Showing 1 - 8 of 8 posts found matching keyword: mark richt
Saturday 26 November 2016
In 2014, Georgia Tech won in Sanford Stadium on a last second collapse by Georgia. Two years later, here we are again. Mark Richt was fired exactly a year after his mistake. Is Kirby Smart on the same path?
First of all, a word about Georgia Tech. The much maligned Paul Johnson brought crafty play calling and superior discipline to Athens and beat a team with superior talent 28-27. Congratulations. See that it never happens again.
Now back to Smart.
Before the season started, a friend asked me what I thought of Kirby Smart as the new head coach of the Georgia Bulldogs. At the time, I wasn't nuts about some of the bad habits he brought over from his former employer (including hiding from the press, influencing the Georgia legislature to exempt his program from sunshine laws, and resisting the transfer of student athletes). However, I said I'd wait until the season ended to render an opinion. The season is now over, and I remain less than optimistic.
Fact: Despite playing all four of them most years for the better part of a century, Georgia has never lost football games to Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Florida, and Georgia Tech in the same season before. Not under Richt, not even under Donnan. Add in that we only squeaked by Auburn because they ran out of players and it gets worse. That's an incredibly inauspicious start to the Kirby Smart era.
All season, I've heard about how Georgia is losing because its talent is lacking. Somehow, that never came up while Richt was coach. Smart started the season with Heisman hopeful Nick Chubb, his talented roommate Sony Michel, and the most talked about quarterback recruit in the SEC. He ended the season ranked 12 of 14 SEC teams in total points per game. Maybe former Defensive Coordinator Smart needs time to adjust to learning to coach offense, but his defense still finished 7 out of 14 SEC teams in total points allowed. Maybe, as his defenders claim, Smart doesn't have the players with the skill sets necessary to play "The System" he brought over from Alabama, but that's not the fault of Richt or the kids he recruited. That's on the coach who chose a system and failed to adapt it to suit the talent he had available.
I hope that the problems of 2016 represented growing pains for a rookie head coach learning on the job. The good news for Smart is that it will be hard to do any worse in 2017. That is, unless he's determined to lose to Auburn, too.
Saturday 3 September 2016
Word on the street (or at least the word via the AJC) is that the Seiler family, owners of UGA's beloved Uga mascots, is looking to inject some fresh DNA into the winnowed Uga bloodline. Future Ugas should be smaller and look more like the bulldogs of yesteryear. Good for them. Our mascots have been getting far too heavy, and the breed has serious health issues that need to be addressed if it's going to survive into the 22nd century.
There are some other Bulldogs that could use some new blood, too. Greyson Lambert has officially been named as starting quarterback in today's season opener versus North Carolina. Coach Smart has been hinting at this heavily for months now, so it comes as no surprise. It's a shame that Smart hasn't learned from history.
Lambert, as all Bulldog faithful recall, was not spectacular last year. In fact, I blame Mark Richt's firing on his decision to waste a year on the arms of Lambert, Bauta, and Ramsey in anticipation of incoming wunderkind Jacob Eason. Richt learned the hard way that high expectations plus lackluster performance are a fast track to a pink slip.
Eason, Smart says, isn't ready to start yet. He's playing it safe, putting in the proven commodity. Lambert is experienced. If he wins, no big deal. He's also terrible. If he loses, no big deal. That's the kind of selfish coaching decision you like to see: no matter what happens in the game, coach can't lose. Yet another indication of just how much we've lost by ash-canning Richt.
Sink or swim, there's no time like the present to learn how to play the game. If Eason is as great as they've been saying, let's get him some game experience that counts at the start of the season when losses mean the least. When Bulldogs need new blood, procrastination isn't an option.
Saturday 26 December 2015
I was notified over Christmas dinner that Uga IX, aka Russ, died this week at the age of 11. What can you say to that? I settled for "Please pass the deviled eggs."
Why was it that whenever Mark Richt had a bad year, an Uga died? In 2009, Uga VII died after losses to Oklahoma State, LSU, Tennessee, and Florida. After the 2010 season, which Georgia finished 6-7, Uga VIII died of cancer. Despite wining nine games (with a bowl game still to go), 2015 was so disappointing, we said goodbye to both Richt and Uga IX.
(To be clear, Richt is still alive. At least I think he still is. No one said otherwise during dinner.)
Let's hope this tragic trend ends with Kirby Smart. May Uga X's reign be long and fruitful.
I'll have more to say about old dogs on Monday. In the meantime, I'm going to Florida. If it's going to be 80 degrees in December, I might as well be at the beach.
Wednesday 16 December 2015
Mark Richt gambled that he could survive the 2015 season with a crop of lackluster quarterbacks in the hopes that he could reach current high school senior Jacob Eason on the other side. Many thought that Richt's firing would send Eason to choose another school, but new hire Kirby Smart worked hard to re-close the deal.
It worked! Eason has re-committed to be the University of Georgia's 2016 quarterback. After two years in the wilderness, UGA will have a quarterback again. Cue the fireworks and parades.
Now let reality set in. It will be hard enough for Eason to live up to the years of hype UGA fans have been sold. Worse, to justify Richt's firing, he'll be asked deliver a national championship to Athens sooner rather than later. That's something Eric Zier, Mike Bobo, David Green, Matt Stafford, and Aaron Murray all failed to do.
Good luck, kid. You're going to need it.
Comments (2)| Leave a Comment | Tags: football georgia jacob eason kirby smart mark richt quarterbacks
Thursday 3 December 2015
I hadn't even gotten around to contributing my two cents here on the University of Georgia firing Mark Richt this past Sunday, and already he's been hired to lead another marquee program at the University of Miami. Good for him.
I would not have minded if UGA had given Richt another year to try and correct the mess he'd let his program devolve into. The failure to recruit or develop a quarterback prior to the season was a gamble that failed to pay off. When Chubb was lost for the season, Richt was too tolerant of Offensive Coordinator Schottenheimer's inability or unwillingness to restructure his offence for the, uh, "differently abled" QBs he had to work with. There were too many games this year where Georgia's offense was unwatchable. The team never beat an opponent with a winning record, and was woefully unprepared in every game that counted. That UGA finished with 9 wins says more about Athletic Director McGarity's ability to gimmick a schedule of cupcakes than the football team's ability to actually play football.
Still, I think the fault of the season lies more with the fans than the coaches. Every year, UGA fans desperate for a little success and national recognition buy into the hype that this will be the year. When UGA was nearly unanimously picked before the season to win the SEC East, the Sword of Damocles was hung above Richt's head. By failing to live up to the hype, Richt fell victim to his own past success.
Is UGA being short-sighted in dismissing the second-winningest coach in school history? Probably. But sometimes a change will do everybody good. Richt returns to his alma-mater with new motivation to win in a weaker conference. UGA gets a new coach to blame if we don't win the SEC East every year. It may not be a win-win, but as the old adage goes, when action is necessary, do something even if it's wrong.
We'll see how quickly I change my tune if Richt take Miami to the Bowl Championship Series before UGA wins another SEC title with his successor. Sour grapes never fall too far from the vine.
Saturday 29 November 2014
Some games are a lot of fun. Others are excruciating. This was one of the latter. Long runs, fake kicks, fumbles for touchdowns, overtime: it would have been a great game to watch if I'd been cheering for anyone other than Georgia.
UGA was clearly deflated by Missouri's successful bid to win the SEC East yesterday, and played like nothing mattered anymore, even in a contest against in-state rival Georgia Tech. The Bulldogs looked like world beaters on the opening drive, making me think that we hadn't looked that good on an opening drive since we played Florida. I'm thinking about opening up a side business reading tea leaves.
Yes, the Dawgs fumbled twice on goal line situations, leaving 14 points on the board in what would become a 30-24 loss, but I cannot let the squib kick pass without comment. When Georgia scored to pull 3 points ahead with 18 seconds remaining, everyone in the stands celebrated. All we had to do was kick deep, then keep Tech's nigh-unstoppable offense from reaching field goal position. Then, to our horror, Coach Richt called that squib kick leaving Tech only 20 yards from a tying field goal. Sometimes, conventional wisdom is wrong. But more often, coaches try to overthink football. At least Richt had the good sense to fall on his sword afterwards:
"Not a good decision there. ... I should've let him kick it deep and go cover the thing and see what happened from there."
Sure, that's easy to say after it goes wrong, but why would you consider a squib at all in that situation, coach?
You can see in the picture below that the scoreboard operator was so disappointed in the outcome, the screen was turned off within seconds of the game's dismal final play. And while I'm on the topic of the scoreboard, let me make a footnote on this season's newest crowd diversion: the karaoke cam. A different song was used each week, from "Livin' on a Prayer," to "Build Me Up Buttercup," the most popular being "Friends in Low Places." The least popular, based on crowd interaction, was today's "Bye Bye Bye," a fitting song given how our season ended.
Oh, what a season it might have been if not for that inexplicable loss at Florida, or the loss of Gurley, or that fateful squib kick.... As the saying goes, "there's always next year."
Saturday 28 September 2013
This LSU/Georgia game was probably the most exciting game I've seen in Sanford Stadium in the past decade.
I mean, I've seen some great games. Back when Tennessee was still the team to beat in the early 2000s, the atmosphere was electric. Before Cam Newton destroyed them, Auburn games always had a great atmosphere. I seem to recall that Steve Spurrier's first year as coach of the Gamecocks was a fantastic game. This one beat them all.
ESPN's College Game Day was in town for the game (the third time since I've had season tickets), and the fans were really worked up hours before kickoff. The crowd was on its feet making noise almost continuously for all for quarters. I screamed my head off, and I thought I was going to be sick when LSU got the ball in the final 2 minutes down by 3 points. (The Georgia offense scored nearly at will, but the secondary couldn't stop anything. It was terrifying!) I don't know that I've ever been so exhausted after a game.
In fact, the whole night was just crazy. UGA head basketball Mark Fox dressed in body paint to hang out with the student section. Former UGA golf star Bubba Watson tried not to upstage his wife, former UGA basketball star Angie Ball Watson, as she was celebrated between quarters. Olympic gold medal winner Allison Schmitt was among feted members of the SEC champion UGA swimming/diving team. After the game, David Pollack danced with his kid in the end zone as Mark Richt sought out and hugged his wife. When Aaron Murray came out of the locker room for an interview with ESPN (on the northwest corner of the field after the game), the rest of the team came with him. They lined up single-file to hi-five the crowd still trying to leave the stadium. I've never seen anything like that.
It was all pretty damn awesome. This is why I attend football games.
Friday 14 December 2012
Mark Richt came to my town on Tuesday as by coincidence I went to Athens. Richt was in town recruiting Newnan High School senior Trey Wiggins for the 2013 Georgia Bulldogs football team, and he took the time to visit with local schoolchildren at the elementary school where Wiggins' mother works. But what really seems to have stirred up the locals was Richt's dinner at the local Texas Roadhouse restaurant. Word on the street is that Richt is apparently "a really nice guy."
Mom and I had dinner at Texas Roadhouse on Wednesday. I wore my "G" hat and a "Dawgs" shirt. The waitstaff assumed that my attire marked someone who wanted to hear their stories of waiting on Richt the night before. Over the course of my main course, two waitresses approached me with their stories of meeting Richt. I sat patiently through an iPhone slideshow of Richt trying very hard to tolerate people interrupting him as he tried to eat his steak. At that moment, I knew what it felt like to be a famous head football coach.
I don't mean to be dismissive of their hero worship. I understand the appeal of meeting Coach Richt in person. I spent a decade in Athens, and the one time I bumped into him while walking across campus — in about 2004 — he asked to borrow my pen briefly to sign an autograph for a booster. As I recall, he was a really nice guy.