Since 1995 - Insightful commentary on the Georgia Bulldogs

Post The Yin of “Evil Richt”

Wednesday October 8, 2008

First, go read this post by David Hale. It’s one man’s opinion, but he’s at practice, speaks with the players and coaches, and his take seems reasonable even if it raises some unpleasant questions.

This is the part that stood out to me:

I think this speaks to a real issue for the Bulldogs. Mark Richt has often said that if a team is coach-driven, it is destined to fail. If it’s player-driven, you have a much better shot at winning. It sounds like Georgia has been pretty coach-driven so far this year.

It’s something that I’ve been wondering about since the Alabama game. At some point during the 31-point meltdown in the first half, you’d hope or expect someone on the sideline would start lighting a fire under his teammates. Those with better seats than mine have said it didn’t happen, and Hale’s cautious observation that "there just aren’t a lot of loud voices coming from the players" doesn’t do much to convince me otherwise.

Leadership is more than ranting and raving of course; he who screams loudest and throws the most chairs isn’t necessarily your best leader. Leadership-by-example is nice too, but it’s overrated. You can play your tail off and still be a Class A jerk whom no one wants to follow.

While I was thinking about this very thing last week, a single quote from last season came right to mind.

"Coach, you are the key. You have got to keep it going."

It’s a quote from an anonymous player during halftime of last season’s Florida game. Mark Richt "was whipped" – exhausted – after an emotional first half, but the players were feeding on his energy and needed him to sustain it as long as he could if they were going to finish the job.

Mark Richt’s conscious transformation last season was one of the highlights of Georgia’s 2007 campaign. It was refreshing, entertaining, and – most of all – necessary. It grew from a reaction to the lack of energy and enthusiasm he sensed during the ugly loss at Tennessee. The players loved it, the fans loved it, and Georgia ripped off seven straight wins to end the season.

But here we are now on the eve of another game with Tennessee, and the leadership question has reared its head again. While no one has grounds to complain about the results after Richt stepped into the leadership void last season, I have to ask whether the players are still stuck waiting for Richt to be the one who does something.

Rennie Curran spoke in depth about accountability and how players have been slow to claim the leadership roles that should belong to them. "Somebody will make a penalty or somebody won’t make a play, and it’s kind of like we just let it slide by, nobody will say anything," Curran said. The good news is that Curran claims that the team has improved in this area over the bye week. Still, is it something that we can expect to get fixed in two weeks? A team’s chemistry and leadership – especially among the players – is forged year-round, and it’s just as important in July as it is in October.

There will be some who take the comments of Curran and others and conclude that Georgia is adrift, not watching film at all, and completely unprepared to play. Let’s not go down that road – this is a very good team, they’ve already won some quality games, and they have a very solid staff who knew to push these buttons over the bye week. Curran and Lomax are among those who have recognized a problem, and at least they’re attacking it now while the season’s goals are still very much within reach.

One Response to 'The Yin of “Evil Richt”'

Subscribe to comments with RSS

  • This situation is confusing to me. I’m not sure what to think. Last year after Tennessee, CMR said often that the coaches needed to make a change to inspire motivation. He talked often about being the mirror of the team and passion & leadership had to come from him first. Yet again it seemed like during the Bama first half debacle the sidelines were complacent – even from the coaches. So now we’re strictly looking for leadership & passion from our players only? Its now supposed to START with them? On a young team ravaged by injuries, that’s a tall order & one that totally contradicts what was the catalyst of success for us post Tennessee.

    Seems to me, as last season proved, the passion & leadership must start from the coaches then trickle down to the players. If there is a lack of that amongst the team, it’s still the coach’s responsibility. Mentoring begins at the top (with those that are being PAID a pretty penny I might add)to lead, motivate, teach, coach, and be successful.