Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Coach Richt, moving forward now (part one)

The last couple days I feel as if I've been forced into a storm of awkward nostalgia.
Changing coaches is not something I take lightly. I've seen Ray Goff, Glen Mason, Jim Donnan and Mark Richt hired in my Dawglife. Two were guaranteed mistakes, one of which we ended up avoiding altogether. The one sure thing I've learned as a fan from those experiences, is that it never exactly goes as expected.

People who tout that we're not that far away are right, we aren't. But there's also the annoying fact that we didn't get any closer this season. We're back at the drawing board in January, eager to get excited about something in early February...then again in April...only to watch our hearts break in the Fall.

So who knows what a year may bring. Perhaps a season of vast improvements, maybe a nosetackle as big as a mid-size sedan. Conceivably we'll see a head coach with a hunger that eats right through his players.

And will all be enough to turn this leaf back over again. The difference this off season for me is, I'm not goofily holding my breath.
That was me back in early January '11, fresh off a loss to Central Florida in a bowl game no one really gave a shit about altogether. As I alluded to Monday, as well as many times prior to that, I'm a program first guy. Up until that 2010 season I admit to being pretty smitten with the head coach. Never so much as to hold him on a pedestal above the tradition and the history of the football team that I hold so dear, but I held the man under the headset in very high regard.

I still do. But I admit it is getting harder and harder to defend the idea that the Georgia Bulldogs don't need a change in leadership. I'll get to why in part two of this post. But for right now it's important to recognize that many who scream for Richt's head don't remember the seasons before he brought stability and success into town. He knocked the lid off the program. And since then we've watched other programs chase dreams that, years later, they are still restlessly grasping for (read: Tennessee would love to have the Philip Fulmer decision back). And since Richt took over in 2001, things have been pretty awesome in Sanford....
Sorry Coach. Not feeling very giddy right now.

...Except for that one nagging fact that we so often catch glimpses of everything we need to see in the team. We see play calling that is exceptional and always ahead of the opponents' coordinators. We see fire and determination on the sideline and on the field. We see all three phases of the game competing at the highest possible level. It's absolutely awesome, and gives fans so much hope for the immediate future, not just the long-term.

And then we see everything we don't want to see in the team. Listlessness. Poor judgments. Out played on the field and out coached on the sideline. It absolutely sucks, and gives fans no port in the storm and grasping at desperation straws.

If there's one thing we do know, Richt will be the head coach at the University of Georgia next season. Barring something unforeseen, I don't see the Richt family picking up and moving to Lincoln. And I definitely don't see the administration stepping in and showing Richt the door the way Nebraska did.

Nor should they in my opinion. This comes down to a question of faith. The team finished the regular season 9-3. In August that would've seemed about right. Unfortunately, as mentioned above, we were given glimpses of greatness this season. And that's what makes the three losses have such a bad taste. But right now, I just have to say, I have more faith in Richt (disclaimer: with Bobo and Pruitt) going forward into the 2015 season than I do Greg McGarity finding a replacement that can build off of what's going on in Athens as of this moment.

A few years ago I had lost faith in our head coach. I'd watched him knock the lid off the program and then promptly become stagnantly stubborn. Now there's another lid on the program.Whether you like it or not, we're gonna have to wait until next season to see if Mark Richt has what it takes to knock that sumbitch off too.