May 13, 2010

Is this Coach Richt's Last Year in Athens?

Paul Finebaum wrote Tuesday on that Mark Richt, along with LSU head coach Les Miles, could potentially not return to their jobs in 2011. His reason: both coaches, while very successful at their respective programs, can't compete with their top rivals and will eventually be ousted by rabid and angry fanbases.

He argues that Georgia under Mark Richt has only a 1-4 record against the Corch Meyers Gator, plus a bad season in 2008.

My first thought: aren't the fans the ones who actually choose which coaches are on the metaphorical "hot seat?" Why does it seem like there are plenty of sports writers across the nation who love to designate the jobs of coaches as "in danger," while the local media somehow haven't caught wind of it? Do the sports writers who cover primarily Georgia football think Mark Richt is in a lot of trouble? Doesn't seem that way. That's probably because the fans at Georgia aren't really making a lot of noise about it either.

So where did Finebaum go wrong here?

First, I think Georgia fans, despite hating Florida and hating losing to the Gator Superb, have a sort of empathy with the team and the head coach. It isn't like the curse of the Gator began when Mark Richt first stepped foot on the warm, polluted Jacksonville soil. The Dawgs have been pummeled by Florida since Vince Dooley left behind the almighty headset for Ray Goff (1-6 against UF) and Jim Donnan (1-4 against UF).

But that's not all. Sure, Florida rose from the depths in 1990 and have done well ever since, but Mark Richt has faced the Gators in three of their best seasons in history (2006, 2008, and 2009), losing all three contests. His team has played against two national championship Florida squads, and one that was very close to repeating (2009).

Yes, Georgia fans want Richt to beat Florida more than any team, and no one is going to be happy with more losses to the Gators, but I just don't see Georgia fans calling for the firing of their head coach based only on his record versus our top rival.

Second, last season was far from being the "complete disaster" that Finebaum thought it almost was. Georgia went 8-5, beating rivals Auburn and the then #7 Georgia Tech in Atlanta. Not a fantastic season by any means, but still a year that the vast majority of Big-Six FBS teams would love to have.

In fact, in the past decade since Mark Richt has been in Athens, 8-5 in 2009 was likely the worst.

Last year some of the national college football "elites" (along with others) had seasons just as bad or only very slightly better.

-Oklahoma was 8-5
-USC, LSU, and Miami finished 9-4

Is Bob Stoops now on the "hotseat?" Would Pete Carroll have been if he hadn't jumped ship and fled to the NFL?

Yes, Les Miles is under scrutiny, but that's more likely because he makes boneheaded decisions during important games.

So does one "down season" with an 8-5 record put a great coach's job in jeopardy? Georgia fans don't seem to think so.

The Florida game last year was perhaps the lowest I've ever seen Georgia football in the past few years. With three losses, the Dawgs were trying to hang on to a possible successful 10-win season by a thread, looking for a miracle and a turnaround. There was a strange excitement about the Cocktail Party, and Mark Richt appeared to have a confident plan. He told the media and fans that they better be watching, because that Halloween game in Jacksonville was going to be fun. Everyone went to the game or tuned in on their TVs with a hope for maybe the biggest upset of all time.

And then the team came out in black pants and helmets.

It wasn't so much the loss that bothered people, I think. It was the fact that when the Bulldog Nation needed confidence, needed to see the best effort in history from a downtrodden football team, needed to see a spark similar to 2007's end zone celebration from the coach and the players... we were greeted with a uniform change. How could Mark Richt have possibly thought that would be a good idea? Especially after the Alabama blackout the year before.

The fallout was terrible. On the Mark Richt radio show, callers sounded so upset and disappointed, and Mark Richt sounded the same. It really seemed at that moment like something was wrong.

But it didn't take long for the doom and gloom to pass, and you really didn't hear much shouting of "fire Mark Richt!" The cry became "get rid of Willie Martinez!" instead, and so it was done. Coach Richt did what he had to do, he atoned for past mistakes, beat rival Georgia Tech and won yet another bowl game to regain the trust of the Bulldog Nation. The only time you hear about Mark Richt being in trouble is when you read a non-local sports news writer's opinion, or see fans from other parts of the country or rival schools speculating on his imminent firing.

But the feeling in Athens and places where the Bulldog faithful gather? Support for the head coach that the vast majority of Georgia fans have come to love. Optimism for the future. Excitement for the 2010 season.


  1. Paul Finebaum is a complete idiot trying to stir the pot. He is a Bama fan. Nick Saban will be gone from Bama before Richt is out of Athens. Mark it down.

  2. Don't forget we faced Fla. with out D J Shockly his senior year, that one really stung for me.

  3. Finebum is praying Richt is heading out. He knows that Richt is finally righting the ship again and it spells trouble for his tide.

  4. He wrote the same thing last year and we see that Richt is still here. I want nothing more than to have a dream season, Bama to have their D who lost 9 starters to look average and for us to play somebody LSU in the SEC title game and stomp them into the ground. What would he have to say then?

  5. That is just not true.

    We yelled and yelled for the firing of Willie Martinez, the entire defensive staff, all the special teams' coaching staff, and for the firing of Mike Bobo and his entire offensive coaching staff.

    It is the later that has Coach Richt on the hot seat. He lost 4 games 2006 without a QB prepared. He lost 5 games 2009 without a QB prepared. If he loses 4 games this season at 9-4 or 10-3 without a QB prepared again, Coach Richt himself will be fine.

    If that is what you are talking about.

    Coach Richt being safe.

    3 weeks ago, Coach Richt admitted that the job was too much for Mike Bobo, and took over complete reigns of the Bulldogs' Offense, himself.

    If we have the kind of year this year that we have had the last 4 years of 10-10 vs SEC East teams the last 4 years and 14 Losses overall the last 4 years, which by the way is # 19 in the nation over the last 4 years at 38-14, then his failure to get a good coaching staff in here working with him his entire 9 Year Coach Richt Era, will be why he is in fact in trouble.

    Surely with 14 seniors and 5 juniors, all starters, leaving after this season, it becomes imperative that we not wait for Christian LeMay after this year to come in here and save Coach Richt's job, when we all love Coach Richt.

    Coach Richt has no one but himself to blame for his coaching staff the entire 9 Years of The Coach Richt Era. He was stubborn to keep them all, and still with # 96 in Penalties the last 4 years every year, 21 fumbles a year every year for the last 4 years and 14 interceptions a year every year for the last 4 years, along with being # 9 in The SEC in football graduation rates and 39 Arrests / Suspensions the last 3 years, there is a lot of pressure on Coach Richt.

    No matter what the hell you say to the contrary.

    1-3 to Florida is the least of his troubles you say, over the last 4 years.

    How about his 1-3 vs the lousy vols' teams the last 4 years ?

    How about the 5 losses to SEC East teams the last 4 years which were to teams NOT in the Top 25 Final AP Poll of our 10 SEC East losses the last 4 years now ?

    14-game seasons nowadays, and the best we can hope for is 10-3 or 9-4 this season, again.

    After his first 5 years here, this is not where I thought we would be looking at this 5 th season, since then.

    It is what it is, and it is NOT Coach Richt but Coach Richt's entire coaching staff the entire 9 Year Coach Richt Era.

  6. Mark Richt has been long on "Figurehead" and short of results. 10 win seasons but no championships in the past four long years. His window for achieving the National Championship is the first ten years! I see success in Richt's career but I also see a lot of failures. The Dawg Nation is uncertain going into the 5th straight year as to the direction of the team!
    Muschamp and Smart could do no worse!