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Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Richt: 'We're not looking to blow anything up'

My initial impression of Mark Richt’s press conference on Wednesday: He wanted to convey that change was happening at the Georgia football program, but without actual personnel changes.

The key quote:

“If you just change for the sake of changing, then all of a sudden you’ve gotta learn something all over again. Do I wanna confuse Aaron Murray? … We’re not looking to blow anything up. In my opinion we’re very close.”

Richt’s postseason wrap-up is usually held via a teleconference, from what I’m told. But after a 6-7 season and a bowl loss that has fans up in arms, Richt spoke Wednesday in the team meeting room. Athletics director Greg McGarity, associate athletics director Frank Crumley and a bunch of other Georgia officials were present.

Here’s what stood out to me:

- During his opening statement, which lasted close to 15 minutes, Richt said he didn’t want to spend much time re-hashing the just-completed season.

“Last year was certainly not anywhere close to what we expected or what we expect here," he said at one point. "I understand that as much as anybody.”

MY TAKE: Richt seemed to know he had to say something to fans who were disillusioned. He wasn't reading from a script or anything, but throughout the press conference (which lasted about a half-hour) I did get the sense that Richt was aware of what was being said about the program.

- Richt ticked off the reasons there would be no staff changes: The defensive staff was already overhauled last year, and went through a transition in 2010; The offense did well, and Richt has no plans to get more involved in play-calling.

“Mike Bobo’s the coordinator, Mike Bobo’s the quarterbacks coach. Stacey Searels is the running game coordinator,” Richt said. “And they’ve done a great job.”

MY TAKE: I’m sure fans will have a field day with that last quote. But Richt has confidence in his coordinators, and as long as they’re going to stay in those jobs, that’s what he has to say.

All that said, Richt mentioned the term “cutting edge” about a half-dozen times. He never quite explained what that meant: That the offense has gone a bit stale and needs more flare? Or some off-field stuff? Honestly, I can’t say.

- The addition of McGarity makes Richt feel like he’s a first-year coach all over again, Richt said.

“I’m just spending less time messing around with some things that Greg wants to be able to help take off my plate from an administrative point of view,” Richt said.

MY TAKE: Again, this point seemed kind of vague too. We’re due to speak to McGarity sometime today or Thursday. McGarity did speak a bit with Richt after the presser ,then got on the elevator with him. It does seem obvious that Richt has a better relationship with him than with Damon Evans.

- Based on Blair Walsh’s post-Liberty Bowl comments, I asked Richt if he thought the program itself had felt a sense of entitlement lately.

“I don’t think anybody feels that way now,” he answered. “If there was an issue with that, I don’t think there’s anybody that feels … I don’t think anybody’s taking anything for granted. I’m sure that’s a healthy thing for us too.”

MY TAKE: That’s about the answer you’d expect. Richt was also asked later if he felt more of a sense of urgency this January than any previous times in his tenure, and answered by saying he just had “a greater sense of excitement.”

- There were no updates on the juniors considering the NFL jump. Richt did basically admit that A.J. Green should go, at least if his decision is all about draft status and money, while saying everyone else could help themselves by returning.

“I don’t know who’s gonna come back, who’s not gonna come back,” Richt said. “All I know is that whoever comes back is going to be 100 motivated to help us get back on top of the Eastern Division.”

MY TAKE: I think the staff knows Green is gone, barring personal reasons the receiver would want to spend one more year in college. But they’re hoping guys like Justin Houston, Cordy Glenn and Brandon Boykin will be swayed by the desire to improve their pro stock by having good senior seasons.

- The team has already announced a change in the strength and conditioning program. (Joe Tereshinski II was among those present at the press conference.) It will also be bringing in a nutritionist to see what improvements could be made in that area.

He also spent a few minutes talking about some things they’re doing to help the leadership aspect of the team. He never mentioned all the off-field stuff. (Incidentally, asked about any discipline for Marcus Dowtin, Richt said they would discuss that “in a couple days.”)

MY TAKE: Richt’s eyes appeared to well up when he was discussing Dave Van Halanger, who has been with him for years, and is officially being moved into a mentoring role. That may have been because he hated relieving Van Halanger of his strength duties, or because Richt is still really passionate about helping players off the field. Or he was just faking it. But I doubt it.

“I have a heart for these kids," Richt said. "I can’t help it."


Anonymous said...

Did he really say Searles is doing a great job?

Anonymous said...

"Has done a great job" was the quote I read.
He just forgot to add, "a few years ago"

Anonymous said...

It is too bad Richt doesn't show such a high passion for on the field results as he does off the field. He should resign as head coach and go into social services for Athens-Clarke County.

<--- Dawg Stephen Himself said...

Seth, you are a reporter and have no heart or allegiance to georgia at all, and I am glad to know as a PASSIONATE and sometimes homerish fan of georgia, that I came away with many of the same feelings you did.

As far as some of the things being said about the program, the media who has been taking cheap shots can really help a lot by at least being neutral..

I liked the way he seemed encouraged about recruiting, and couldnt say anything else. I think he knows something there.. I do.

Thanks for a great recap, i did almost the same thing you did, I listened to the replay, and paused at each valid commenting place to write my own opinions...Hope you dont mind, the link is right here.
Keep up the good work.

Nice job there bashing from the same man...ANONYMOUS

gastr1 said...

Dawg Stephen Yourself,

How excited would you be about another blogger advertising his won link on your blog?

No class or clue, man.

<--- Dawg Stephen Himself said...

gastr1.. my apologies. In the 2 yrs I have had my blog, that would be the only time i linked... I thought that would be better than a copy and paste 3 pages long. It wont happen again sir, thank you for pointing tht out.

Anonymous said...

You mean like how lots of other people (including Get the Picture of which I have a ton of respect for) post links in comments?

BHNotes said...

Interesting note at the end about Richt's eyes welling up talking about VH and the players. I know lots of people want MORE change and that's understandable given the results we've seen on the field. But you have to at least give some credit for the changes Richt has made- in the last two year's he's handed two of his best friends pink slips. And I'm not just assuming he's friends with Willie and VH because they work together. He and Willie went back to college and Willie was in his wedding. He's said many times that VH has been his best friend since years ago at FSU and their families are very close. Not saying he doesn't deserve some criticism for being slow to make changes, but the vast majority of people are never asked to fire two of their best friends. That's pretty tough, but it comes with the territory.

Anonymous said...

Most people are wise enough not to hire friends to start with. Business and friends don't mix very well.