If I’m ever going to be objective about where Mark Richt stands as a head coach among his peers in the SEC, today would be the day.
My rose-colored glasses may finally be a little dirty after yesterday’s depressing loss to the archrival Yellow Jackets.
Georgia blew its football game against Georgia Tech yesterday in heartbreaking fashion, snatching defeat from the jaws of victory after they seemed to have won the game by scoring a touchdown with only 18 seconds left in regulation. Yesterday’s loss was almost as bad as the infamous Prayer at Jordan-Hare last year.
Inexplicably, coach Richt called for a pooch kick on the subsequent kickoff, afraid that Georgia Tech might manage a long return for a touchdown if we kicked deep.
The shorter squib kick gave the Yellow Jackets excellent field position, and just enough time to run one play that gained just enough yardage for their kicker to attempt and make the longest field goal of his career, with literally inches to spare.
With that fateful decision, Richt only managed to delay the inevitable winning touchdown, scored by Georgia Tech during their first possession of overtime.
Truthfully, Georgia had no business being in position to win the game at the end. They were thoroughly outplayed by the Yellow Jackets for the entire second half.
Tech managed to take the lead with about five minutes left in the game, and should have iced it after the receiving team failed to field the ensuing kickoff, giving the Yellow Jackets possession deep in the Bulldog territory.
However, they fumbled the ball when they could have run out the clock and gave Georgia QB Hutson Mason the opportunity to drive down the field for what might have been the game-winning score.
When we deliberately kicked the ball short on our final kickoff, it merely cost us a game we never really deserved to win.
Tech gained almost as many yards rushing as Florida had a few weeks earlier. They dominated the time of possession, especially in the second half. When we did have the opportunity to score in the first half, we turned the ball over, twice.
I don’t know what Richt could have done to prevent those turnovers.
One might argue that had our players executed better in the first half, the results would have been different. The game shouldn’t have been tied at halftime. The kicker also could have missed the longest kick of his life. Or, it could have hit the crossbar.
Shoulda, coulda, woulda.
One could also speculate that Georgia suffered from an emotional letdown after Missouri beat Arkansas to win the SEC East.
That sounds like a pathetic excuse. Georgia Tech was the better team yesterday. And it doesn’t really matter why Tech was the better team yesterday, only that they won the game.
End of story.
However today, some Georgia “fans” have suggested Mark Richt should be fired. These alleged fans have asserted that Georgia will never win a national championship, as long as Mark Richt is our head coach. Such ridiculous statements really annoy me, for several reasons. Well, allow me to retort.
First of all, no offense meant, but unless you are a close personal friend or your name is Greg McGarity, your opinion on whether or not coach Richt deserves to lose his job is not very important to me. I’m not so biased that I would declare Mark Richt currently the best college coach in America, or even the best head football coach in the SEC at the moment. That could change over this next decade, if Georgia’s defense consistently begins to play as well as the offense. Based on this year’s improvements under defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt, there’s every reason to believe that could happen. The future looks very bright.
Secondly, it’s always important to look at the Big Picture. Georgia has always had good players and recruited well. But with Jeremy Pruitt as defensive coordinator, recruiting has been taken to another level. Keep in mind, this year’s defense has had flashes of brilliance. We don’t seem far away.
Finally, let’s say Greg McGarity lost his mind and fired Mark Richt in the wake of a 9-3 regular season, because we lost to Florida and Tech. Or let’s make you the AD for a day, so you could fire our coach. Who would you get to replace him?
Here’s how I rank the current SEC head coaches, based on their success on the field.
- Nick Saban.
- Steve Spurrier.
- Les Miles.
- Mark Richt.
- Gus Malzahn — probably overrated.
- Gary Pinkel — who has accomplished more with less?
- Hugh Frieze — heck of a recruiter.
- Dan Mullins.
- Kevin Sumlin. — maybe overrated
- Butch Jones.
- Bret Bielema — could be one to watch.
- Mike Stoops — tough to win at UK.
- Derek Mason — tough first season.
- Will Muschamp — currently unemployed.
Keep in mind, this is my list. Before you shuffle the order, ask yourself this one question: if Mark Richt were fired or resigned after this season, who might Georgia get to replace him?
Who would you rather have? For me, honestly, nobody on this list impresses me as someone that I’d rather have than coach Richt.
Also, let’s be realistic. Saban wouldn’t leave Alabama for another SEC school. Besides, I don’t like the way he “cuts” players if they don’t perform. Success shouldn’t come at all costs.
You can forget about Steve Spurrier. He HATES Georgia with a passion. Plus, I can’t imagine he’ll continue coaching much longer.
Is he a “better” coach than Richt right now? Yes, I’d say so. But would I rather have him than Richt?
No. I like that Richt keeps his cool under pressure. Could you imagine him ever throwing a headset, like Spurrier throws his visor?
In my first attempt to order the SEC coaches based on their success, I ranked Les Miles at #4, just below Richt, because his teams haven’t contended in several years. However, Les Miles can claim the one national championship though. So for the time being, I put him just above Richt on my list.
Don’t get me wrong; I like the Mad Hatter, but not better than “my” guy.
Who would you rather have? Urban Meyer? Rich Rodriguez? Please.
If you’re one of these fair-weather Dawg fans calling for the head of Mark Richt today, ask yourself this one question: who would your next coach be?
I believe Gene Chizik is available. Would you rather have him? Ron Zook? Or Paul Johnson?
Don’t even bother suggesting you’d rather have Jimbo Fisher. His program is a train wreck, completely out of control.
Give me a break.