The End of an Era: Thanks for the Memories Coach Richt

Well the day has finally come.  I am going on record to say it is time for Richt to move on.   You will not find a more avid, dedicated, or passionate Georgia Bulldog than myself.  You may know fans that are my equal but none that are greater.  That being said, when someone like myself finally says. “it’s over”.  It is truly OVER!  Yesterday was an absolute embarrassment for Georgia.  Florida is not a good team.  They can’t kick a field goal, and they don’t even have a quarterback.

      Coach Mark RIcht
Coach Mark Richt

But they are 24 points better than the Georgia Bulldogs.  Can you even remember the last time Georgia scored a touchdown?  It seems Georgia doesn’t really do anything well, and what happened yesterday has been happening for almost 8 years.  What’s so sad is that we as fans have allowed this to happen.  I am as guilty as anyone.  I have been a staunch supporter of this program and Mark Richt.  But that is no longer true.  The ceiling has been met for this team and staff.  And it now appears that the 2012 season was just a happy accident.  What’s even sadder is that I look to 2012 as successful.  There was no title or championship won.  Just a gut wrenching loss in the Georgia dome.  But that is the current state of Georgia football.  No reason to expect anything more.   How in the world can the University of Georgia be this helpless and pitiful on offense?  Honestly, how?

We all know Richt is a good man, and I do believe he is a good coach.  That’s right…he is a good coach.  But the message here at Georgia has gotten stale so to speak.  It just isn’t working anymore.  College football has changed a good deal over the last 15 years.  The days of Bobby Bowden, Joe Paterno, and Bear Bryant are no more.  I do not believe a coach can remain effective at a University for over 10 years now.  There may be a few exceptions but in general this seems to be the case.  Just look to Frank Beamer at Virginia Tech.  He is another great coach, but it is time for him to move on.  And that is where we are now in Athens. But don’t worry about Mark Richt or feel bad for him.  He is a good man, a good coach, and seemingly a great husband and father.  His life isn’t over and his future could still be bright.  He has options available.  If he still wants to coach, there will be opportunities for him to do so.  Maybe even at his alma mater, Miami.  If he is done with coaching, then he has made enough money to pursue any other endeavor he chooses.  My point is that this doesn’t have to be ugly. Sometimes it is just time to say good bye.

So that is what I am doing here today.  I am saying good bye to a great coach and a great Bulldog.  Mark Richt is the best Georgia coach I have had the chance to watch.  I actually believe he is the best “head coach” Georgia has ever had.  The best coach at Georgia was Erk Russell, but we never gave him the head job. You may disagree with me, but for my money, Richt is the best.  And the best memories of Georgia football in my life came under his watch.  So here’s a look back at some of the best ones.

2001- UGA-Tenn:  Hob Nailed Boot

I will never forget where I was when David Greene hit Veron Haynes in the end zone.  I was at Baxter Courtyard across from Clarke Central watching the game with friends.  I was literally on the floor praying, and when Haynes caught the ball I immediately when running out the door yelling and screaming.

100601 HaynesWinningTD_JB (nt sports/uga fb/2001/tenn.) Jeff Blake/staff UGA's Verron Haynes hauls in the game-winning TD in the fourth quarter of Georgia's 26-24 win in Knoxville October 6, 2001.

I ran through the parking lot on to Baxter Street and right into traffic.   I still remember the face of the man in the white Camry who honked his horn at me.  He honked and I yelled “Go Dawgs”. That was the day we realized Georgia’s future may be bright.

2002- UGA-Auburn: David Green to Michael Johnson

Georgia had not won a SEC title since the early 80s.  In fact, up until 2002 Georgia had not even been to the dome.  That team showed a lot fight coming back to win the game.  Sadly, that is not something our current teams have.  They aren’t tough, and they don’t have much fight.  But Richt’s earlier teams sure did.  That night in downtown Athens is one of my favorite memories as a Bulldog.  I will honestly never forget it.  Thank you Coach Richt.

2005- UGA-LSU: SEC Championship

2005 was a tough season in a lot of ways. That team could have accomplished more, but Shockley got hurt.  And then they lost tough games to Florida and Auburn.  No one expected Georgia to beat a top ranked and favored LSU team.  Boy were they wrong.  DJ Shockley found Sean Bailey twice for huge touchdowns and overall the team played great.  The Dawgs whipped LSU pretty good that night.  Sadly, it was Georgia’s last SEC Title

2007-Georgia Florida

Matt Stafford and Knowshown Moreno were on this team along with many other Georgia greats.  When the team ran onto the field you could tell they came to play that day.  It sure is fun to beat Florida. ncf_a_georgia_2_300

2007-Auburn Black Out Game

This was one was a lot of fun, but in hindsight it was the beginning of the end.  Still, it was one of the coolest atmospheres I have ever experienced , and one of the best nights ever in Sanford stadium.

2012-Georgia Beats Top Ranked Florida

Florida was undefeated and under the impression they were good.  The defense stood tall that day and won a hard fought game.  Jarvis Jones made the game winning play at the end when he knocked the ball lose.  Otherwise, they may have lost this one.  But they didn’t, and that night I went downtown to ring chapel the bell with my 90 year old “Grandmother in Law”.  This is not one I will forget anytime soon. Thanks Coach.

These are just few examples of what Richt did well while he was here.  I will be forever grateful to him for these wonderful memories.  You should be too.  Because there weren’t a lot of them from 1985 to 2000.  Mark Richt brought Georgia back, and we should never forget it.  But those days have past.  This break up will be painful, and the next coach we hire may not be great or the “one” so to speak. Regardless, Georgia has to move on.  It is just time for a change.  I don’t know who the next guy should be, and I don’t have many ideas either.  But I do know we better start looking.  Because right now, Tennessee and Florida are getting better while Georgia is getting worse.   It’s time to do something about it.