Mark Richt: Georgia Bulldogs Fans, It Is Time to Fight for Our Coach
The fan, who was calling into question an assistant coach, finally got under Richt's skin. At the height of the argument he stated, “I see your frustration, I understand your frustration. I wasn’t born yesterday, I’ve coached football for 25 years, so I know what the hell I’m doing, OK?”
Richt went on to say, “I appreciate your passion, I appreciate your support for this football team. Everybody can just calm down and know that we’re in good hands.”
Now to be honest, after the bowl game this past season, I believed it might be time for Richt to step down—not because he couldn't coach, but because I thought he had lost his fire. However, he has admitted his mistakes this past season. He fixed the strength and conditioning issue. The players have stayed out of trouble, and most of all, he has that fire in his eye again.
There is an old saying about family: “We might fight with each other, but we will fight for each other as well.” This is where I am at today. I am sick and tired of people acting as if Mark Richt can't coach because he had one bad season. I am not here blindly defending him because he is the coach at UGA. I am defending him because he has earned that right.
He is our coach, like it or not, and until that changes, we need to rise up and support our coach! Just in case you are hesitant, I hope this article serves as a reminder of why we should be supporting him.
He Broke a 20-Year SEC Drought
The University of Georgia had gone 20 years without an SEC championship prior to the hiring of Mark Richt. However, in just his second season the Bulldogs won the SEC championship.
In his third season, we were back in the SEC Championship Game but lost to the eventual national champions. In his fifth season the team would return to the SECCG and win another title.
In all, UGA has won or had a share of four SEC East titles in 10 seasons. You don't have that type of success unless you are a good football coach.
The problem is not that he can't coach. The problem is he has coached so well over an eight-year span that we became spoiled and did not know how to act with one mediocre and one bad season.
His Records Have Matched His Recruiting
Over the past two seasons, I have heard, repeatedly, that Mark Richt does “less with more” than any other coach in the SEC. However, a closer look at the stats shows a different story.
Since Richt has arrived at UGA, he has had six top-10 recruiting classes, according to scout.com (excluding this season because they have not yet taken the field). During that time, Richt has coached six teams that finished in the top 10 in the polls.
He has also coached those players up. Sixty-three players have been drafted into the NFL under Mark Richt. That is the most in the SEC during that time frame. Some would argue that should mean that they have had the most success. The problem with that theory is that it doesn't account for the players that left early.
For example, do you think UGA would have been 8-5 in 2009 if Knowshon Moreno and Matthew Stafford had returned for their junior and senior years, respectively? They probably would had been competing for a national championship.
He Is Tough on Discipline
I love the hypocrisy that comes from many people's mouths in regards to Mark Richt and his disciplining the players. Yes, we won the Fulmer cup last season. However, most would agree, if you looked at the violations, that the largest percentage of those incidents were college kids being college kids.
The only real serious violation we had, we kicked the players off the team. The hypocrisy came into play when the player that our “undisciplined coach” kicked off was then quickly offered a scholarship by the University of Alabama and Louisiana State University.
One Bleacher Report correspondent, Larry Burton, recently wrote an article entitled, “Is It Time to Examine Mark Richt's Recruiting Standards Now?” His logic was that the recent theft by visiting recruits (non-UGA players), added in with last season's arrest, proves Mark Richt is recruiting the wrong type of players.
However, he failed to mention the recent Alabama recruit that was arrested for a DUI. He forgot to mention Mark Barron's recent trip to Mobile. He forgot to mention that Robby Green, after coming off a yearlong drug suspension, is suspended yet again and was not the only player suspended this spring at Alabama.
The point is not to flame Alabama but to clarify that all teams have their struggles with players' behavior. When you have been at one school 10 years, you are going to have some ups and downs.
Yes, we have had players in trouble. However, a coach cannot control what a young man does outside of his presence. All a coach can do is handle the situations when they arise, and as we have seen the past year, Richt kicks them off, and the rest of the SEC makes them an offer.
He Has Coached at a National Championship Level
This discussion frustrated me more than any of the rest: the notion that Mark Richt cannot win the big game. When I hear these things stated, it makes me believe that person has never coached a meaningful game.
The reality is that coaches put players in the position to win, but the players have to make the plays. A perfect example is comparing the 2002 UGA team and the 2009 Alabama team. Both teams had one play that decided the season.
For UGA it was a perfectly called play against Florida that sprung Terrence Edwards open for a touchdown. For Alabama it was the Terrence Cody blocked field goal attempt. In the case of Edwards, he dropped the pass. In the case of Cody, he got the tip of his finger on the ball. Literally only an inch separates the two seasons.
The difference was not the coaching. Both made the correct call with an undefeated season on the line. The difference was the play made. Nick Saban is no less of a coach if Mt. Cody doesn't get to the ball, but the season would have been.
This is not the only example, but it is a legit one. Mark Richt is 2-1 in SEC championship games and 7-3 in bowl games. He knows how to win big games.
He Has Done Things the Right Way
Call me less of a fan or not competitive enough. However, I would rather have a coach that does things the right way and puts the team in a position to win then to have a coach who cheats, oversigns or treats the player like a piece of meat.
Mark Richt has not only had the fourth-highest winning percentage among active coaches and seventh all-time in SEC history, but he has raised boys into men as well. Yes, he has had his failed projects, but he has had many more players who are fine, upstanding men.
I am proud that he is my coach. I am proud of what he has done. I am proud of where we will be during the month of January 2012. Go DAWGS!