One of the many lessons Mark Richt learned from his mentor, Bobby Bowden, is that giving his staff room to learn and grow is important for any coach.
One of the things Richt has learned from the past few seasons at Georgia, when he’s taken a step back from the day-to-day coaching, is that he needs to be a bit more involved than his mentor was.
Richt said he has sat in on every offensive team meeting and quarterback meeting this spring, and he’ll continue to do so throughout the season after taking a more reduced role during the past several years.
“A lot of times I would watch practice film separate from the staff and maybe make my notes and talk to the staff about things I saw, but what I decided to do was just be in there every day as we’re going over it and make sure we’re all on the same page,” Richt said. “It’s good medicine for me, really.”
Part of the decision, Richt said, was simply that he missed having a more hands-on role with the offense after giving up play-calling duties late in the 2006 season, then promoting Mike Bobo to offensive coordinator in 2007.
Another part of the decision was so that Richt could have a firsthand look at how the current crop of quarterbacks are handling the battle to become the starter in 2010.
“I want to know what those adjustments are and I want to see them react to coaching and see them answer the questions Mike is asking,” Richt said. “I want to get a taste of how they are handling the pressure.”
That’s a big departure from the past few years, Richt said, when he was spending increased time with the defense and working on secondary chores such as signing memorabilia or answering mail during some meetings.
The idea, Richt said, was to give his coaches enough autonomy to grow – a process he enjoyed during his days as offensive coordinator at Florida State.
“Sometimes when the head man’s in there, they may be worried too much about what I think,” Richt said. “I always respected Coach Bowden and what he thought, but he also backed away enough to kind of let us work our way through it. Because of that, I know I was able to grow as a coach and I appreciated that, so I was doing the same.”
Richt said he hopes that will still be the case and said he explained to Bobo that his presence in meetings was meant only to allow Richt to provide more insight and remain up-to-date on the daily changes being made rather than to undermine the autonomy of the offensive coaches.
“I’m not in there to make him crazy at all,” Richt said. “I’m in there because I do miss it, No. 1, but I want to be able to add as much value as I can as we go.”
A few more quotes from Richt on the subject:
On the progression of his involvement:
“I was actively coaching the quarterbacks in the very beginning. After some time, Mike was coaching them and I was basically an observer. It had been that way, and then I’d say the last maybe two or three years, I was not just sitting in every single meeting. I’d spend more time looking at defense or whatever. Now I’m just going to get in the offensive room where I feel I can add the most value from the knowledge I have of coaching over the years, and I’ll spend time with the defense after scrimmages and after games watching film with them as they grade and things of that nature. Same with the kicking game.”
On compartmentalizing responsibilities:
“I’m just making sure that I’m not scheduling any kind of outside meetings. I was starting to let some of those extra things roll into those meeting times. Now some of those extra things are just going to have to wait. It’s not like they aren’t going to get done. They’re just not going to get done as quickly as some people may want it.”
On why he's becoming more involved:
“I just want to do that period from here on in just because I miss it and this spring in particular we’re trying to make a decision on the starter, and I want to make sure I understand completely. I know our offense, I know the system, but day to day, things change. You might have a certain read or progression or adjustment on a blitz, and then a defense is doing something different and you have to adjust, I want to know what those adjustments are and I want to see them react to coaching and see them answer the questions Mike is asking. I want to get a taste of how they are handling the pressure. So I’ve been more involved in the offensive meeting room and the quarterback meeting room mostly by being at every one of them. A lot of times I would watch practice film separate from the staff and maybe make my notes and talk to the staff about things I saw, but what I decided to do was just be in there every day as we’re going over it and make sure we’re all on the same page.”