Monday, October 4, 2010

Yes, your honor..I'm still defending him.

People are saying our program is in a decline. Mark Bradley says the problem is Mark Richt, that he's outlived his usefulness. Many who haven't had a good lesson in the history of UGA football are siding with him. They see simply what has happened with Meyer at FL and Saban at AL, and wonder "Why not us?" Well, if you remember, Richt jumped out to a pretty impressive start at UGA. In another season, his 13-1 record of 2002 would have given him a national title. However, it wasn't so. His longevity has become his enemy. It will be interesting to see how Meyer's doing 10 years down the road....and Saban as well. People forget that a true Longevity Coach is hard to find. Some are saying we're on the way to continual losing seasons. In response to the idea that we're on the way to the "Coach Butts era, when we were 4-7, 5-6 etc", I penned this:

In that Butts era you mention, there were MANY championships. There was [also] a stretch from 48-58 with only three winning seasons (5/6 losing seasons from 1953-1958), then in 1959, a 10-1 SEC title season. Butts had 14 winning seasons, 7 losing seasons, and a .500 season. He claimed 4 SEC titles and one Natty. I wasn't around, but were the titles worth the painful years?

You also lived through the Vince Dooley era, where there were stretches of 6-6 seasons. In fact, the stretch from 1977-1979 was 5-6, 9-2, 6-5. Then.......12-0. Was the program in a decline? Was it the players not being talented, or the coaches not coaching them up? What was it?

Butts - 22 seasons - 5 title seasons...that's one every 4.4 seasons.

Dooley - 25 seasons - 6 title seasons...that's one every 4.16 seasons.

Richt - 10 seasons - 2 2title seasons...that's one every 5 seasons thus far.

To be fair, if you cut Butts or Dooley to only their first ten years, you get two title seasons for Dooley, and three for Butts.

What am I saying? I'm saying that as much as many of you hate to realize it, you have a coach in Mark Richt who is every bit the coach that Dooley and Butts were. Dooley and Butts both had their ups and downs, but they were the right men for the job. They were longevity coaches - men who could weather the storm of painful years, make adjustments, and bring the team back up. When Richt says "keep the faith," he's not saying that the fanbase should trust in God to set the Dawgs back on some righteous path of winning. He's saying that the fanbase needs to realize that these ups and downs happen, and you need to keep faith that though we're in a valley, a peak is on the horizon.

I was in Boulder this weekend, I didn't get the invite to Mullen's wedding - I guess this shows that I've also lost the faith of my fanbase :) - and while watching these kids play, I was shocked at the outcome. I wasn't shocked at the progression of the game...but I was absolutely shocked at the outcome. There was never a point during the game when I believed we would lose. I watched our defense dominate those guys for most of the day. I watched our offense move up and down the field. When we got the ball that last time, I was certain we would drive down and win - and then, we didn't. And that sums up much of this season..."And then, we didn't."

When I was in High School, we had some pretty talented players on my football team. A bunch played D-1 ball, and a few have reached the NFL. When I was a sophomore we had one of our most physically gifted teams. We went 5-5. Our two best linemen graduated, one went to Purdue on scholarship. Our best linebackers graduated. Our star tight-end graduated. The next season, we went 6-4. Again, we lost great talent to graduation. One of our OL was drafted by the Boston Red Sox organization. One went to play at Furman. Our best corner got a scholarship to Kentucky. Our star tailback moved on. In all, we lost 4 OL, 2 DL, 2DB, 2LB, TB, WR, TE to graduation and such.

The next season was my senior year. Our best option at Center? Me. I was 6' and 200 lbs at the time...and not the greatest athlete known to man. Our Guards? Two sophomores. Our tailback? A freshman kid named Bruce Thornton (yes, THAT Bruce Thornton). We went 10-0. I don't think I played in the second half of a game after week 5.

The coaches didn't change.

We didn't suddenly become more talented.

We weren't suddenly bigger, faster and stronger.

The corps of that team had weathered some seriously crap seasons, and had come together as a unit. We had put in the work, and we believed in one another. That coach...the one who coached us out of that crap into the 10-0 season, he went on to be the Georgia Coach of the Decade in the 2000's, winning a couple of state titles. He also had a 1-9 season, and I believe a 2-8.

Football is cyclical at all levels. Even when you look at the NFL. That's why "Dynasties" are so rare. No team can stay on top for too long - but the best teams will always rise back up. Georgia has done that before, and will do it again. THIS is the faith you need to have. I know as a fanbase we've grown weary of saying, "There's always next year." We want next year to arrive. We want our Dawgs to come out on top. We squandered that during the second cycle under Richt. He made bad decision in hiring Willie Martinez as BVG's successor. Now, he has corrected that error. Though the defense hasn't been stellar, let's be honest - they gave us chances to win each of these games. With the exception of South Carolina, we have had the ball with a chance to win late in the 4th. And in the case of SC, if we only give up 17, we should win. So, people have turned the ire toward Bobo...and while I did that myself after the USC game, I have tempered that anger in the following weeks. Bobo called a very good game in Boulder. He mixed things up. He used his playmakers. He didn't stick to I-formation play action when the run wasn't working. He exploited weaknesses in the opposing defense. This team will be better for what it's going through right now. And THAT is the faith Richt is telling people to have - will we? I know there are some who will not. Of course, that's up to each of us to decide for ourselves.

Go Dawgs.


Andy Coleman said...

I'm still defending him too, Dukes! Although, most of my friends are getting pissed! The new adage is true; we are a "what have you done for me lately" group in the college football world.

Todd said...

The fallacy is that we fire Richt and get someone better. Who? Colorado thought the same when they hired Hawkins. What has he delivered? Now beating a 1-4 team is a huge win for the Buffs.