Good morning, y’all. I awoke this morning to another beautiful Fall day with the promise of showers in the afternoon. Imagine my surprise to see what appeared to be a mushroom cloud over to the East, Athens way. Of course I rushed right inside to watch Channel 11 News to see if their Wizzo Meter had picked up the activity on their radar. As usual, they were unawares. I had to sit through the weather to get to the sports section before finding out what had caused the cloud of doom.
Early reports are that the University of Georgia has up and fired their coach of fifteen seasons, Mark Richt. Let me just say that I haven’t been this filled with mixed emotions since the day my hero, Bruce Jenner, died.
I mean, if coaching success is measured by wins and losses, the administration in Athens has just shot itself in the head. In his fifteen years as head coach of my beloved Bulldogs, Richt has compiled a record of 145 wins to 51 losses. That’s a .740 winning percent. There are programs all over the country that would die for a .640 percent. We are stratospheric when it comes to win loss, although our bowl percent is a little sucky at .643. Still, it can’t be about percent, it must be something else.
One of the rags on Richt is his winning percentage against winning teams. It is clear to see that we don’t fair well against Alabama and Florida. Now it looks like the resurgence of Tennessee will push us even further down the list of the SEC East. We have owned Auburn during Richt’s tenure, which, let me tell you, is a wonderful thing. Unfortunately, we have also struggled at times against far lesser competition. Going to overtime with Georgia Southern this year may have been the straw that broke the camel’s back.
I don’t have inside information, but many are saying that the dysfunctional, FUBAR, debacle of the Florida game was when the death knell was sounded. Starting the third string quarterback because of his running abilities, and then not running him, has to stand out as one of the most bone headed decisions of all time. It’s hard to know if Coach Richt thinks that he can pull off spectacular stuff from stupid decisions because he’s got God on his side. There is also the possibility that Coach Richt goes into some sort of amnesiac coma during big games where he forgets all he’s learned over the years. Either way, it has happened too many times to ignore. The squib kick against Georgia Tech was the most damning to me, intellectually and physically.
For all of us fans who expect to win the SEC East every year, the SEC every couple of years, and a National Championship every 5-6 years, Richt’s job performance has been nonsensical. Whether it was roster management, constantly undersigning classes, boneheaded coaching hires, or the belief that winning 9 or 10 games a year was enough to keep his job, Coach Richt has clearly underestimated his support in the Athletic Department and with the fans.
I’m guessing the AD knows that three wins a year are coming from schools named the “Little Sisters of the Blind”. Even if Richt had been told by the AD that he was the “CEO of football” and that his coordinators were supposed to be doing all of the heavy lifting, Richt clearly abdicated his CEO duties going back to the Willie Martinez days. Good CEO’s fire non-performers, that’s why they get paid the big bucks. Keeping Martinez well past it was obvious that he was not the man for the job, was a harbinger for the future.
In my eyes, Richt has been doing just enough to save his job each year since 2007. “Evil” Richt went all “gangsta” in the 2007 Florida game by telling his players to draw a penalty for celebration. They did, to disastrous results, and likely tainted the Georgia program for years with the SEC referees. While we had our best season ever under Richt in 2007, it was clear that the incident prejudiced the referees against the Bulldogs for years after.
A hallmark of the Richt era has been generating “fake juice” by wearing black uniforms or other promotions. Did Richt think the “fake juice” would out trump sound coaching? Apparently so, we’ve seen “fake juice” used more than we’ve seen screen passes, which are kind of a staple of pro set offenses. Again, sound game plans and appropriate in game decisions are what keep the fans, fans, and the coaches their jobs.
Oh well, we won’t have Mark Richt to kick around any more. Bring on the new guy, and GO DAWGS!