There’s been an image problem stalking Mark Richt during his tenure as head football coach at the University of Georgia.
Perennially on the hot seat, then easing the doubters with a few big wins, Georgia fans haven’t always known how they should feel about their head coach. Over the last 11 years, he has won 75 percent of ballgames, but Richt has only led the Dawgs to two SEC titles. UGA fans feel that isn’t enough.
Now, he has a chance to finally get that national championship in 2012. In a season where plenty of the doubters voiced their concerns.
Sometimes, Georgia fans just need an outsider’s opinion. So here it is: Richt is the best you can do. Vince Dooleys don’t grow on trees, and finding a coach who can win 75 percent of the team’s games over more than a decade is special. To think you could throw out a guy like Richt and do better is delusional.
Here’s why: UGA is not a top-tier college football program. Alabama is a top-tier program, and as a result, they can get guys like Nick Saban. Georgia is close to the top tier, but they’ll probably always be just below the level of the Alabamas and Ohio States of the world. Unless, of course, they can win five or six more titles in a decade; unfortunately, I don’t see that happening.
What Richt has built in Athens is commendable — they’re landing five-star players at will. Some of them pan out, while others turn out to be busts. Some just don’t fit in his system, but as a whole, Richt does a very good job developing talent. His defenses are always notoriously hard-hitting and his offenses usually have plenty of spark. But when they drop a game or two, the fans freak out and demand answers.
Frequently, that means the subject of firing Richt, or at least a member of his staff, is raised.
But he’s given you a chance, Dawgs. You’re three victories away from your second national title in school history. And your head coach deserves a lot of credit for that.
Even if it’s a lot easier to assign blame to the guy instead of realizing what he has done for Georgia Football.