On February 11, 2010, I submitted a fan post entitled "Take Your Lumps Dawg Fans." It was a piece about overcoming our trials and tribulations and rising above them to greatness. I closed that post with the following prediction:
"The winter of our discontent is over. Be prepared to have your faith renewed in the program!"
I can't think of a time in my life when I have ever been more wrong. My faith in our team, from the administration to the coaching staff, to the players on the field was totally and erroneously misplaced. Dawgnation, we have a serious problem. And has difficult and divisive as it can be to address our problems, we have to hunker down and do it. We have to look in the mirror and give ourselves a sober, analytic and objective look--regardless of the implications that look might entail. Permit me, if you will, to officially begin that conversation.
Block and Tackle
For the past five years, we have witnessed a steady free fall in our team's ability to perform the most basic football tasks at a high level. And at the beginning of every new year, our coaching staff tells us that they are going to focus more on the fundamentals of football. The product seen on the field is void of sound fundamentals--for a coaching staff who swears it is reinforcing the basics, that is a very damning indictment. For five years, our coaches have paid lip service to blocking and tackling. And for five years, we've descended into the depths of mediocrity and disappointment.
Nation of Laws
For the past five years, we have witnessed a steady increase in the number of off-field incidents from our players. Regardless of whether you are a fan of the law enforcement regime in Athens-Clarke County, the fact is our players continue to actively and willingly break the laws of our state. Our coaching staff responds with menial slaps on the wrist--one game suspensions against third-tier FBS and FCS teams. Until Demetre Baker, it literally took an act of Congress for a player to receive any real discipline.
No Offense, None Taken
For the past five years, we have witnessed a steady decline in the ability of our offensive coaching staff to fully prepare players for games. Some would argue that fumbles and dropped passes are a matter of discipline, and they are. But they are also a product of poor preparation and lack of consequences. From top to bottom, our offensive coaching staff is mismanaged. Our head coach is a National Championship winning Offensive Coordinator who has passed play-calling duties off to a glorified quarterbacks coach who is in over his head. Our offensive coordinator runs a staff in which a former wide receiver coaches running backs, and a former running back coaching wide receivers. Is it any surprise that 80% of our games are completely void of anything resembling an offensive game plan?
Live in the Moment
Get prepared for the obligatory post from T. Kyle King telling us how Wally Butts did this and Vince Dooley did that. Read it. Then, promptly ignore it and get on with your life. The triumphs and failures of those men have no relevancy today. UGA's entire undergraduate class was born at least two years AFTER Vince Dooley was replaced as head coach. There are grandparents alive today, who weren't even born when Wally Butts retired as head coach. If we want our program to live in the past, then that's where our program is going to stay. Elite programs don't suck off the teat of a three-year span of glory that defines their entire program. They go out and win more. We come back to the 1980 National Championship teat. That well is running dry. Alabama, Florida, LSU, Tennessee and Auburn have all surpassed us in terms of relevancy. Football today is NOT the same as football in the 1950s and 1960s, or even the 1980s. The game is faster by light years. The players are bigger, stronger and more athletic. The collisions are more brutal. And the coaching profession is more cutthroat than ever. If we fail to accept this, we will never be a major player in college football again.
Mark Richt has Lost Control of this Program
The arrests, the offensive ineptitude, the defensive ineptitude, the lack of discipline--all of these things are the tasks of individuals to address. In the military, we have a saying, "All of the responsibility, but none of the tasks." A Battalion Commander may not be in the day to day business of one of his subordinate companies. But if that company fails to meet a suspense, it's going to be the Battalion Commander who has to stand in front of his boss and explain why. A leader is responsible for everything his unit accomplishes or fails to accomplish, however he chooses to manage his unit. Whether he is a micro manager, a hands-off guy, or somewhere in between--in the end, it is his responsibility. Mark Richt has obviously chosen to be the hands-off, delegate as much authority as humanly possible type of manager. And that is great. But it doesn't absolve him of the responsibility of our failures, and our program's complete lack of control. It is on him. That is why he gets the big paycheck. That is why it is him on the Ford Truck commercials. If this were the Military, Mark Richt would be removed due to dereliction of duty.
This is the first time since his hiring, that I would not bat an eye over him being fired. And that, Dawgnation, is the cold, hard truth.