The redemption of Richt

Boy, in the wake of the debacles at Baylor and Mississippi State. you could see this take coming a mile away.

During a wide-ranging interview Thursday morning in his office at the University of Miami, it only seemed natural to steer new coach Mark Richt toward the topic of player discipline in light of what happened in the past week at Baylor.

Richt, after all, was central to one of the great Internet memes in the history of the SEC when a raft of key football players at Georgia were suspended for the 2012 opener. Suddenly, “Mark Richt has lost control” became a thing both within the Georgia fan base and outside of it, where it evolved into a shorthand for pretty much any deficiency in the program.

But the irony of “Mark Richt has lost control” as a concept is that Georgia’s annual list of player dismissals and suspensions meant he actually had quite a bit of control. And regardless of whether it was a star player or an expendable backup, Georgia players were going to face discipline for offseason infractions — usually to a greater degree than their counterparts at other SEC schools.

There were even occasions players dismissed from Georgia resurfaced at other SEC schools and, in the case of former Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall, had a direct hand in putting Richt a little closer to the hot seat.

Yet so warped is the mindset of the college football fan that Richt’s greatest virtue — his willingness to do the right thing for the program, even if it was against his self-interest as a coach trying to keep his job — became something people beat him over the head with time and time again.

“People” includes his old fan base.  Which is perhaps noteworthy in that those Georgia fans aren’t exactly being let off the hook in this piece.

But here’s the rub: Richt never won a national title at Georgia. And though it’s impossible to pinpoint one thing that could have gotten him over the hump, Georgia fans will forever be torn over their devotion to the so-called “Georgia Way” and their burning desire to be a little more like Alabama.

If the roaring, full house at Georgia’s spring game was any indication, the pendulum in Athens has swung to the latter. Kirby Smart isn’t going to get everything he wants — Georgia’s stricter-than-industry-standard drug policy is staying intact for now, anyway — but little by little the Sabanization of the Bulldogs is taking hold.

We’ll soon find out whether that means more Saban-style discipline and willingness to give players as many chances as they need if they’re good enough to deliver titles, but the hunch here is it will. And Georgia fans will cheer just as loudly for that as they did puffing out their chests about how Richt did it the “right way.”

Eh, I think Wolken’s ignored one group – the folks who will insist that Georgia is getting the best of both Richt’s ethics and Saban’s management.  They’re the ones who decided to make the change at head coach, after all.  Other than that, it’s likely to turn out to be a fair cop.

54 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football

54 responses to “The redemption of Richt

  1. Jim

    Totally off topic but I wonder if Richt would have made the same effort around Harbaugh’s satellite camp yesterday that Kirby did

    • Jared S.

      Hasn’t Richt already declared that thinks satellite camps are stupid, illegal and a waste of time (my words)?

      • SRQDawgs15

        Hasn’t Kirby already made that same declaration?

        • Jared S.

          Uhhhh…. not to my knowledge. I think he said something more like he wasn’t a big fan, but if everyone else was doing it then he needed to as well in order to compete.

  2. Jared S.

    I liked Richt as a game-time coach. I loved him for how he tried to instill character in his players. I wish him all the best at Miami and hope CKS will keep trying to build the kind of culture Richt worked on for so long at Georgia.

  3. HVL Dawg

    Jonathan Taylor

    Does wishing make it so?

  4. JCDAWG83

    I’d say the only place Richt retained his focus for his entire 15 year tenure at Georgia was in player discipline and I have, and had, no problem with that. The players know/knew the rules and decided to break them. Any punishment they received, they deserved.

  5. I never had a problem with Richt’s stance/enforcement on discipline. It was a good thing. However, I had a huge problem with his refusal for a long time to recruit enough players to account for the inevitable attrition of said discipline.

  6. PTC DAWG

    I do not recall reading many articles like this while he was still at UGA. Most just ripped our program for recruiting unsavory characters.

    I agree with others, I never had any issues with Richt and his handling of discipline while at UGA.

    • Russ

      If you can find ONE, article like this, let me know.

    • Comin' Down The Track

      I had the same thought. It took the guy getting fired for the article pointing out the clear cause and effect logic hole that was always there to be written. If sports media wasn’t such an idiot, I’d swear sports media was a passive-aggressive jerk (present company excepted, natch).

    • The Dawg abides

      My thoughts exactly. I would like to hear Mark Bradley’s reaction to this article. He is the one who started the whole lost control meme in the first place. Funny how Wolken seems to know a lot more about how Richt works than Bradley ever did.

  7. 69Dawg

    Jim Donnan can say amen to losing a team because of unequal treatment. Jasper and Quincy got him in that regard.

    • JCDAWG83

      I think Donnan had very equal treatment, he let everybody do whatever they wanted. I remember reports coming out of Athens that the players were essentially running the program.

      • 69Dawg

        I found out about this from the father of the starting center who was in the Bulldawg RV club. He told all of us that Donnan had lost the team due to his handling of disciple in a totally uneven manner. Michael Geer was kick out for an MJ violation but Jasper and Quincy got sprained ankles for cocaine. He covered for his “special” players. Donnan was obviously not alone in this but he did it. Most coaches like their jobs too much to cut their best player for anything short of murder and some, like Urban, won’t cut them for that.

      • PTC DAWG

        At the bowl game in Tampa I attended, they were definitely running the show. We stayed on the same floor with a bunch of players at the Hyatt…all nice guys, none of them worried about Donnan AT ALL.

  8. @gatriguy

    He national narrative that Richt was canned bc he didn’t win a NC is out there and there is no controlling it. Unfortunately, it’s bullshit.

    Richt was fired because he had the program closer to losing to Georgia Southern than to even being competitive to Alabama and Florida.

    His continually getting embarrassed when he ran into programs with comparable talent did him in.

    Unfortunately, that’s not a very sexy headline.

    • JCDAWG83

      ^^this^^

    • Macallanlover

      That is BS, but we have had that discussion here hundreds of times on this forum before. Some cannot move on.

      As to the discipline issue, I didn’t like some of the rules, but Richt never played games with the discipline. He was consistent, fair, and made almost every UGA fan proud to have him as the face of the UGA program, and others wish he was theirs. We all hope that doesn’t change in the next regime, and I don’t think it will. And I don’t think Ledbetter being allowed to participate against UNC would signal a major change, it isn’t an offense justifying a suspension, punishable with some extra work for bad judgement would satisfy me.

      • @gatriguy

        Whatever. You do you. If Richt hadn’t been dismantled 2 years in a row by Florida teams with Treon Harris at QB, he’d still be coach at UGA, even with no NC and with the Bama curbstomping this year.

        This notion that not winning a NC was the central issue is fucking ludicrous.

        • Jared S.

          It’s not that ludicrous. All you have to ask yourself is “If Richt had won the NC in 2012 would he still be HC at Georgia?” The answer is not only possibly but probably a resounding “yes.”

          • Dylan Dreyer's Booty

            It’s pretty ludicrous. CMR might still be here if he had won the NC in 2012, but it would only have bought him a little more time. His real problem was not being able to look competitive against teams with comparable (or sometimes, worse) talent. If you can’t see that, I can’t help you.

            • Jared S.

              I agree with you totally about our teams looking unprepared and like they weren’t even competitive against great teams time and time again. But that doesn’t negate what I said: I don’t think it’s ludicrous at all to suppose that he’d still be HC if he’d won a NC as recently as 2012.

            • I’m sorry, but I would vehemently disagree with you regarding the impact of a national title in 2012. He would have been coach for life if he won it all it ’12. He would have gotten a pass for the ’13 injuries, the ’14 Gurley suspension, and an average ’15. The real question if we had won it all in ’12 is whether or not Todd Grantham would have left after 2013.

              • @gatriguy

                Saying that “winning an NC would have saved his job” and “not winning an NC cost him his job” are not the same thing. That implies that the only thing that could have saved him was winning a NC, which as I’ve stated, is fucking ludicrous.

                Simply not shitting the bed in Jax.(repeatedly), or keeping it within 21 against Bama, or not needing OT to beat southern, or not mismanaging the the roster for the past half decade, or not hiring Grantham or Schotty, etc., etc., would have helped save his job and have nothing to do with a National Championship.

                Richt got canned because his lack of attention in details snowballed into a big deal right at the same time that he had burned up much of his goodwill and the powers that be finally decided it was time for a change.

                That doesn’t make UGA the bad guys and it doesn’t make Richt a victim. Likewise, it doesn’t mean Richt is a bad coach or that he won’t win a shitload of games somewhere else. It simply means that as a work relationship, it was time for both sides to start fresh.

                But not winning a NC is not what brought that to a head.

                • I said if the team had won the Bama game in 2012 and gone on to beat ND, Mark would still be head coach today. I was differing with the previous opinion that it would have only delayed the inevitable. I find that absolutely ludicrous and not what the Georgia tradition is. Wally Butts won a national championship and was never challenged even when his teams of the 50s frankly stunk. Vince Dooley was never challenged after 1980 when he had teams that consistently underperformed from 1985 until he retired. I didn’t say he got fired because he didn’t win a championship. All of what you said is why he isn’t in Athens anymore.

          • Macallanlover

            Yep. And that is not to say there wasn’t some logic to making a change after 15 years. I personally wouldn’t have done it, but in our society people no longer work for one company all their life and few, if any, coaches hired after the clock struck 2000 will coach for just one school over an extended career. Richt made a pledge to stay in Athens until retirement, UGA rejected it for multiple reasons. One of those involved expectations and titles. Another was a feeling there was complacency and a change/shake up was needed.

            We have debated enough about whether that was the right time or not, and if it was handled well. Point is, mistake or not, everyone has to move on. But we should have a little better character than to continually attack someone who gave us the best he had for 15 years under constant scrutiny in a very difficult environment. Certainly since December 2015, he has looked a lot better than his detractors in how he handled everything…..but then he did the 15 years he was in Athens as well.

            • Jared S.

              I could probably be labeled a “Richt Apologist”, but even I have trouble buying into the assertion that he gave us the “best he had” for 15 years. I think he was tired the last few years and in many ways was kind of phoning it in when it came to game preparation.

          • DawgByte

            I agree. Had we won the NC in 2012 Richt would still be the HC @ UGA. Additionally, had we won the NC in ’12 it’s unlikely we’d have the player depth problems we do today.

          • Tim In Sav

            “If” a frog had wings, he wouldn’t bump his ass

        • RugbyDawg79

          Losing to florida is what did him in- losing to florida is something we can not stand for – Kirby knows this

  9. The guy who wrote the article is an idiot. I would not expect any less from USA Today.

    • Dylan Dreyer's Booty

      That was my idea, too. He takes a couple of essentially unrelated facts (discipline under CMR and 93k day) as explaining 1) CMR was great, 2) UGA’s fan base wishes it was more like Bama and is willing to look the other way, and that was why CMR was fired. I can’t see how Nick Marshall had anything to do with CMR’s demise. Maybe Nick deserved a second chance, but he couldn’t stay here. I think we all understood that. It is annoying that Nick went elsewhere and had success against us, but that’s it.

      My objection to discipline at UGA is that we have gone beyond the standards the rest of the world uses. Back in law school, you learn that there are things that there are rules we have so that we can function as a society – like traffic violations, drug laws, etc. – and then there things that are just evil and universally prohibited like murder, theft, and violence against anyone that isn’t self defense. My problem is that our approach is not make any distinction between the two types of issues. Scooter violations and marijuana get you suspended (which also hurts the other members of the team who haven’t done anything wrong, by the way), which is the same thing we do for those things that we would call malum per se. Don’t even get me started on AJ and TGIII. There is just no proportional connection with how we go about this; it’s like we are more interested in being tough than we are in being rational and even-handed.

      Repeat offenders are a different case because that shows a blatant disregard for caring about the rules (I am looking at you, Chauncey) but the first time offense of a drug screen that probably shouldn’t have been given the first day back from spring break and that kind of thing should be rethought. They can do it quietly, but they should do it. And the main point is that none of this has to do with winning ball games – it’s just more rational.

      • Jared S.

        I don’t know, I think clearly explaining a set of rules and the consequences of breaking them and then following through is pretty rational. Plus, as a player at Georgia under Richt you knew what you were getting into. It wasn’t like the rules or the strict discipline was a surprise. If as a player or parent you thought they were unfair or irrational you could always go somewhere else.

      • You can point the finger regarding AJ and TG3II a little higher in the hierarchy than Mark Richt.

        Nick Marshall had one lucky pass of success against us. The next year we put a beat down on Nick that he’ll remember for a long time. Therefore, I would agree his departure had zero to do with CMR.

        I would like to have more like Bama results, but I don’t want our program to be more like Bama.

        Richt did the right thing on the discipline front given the rules he was given by Michael Adams. He didn’t have a lot of leeway for many of the discipline issues that occurred.

        • .Dash

          Not that I don’t agree with your general point, but Marshall’s success against UGA wasn’t the only factor contributing to RIcht’s status on the hot seat. Auburn doesn’t get to the national championship game without him, and obviously that measure of Auburn success was bad for UGA and Richt.

    • D.N. Nation

      Wolken’s not an idiot, but he’s definitely been the loudest mainstream concern troll after Richt got canned. Every little thing that Kirby does seems worthy of a Wolken twitter freakout.

  10. Mark

    I don’t get the “win at all cost” some fans have concerning college football.

  11. UGA85

    This is a very complicated issue, and all of us have opinions. Mine is that CMR’s way of running a program is not the only right, good, clean way to do it. It’s certainly one way. But CKS likely has a different way, and that’s okay. And, yes, I feel it is still possible to win SEC championships, compete with UF, not “faceplant” every year and stay within the rules. Again, to me, CMR’s going home to Miami and CKS’s coming home to UGA looks like a win for all parties.

    • Jared S.

      I want to believe that it’s a win-win. And I think it’s certainly possible. Only time will tell.

      I feel bad for CKS though, knowing that if he’s HC for five years, averages 10 wins a year, and runs a clean program, but fails to win a single SECCG that he’ll probably be fired.

      • UGA85

        To me, it is reasonable to expect the coach at UGA to win the SEC championship. CMR won it twice in five years, but then went a decade without a championship. If there are no expectations, then there will be no championships. If CKS stays at UGA, hopefully for a long time, but goes a decade without a championship, then I would expect a change to be made. Change can help energize a coach and a program; I am hoping that is the case for CMR and UGA.

  12. DawgPhan

    it cute that some of yall are all up in your feelings over getting called out by the usa today writer. You got what you wanted, be proud of it.

    • I wanted Richt canned, no doubt, but that asshole writer does not speak for how the fanbase felt or will feel in regards to the program conducting itself. He is a moroon, a nincowpoop.

  13. aristoggle

    Mississippi State? Did I miss something, or did you mean Ole Miss, Senator? I would also add Tennessee to that list.

  14. 69Dawg

    Why Mark Richt was fired has remained a moving target. Perception on a national level is that UGA fired a coach who had won 9.6 games per year on average for 15 years. They struggle to see how that can happen. Does it seem strange to you that they would determine it must be because he could not win the big one. after all many UGA fans have said that over and over again for quite a few years. So we get our feelings hurt when the national sports writers just write what they know about UGA.

  15. Gravidy

    Where in the bloody hell was this steaming hot take during the time when Richt was getting bludgeoned by the meme?!?

    • D.N. Nation

      Fire Richt fire Richt he can’t win the big one (random record) vs. (random measurement of good teams) fire Richt Georgia will never win with Richt fire Richt he can’t win the big o……HEY WHYDJA FIRE RICHT, HUH?

  16. Cojones

    Just so we don’t forget, I remember people here agreeing with the Spurrier taunts about playing us early when all the best players were suspended. It was dissected by those people to show how they viewed it as hurting our team and didn’t appreciate the place he built for young men to learn – until, of course, the times that Mothers said they were glad for their kids to commit to UGA because they would be treated sincerely like sons. Then those critics were thankful Richt’s character was successful to fulfill their needs – more beef or a better QB.

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