Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Leather Helmet Blog: Challenging Your Fanship

A friend texted me this morning, "Leather Helmet Blog is calling you out."

My response: "I Don't Care."

And in actuality, that's true. I don't. I don't care, because I generally respect the opinion of ecdawg, and I don't know him to be a malicious sort. So, I was certain that whatever challenge was being tossed out was benign, and meant purely for conversation. So, I checked out the blog. He seems to suggest that I don't believe in critical opinions of coaching.

This is not true. If you are a reader of my blog, you know that I go to extreme lengths to examine the performance of our team and its coaches. I've done statistical analysis of YEARS worth of coaching, I've done play-by-play analysis of player performance and playcalls. I am a big fan of true critical discussion.

What I am NOT a fan of is the ridiculous and asinine nature of the growing Anti-Richt population which is, naturally, the most vocal of the fans on these boards and blogs. I keep reading things like "Bobo Draw, Bobo Screen, Bobo Draw, Punt." I implore people who write that kind of sensationalist garbage to go back through my breakdown of the last two games, and show me where anything resembling that playcalling series exists on a consistent basis. It doesn't.

And THAT is what this blog fights against. I don't just sit and say "Coach Richt doesn't win, but I don't care, I think he has a great haircut and a nice tan, and he should be our coach." That's idiotic. I'm not here to be the Champion of the "Save Richt's Job" cause. However, when I see that so many people are piling on a movement against him, and that it can cause a negative air to exist around our team, I have to speak out against that. My biggest issue with this is that it's GAME FRIKKING TWO, and the crowd isn't into the game in the first half....and then, they're leaving with four minutes to go, and us getting the ball down only by ten. That is NOT fan support. It's childish. It's "I'm not getting my way, so I'm taking my ball and going home."

That's what I can't stand. I remember fans leaving my last game in Sanford Stadium early. Yeah, we got our asses handed to us by Georgia Tech, and the fans bolted on us. It was a cold, rainy day, and they didn't want to watch it. The last time I left that field as a player, it was to a 2/3 empty stadium. I don't want any of the players on the team to experience that garbage, and when Richt came in and started winning titles, I never thought I'd see it again. But fans have a short memory, are a fickle bunch, and believe they are somehow "entitled" to more than a good day's entertainment.

So, no, I don't mind contrary opinions to my own. I don't mind people being critical of Bobo, or Grantham, or Richt or anyone. But I do ask that you at least educate yourself on the facts before you run around attacking them loudly and crying out for peoples' jobs.

We're 0-2, and that's not the way any of us want to start a football season. But, here's what we know:

We came out with the wrong game-plan against Boise. We looked a bit timid to pressure Kellen Moore, and when an injury forced us to play a less-experienced and less-talented player at a key position, this compounded the ease at which Moore would be able to slice us up in the air.

Our Rushing D came out better than most people thought they would. In the fourth quarter against USC, there were holes which didn't exist earlier in the game. People jumped on this saying conditioning was poor. This is a fallacy. Our line wasn't suddenly getting run over - but we did miss a couple of key assignments allowing for big holes.

Against USC in 2010, we scored 6 points. In 2011, 42 points. I'd say that's a healthy amount of improvement.

See, what bothers me isn't that people are upset with losing. I hate losing. There is honestly nothing on this planet that I hate more than losing. Show me someone who is ok with losing, and I'll show you someone who's done far too much of it. What bothers me is the outcry of "the sky is falling" over a loss in which we show 1) Significant improvement over a year prior and 2) Significant improvement over a week prior.

You want to be critical of the staff? Fine. Be Critical....but before you go crying for a retooling of the staff, see what these coaches do with this season. Why? Because no coach is going to come in and make this year better than Richt will make this year. You won't find an interim coach who is going to come in and suddenly turn this season on its ear. You won't find an interim coach who is going to come in and suddenly make us 2-0. We're 0-2. You have to deal with that, and move on. Be a FAN. Go out and be FANATICALLY SUPPORTIVE of your team. Give them a REASON to play for YOU. Right now, they're playing for themselves, and their coach. Those players love these coaches. That's why they devote themselves to the coaches for their careers. They trust them. They believe in them. And many of them, right now, don't care too much for alot of you.

Now, this is NOT to say that players don't care about fans. And this is not to say that ALL FANS are bad fans. I know that some people will read this and think "F&*! this guy. I cheer hard! I love this team. I stay till the last second of the game." Well, genius, I'm not talking to you. I'm talking to those who show up late, leave early, bitch about Bobo the whole game (while he's busy putting 42 points on Carolina) and then call the post-game show saying Richt should be fired. Players appreciate the true's the fair-weather know-nothings they get tired of. The problem is, again, those fans are the most vocal.

I don't ask people to blindly support everything our coaches say and do. Hell, I don't do that. Why would I expect you to? What I do ask, is that you actually support your team. Show them that you are with them, and their coaches. Some people believe that the following is supportive:

"I love Coach Richt, and I want him to do well, but (insert one or more of the following): we've lost too many games for me to believe he can do it anymore. We just don't seem to recruit the right athletes. Our program has fallen apart in the past four years. Everyone else wins titles, we beat Vandy. Elite players go to Bama, thugs and "projects" come to Georgia. He's just doesn't have it any more. He cares more about mission work than winning football games."

That's not supportive. Just because you say "Honey, I love you" doesn't mean "but your butt is the size of a houseboat" is supportive.

And some fans will say, "But Dukes, we've just been through so much, we've lost too many close games, we haven't won a title, it's been so hard to be a fan...I just don't know how much I have left in me." You're not a player, you're a fan. Your job is to be as LOUD as possible IN SUPPORT of YOUR TEAM at ALL TIMES. That's your job. You want the players and the coaches to do their jobs? Do yours.



ecdawg said...

Ben, you know that I was not challenging your fanship. In fact, I was using your post to respond obliquely to several commenters who have suggested that my timid criticism of the regime hurts recruiting.
Anyone who thinks LHB is anti-Richt or unconcerned with the long-term well being of the program is not reading.
Nice headline though - got my attention.

Mr. Sanchez said...

Good article, I just don't see how what you say here ='s yesterday's "fans cost us a recruit" nonsense. He's a smart kid, who chose to go to Stanford. That's got nothing to do with the fans. And neither does the temperature of Richt's seat, where comments like recently came out of the Ath Assoc. meeting are much more damaging. How those quotes got out is beyond me, and imo, much more problematic than the totality of anything any blog or message board poster has ever written.

Andy Coleman said...

Dukes, I like reading your blog, but when you defend Bobo, you lose me. I am done with him. I'm wondering if he even called many of the plays in the second half last week. Bobo has no resume, and no credentials to be the OC at a school like UGA.

Ben Dukes said...

Sanchez -

I am pointing more at the general atmosphere around the program than any one player. I don't believe that one player makes or breaks a team, and the fact that he chose Stanford over Georgia isn't incredibly surprising. That said, Georgia does have one of the better Broadcast/Telecomm programs in the country, and as such Athens is a good fit for him.

I agree that the comments from the board were quite damaging, and I'm talking to them too. The fact is, too many people around Georgia who have always been Georgia fans believe that Georgia is one of the top 5 elite programs in the country.

Look back over the past 130 years. It's just not true.

Georgia is a solid school, and a solid program...but ups and downs happen in Football. People need to understand that and truly back the program in the down-times. But, as I have said, many fans are fair-weather, and won't do it.

We all should know that wins alone do not determine where recruits will play ball. If they did, Spurrier wouldn't have any recruits. Last year was one of the best in their history, and they still had 5 losses.

But there's one thing they have - a completely loyal fanbase. I guess it's easier to be loyal when you've consistently lost than when you've been at the top and then fall...I mean, staying with a team as it slides actually takes Character. That's hard to have, isn't it?

Ben Dukes said...

Andy -

I love how you throw that barb out at him. "I'm wondering if he even called many of the plays..."

There's been no evidence that says Bobo isn't calling the plays. Richt has come out and said Bobo is calling the plays. The playcalling wasn't radically different in the second half...but execution was better.

Again, go through the playcalls and tell me what is drastically different.

Bobo is an obvious scapegoat.

I think you should look at everybody's hero - Aaron Murray. He made a bad throw that turned into a pick-6. He fumbled a ball away that went back for 6. According to him and his coach, he was also at fault for the first fumble that was returned to the UGA 5.

But no, blame the guy who called the plays that put 42 points on the board. Makes perfect sense.

Mr. Sanchez said...

South Carolina fans get more credit than they deserve. They arrive late and leave early often. They talk big, but aren't the diehard, never ending supporters they get made out to be, and that comes from experience in Columbia. Maybe that's also due to the constant struggles, but they have plenty of fans like you describe in original post here. They have some great fans, but we all do, and they have their share of fair weather, constantly negative fans same as we all do.

Brad said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Brad said...

If we pay for tickets then yes we do have a right to expect better than what we are seeing. Nobody is being childish because they are unhappy with 6-7 and 0-2.

I LOVE the Georgia Bulldawgs but we as fans do not have act like we are satisfied with what we see. The coaches and players are not doing us a favor by letting us come and watch them. We are paying for it with our hard earned money. I will never understand the notion that fans are obligated to act as if losing makes us just as happy as winning. I also think getting on to fans and lecturing them as Richt did with petulent "arena" comment is not going to make people MORE supportive. Nobody needs a lecture. We love the team but that doesn't mean we have keep our mouths shut when they perform the way they have over the last three years.

Holla said...

Yes, Mark Richt is a petulant, impatient man. That's his problem.

Be criticized and nitpicked on every move you make, out in public, every week for about ten years. Then watch people feign major offense on the rare occasions that you are less than cordial. ("I really knew Richt was done when he called that guy a butt!") Then try not to rip your hair out.

None of which is a defense of Richt's coaching per se. Mabye he needs to go, maybe he doesn't.

You're right, you don't have to keep giving the AA your money. If you are that unhappy, don't. Money talks, and ultimately if enough fans withdraw their money then change will come. In the meantime, at least be reasonable about what you complain about. "Bobo calls 1st and bomb too much" isn't analysis; it's a meme. And so on and so forth for most of them.

Mr. Sanchez said...

"Be criticized and nitpicked on every move you make, out in public, every week for about ten years."

That's kind of the nature of his job like it or not, same as every other coach of a major college football or basketball program, every NFL, MLB, NHL, and NBA team, some college baseball teams, etc. If he didn't like that, he can turn down the $20+ million he's been paid, and go coach at Wofford or West Georgia. That's just the nature of the beast, and he was aware of it when he took the job. Right or wrong, and it's probably why several coaches burn out from stress, but that is part and parcel with the rest of the job of coaching a high profile, high dollar team.

blakeuga50 said...

Dukes, great read. Fans leaving early this season has also infuriated me to no end and I'm glad to see there are still dawg fans who will always stick with the team. I have high hopes for the rest of the season

Dubyadee said...


Agreed about fans leaving early. That was shocking. From my seats, it mostly looked like the guys between the 30's (good seats, lower level) were leaving. Section 336 stayed put to the bitter end.

That said, it seemed to me that fan support was very strong from the beginning. The stadium was packed (except for the always-late upper level students). I've been to a few games with more energy from the crowd, but not many.

Holla said...


I understand that's part of the job. Part of the job is being unfairly criticized and nitpicked for your rare frustrated moments, even when you are actually pretty honorable and admirable at all other times. I don't doubt that that is part of the job when you make the money Richt makes. I'm just pointing out, to the fans that do the nitpicking, that they are being jerks. Sure, Richt has to put up with jerks. But that doesn't make it cool to be a jerk.