Earlier today, I responded to this comment by commenter PuffDawg over at the esteemed Senator’s blog about how I’ve grown to hate my own fanbase more and more as each day passes. Whether it’s the inability to experience any semblance of joy in being a Dawg fan or the sense of entitlement regarding the overall status of our program that many Dawg fans seem to hold (considering our trophy case ain’t exactly Bama’s, this amuses me to no end) I’ve really begun to loathe a portion of the fanbase.
After my original comment, I was going to respond to commenter Charles, but quickly realized that my response was growing so lengthy that it would take away from the legitimate conversation at the Senator’s site. As such, I’ve decided to post my response to Charles below so I don’t take up too much window space over there. Apologies ahead for some of the language I use as this is something I feel strongly about and feel that it is necessary to get my point across. I’d also like to clarify that while the tone of this post will take a defensive stance of Mark Richt as the UGA head coach, it is not an endorsement in any sense. It’s merely my perspective that those who use the lack of a crystal football as an argument to run him out-of-town are evaluating the situation incorrectly and how the BCS has caused this problem. Without further ado, here goes:
In my opinion, the total obsession with the national title these days is one of the unfortunate consequences of the BCS. The BCS took what was a highly regional sport and made a national success. In doing so, it has brought many millions of dollars to its members schools as well as the non-AQ schools that otherwise they never would have accessed. For that reason, the BCS has been a highly successful endeavor for the conferences. Unfortunately, along with the many millions of dollars, the sport has now become a national phenomenon and as such attracted the casual fan that couldn’t give two shits about the things that attracted most of us to college football in the beginning. All they care about is whether their adopted school is competing for national titles or not and see the two team playoff currently held in the BCS as an atrocity because it only allows those two teams to have a post-season chance at the ultimate glory.
It’s the fans like these that want Mark Richt run out on a rail because he hasn’t delivered a crystal football to Athens during his tenure. I honestly can say that I sympathize with these folks to an extent as I have a nagging feeling deep down that as long as Mark Richt is the head coach in Athens, Georgia football will always be a just above average program with an occasional 2002 or 2007 sprinkled in. I just don’t believe he’s on the level of a Nick Saban as a head coach (honestly, who is?) nor will he use the same tactics (you can argue the ethics of Saban’s tactics however you want, that’s not the point of this post) regarding roster management and whatnot that is required to keep up with him.
My main question to these types of fans is this: Why does the God-damned crystal football have to matter so much? There are 120+ fucking teams in the highest division of college football and only one can win it every year. The BCS has caused us to place so much importance on that crystal football that requires many moving parts to achieve, many of which are out of the control of the head coach of the football program. Here’s my list of things that are most important to ME when evaluating the head football coach at my alma mater:
- Don’t cheapen my degrees in any shape, manner, or form.
- Consistently contend for the division, and inherently, the conference championship.
- Consistently defeat our biggest rivals.
- Seriously, you better fucking not cheapen my degrees.
On numbers 1 and 4, there can be no doubt. We know what the man is all about and he’s never going to do anything that will bring tarnish to my alma mater’s academic reputation (This is where the obligatory “Jim Harrick can go fuck himself” comment goes).
Numbers 2 and 3 are the only two variables that a head coach can control in the grand scheme of whether he is or isn’t competing for a national championship. I’d say Coach Richt is doing a pretty bang-up job on #2. The 4 trips to Atlanta in his tenure speaks for itself and he’s won 2 of those times. While undoubtedly it was a low period with zero trips from 2006-2010, Coach Richt has finished no worse than second in the East Division 7 of his 11 years on campus. Asides from the series with Florida (look at the rest of the East Division against Florida during his tenure and you’ll see a similar record), his record against anybody that could be considered a major rival (yes, that even includes those silly Gamecock fans) is pretty immaculate. He has a winning record against every school in the SEC sans Florida and LSU (3-4).
I’m actually okay with arguing that the series record against Florida is a fireable offense, but you also have to acknowledge that his 7-4, 11-1, 7-4, 7-4 records against Auburn, Georgia Tech, Tennessee, and South Carolina are also arguments that he’s getting it done against the major rivals.
My perspective is that the lack of crystal football is a warped way to evaluate Mark Richt’s tenure in Athens and whether it should continue. I’ve laid out some legitimate metrics which I think his tenure should be measured on and one could argue that he’s done pretty well based on those. However, I also realize that there are some that are just tired of the guy and after 11 years it’s unrealistic to expect everybody to still be in love with the guy.
Ultimately, I think Joe Bulldog would make a stronger argument about why Mark Richt should be let go by focusing on things like letting fixable problems like defense and special teams lapse to the point where they began to cost games before fixes were implemented rather than the lack of crystal footballs in Butts-Mehre. The more I see the “lack of crystal football” argument levied against Mark Richt, the more I echo the sentiments of the Wake Forest blogger (h/t: Senator) and how the aspects of college football that we all originally loved about it are being killed because of this laser focus on the crystal football instead of things like conference championships and the records against rivals. We’re seeing it everyday in Athens as the University and the Athletic Department go out of their way to shit on season ticket holders with crap-tastic home schedules such as this year just because there’s a better chance of getting in the eventual playoff with that model. Anyways, that’s just me $0.02. YMMV, of course.