While Mark Richt is not totally responsible for everything that has gone wrong with Georgia football over the last three years, he is accountable for the overall lack of progress the program has experienced during that time.
On the record, my opinion of Mark Richt is that he’s a great football coach who has hit a rough patch. However, off the record, I am an admitted apologist of him and his decisions regarding Georgia football. I want to see him succeed and I want to see those who would otherwise torch him be forced to reconsider their stance.
That said, imagine the glee and disappointment felt upon learning that he took his foot off the gas the last two years—played with his cards a little too close to the vest.
An article, published by The Orlando Sentinel on Christmas day let us take a small peek inside the mind of the much-maligned Georgia football coach, and exposed a flaw that many of the most skeptical fans of the program have suspected for quite some time now—coach Richt had lost his fire.
When asked about the issues the team has encountered over the last few years—particularly in the area of conditioning and overall preparedness—Richt had the following to say,
“I started the season in camp probably not doing enough live scrimmaging and tackling to the ground… Ever since I’ve been coaching, that’s all I’ve been around. But we’ve had a couple of years in a row. We had one season, we started the season we had 32 guys injured before the year even got started. And so I’m like, `Alright, this year, I’m going to do what some other teams do. … We were still going to scrimmage, you know have three big scrimmages, but we were going to try to go full speed but not go to the ground or not block below the waist to try to beat everybody to the gate.”
While it’s understandable that coach Richt would want to be cautious, it would seem that he would have looked elsewhere for answers—why fix what was not broken? The systematic pull-back of intensity was bound to affect the overall attitude of the players and the coaches at some point.
Did he not think his approach would become a factor at some point?
Furthermore, the holes in the S&C program might have been a lot easier to see if the team were approaching scrimmages and practice sessions with more intensity. Perhaps canceling ‘two-a-days’ and heading to the pool hurt more than some cared to admit—including myself.
Either way, his honesty should be considered as a positive step towards the type of change you want to see at Georgia because it’s clear that coach Richt is on the same page as many of his harshest critics—including himself—and hopefully that translates into quick production by the players as spring approaches.
We’ll just have to wait and see. What say you?