Poor, misunderstood Dink NeSmith.
After last week’s column met with criticism, he follows up with a response published in the Red & Black. Given the distribution list for his first column, you’ll also probably find his response in the Florida Times-Union, Boston Globe, Financial Times, and in among the coupons in your local Pennysaver.
He seems surprised that the column generated debate and pushback. Could his intent have been anything other than stirring the pot? The Journal-Constitution, Banner-Herald, and Red & Black didn’t come to him begging for a rudimentary analysis of the Georgia football program. He went looking for them and the Bulldog fans who read them. Other than suggesting that the Bible is a hoax, I don’t know of many other Dawg fans who could get the same opinion piece published in three unaffiliated newspapers. All hail the power of the First Amendment!
My issue with NeSmith’s column remains the same even after this response.
NeSmith sought out publication in (at least) three newspapers to basically tell Mark Richt that his team needs to hustle a little more.
He does a nice job of marginalizing those who disagree with him. If you agree – good news! You’re clearly in the majority of fans who can see the "truth." If not, you’re some hothead who can do little but hurl insults at a poor, loyal Bulldog who’s just trying to offer a little friendly and constructive advice to the ol’ coach we all love.
I admit that I have not been watching football or doing much of anything else for all of 41 years. When I reach that age, perhaps I’ll be able to identify that a close loss turned on defensive hustle and intensity and not on athletic ability, experience, execution, preparation, scheme and playcalling, or any combination of those. There is no question that the Dawgs have looked pretty bad at times lately. To conclude that the root cause is a simplistic question of "giving it all we’ve got" is barely the stuff of a message board rant let alone "constructive criticism" worthy of publication in Georgia newspapers. Even if you do accept that intensity is a problem, does he really think that the coaches won’t recognize it without his help?
I’ll give NeSmith this: he is correct when he says that Richt already has an incentive-based contract. Every coach does. If Richt’s teams don’t win and revenues decline, he’ll be replaced just as his two predecessors were. That’s a pretty clear incentive. Apparently that’s not good enough.
Let’s try this: if, as NeSmith says, "football is a huge economic engine for the University," why base our hypothetical incentives on wins? The scoreboard in business is the bottom line. During the successful Mark Richt era, the "Athletic Association’s cash register" is overflowing. Georgia has even earned the title of the nation’s most profitable athletic department. We all know that football drives the bottom line of athletic departments in this part of the world. If we’re going to dangle financial incentives in front of Richt, why shouldn’t they be based on the financial performance of the organization?
Hopefully we won’t get yet another response (look in Sunday’s New York Times Magazine to be certain) because the substance leaks from each subsequent piece like a week-old balloon. He concludes, "We’ll bleed for you and our team." What the heck does that mean? What is this fascination with Erk and blood?
UPDATE: Naturally the Senator is a step ahead of me. Lots of good points in there, including a thought-provoking question about incentives. If pay-per-win would work for Richt, why not for the players? Adding to that thought, if Richt and staff deserve a bonus when players graduate, why wouldn’t the graduates also get a check with their diplomas? It’s not as if Richt is the one going to class and taking the exams.