Look. Outsiders kick Richt over player arrests. Insiders kick Richt for player arrests. Everyone kicks Richt in the nads over player arrests. And they all do it while their own kids are probably sniffing glue in the basement while instagramming pics of their private parts and brokering deals for AK-47s on Craigslist with locally embedded terrorists.
Which is why I applaud the way Richt handled the reality of the situation while addressing the true nature of the story, which is that UGA doesn't have a discipline problem because the head coach actually instills true discipline into his own program.
"Just because we've got guys suspended isn't evidence we have a discipline problem," Richt said. "It's evidence that we discipline our players. It's evidence there's accountability. ... Sometimes when you make part of your discipline playing time, it becomes a very public thing. Some of your dirty laundry gets out there in public. I'm willing to take that risk if the process will help these guys grow into men. If we ignore stuff they do and act like it didn't happen and sweep it under the rug, let them get away with it or whatever, what are we teaching? We are setting them up for failure down the road."When you look at the issue of player arrests and off field misbehavior against the national landscape, the man on the sidelines in Athens GA isn't the problem. The problem is young boys still developing into young men (and especially while mentally and physically separated from the structure and support their coaches provide) are apt to make stupid mistakes and follow through on dumb choices. And while the meme that Coach Richt has lost control of _____ can be used both lazily and sarcastically, the truth is he's fully in control. Or at least as much as one man can be of a program that oversees the lives and development of 115 men.
Off field incidents provide us with visible content that is alluring and readily clickable. That's the nature of today's society - eager to digest TMZ style reporting while they wait in line for their $4 triple non-fat latte. It's all very sexy and transmits into the paychecks of guys like Mark Bradley and Dan Wolken:
To me, that sounds like a guy who's not only lost control of his own keyboard, but has never had the pleasure of attempting to predict and control the behavior of 17-20something year old men.If the excuse for Richt is that he holds players to a higher standard, it’s inherently part of his job to recruit guys who won’t screw up.
— Dan Wolken (@DanWolken) August 6, 2014
|Damned man walking away.|
There are a number of things you can say about Mark Richt. Many of which may even be truthful - he's Georgia's winningest coach in the history of its tackle football program, he balances family with work better than most, he's never won a national championship, he recruits the same players as his rivals, he once evaded my question completely, he doesn't exchange Christmas cards with Penn Wagers, he loves him some Nacho Libre, and has a pretty smooth back flip off the high dive.
Richt will never win the public over to the fact that there isn't a discipline problem in his program. He won't ever do that because most of the writers and media the public feeds from are lazy and largely incompetent. Publicly he's damned as he does. But privately, I doubt he really gives a shit.
And neither do I.