Coach Richt's blood runs red and black. I love Coach Richt, as much as my heterosexual identity allows. He's been kind to me and my family on a number of occasions. I'm never embarrassed by his actions or personality. He's taken the program to higher levels, as well as the expectations of the fanbase. Instead of going on the road in the SEC expecting to lose we have a competitive chance if not a distinct advantage. We've won division and conference banners that eluded the coaches that preceded him. He's sloppy kissed his wife on the field in Jacksonville, and that's always something I've wanted to do (with Mrs. Bernie, not Kathryn). He has the best interests of each of his players in his heart, from the 5 star phenom to each and every walkon that contributes to the program.
Coach Richt is a rock star. He's as cool as he is calm. My wife and my mom and my kids will probably tell you that it wouldn't hurt for me to emulate him in day to day operations a little more than I do. Around the dinner table my little girls understand that his name is one that suggests attention. His name is one of importance, even moreso than Carrie Underwood. I'm sure it's the same or at least similar in a lot of homes across the southland. So looking forward, as we take just a sample of evidence we'll see that despite the faults, the successes and the issues at hand, we all have the same goal.
Richt's road record is nothing to just glance over. It's a barometer by which I think all head coaches at UGA should be measured going forward. Richt's 38-9 overall true road record is impressive and is a hallmark for getting players and fans energized. It has helped give the program a new identity, one in which the expectation each and every game (regardless of location) is to win. We didn't have that under either of the previous two coaches. Donnan flirted with it; Goff...well, we were just happy the bus driver got the team to the right place on the map.
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the audience say?
The neutral site record (including bowls, SECCGs, Boise State and...) however is abysmal, bolstered by a deep hole in Jacksonville. The WLOCP has been just as distasteful under Richt as it has under his predecessors. Three wins versus eight losses doesn't cut it down there. And while it's true that things have changed dramatically down at the University of Florida, they've changed there before and it seems to have made no difference in our luck at AllTel. (read: Zook'd)
The reality is that were it not for a puppet with red panties in the office of AD at Butts-Mehre, Richt would likely not still be in Athens. Even the most ardent Richt supporter has to remember that he completely lost control of the program. He both refused to acknowledge the defensive ineptitude and the institutional flustercluck that was our strength and conditioning program. Friendships got in the way of better judgment. And while that's something most of us can relate to at some time or other, I think this is where many fans began to separate their love for the man in charge from the love for the program as a whole.
I've cried like a little school girl during the wins in Jacksonville and as the red and black confetti has trickled from the rafters of the Georgia Dome. Mark Richt has held my hand and told me it's okay that Tennessee just scored pretty late in the game, we've got a steady hand at quarterback, Damien Gary, Randy McMichael and Verron Haynes. In short, I've been more than pleasantly surprised by where Richt has taken the program from where it was 12 seasons ago.
But...program before coach y'all. Just because he's undefeated in Tuscaloosa and seems to have turned things around against the gators, that doesn't mean I'm giving the guy carte blanche and freedom to take the tackle football program at UGA just any damn where. That's a leash I'll always have a grasp of as tightly as I please. While Richt eventually addressed the problems on the defensive side of the ball, the insanity that was Coach Fabris and the kickoff teams and the utter shambles the S&C program were in, the jury's still out as to whether he waited too long to do so.
Like Richt, my blood runs Georgia red too. Although our investment has come from different directions, our end goal is the same. Some see it differently. They put their love and admiration for the man ahead of the institution. In the end I guess I understand the infatuation. Again, he's a cool guy and drives a big red truck. However, I can look up to him without putting him on a pedestal.
It's certainly true that we're lucky to have Coach Richt on the sidelines in Sanford Stadium. However, if you don't believe that he's even luckier to have us you need to get your eyesight checked. Regardless of how much we adore Coach Richt or how much room we see for his improvements, 69 days from now we'll all be there. Right behind him. United in the same goal.
Athens. Atlanta. Miami.