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Are the Georgia Bulldogs Making Headway or Stuck in Neutral?

I was struck by something in this report. No, I don’t mean the part about Mark Richt hugging Greg McGarity’s neck (although it speaks well of our head coach that he uses the phrase "hug his neck"); I mean this part:

Saturday’s scrimmage at Sanford Stadium was set to start at 3 p.m., but Richt and the coaches wanted to accommodate the Ogletree brothers, who had expressed a desire to attend their sister’s wedding this afternoon.

The scrimmage is now scheduled for 8:05 a.m.

"I told mama I’d try," Richt said. "I can’t promise the rehearsal dinner, but I think I can get them to the wedding. It’s not right to have something important and have all the family portraits, and the boys aren’t there. That would not be good. I definitely wanted them to be there for that."

Alec Ogletree is a freshman safety, and Alexander is a freshman fullback.

Richt liked the change and said it’s something he’ll likely keep as part of the schedule.

"We’ll have a chance to scrimmage, and the coaches will have a chance to grade the film," he said. "After the scrimmage, the players can go back to their rooms and take a nap or whatever they want to do, then come back around 5 o’clock and spend a couple of hours watching the film. I don’t know why we didn’t think of it on the front end."

I should begin by noting that I disagree with Senator Blutarsky, who thought this veered dangerously close to scheduling weddings during football season. I’m prepared to concede the Saturdays after New Year’s Day but before Labor Day weekend, as long as the period from Labor Day weekend through New Year’s Day remains sacred. What I found noteworthy about that passage were the last two paragraphs.

Mark Richt had two players with a family obligation, and he adjusted the schedule to accommodate them. There’s no surprise there. Having made such an alteration, he saw the virtue of the new arrangement and decided to make the change permanent. Having made that decision, Coach Richt observed, "I don’t know why we didn’t think of it on the front end."

As a fan, I have two reactions to that sequence of events. These are they:

  1. Mark Richt is continuing to reinvent himself as a coach. Since jettisoning essentially his entire defensive staff, Coach Richt has reversed two years of stubbornness and introduced a level of innovation of which his critics wrongly consider him incapable. This is another small yet telling example of that favorable trend.
  2. It took two years to fire Willie Martinez, it took two years to move Richard Samuel to defense, and it took the Ogletrees’ sister’s wedding for Mark Richt to lurch uncontrollably into a better practice schedule he admits he should have discovered sooner. Progress in Athens is frustratingly slow, so much so that there is little cause for confidence that the Bulldogs will ever catch up to the Bayou Bengals, the Crimson Tide, and the Gators.

Technically, there is a third option---namely, that I’m reading too much into an offhand remark, and there is no larger significance to any of it---but what’s the fun in treating comments from an SEC head football coach as though they were anything other than utterances from on high fraught with larger meaning?

Go ‘Dawgs!