The BCS, Crystal Footballs, and Mark Richt

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:

  1. Don’t cheapen my degrees in any shape, manner, or form.
  2. Consistently contend for the division, and inherently, the conference championship.
  3. Consistently defeat our biggest rivals.
  4. 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.

6 responses to “The BCS, Crystal Footballs, and Mark Richt

  1. JunkYard Dawg '00

    Well stated, AD. However, I would endorse MR for those very reasons you’ve stated. Is he perfect? No, but name me one coach who is…

    Anyway, You’ve hit on some fair points in regard to our fanbase and the direction of college football and I say, keep fighting the good fight and let’s hope Munson and Lady Luck are smiling down on us this coming year! I believe its going to be a good one.

  2. I commented after you over at GTP and I have to say that I agree with you on most of what you have written here. As a fan I expect the following:

    1) Have your team prepared and ready to play each and every Saturday-the first part of Richt’s tenure at UGA this was never even a question. I often remarked to my wife (or whomever was sitting beside me at the game) how refreshing it was to not watch a Dawg team sleep walk through games a la the end of the Donnan era and most of the Goff era. Where things turned in this regard is when Richt failed to name Stafford the starting QB outright at the beginning of the ’06 season, from that point on we have laid at least one egg per season (UT in ’07 cost us our best shot at a MNC) up until last year. The 2011 Dawgs were IMO prepared and ready to play each and every week and they competed hard to the end of the game.
    2) Be in the mix for the division title every year-with the amount of talent that we pull in every year and our resources there is no excuse to not at least contend every year. There will be years where another team will be a little better or maybe have a more favorable schedule, not have key injuries, etc and go to the Dome instead of us.
    3)Play for the SEC title at least 3-4 times per decade and win 1-2 of those. Again with our talent and resources I don’t think that this is an unreasonable expectation. South Carolina won’t sustain their level of play for much longer (especially after the OBC retires), UT is a dumpster fire for a few more years, UK is a basketball school, and Vandy is Vandy (and probably won’t have Franklin much longer), Missouri might be a factor in the coming years if they can recruit Texas and get more depth. So basically the divison should be between UGA and UF just about every year.
    4) I expect the players, staff, and coaches to conduct themselves as good citizens, stay out of trouble, and not do anything to embarass the university.

    I for one wouldn’t trade Mark Richt for Saban and all of their crystal balls, Bama fans as a whole are rude, uneducated and ill informed about anything other than their beloved Tide.

  3. Very well said

  4. Ok.

    2002 we lost to a team who did not even achieve the Coaches’ Poll or the AP Poll Top 25, even WITH their win over us. It was an excruciating game where we went 0-11 on 3rd Down Conversions against a poor Ron Zook team. As for The SEC 2002, there was only 1 other team ranked in the Coaches’ Poll and that was a 4-loss Auburn. The SEC has not had a season like that, since. I don’t care about Crystal Balls; I care about going out there and playing football. Beating a 5-Loss FSU in the bowl game is not my idea of being on the national stage, even, at the end of the season when other teams most assuredly are on the national stage for BEATING TOP TEAMS in their GOOD YEARS and NOT LOSING TO CUPCAKES. There is no way Ron Zook’s team should have beat us 2002.

    2007. High-water Mark ? We started the season with a LOSS to a 6-6 South Carolina team who did not even play in a bowl game. As in 2002, we beat not 1 team who achieved any top 10 poll. Yes, there was the blow-out to a sorry vols’ team 2007 right after the South Carolina debacle, and while we beat none of the teams achieving top 10, LSU beat TWO (2.) If 2007, or 2002, are our high-water mark seasons, God Help us nationally.
    Now, on to what I expect from my alma mater’s # 11 all-time football program in Wins :
    (1) I do not expect to open the papers and read the headlines that 33 of our most current Scholarship Recruits our Coach signed, are just GONE. These are not a result of skooters. We have, pardon me for getting into this mis-management of the roster you brought up AuditDawg, had NOTHING BUT BAD PRESS here at UGA the entire Mark Richt Era. We have played 16 games against teams who achieved the top 10 – not BCS National Championship – just top 10. We won 3 of the 16 all 11 years and not one after, as is pointed out above after the 2006 season when we beat # 9 Auburn but LOST to Vandie a 2-win team with wins ONLY over 0-12 Duke and 1-11 Temple Owls – amongst our 4 LOSSES 2006. 2002 and 2007, we beat no team achieving top 10 – again not Crystal Ball – just only teams achieving Top 10. We’re # 11 all-time in Wins. We should be able to beat top 10 teams. And, I am – as you yourself point out – blown-away with all the BAD PRESS OFF THE FIELD, TOO. 30 percent of our scholarship football players attrition of the current 109 signed by Mark Richt toward his 85-man limit with 76 then only remaining – 9 under the 85-man limit. Poor roster management you brought up and worse all the offenses that brought about all these 33 including – well, no I am not listing the offenses of my heroes, but we have NO DISCIPLINE on or off the field all 11 years.

    (2) Our Offense has struggled all 11 years of Mark Richt Era. We are the Average # 52 Total Offense NCAA all 11. We seemingly cannot figure out who the players are on Offense to EVEN PLAY. Again, you brought up above already about Matthew Stafford # 1 NFL Draft Pick put DOWN at # 3 on the Depth Chart behind Joe Cox and behind Joe Tereshinski III whom Mike Bobo and Mark Richt told us was such a great quarterback. We didn’t get into Joe Cox yet here and how he too was put up on a Favorite Status 2009, even with his chronic sore shoulder unable to practice at least once a week ALL SEASON and how he also had the flu in separate flight charter to Stillwater to play Okie State who did not even make the AP Poll Top 25 even AFTER their win over Joe Cox. How could we have all these quarterbacks such as Zach Mettenberger and Joe Cox only played EVERY SNAP ? Are we purposely trying to lose ? Don’t even get me on the Aaron Murray 0-9 vs teams achieving any top 25 poll when the other qb all 9 games was FAR BETTER than he with his 11 losses, 56 sacks, 23 interceptions, 22 fumbles and 1 yards a carry on 7 carries a game for all 26 starts, requiring him to go 13-1 both 2012 and 2013 to even tie David Greene’s UGA win record of 42 wins as starting QB. Knowshon Moreno redshirted so we see the best RB in 25 years 2 years and then selected in the TOP DOZEN best football players in the world. When we did finally play him in 2008, for example, we played 3 teams who beat any team achieving any TOP 25 – again, not Crystal Ball, just top 25, and he had averaged 14 carries against all 3 – us giving up CONSECUTIVE 42 points, 31 to nothing at half and 22 consecutive points against the only 3 teams 2008 we played who achieved any win over any top 25 team. Perhaps you recall 2008 ? Pre-season # 1 for the 1st time in our Storied 120-year history. That night, 22 of our players went out to celebrate AP Poll making it unanimous # 1 all polls. Barroom brawls, and one even beat up a hospital. Fulmer Cup National Championship before the season even started. Had we started out AP Poll # 13, where we ended up, we would have dropped 13 places out of the AP Poll entirely. We fixed that the next year 2009. Then, 2010 we put up 7 losses requiring us to go back 58 years all the way to 1953 to find a UGA team who lost more games than we did 2010. 2011 we beat none of the 27 teams who made 10-win seasons, and lost to every team achieving any top 25 poll.

    (3) We have not beat an SEC team who achieved a winning SEC record starting with the Kentucky game WAY BACK IN 2007.
    Now, you can harp on Crystal Balls all you want. What I expect is not watered-down made up list of goals after the fact like it matters one iota in the DOWN SEC EAST if we are or are not the best team that season. That’s like who is the top-ranked team in the ACC ? Trick question. There ain’t one, and has not been.

    We ended the season the # 5 SEC team at 10-4, beat none of the 27 teams achieving 10-win seasons, none of the 36 teams achieving 9-win seasons and only 2 of the 48 teams who achieved 8-win seasons.


    After 2005 when we LAST won The SEC Championship Game and ended up the # 3 team in The SEC in every poll, there have been 33 teams in The SEC who have


    Only Vandie and Missy State have fewer than Mark Richt.

    The 2005 season was EIGHT (8) LONG SEASONS AGO.

  5. DawgsAllTheWay

    I wonder the ages of some of the posters ? Mark Richt was and is the best thing to happen for UGA since late in Dooley’s tenure. Took Dooley 16 yrs. to get the crystal. Go back and look at some of the games he lost before Herschel Walker. Now with that said Dooley was STILL a great coach. Why ? Because like CMR he played Well within the parameters of fairness in every facet of the game. UGA’s rivals in many cases DONT. They will play a key player with a DUI, Under Age Drinking, Mary Jay useage with only a Love slap on the wrist. Mark Richt as won 2 SEC titles, 3 SECE titles and tied for 2 more. Took us to Bowl games every year and won all but 3 of those. I could go on and on. Ray Goff was a fine person but a terrible HC. Unless you lived and was old enough to understand Dawgs football through his tenure, you have not suffered. Be glad for Mark Richt VERY glad. ****Note harder to win when being a stickler for the rules while your rivals push the very edge of the ethics envelope to win. I admire and respect what Mark Richt has done for UGA football on and off the field.

  6. DawgsAllTheWay

    Oh and when we could have been a viable candidate to play in the Ntl. title game it was “Oh no you have to win your conference !” Last abacadabra and POOF !! Bama doesnt have to do that to play. How fair is that ? I’ll tell you. About as fair as penalizing Kolton Houston for using a steroid prescribed to him by a Licensed Physician BEFORE he even came to UGA and has not taken any since !! He’s now been at UGA 2 1/2 yrs. and still can’t play IN SPITE of the fact that he’s not used any more. Rival teams players can smoke dope get caught and be playing against US the very next Sat. TRUTH !

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