A lot was made recently about Georgia’s coaching staff being all over the top in-state football prospects last week like mud on a jockey’s goggles at this weekend’s Kentucky Derby. Georgia’s coaching staff is canvassing the state this spring in an effort to lock down all of the top football talent as they build a “Dream Team” that they believe will help them compete for SEC and national titles. My first thoughts were “Why is this even a story?” This is what I expect. Isn’t this what we all should expect? This is what I had hoped was happening all year, every year during every football recruiting cycle. The coaches always say how important it is that they recruit the top players in Georgia and I just assumed they were doing that anyway. Doing what they said they were doing. And I’m sure they did recruit those players. Yet, each year there were players that decided somewhere other than Georgia was the place they needed to be. Now I’m not naïve enough to think that the DAWGS will get every top in-state player every year, but I do believe it is the obligation of the coaching staff to try…to make every effort to bring those players on board. Not because they need to do this to make me happy, but because it would seemingly be in there best interest to do so in a never ending effort to win championships. Apparently, I was expecting too much or at least had the wrong idea about what was going on in the recruiting processes at the University of Georgia before this spring.
Well seemingly things are different this year and I am not complaining. Articles like THIS ONE and THIS ONE go into great detail about the extents to which the Georgia coaching staff are going to bring the state’s top players to Athens.
This could just be a new method of recruiting at Georgia and that will be that, but I don’t think that’s the case. Maybe the bigger point here is that this is a sign that something is different about Georgia this year. Maybe it means that there is something different about Mark Richt. Maybe this is just another sign that CMR has decided that being good is not good enough.
Let’s look at the signs. During the last few months we’ve seen a reinvigorated Mark Richt. The “new” fire first flashed publicly during the Georgia Tech game when a premature cold water bath drew the ire of the head DAWG. Soon thereafter, we saw the head coach fire virtually his entire defensive staff that was led by a long time friend, stare down the odds and lead his team to a bowl win with graduate assistants coaching his defense that had a noticeably different attitude. We watched as he stood firm against the doubts and criticisms that swirled during the coaching search that would produce his new defensive coordinator and we have supported the coach and the program each time some harsh discipline has been doled out this spring, trusting that the head DAWG knows what is best for the program.
The reports out of Athens during spring practice offer us further proof that things are different around the practice fields these days. The new defensive staff seems to be long on teaching the fundamentals of the game and an aggressive style of play with a healthy dose of nasty and short on tolerance for not offering up either. As a result, it seems that the offensive squads have noticed and have realized that they too must raise there level of play if they are going to survive in this brave new world of the DAWG. If this conclusion is right, the results we see on the field in the fall should be impressive.
I don’t see CMR every day and I don’t know if I’m just making stuff up or there is actually a difference in the way the man is demanding that Georgia football handle its business. I hate to write this next part, but I must. You see a Nick Saban or an Urban Meyer go about there work, you look at the results they achieve and you must acknowledge that there is a difference between them and everyone else. You just get a sense that they demand a certain level of commitment from everyone involved with their programs and that they set the example and lead the way. The bottom line is they have gotten the results that every coach, every player and every fan wants for their team and there has to be a reason. That reason is an attention to detail and a commitment to perfection that others have not matched in recent seasons.
I could be totally out on a limb here, but I see the last few months in Athens as a series of signs that tells us CMR has decided there is more that can be done in pursuit of a national championship and that he intends to lead the way and set the example. I believe this new commitment to slamming the door to our great state and it’s players in the face of our opponents in recruiting is just another sign that CMR realizes the bar has been raised and that something more must be done if he is going to take Georgia from a really good program and consistent winner to a level that will bring him and the DAWGS that elusive national championship.