Great comments from today's news conference at Georgia that I think fans have been anxiously waiting to hear:
"There’s three things that are important: Where you’ve been, where you’re at and where you’re going. If those three things are ever the same, you’re in trouble. I just felt like it was time to visit with, particularly, our veteran players in a very candid way, a very honest way, a way they can understand, that where we’ve been lately as a team from a competitive standpoint, from a success standpoint isn’t where we want to be.
"(Barry) Switzer made this statement: He said Bud Wilkerson created a monster at Oklahoma and now it’s his job to feed it. I understand that. I think when you reel off (a lot of) wins or more, that’s somewhat of a monster that needs to be fed.
"Expectations are high, and I don’t think in the last couple of years, I know that we haven’t met my expectations. I think sometimes what can happen, if a guy’s a millionaire, they don’t think anything about going down to the bank and taking out $50, $500 or $50,000. The bank’s full of money as far as they’re concerned. They don’t worry about beating the check back to make a deposit.
"That’s a different life. I kind of feel like in the past four or five years, the feeding of the monster hasn’t been taking place. The investing and the deposits haven’t been made, yet we’ve continued to live like millionaires. We just keep making withdrawals. That’s not the way this works.
"This is a program that was built on passion, hard work, a great pride in our work ethic, aggressiveness. I think from time to time I’ve heard people say that our team has played harder than anybody, but I don’t think we’ve done that the last two or three years. I think there may have been a sense creep in that we’re Georgia and we’re going to win (a lot of) games."
Wow. Powerful stuff, right? Only problem is that it wasn't Mark Richt who said it. It was women's basketball coach Andy Landers.
But reading those words, tell me it wasn't the football program that you were thinking about -- and not just because that's what the primary topics of this blog have been for the past few months. The words so accurately reflect the problems so many fans see on Saturdays that it's almost uncanny.
It's a lot easier for Landers to say them, I know. He's on the brink of a new season, not smack dab in the middle of one that is quickly going down in flames.
He isn't under anywhere near the spotlight that Richt is. He gets to coast under the radar -- at least until football season is over.
And he's got 31 years of experience under his belt at Georgia. He's a hall-of-famer, and for now, Richt is simply "a pretty good coach."
But I get the sense that, through all the turmoil of the past few weeks and maybe the past few years, a similar statement by Richt would go a long, long way to smoothing over some of the vitriol from fans.
As it is, here's what Richt did have to say about his program:
"I have concerns about the season, of course, with the way we’ve played. As far as the program, we have a very strong program, finishing in the Coaches’ Poll 10 last year, No. 2 in the AP the year before. Six out of seven years in the top 10, that’s not bad.
"That’s the past, I understand that, but when you start talking about a program, you have to look at where we’ve been in recent history. And this season’s not over. I think when some of your main goals become less likely to be attained, it’s tough on everybody. So we’re very concerned about where this season is going and we’re battling as hard as we can battle to get things moving in the right direction this year."
It might have been an eloquent argument for Richt, but on the heels of Landers' words, it probably rings a little hollow for many of the fans who have been so angry in the past 72 hours.
Moving on to some other tidbits from Tuesday's media event...
-- Caleb King will return to practice today and Richt is hopeful he can play Saturday.
-- Vance Cuff will see more action this week and should get in a full week of practice.
-- Marcus Dowtin and Akeem Dent are almost certainly out for this week's game.
-- Richard Samuel is expected to get the start at tailback again but Richt said there will be a mix between all four of the tailbacks for now.
-- Richt said a number of youngsters would see more action. Among them, Marlon Brown and Rantavious Wooten "have earned more playing time" and Branden Smith and Baccari Rambo will get increased reps spelling Bryan Evans, Prince Miller and Reshad Jones. Richt didn't specifically call out those older guys but said they would benefit from getting some snaps off.
-- Richt was emphatic that Joe Cox remained his starting quarterback, but he specifically said that Logan Gray could begin seeing a few series worth of action each game.
-- Asked what would turn the defense around, Richt said there were a lot of issues, but that it should start with getting off the field when they put the opponent in third-and-long.
-- On Richt's call-in show last night, he said a couple of things worth noting as well:
On Aaron Murray possibly playing: "I'm not saying it's an impossibility at this point, but I'd say it's not very likely. I can see where people want a young guy to get in there right now. I'm not saying it won't happen, but right now the main focus is to win this game against Vanderbilt."
On his assistant coaches: "I think a lot of people expect blood. They want somebody to be let go or fired or that kind of thing, and maybe that's what needs to be done, but at this point right now, we're going to do what we know is the best thing to do and that's to focus on this game this week."
Still think he won't fire someone? Doesn't sound that way to me.
-- Also, I talked to Rennie Curran and Bryan Evans and both expressed some frustration that perhaps there was a lack of effort in the film room on the part of some of their teammates. I'll have much more on this in today's post-practice notes.