Richt couldn’t deliver, and now he’s out

Former Georgia coach Mark Richt. (David Tulis/AP photo)

A man who knows the inner workings of Georgia athletics looked at me before Saturday’s game at Georgia Tech and cocked an eyebrow. “What’s that definition of insanity?” he said. “Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result?”

That’s when I pretty much knew. If Mark Richt had lost this man – a Bulldog of long standing, a Bulldog through and through – he hadn’t just lost one man. He’d lost the backing of his superiors. I walked away from a long conversation with athletic director Greg McGarity last December believing he wanted more from his football coach but wasn’t ready to fire him. After the Alabama game and especially the Florida game of this season, McGarity had seen enough.

(Here I must note: The man mentioned in Paragraph No. 1 is not Greg McGarity. Our conversation Saturday went thusly: “Hi, Mark.” “Hi, Greg.”)

Say what you will about McGarity, but he’s himself a Bulldog through and through, an Athens resident grown up to be the man in charge. He’d been in this job since the summer of 2010, meaning he’d seen Richt go from 6-7 and a loss to Central Florida in the Liberty Bowl to the brink of a BCS title game berth in 2012. In the days after 6-7, McGarity had sounded all the right notes of support. But I could tell last year that his support had come to carry conditions.

After Georgia won the Belk Bowl, McGarity essentially gave Richt everything he wanted — a raise and a contract extension, money to hire high-salaried assistants, even the promise of the apparently all-important indoor practice facility. Some say president Jere Morehead leaned on the AD to grant these wishes, but the key point is that they were granted. But they carried conditions, too. My read has long been that McGarity said to Richt: “I’m giving you all this; will you give me a championship?”

The answer was no. The SEC East was wide open in 2015 – anyone who watched Florida muster all of two points against Florida State on Saturday knows how flimsy the Gators were – and again Georgia couldn’t win it.

And it wasn’t just that Richt’s Bulldogs lost to Florida for the 10th time in 15 tries; it was that Richt, for reasons unknown and surely unknowable, started his third-string quarterback in Jacksonville. Had he stuck with the underwhelming Greyson Lambert and just had him do his game-managing thing, Georgia would have had a real chance. With Faton Bauta throwing 33 passes, the Bulldogs lost by 24 points.

The no-show against Alabama was bad, but Alabama can have that effect on people. The second consecutive blowout loss to Florida surely tore it. The regular season’s final four games didn’t much matter. (Although being taken to overtime by Georgia Southern was a shock to the system.) McGarity had all the pertinent information. No championship would be forthcoming. Florida changed coaches and won the East. Georgia kept its guy and lost to Florida again.

Nobody wanted to be the guy who fired Mark Richt, who had amassed a mountain of good will over 15 years. But if an AD has become convinced that his coach cannot play for championships, what’s the alternative? What’s that definition of insanity?

(Georgia has announced that Richt is stepping down, but let’s be clear: This was essentially a firing. Richt had said he wanted to keep coaching the Bulldogs, and now he isn’t. What other interpretation is there?)

It could well be that the Bulldogs won’t find a better coach than Richt. They could fall back, as opposed to springing forward. There’s massive risk involved. There was massive risk involved when Michael Adams fired Jim Donnan to hire Richt, and that was rewarded with two SEC titles in five years. But those were a decade ago. The Richt of the past 10 years had become a known commodity: He could take Georgia so far and no further. Now someone else gets to try.

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451 comments
Dawgaholic30286
Dawgaholic30286

You and Schultz should now be happy as will be Terrence Moore and Furman Bisher from the grave.  The relentless negative reporting you did on Mark Richt for the past 10 weeks did what AJC has been trying to do for years: tear down the UGA program.  Now I guess you will say UGA should go hire an unproven assistant coach as our Head Coach.  How dumb would that be?

smaggie
smaggie

Mark, based on your record I'd say you should have been fired 8 yrs ago.I know you have a job to do,but I don't think NC and SEC champs are the most important events in a young mans life,some things just can't be measured,but avg. 9wins a year and graduating decent men is a very honorable thing,not to be taken lightly.

Andy132
Andy132

@smaggie It's nice to say that the most important thing is nurturing fine young men but the truth is that this is a multi million dollar business and the goal is to win championships. Richt could not do it so he got fired. This is big time college football. If you don't like that go find another sport to follow.  

UGA75
UGA75

Mark according to you bio above you won an award in 1985, and your expertise is supposedly in basketball. I see now how it is possible to retain your job as a producer of bird cage floor covering, in fact I'm nominating you, personally, as someone who birds really enjoy pooping on. 


At least you have retained your being a complete jerk and didn't pretend to admire Coach Richt for his Character and Integrity, two words you'd have to look up in the dictionary since they are foreign concepts to you. I sincerely hope the AJC makes you their next cut as pretty much any high school columnist can produce the drivel you write.

Rick Huyser
Rick Huyser

If I am a first year recruit or a HS commit, I would be reevaluating my options. This throws a whole monkeywrench into the mix at Georgia. 

Look at Michigan for example. They hire Rich-Rod and fire him, They Hire Hoke and fire Him. Now they have Harbaugh.   This did damage to the Michigan brand by not hiring the right coach.  Also the fact that MSU picked up all the talent and left Michigan with the cupboard Bare.

 If Georgias next coach doesn't win a National Championship in 3 Yrs will he be let go?    If I was in Line for this position I would be  asking  for the world given the risks I would be taking.   Especially if I was an Assistant.  

I  Secondly Georgia's  recruits are ripe for the picking.   The new coach may be an Unknown  to the existing players and I do suppose that some will bolt. If this was the doing of the donors  and the admin then name those donors for they are the ones that should take responsibility if this doesn't work out.   I hope the president will be ready to can the AD and this coach must win national title doesn't work out..   IS this college or a corporation ??   From the looks of it the donors are the board of directors and the Coach is the CEO.    Unfortunately for a good man like Mark Richt  character and a couple of SEC championships  and a 9 and 3 record doesn't cut it.   



Dawg'03
Dawg'03

@Rick Huyser So much damage Michigan was  a win away from the Big10 championship in the guy's FIRST YEAR? Also, I think the 3 year number you put up is quite ironic as that's exactly the number of years we've watched OTHER TEAMS win a pathetic SEC east lately. Get a clue.

Big Wally
Big Wally

From ESPN.


Richt was 145-51 in 15 seasons at UGA. That’s a sterling overall record, an average of 9.7 wins a season. But critics -- and those who ultimately decided to fire him, including AD Greg McGarity -- pointed to a decadelong SEC title drought as the reason for change.

“With the talent in Atlanta and in that state, players who go to top college programs and wind up in the NFL, there’s no reason you can’t win more SEC titles than that,” an NFL scout told me. “For one thing, you should never lose to Tennessee.”

Aikendawg
Aikendawg

in·san·i·tyinˈsanədē/nounnoun: insanitythe state of being seriously mentally ill; madness."he suffered from bouts of insanity"synonyms:mental illness, madness, dementia;Mor

Aikendawg
Aikendawg

I don't know who you were talking to but both of you should invest in a dictionary.

FlatTire
FlatTire

Richt said he wanted to be hands on again; I don't understand why he wasn't the last several years calling plays; we probably would be talking about some other subject instead of a new coach

OH:IO
OH:IO

@Big Wally


Your BFF, Schotty, Lil wally?


BTW, I see Herman is extending at H. 


Haha

Big Wally
Big Wally

@OH:IO @Big Wally never was my BFF,  If he is extending at H. he must know that UGA is going after Smart, Mullin, or Bobo.

Buschleaguer
Buschleaguer

@OH:IO @Big Wally 

Herman is the coach in waiting to replace Charlie Strong at Texas,whenever Charlie decides to move on from the Longhorns.

Zino
Zino

if mcgarity bungles this hire, he needs to get fired next! i'm tired of this!

Dawg'03
Dawg'03

@39Concepts  Tired of what? Has he been firing coaches the whole time he's been at UGA? I think Mcgarity got tired of watching someone else win the SEC Least every year.

Iblayz
Iblayz

We need to fire Mark Bradley. Such a hypocrite. I can't help but remember his articles that decried the "obvious" and despicable attitude at places that employed the likes of Larry Brown, Rick Pitino and Bobby Petrino. Yes, these great institutions of higher learning had clearly placed winning above all else. They cared little about time-tested principles like honesty, integrity and decency. And their "image" (by their actions) meant less to them than having a tainted but proven winner leading one of their flagship sports programs.
So when it comes time to defend a man who CLEARLY has honesty, integrity and decency, not to mention the respect of virtually the entire known football world, what does Bradley do? The answer is.....he proves himself to be no better that the despicable institutions whose honor he has repeatedly questioned. Honor means nothing. Decency means nothing. Integrity means nothing. Character and respect mean nothing. What matters is winning above all else. And not just winning....but winning big. Mark Richt  has the fifth best winning percentage among active college football coaches who have coached at least 100 games. He brings honor to the institution that he represents. He never has to worry about filling a vacancy on his staff because the best coaches in the land not only want to work for him, but are even willing to leave great programs after great seasons to work for and with him. With all of the messy character issues, the recruiting irregularities, and the constant compliance issues that dog so many of the supposed best coaches, here is a man that the institution itself can point to with great pride and say....."he is our man. And we are proud that he is our man."  The truth is....UGA has no better than a four in one hundred chance of doing ANY better with a new coach than what Mark Richt has delivered. How many coaches can average 9 wins per season over time in major college football? The new coach that is supposed to take them to the promised land will more than likely (after a few years) deliver more of the same and only if he succeeds......and that is....at best....averaging nine wins per season with occasional greatness. At worst? See Tennessee for clues. So let's fire the coach. Yes, this is the answer according to the great scribe (and hypocrite) Mark Bradley. After all, the only thing that matters is winning!





Dawg'03
Dawg'03

@Iblayz  No SEC championships in 10 years. No SEC East titles in 3 when the east has been abysmal. You go on an emotional rant to keep the guy while the rest of us are wondering why the he11 he's been around for as long as he has.

TOJacket
TOJacket

@Iblayz Spurrier had two 11 win seasons at USCe........and they could hardly spell win?.........your only as good as your last day.
 

Iblayz
Iblayz

@Dawg'03 @Iblayz  No. If you weren't so emotional you could see that my "rant" was more intellectual and I really don't expect you to understand. The known fact is......there are only four living coaches that have proven over time to be more adept at "winning" in major college football and not a single one of them will turn out to be UGA's new coach. So, we will end up with nothing more than "hope and change". See me in ten years and prove me wrong.

Aikendawg
Aikendawg

@Iblayz  The press had limited access to Georgia players this year and were really perturbed by that. Payback is heck.

SkokieDog
SkokieDog

@Iblayz I'm confident that U.Ga. will be able to win at least one SEC championship during the next decade. See me in ten years if I'm wrong about that too. 

SkokieDog
SkokieDog

@Jag1000 Those college professors could help you identify sentence fragments for a start. 

Buschleaguer
Buschleaguer

@Iblayz @Dawg'03 

Let's see it has only been a few hours since CMR was relieved of his coaching duties at UGa. His supporters are righteously indignant that such a fine man would be asked to leave. Coach Richt will be fine ,he can pick another coaching job if he wishes or stay at UGa as an administrator or try his hand at Broadcasting. But all of the negativity about the future of the UGa football program troubles me,not too long ago Mark Richt was an Offensive Coordinator who was hired for his first head coaching job at UGa. I am sure Coach Richt would expect his fans to unite and support the new head coach. There are no Guarantees he will be as successful as Coach Richt was.But he deserves a chance to succeed ,and should have the full support of the alumni and fans of UGa.I am sure Coach Richt would expect nothing less from all of us.

Jag1000
Jag1000

@SkokieDog @Jag1000 Not writing a college essay-posting on a blog.  Big diff.  Thank.  You.  Very.  Much.

SkokieDog
SkokieDog

@Jag1000 You're also not texting to your younger friends. This is a public forum, where people come to read comments. 

Jag1000
Jag1000

@Iblayz Journalists are wonderful people.  They can talk out of both sides of their mouth, and they have a solution for everything.  Just read the AJC editorial writers.  Good job to have.  They don't have to actually do anything, though.  Kind of like college professors.

papadunc
papadunc

@Iblayz @Dawg'03 Your intellectual answer

sounds a little like talking down to folks

Different folks have different opinions, and that is reasonable and OK.

Big Wally
Big Wally

Richt says he wants to coach again.  I was hoping he would remain on a UGA, say as a fundraiser or something, but understand him wanting to coach again.  I found it very interesting about how he said next time he would be a lot more 'hands on' in coaching, and how he liked working with QB's and calling plays.  Wonder if that was a small dig at Shottenheimer.


Could be Richt will go to Miami now, that may be why it was a 'mutual' decision.

dawg fan
dawg fan

Wow.  Didn't see this coming at all.  I applaud McGarity for making this decision and take back all the things I've said about him.  He does have a set after all.  I think all the bellyaching over Richt's departure only further proves that it was time to move on. This is not healthy people.  The man did not die.  A "vigil?"  LMAO.  Get a grip.  He will be fine.  Mark Richt deserves more?  Mark Richt made upwards of $50 million for is services as UGA's coach.  He was given the opportunity to coach in a talent rich state for 15 years in the best and most exciting conference in the nation.  It didn't work out, but he deserves nothing more than what has already been given to him.  I hate that it didn't work out but it just didn't.  That's a fact.  If you listen to the pro-Richt crowd they are all emotion and fear.  They don't like facts.  That is no way to run a multi-million dollar business, which is what this is.  Richt is their security blanket and mommy is taking it away from them.  Grow a pair and move on.  Despite all my theatrics on these blogs to make my points I actually think very highly of Richt and wish him nothing but the best.  I hope he goes to coach somewhere else and I will root very hard for that team.  It's just time for a change.  Kirby!!  Kirby!!  Kirby!!  Go Dawgs!!!       

Dawg'03
Dawg'03

@dawg fan  "The man did not die" Exactly. I also find it interesting that a good chunk of the people that think it's terrible we let him go are FANS OF OUR RIVALS! Quite telling, don't you think? Napoleon once said that you should never interfere with an enemy when he's in the process of destroying himself. Well I think we're done listening to people who like beating us every other year.



FlatTire
FlatTire

according to some Southern Cal was an elite coaching spot that they could get anyone 


must not be an elite coaching spot since they just hired one of their coordinators right?

Jag1000
Jag1000

A UGA player asked why Paul Johnson wasn't in the hot seat.  Not a bad question, but a possible answer goes something like this:  GT takes 1,2, and 3-star players and (comparatively) not a lot of $ and makes something out of it-at times great things.  UGA takes 4 and 5-star players and stadium-loads of cash and does (comparatively) nothing.  What did Spurrier say?  "All those 4 and 5 star recruits go to UGA-what happens to 'em?"

Dawg'03
Dawg'03

@Jag1000  Stop pointing out blatant facts. Don't you know Richt is a good man? Apparently the only good man available too.

TideDawg
TideDawg

Georgia is going to anti up about $10 million a year for 4 years to have a new coaching staff that is unproven, untested, and inexperienced plus the buyout of Richt's contract. I'd say that Georgia is going "all in" on a very weak hand if they go with an assistant that has no HC experience. So, what do they expect out of a new HC with no experience......8-9 wins his first two seasons?? Maybe a split with GT the next 2 years. Surely the AD doesn't expect an undefeated season.

Big Wally
Big Wally

@TideDawg I realize the angst, and a lot of people are downgrading Kirby, and yes, Muschamp did not succeed at Florida, so why would Smart succeed?.  

That being said, Jimbo Fisher was also a Saban disciple and had no previous head coaching experience, and he won a NC his first 4 years as being a HC.


FlatTire
FlatTire

@TideDawg Mark Richt was an assistant with no HC experience before UGA

TOJacket
TOJacket

@Big Wally @TideDawg He won because of Jameis.....just like Gene did with Cam and Urban did with Tebo and Dooley did with 34......most NC's revolve around an "it" player.

Dawg'03
Dawg'03

@TOJacket @Big Wally @TideDawg  So who was the "it" player when Urban won his first championship? How about Nick's first at LSU? I'll grant you "it" players matter, but not all the time.

Aikendawg
Aikendawg

@TideDawg  No they're not. Georgia is cheap. They will get Smart for 2mil and save money. That's what this is all about pay Smart less money to crash the program and save some money. You don't think they were going to pay Richt all that money and build an indoor practice area do you? With the cheap coaches they'll hire they will save 10 million in five years.

Zino
Zino

if kirby gets the job, will nick hire pruitt or muschamp for his D coordinator??

Big Wally
Big Wally

@39Concepts I hope Kirby keeps Pruitt.  The players seem to be lobbying hard for Pruitt to stay.  DawgNation however saying McGarity doesn't like Pruitt, so will be interesting to see if Kirby gets the job, if he wants Pruitt to stay, and if that would be a problem with McGarity.  Kirby and Muschamp are supposedly best friends, so would not surprise me if Kirby brings in Muschamp.