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Post Richt revisionism

Saturday June 4, 2016

The Senator is correct – if you need an alternative approach to player discipline after the Baylor and Mississippi State stories this week, Dan Wolken’s piece on Mark Richt is right up your alley. Richt sometimes took some heat for his decisions, but that was because those decisions were often more transparent than they would have been at other schools. Georgia faced many of the same incidents that other programs face: drinking and drugs, weapons, and unfortunately even domestic violence. Wolken does a good job highlighting the differences in Richt’s approach that made it very unlikely Georgia would ever face the ugly consequences that Baylor experienced.

If I have one disagreement though it’s the implication that it was Richt’s approach to discipline that was a bridge too far with Georgia fans. It wasn’t the “warped mindset” of win-at-all-costs fans that brought about a change here. He’s right – many fans did take pride and “puff(ed) out their chests” because of how the program operated and the man in charge of it. At the same time, that pride all too easily became a crutch and an excuse for the program’s lack of greater success. How could Georgia compete with [] when we insisted on such higher standards? At least we do things the right way…

If only that were the problem with Richt.

Wolken presents the internal struggle faced by Georgia fans this way: “Georgia fans will forever be torn over their devotion to the so-called ‘Georgia Way'(*) and their burning desire to be a little more like Alabama.” It’s a false choice. Richt’s way of doing things was not antithetical to the effort we’re seeing from the new staff on the recruiting trail. You don’t have to sell out your values to avoid a staff on the verge of, in their own words, mutiny. There’s nothing unethical about coming to play with a full roster or consistent special teams.

Let’s put it this way: Richt was not fired for the things he did “the right way.” He was fired because he didn’t do enough of them.

Disciplinary issues were, if anything, a secondary concern. Certainly there was some frustration with Georgia players disciplined for offenses that might’ve earned them a lesser (if any) penalty at another school. It was also frustrating to see several of these players end up on opposing sidelines. Add in frustration with the administration, University policies, and local law enforcement. All of that frustration was (is) very real, but it contributed very little to the motivation behind a coaching change.

This isn’t the first time Wolken hasn’t quite hit the mark on dissatisfaction with Richt, but he’s certainly not the only one who sees the coaching change as a rejection of Richt’s way of doing things. I don’t, and focusing on the Georgia Way vs. Alabama Way dichotomy loses sight of the much more fundamental issues that led to the end of the Mark Richt era at Georgia.

(*) Just what “The Georgia Way” is deserves its own post – it’s come to represent everything from the truly good to a snarky epithet used when the program shoots itself in the foot (again).

2 Responses to 'Richt revisionism'

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  • We beat this horse yesterday on the Senator’s site. We can not avoid the national perception that Richt got fired because he couldn’t win “The Big Game”. UGA fans built that meme and must live with it. When the nation see’s a coach that averaged 9.6 wins a year and hears a fan base constantly bitching about the quality of those wins, what do you think they are going to think. Richt is gone but as the old folks used to say it’s to late to close the barn door once the horse is gone. Live with it and move on.

  • In the wake of the Baylor scandal a more relevant analysis needs to involve the world of college football recruiting. Briles got fired, because he recruited questionable young men. Richt had discipline problems at UGA, because he also took flyers on questionable young men.

    In the Holy Grail quest to quench the fans desire to win conference and national championships, coaches are forced to recruit gangsters, thugs, thieves and sexual predators. What the coaching world just discovered with Briles sacking is they’re on the tip of a razors edge. To compete with the best one hast to stock the cupboard with great athletes and not Rhodes Scholars. By the same token those athletes can jeopardize a coaches multi-million dollar contract and ruin a coaching career. The question before the coaching community is whether they heed the Briles example and work with AD’s to lower expectations by changing their recruiting profile or is it business as usual?