with Bobo, he’s been a great developer of QBs. He’s really good at the PR part of his job when others like SOS hate the interaction with fans, alumni & media. When he focuses on it, he can be a master motivator

    The program now seems to have the right level of financial support, facilities plan, and institutional support. Let’s see what happens over the next 3-5 years.

    It’s great to be a Georgia Bulldog!

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    • CMR has had his failings as a game manager and as a motivator. They are well documented and some high profile, and nobody would disagree. I would say every coach makes in-game errors in judgment, and motivating 100 “amateur” 18-22 year old males every week would be a challenge even for Vince Lombardi.

      Even Nick Saban has struggled with motivating teams both when the games did or didn’t matter (2008 Utah, 2013 Auburn, 2013 Oklahoma, 2014 Ohio State). It happens even to the best of them. I do agree 100% with the Senator and yourself that there is no doubt that game management has definitely been a weak spot for Richt and that’s totally on him.

      However, to minimalize what internal commitment from the administration will mean to the program as a whole just because Richt is still the coach (and presumably will screw it up, amirite pessimists?) is missing the point. Lest we all forget when McGarity took the job that he explicitly stated that there were administrative things that Richt was doing under the pinny pinching days of Dooley and Evans that he had to take off Richt’s plate that no head coach had any business doing. Nick Saban doesn’t have time for that shit, but B-M felt that Richt did. I really think it’s hard to evaluate what the renewed commitment will mean, but I have to believe it’s a net positive. I’ll repeat what I said in my response to the Senator and that given the resources being thrown at the program now unlike any other time in its history, if we’re sitting here in summer 2018 talking about how Richt’s won nothing – McGarity has a pretty easy decision.

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      • AD, maybe this puts me in the blind optimist or CMR lover camp, but I just can’t bring myself to say, “Championship in 3 years or bust.” All I can ask for is that the team plays hard for 60 minutes for 13-15 games per year and the coaches do everything they can to prepare the team for those 13-15 games. If the next 3 regular seasons end on the floor of the Georgia Dome but we don’t raise the trophy, I can’t say CMR doesn’t warrant the privilege of continuing to be the coach at UGA. If we have a repeat of 2009-10 on his watch, I would agree that it’s time. Maybe I’m just loyal to a fault like CMR was with Two Thumbs …

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      • Otto

        The thing with Utah and OU was a title was not the line, the season goal had been lost. Titles are the goal at Bama. It is their culture, national title or bust. They do not play for moral victories, or good seasons.

        ’13 Auburn I disagree about the motivation. Bama and Auburn were both motivated.

        Leaving ’14 tOSU as the real head scratcher, which is not a bad track record and certainly better than blowing a random game to a much less powerful little brother, or having a terrible UF team take you to the woodshed with a title still on the table.

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        • The thing with Utah and OU was a title was not the line, the season goal had been lost.

          I’ll remember that the next time I hear somebody bitch about Georgia losing last year’s Tech game, or a bowl game.

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          • That’s some spectacular Dawg-grading from Otto.

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            • Otto

              How is it downgrading? They want to be judged on titles not 10 win seasons.

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              • If you don’t get the irony of excusing Alabama losses because no title was on the table while simultaneously bitching about a loss to Georgia Tech under similar circumstances then I can’t help you, hoss.

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                • Otto

                  I have posted on here many times, that the average UGA fans and admin’s expectation for the program is the lower than it should be. Bama has done a solid job of meeting their goals, so yes if the goal can not be achieved a random loss on a down year is acceptable. How many other programs view a season without at minimum an SEC title as a down year?

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                  • PTC DAWG

                    UGA fans have for the last 10 years….I am glad the GT loss meant nothing last year…I feel better now.

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          • Otto

            It is a difference in culture between UGA and Bama. You don’t hear Bama fans talking about 10 win seasons as reason to keep a coach.

            As far as in state rivals, few things get under a Bama fans skin more than not beating Auburn. In my opinion Bama was motivated in ’13, The defense effectively held Auburn to 28 which was certainly respectable given how Auburn was rolling in the 2nd half of the season. Further the last 2 losses to Auburn were years that Auburn played in a national title.game. So a GT comparison would not be valid.

            I would be fine with UGA dropping a random Bowl Game if dropping random games wasn’t a twice or more per season regular occurrence.

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          • kckd

            Bowl game, I agree. But Tech, I can’t. That’s a rival. And it shouldn’t matter about what’s on the line.

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        • If national titles are the only thing in Bama, then Saban has less control over the program than any of us ever suspected. They should have gotten blown out in 2010(?) by Michigan State in the Cap One Bowl. Instead, Saban disemboweled D’Antonio and Sparty. Alabama fans may have put on the face that those Sugar Bowls didn’t matter, but I guarantee they were spitting nails with how poorly (may I say soiled the bed?) the Tide played in those 2 games.

          Auburn ’13 was a failure of epic proportion to prepare for the Kick 6. If the kicker makes a kick (or 2) earlier in the game, that never happens. It wasn’t Saban’s finest hour.

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          • Otto

            Agreed it wasn’t his finest hr. Looking back it was a dumb call but how many times does a FG attempt go back for 6? He didn’t make a decision many coaches wouldn’t make and didn’t go away from the best RB in the country close to the end zone….

            My point is that when it really counts far more times than not Bama shows up to play, and the Auburn game would be the one you heard about from the fans not Sparty. Further he meets the goals of his fan base and maybe Richt is doing the exact same.

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            • A 50+ yard FG when his kickers had missed multiple chip shots earlier in the game? I’ve consistently said coaches make in-game judgment errors, but they have to hope those errors don’t cost them the game. In that case, it did.

              You are correct that Bama typically shows up to play when it really counts, but to discount the losses to OU and Utah as “it doesn’t matter” doesn’t hold water to me. In particular, the loss to Utah happened before Saban won his 1st national championship at Alabama. They were coming off a great regular season but had been beaten by Corch and the GPOOE in the SECCG. Saban was still building a consistent winner at that time. In both games, they got whipped, pure and simple.

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              • Otto

                Correct Saban had not won a Title at Bama before Utah.

                However, they played in a default playoff game in the SECCG against Florida in the game prior. The next offseason Florida was the game remembered not Utah, and it played out that way, beat Florida win title.

                Bama blows Bowl Games once the title hopes are gone, and the later in the later title run the more likely. The Bear did the same thing. The fan base doesn’t completely not care but the pressure is very much off. All is forgiven if the team beats Auburn and wins at minimum the SEC soon after. Multiple 10 win seasons (or 9 before the season was expanded) doesn’t buy much ask Bill Curry.

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                • Mayor

                  If Bill Curry’s Bama team had beaten Miami in the de facto MNC game, Curry would have coached there 10 more years and would likely have a statue of himself outside the stadium. Instead, he wasn’t given an extension, got his feelings hurt and took the job at Kentucky–the place where coaches’ dreams go to die. Worst thing that ever happened to him.

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  12. Ant123

    Isn’t it possible that the a fore mentioned changes might solve this problem: “or a game where the team came out unprepared, mentally or emotionally, to play at the level expected” and that this: “his greatest strength has been his willingness to look at himself in the mirror, see his strategic mistakes and take concrete steps to correct them.” could take care of this: “We’ve all seen (or recited) the litany of games where there’s either been a head scratcher of a decision at a key moment”. It could happen by self correction or delegation but it seems plausible.
    All of that being said, I think this year, barring another freakish injury year will tell the tale on just what our “improvements” amount to. Anything better than 9-2 in the regular season and we have made huge strides. Anything less than 8-3 and we should make a change at the top.

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    • Mayor

      “…we should make a change at the top.” Fire the AD? Did you mean fire the President of the University of Georgia? Or the Chancellor of the University System? Or the Governor who just got re-elected? Bigger? Fire the President of the United States? Oh–you meant the Head Football Coach. I don’t really think he’s at the top, even of the football team.

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  13. Skeptic Dawg

    Very well done. It seems that you have covered it all. Let’s hope that all of the changes you’ve mentioned work out in our favor.

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  14. Marshall

    As I said in a write-up about the Dawgosphere a couple of years ago, you have a knack for cutting through and really getting right to the heart of the matter, Senator. It’s a gift, and it’s a joy for those of us who follow this webpage to watch.

    Pretty much in total agreement on everything. I think the matter of administrative support cannot be overstated. In terms of the relationship between the team, BM, and the president’s office, we had, in my estimation, a dysfunctional and toxic situation there for years. I feel like all of that was finally exorcised a while back when we witnessed that game of chicken that Richt and Pruitt ended up winning (with an assist from the President’s office as I understand it). With that said, it obviously doesn’t take away from the fact that mistakes were made in several phases and facets of the game that you mention as well. But those all seem to have been addressed.

    Yes, I’m excited to take this ride. In fact, I’m really looking forward to it.

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  15. Wow Senator you just opened my eyes with your summary indeed. For about 2 years there essentially had been slow but wholesale changes in the coaching staff except for Richt. I would call that house renovation without necessarily changing the roof though some patches seem being applied to the latter’s leakages. Less than a handful were retained but even McClendon was moved to his natural position as a player.

    I believe at least hopeful, that there will be palpable changes at game time and even at those head scratchers of the past.

    We all know how the day to day workings of Congress and the White House remain the same despite changes in the top guys. Because though the top guys of the government change every so often, there had been no whole sale inner changes (renovation) in the rest of those 2 houses.

    With UGA, there had been recent changes that seem to have affected the running of the athletic department including the support given to it’s biggest money producing sport (football). With changes to new UGA President (likely not incidental), but most importantly those that are responsible for the inner workings of the football house which will hopefully result to a different game time results.

    I read an article yesterday written likely by a member of UGA Foundation intimating that these recent changes may result to a more active role by this group. I am not familiar with this association and it’s previous rift from the athletic department. But the fact is, even our father’s football boosters have taken notice of the changes.

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  16. Its great to see your thoughts summed up in one post. Surely saves us some time piecing together your position on the program. This post should be a page on your site, so that it wont get buried. You can always revisit the page after a year or two with updates on your thinking.

    Have you thought about that Senator?

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  17. Senator, reading the response of the critics on this piece of yours. I will give you a the Dawg’s Pulitzer prize of this one. Thanks.

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  18. PTC DAWG

    Good work, I had not thought about the massive assistant coaching turnover..not sure why, but you brought it to light here..

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  19. Granthams replacement

    Excellent assessment on the program. I sincerely hope Richt can meet expections with all of the changes the BM is now supporting. As you have pointed out the current AD’s hiring track record hasn’t yielded much success

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  20. UGA85

    For me, one of the times I differed with CMR was after the 2013 season, when he said he did not anticipate any changes being made on the coaching staff during the offseason. Grantham’s continued presence then created a Martinez flashback for me, and I felt this “fear of change” mentality would sink our program and CMR’s legacy. Then, suddenly, Grantham is gone and CJP comes in. CJP brings a breath of fresh air, immediate defensive improvement, better defensive recruiting, former Alabama coaches, S and C intensity, and a winning, Saban pedigree. Change, change, change. I honestly don’t know who committed UGA to this new philosophy. CMR and a sudden change of heart? Administration’s realization that CMR needed a push? I don’t know and don’t care. I just applaud it. UGA desperately needed change and all that CJP has brought. I hope we continue the push for excellence in all phases of our football program. I, along with all of you, am ready for a championship.

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  21. kckd

    I can’t argue with game management gaffs. OTOH, UGA not coming out prepared has been a later Richt thing. Early on, we didn’t get our arse kicked with regularity or lose in major upsets. UF last year being the first combination of both. That crap started with UTK in 2006 and has been a feature of our team seemingly ever since. But from 2001-2005, the only game I recall getting completely smoked in was LSU in the SEC championship ( the best team in the country that we almost beat in their place that year) and we had no bizarre upset losses.

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    • JunkYard Dawg '00

      2004 Tennessee at home? Bizarre upset, holding call on Leonard Pope (I think) during a kickoff return for a touchdown and although it was probably the correct call, it was on the other side of the field and… ahh whatever, it sucked.

      Like

      • kckd

        They were a top 20 team that year and won the East. Beat a handful of ranked teams including us. At the time they looked like they weren’t all that great but a decent team in retrospect.

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        • kckd

          2006- UTK blowout, UK and Vandy
          2007- UTK blowout, loss to SC team that finished 6-6
          2008- Bama blowout of epic proportions, UF blowout of epic proportions
          2009- UK loss, UT loss of epic proportions, Okie State loss that wasn’t really close
          2010- Where to start?, Colorado loss, MSU loss, Central Florida loss
          2011- Boise State loss
          2012- SCU beat down
          2013- Vandy loss
          2014- UF just inexplicable, SCU- bad team

          I just don’t see where 2004 UTK fits in with those.

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  22. ** inserts random Thomas Brown crazy anti-Richt comment. **

    Sorry, just felt his voice needed to be heard on this topic! 🙂

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  23. There are 2 things at play here:
    1. Things Richt has control over
    2. Things Richt does not have control over

    If you believe Richt has not done everything to change what needs to be changed in this area, it’s very easy to be anti-Richt. Pro-Richt might point to a lot of changes that have been made while anti might say, it’s not 100% done
    If you believe the Admin, IPF, schedule, etc is holding us back than it’s very easy to be pro-Richt. Anti-Richt will still point to “underachievement” under the head coach while Pro will say it takes just a bit more support.

    This i know to be true (as an admitted Richt-apologist) – Richt has made changes that needed to be made. All of them? Enough of them? That’s in the eye of the beholder, but I believe enough. I also know the Admin has come around so my Pro-Richt stance now has a shelf life. No more excuses can be made that things aren’t getting done to support him. We are moving out of the grey area where everyone has a legit grip (Pro and Anti) and into an area that Richt really needs to make something happen over the next few years or else it gets really hard to keep making excuses for the guy.

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  24. Irwin R. Fletcher

    As someone firmly in the ‘optimist’ camp…I think the change has been massive from 2009-10. I think it starts with the Dream Team recruiting class….while I don’t doubt recruiting is at a place now that it has never been, that class was seemingly the shift in philosophy to ‘we aren’t going to end up with too few guys here’…that same year you get Jarvis Jones to come to UGA on a transfer…Bobo and Richt devise a new ‘hurry up’ style offense…and somehow you survive an 0-2 start to make the SECCG.

    2015 will be an interesting one for the program.

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  25. DawgPhan

    So weird that this comment section is lacking a certain something or someone…can’t quite put my finger on it…..weird.

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  26. W Cobb Dawg

    CMR this, CMR that, CMR, CMR, CMR. Truth is Pruitt is our de facto head coach. Perhaps not in title, but in every other way that counts. CJP is running this program. I have no doubt at all about that fact.

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    • UGA85

      You know, it ‘s funny you should say that. I have heard from managers and others who watch practices that Pruitt indeed is the man in charge. CMR is much more in the background. All the recent changes also have Pruitt’s fingerprints on them. Could CMR’s integrity and image merit having him as a “figurehead” coach, while Pruitt now gets his chance to run the show? It is at least possible, if not likely. Either way, I am for it if we can win the SEC.

      Like

      • CMR is the CEO of the program. He’s responsible for the interface with the program’s stakeholders (the university, alumni, fans, HS coaches, recruits, etc.). He sets the vision and strategy. When a hard decision has to be made for the good of the program (on or off the field), he’s the guy who makes it and should be accountable for it.

        CJP and CBS are his co-COOs. They are going to run the day-to-day and involve the CEO when they need him. Therefore, I have no doubt that Pruitt, in particular, is heavily involved in running practice. Schottenheimer probably deals more directly with CMR’s oversight since offense is where Richt’s expertise lies and he has limited experience in the college game. Richt should be in the background at practice because his COOs are putting in the game plan they all agree on.

        Pruitt isn’t the de facto head coach. He doesn’t have ultimate hiring/firing authority, and he’s not the one to be tarred and feathered by the media or the fans when something goes wrong. That’s CMR.

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        • I have this vision of Greg McGarity paying a figurehead coach $4 million a year… and then I start laughing uncontrollably.

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          • Greg McGarity:

            “Why should I pay $4+ million for Gary Patterson, Jimbo Fisher, or Mark D’Antonio when I can buy a perfectly useful Chan Gailey, Al Golden, Dave Doeren, or Will Muschamp for half the price?”

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          • Well played, Senator. I could see McGarity’s head exploding if he thought he was paying a figurehead.

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          • W Cobb Dawg

            Some other schools are paying EX-coaches millions. Why wouldn’t we pay a figurehead (who’s adored by a large percentage of the fanbase) $4 million?

            If CJP were to leave for a new gig, and take his hires along with him, it would be equivalent to a massive stroke for our program.

            “I start laughing uncontrollably” when anyone says McGarity is running the sports programs. He’s a glorified beancounter who has shown he can take any problem and make it worse.

            But when its all said and done, I don’t really give a ship whether the man making the improvements is CJP, CMR, McG, or Morehead. Changes were long overdue. Somebody with ‘smarts’ is directing the improvements, and the screw-ups have been directed to stay out of his/her/their way.

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    • AusDawg85

      “…fact.” Pesky things, aren’t they?

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    • dawgtired

      …guess that means if we don’t win the SEC we fire Pruitt…you know, since his running the program and all…

      Like

    • PTC DAWG

      You really think Pruitt would run the show for coordinator pay?

      Like

  27. dudemankind

    Oh boy. We are back to giving him a pass for THREE YEARS!!!! So if he does not win the SEC in three years, but then fires his whole staff and hires another group of hotshots, do we give him THREE MORE?

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    • If Georgia hired a new head coach tomorrow, how much time would you give him?

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      • dudemankind

        That depends on a lot; the state of the program, level of play in the SEC, etc. Since Richt is not a new head coach, I do not see how it relates. I understand your opinion that with the changes he has reinvented himself and could almost be considered a new coach, but disagree.

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      • JCDAWG83

        That argument could be made for eternity. I think, barring a major rash of injuries or some other oddball event, Richt is on a three year time constraint to at least get back to the SEC championship game and make a good showing. I can’t see a repeat of 2012 not being enough to keep him around.

        If we have three more years of face planting, bonehead calls, losing the critical games and inexplicable losses, I’m thinking he gets to go into full time ministry regardless of the record.

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    • PTC DAWG

      IF UGA hadn’t competed for SEC titles in the last 3-4 years, I could possibly see your point. IF they don’t sniff the SECCG in the next 2-3 years, yeah, I think he’s on the hot seat.

      Obviously, your mileage may vary.

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      • JCDAWG83

        I honestly think if they don’t get to the SECCG in the next 3 years, he won’t be on any kind of seat.

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        • PTC DAWG

          That is basically my thinking too, just not exactly how I worded it..

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        • Mayor

          No way. If Georgia keeps winning 8, 9, 10+ games per season (even 7 IMHO) there is no way CMR is out involuntarily. The man has the highest winning percentage in Georgia football history. The only 2 ways CMR leaves are: (1) Of his own volition because he just got tired of all the BS; (2) He has another losing season (which would be the 2nd in 6 years), particularly if the team missed out on a bowl.

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          • JCDAWG83

            We’ll see, I think Morehead wants more than “good” seasons and good percentages. It’s one reason the normally cheap BM crowd has opened the checkbook, they are taking away the remaining excuses for not winning championships. I’ve heard for years that McGarity is not a huge fan of Richt from people who seem to be fairly close to the program. They say McGarity thinks Richt is OK, but can’t win big and is too soft. 8-10 win seasons at Georgia, with the talent we always get and the resources we have, should be a minimum requirement for a coach to keep his job, not something to be rewarded for. The 12 game schedule added a gimme win every year, Richt certainly should have the highest winning percentage.

            I wouldn’t be surprised if there has already been a conversation about expectations and consequences for the next three or four years.

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            • 8-10 win seasons at Georgia, with the talent we always get…

              Serious question for you – how do you reconcile your argument with my criticism that this program for years left money on the table, so to speak, with chronic undersigning?

              2009-2011 – I’d say there were several SEC programs, like Alabama, LSU and Florida, which boasted better talent than Georgia.

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              • JCDAWG83

                First, the undesigning, in my opinion, was reason enough to fire Richt back then. Second, that we still managed 8-10 win seasons after the 2010 season, shows the quality of the talent we DID get. Finally, I agree those teams had better talent, partly because we gave ourselves the self imposed scholarship limits (again, Richt should have been fired for that) and because sometimes that’s the way things are.

                My point was, with the normal level of talent Georgia has, there is no real excuse outside of injuries or some bizarre circumstance that we should not win 8-10 games a season against our schedule.

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                • Ant123

                  You obviously seem to feel that there is a much larger difference in the teams that win 7 to 9 games than those that win 10 to 12 than reality. Considering the handicap our staff was under during these last 6 to 8 years compared to the others that were on top they actually over performed.

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  28. Big Ol cup of STFU

    I’m drinking from my own cup….well said senator….

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  29. Uglydawg

    I think CMR has been a “work in progress” as a game coach. His other coaching skills are mostly polished.
    The angriest I’ve ever been with him was when he went for 3 against UCF a few bowls ago….Georgia had driven it to the goal line only to settle for three in a meaningless bowl game…meaningless except it fed the perception that he isn’t a good game coach.
    He needed to learn that when you have the power, you use it…being tediuos and conservative will get you beat by inferior competition.
    Has he beat the rap yet? Not completely, but I think he’s very close to getting it and I think CJP may be the catalyst for the change…he’s a serious warrior.
    But this is the biggest and final hump CMR must clear to finally put all of this talk to rest….”Beat the shit out of every inferior opponent you face”…When he gets (or displays if he’s already gained it) this attitude toward game management, he will be on the road to greatness, and we can quit having these discusiions and focus on how to keep him around as long as possible.

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  30. my god, this is well written. masterpiece.

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  31. AthensHomerDawg

    Am I the only one getting the pop up detergent ad in Spainish?

    Like

  32. DCA

    Everyone thought that Missouri would not win the East last year, but they did. It seems everyone is forgetting about Missouri this year. No body know which team UGA will show up this year. Depiste all the pronostications about Missouri, I won’t be surprised to see Missouri winning again this year. If that happen, will Richt get fired?

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  33. Claw

    I’m with you on Richt for the most part, Senator, but I have one big concern. If our recruiting and defense continue to improve as they have been then I foresee Pruitt getting head coaching offers in the near future (perhaps as soon as this upcoming off season). I know the sample size in Athens is small, but given his success at other programs I really think this guy is going to be a great head coach one day. I like Richt a lot (more so when he was calling plays), but I’m not sure if Pruitt isn’t a better option long term. With the potential of trading something good for something better I wonder if McGarity would cook up a “head coach in waiting” title if it was necessary to keep Pruitt in town. Your thoughts?

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    • I don’t think you’ll see a HCIW in Athens.

      That being said, I’m not sure how to judge Pruitt’s future. If he was hell bent on becoming a head coach as soon as possible, why jump to Athens in the first place?

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      • Claw

        It’s all second hand, but Florida State people were rumbling about a rift between Pruitt and Jimbo. That plus Pruitt’s previous friendship with the now departed Will Friend led him to Athens (or so the rumors go), but who knows?

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      • Inside source tells me he’s no where close to becoming or wanting to become a HC…apparently he likes managing the D…and the same fire that enables him to kill it as coordinator and recruiter has him focused on mastering that level (remember he never even sought HCing at the HS level..at least as far as I know…and he left his dad’s school to coach at Hoover) at least for enough years for us not to worry that he will be leaving soon for ANOTHER HC’ing job (my only fear…but we’d prob be Nat Champs if that came to fruition…).

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        • I don’t think he’s ready yet, either. There’s no way a head coach calls out an AD the way he did about the IPF.

          He just strikes me as having a low tolerance for bullshit right now, lower than is needed in the HC’s job.

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  34. My only thought not in response to something written here in:
    Anyone else realize how butt-hurt Barrett Sallee is about not getting into UGA (even back then when it was WAAAAY easier than since 2000-ish)- and having to leaving metro Atl (WHEELER HS) to go to Auburn? And he majored in communications.- not to become a vet or farmer- so he has no argument for claiming he chose AU as first choice… And now is back in Atl and is surrounded by Dawgs…and is the biggest hater I’ve ever seen to have a pretty respectable title…esp one that is supposed to entail neutrality…
    I mean, Finebaum is understandable and at least a respectable professional and big success…and I wouldn’t challenge his intellect (however I dunno why he went to UT…), so I take his clear animosity towards UGA w a grain of salt….his almater is a rival…then he worked for/at AU…and spent the rest of career in the state of Alabama, so understandably his hatred will be for UGA first and foremost…

    Anyone else get these vibes or am I way off…?

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