Four decades now have found me a University of Georgia football fan. I faintly recall the last national championship (1980). I vividly remember those dreary years of my actual attendance under Coach Goff. I was as thrilled as any with the arrival of Mark Richt and his early successes.
He restored the Dawgs to dominance in the toughest conference in college ball. He put UGA back in the national spotlight. That was then. Then seems an eternity ago.
Ten years have passed without an SEC title. Only once was a national title ever a possibility and that was blown with a bungled play in the final seconds against Alabama. The costly mistake was the result of poor (comparatively) coaching and failure to execute – hallmarks of Richt’s tenure. The last few seasons, again by comparison, have felt dismal.
Georgia under Richt has established it simply cannot beat good teams in big games. This, despite the yearly hosting of near NFL level talent.
The time for change has come and, as much as I respect the man, I welcome Richt’s departure. As the ESPN headline announced: “Mark Richt won a lot of games at Georgia, just not the right ones.”
The excuses for keeping Richt, all based on fear and acceptance of mediocrity, were many. “Who’s gonna replace him?” Someone. The UGA job is the biggest opening in the country. The excuse-mongers call those of us who want to win “fair weather fans” no matter our vested interest in the school and team (and despite a lack of such weather for a long time). We call them the kool-aid drinkers. They’re usually punch drunk, dreaming about “next year” – which never comes.
In addition to bad coaching UGA developed another problem: gleeful acceptance of second, third, 25th place – no desire to be the best. An AJC poll relayed the depth of this issue.
The future can very bright if the fans will unite behind excellence and refuse to accept anything but. Time will tell. Maybe not next year but we will see.
Georgia Saturdays have been tough of late. Ford.