Is Mark Richt the most likeable man in America?
Quite possibly, if recent lists compiled by I'm a Realist and Every Day Should Be Saturday are any indication.
The Realist has determined that Coach Richt "tops the list" by virtue of running a clean program, adopting Ukrainian orphans, and generally conducting himself as "'integrity' defined."
Orson Swindle, a member of the Gator faithful, concurs, despite Coach Richt's association with Florida's three biggest rivals. (Coach Richt played football at Miami, was an assistant coach at Florida State, and is now the head coach at Georgia.)
Mark Richt ranked fourth on Orson's list, putting the Bulldog head coach behind Larry Munson (cited as the epitome of the homer announcer, ranked second) but ahead of sixth-place Steve Spurrier.
Orson opines that "the thoroughly unexcitable Richt" is "on this list" "[f]or a slew of reasons," which he explains thusly:
Coaching-wise, Richt also does as efficient a job grooming qbs as any guru in the nation, taking a diverse haul of signal-callers over the years-everyone from waterbug Charlie Ward to the lumbering Chris Weinke-and turning them into cool, efficient automatons channeling the iceblooded calm from the sidelines. He's also humble enough on the offensive side to lean on his defense when he needs to, as he's done during his entire tenure at UGA, a wise move considering the school's become a prep academy for the NFL and a farm for world-ending safeties like Greg Blue and Thomas Davis.
But most likeable of all is Richt's unassuming commitment to his players and beliefs. While we think his mentor Bobby Bowden puts on a bit of a hallelujah circuit act for the recruits, Richt's personal faith and commitment to his players go hand in hand. He genuinely believes they'll go get licenses and keep their tags current, which is why Georgia has the most bizarre streak of traffic violations in the NCAA. Yet the same current is what's kept the team from ending up in really dramatic fashion over the term of Richt's stay, excepting Turdgate, of course, which is really more funny than indicative of a loss of institutional control.
I'm pretty sure it's "automata," not "automatons," but you get the gist.
Also of note at E.D.S.B.S. is Orson's posting on the impending arrival of spring football practice, which has generated a comment thread of interest to all Atlanta- and Athens-area webloggers:
The denizens of what MGoBlog's Brian calls the College Football Weblogging Capital of the World are planning to gather for lunch at a certain Classic City eatery prior to kickoff of the G-Day game.
Be there or be square . . . actually, we're webloggers who write about college football in late February, so "be square" is pretty much a given, but the inhabitants of the intercollegiate athletics blogosphere ought to show up, nevertheless.