Georgia coach Mark Richt deflects criticism with victories on and off the field
Over the weekend, Mark Richt didn’t act like a coach who knew he wouldn’t be back next year.
He did, however, act like a coach desperate to fix a big problem and make people aware he was addressing it.
Following the Bulldogs’ 20-13 victory at Auburn on Saturday, Richt wasted little time boarding a plane. He was in Lake Stevens, Washington, later that night.
He spent several hours on Sunday with five-star quarterback Jacob Eason, who reconfirmed a commitment he made to the Bulldogs back in 2014. Richt made the trip public (Eason has signed financial aid papers making it OK with NCAA rules for Richt to talk about the recruit), putting a photo of him with Eason on twitter and later talking to reporters about the trip.
“Man, Jake is going to Georgia,” Tony Eason, Jacob’s father, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
It was good weekend for the embattled Georgia coach. His team vanquished its oldest rival to take the lead in the 123-year-old series. Then he solidified the status of his most important recruit for next season.
Will one victory and the pending arrival of the most-heralded quarterback recruit at Georgia since Matthew Stafford take the heat off Richt?
No, but it turned the temperature knob down some. Though Paul Finebaum didn’t tweet it directly, the SEC Network talk show host recognized it as important.
Significant win for Mark Richt.
— Paul Finebaum (@finebaum) November 14, 2015
Journal-Constitution recruiting reporter Jeff Sentell praised Richt’s doubleheader sweep and pointed out that Georgia would lose ground in recruiting if it made a coaching change.
“Mark Richt is hunkering down. He’s not going anywhere, nor should he,” Santell wrote. “That’s my honest take to anyone who wants to see UGA prosper in 2016 or 2017. Hit the reset button on UGA football and there’s no way an overhauled staff has the same impact on the recruiting trail in two months. Do you realize the 15 seasons worth of street cred Richt has established in living rooms across Georgia?”
Last week, the Journal-Constitution quoted Emory University marketing professor Michael Lewis about Richt’s performance at Georgia, taking into account that the Georgia football ranks near the top in the country in financial resources.
The professor said Nick Saban and Urban Meyer rank at the top. Richt holds his own.
“Richt performs a little better than average” for a program with UGA’s resources, Lewis told the newspaper. “For the metric we are talking about, he’s not bad.”
Richt, who is obviously fighting to keep his job, had a good weekend. His fate may already be sealed. If not, he helped his case. For one weekend, critics didn’t have much to complain about.