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How do you solve a problem like Mark?

Note: This was published Nov. 16. Yes, I realize Mark Richt’s record is one game better after Georgia defeated Georgia Tech Saturday night. My opinion has not changed, however. I was at the game Saturday night. What I saw was the most poorly coached, least poised Georgia team in memory and my memory goes back a good ways. Now, Richt is reportedly/reputedly a candidate for the Miami job. He might be well-advised to take it. With apologies to the Von Trapp Family, how do you solve a problem like Mark? Mark Richt is a fine Christian man. He goes on mission trips. He and his wife adopted two kids from beyond what used to be called the Iron Curtain and are raising them as their own. He is a fixture at his megachurch, Prince Avenue Baptist, which is no longer anywhere near Prince Avenue in Athens. I met Richt not long after he was hired at a Bulldog function in Macon. I stood in a long line for my chance to shake his hand. I told him I wanted to go to an SEC title game before I died. He chuckled and autographed the trinket I had bought for my daughters. They still have it. Coach came through for me. After going 8-4 in his first season, Richt’s Dogs won the SEC title in 2002 and finished 13-1 overall, 7-1 in SEC play and ranked third in both major polls. Those were heady days. Richt, the wunderkind, would win a national title and soon. Or, so we all thought. Sadly that was Richt’s best year. That was his only one loss team. He has never had an unbeaten one. He has never run the table in the SEC. Richt won another SEC title in 2005 but the league was down that year. He won it with a 6-2 mark. In his first five years, Richt was 52-13 overall and 30-10 in the SEC. In his second five years, those numbers have fallen precipitously to 43-20 and 23-17 with one game to go. In his last 26 games, Richt is 14-12. His teams once won nearly every road game. Now, they are Kentucky’s homecoming opponent. Yes, you read that correctly, Kentucky wanted UGA for its homecoming game this year. That says lack of respect. That says loser with a capital L. Richt, the man they once called Boca ‘“ the cool head with the cool wrap-around shades ‘“ has lost his magic, lost his mojo. Strength and conditioning in Athens is a joke. Talent evaluation is also abysmal. Richt and his minions, by their own admission, saw Cam Newton as a tight end prospect. And, don’t tell me Richt runs a clean program. He may not have an out-andout thug like Auburn’s Nick Fairley but his underlings have the official athletic department bail bondsman on speed dial. Worst of all, Richt has lost his team and a large portion of the UGA fan base. So, Michael Adams and Greg McGarity are faced with the bitter task of firing a saint. Sure, they could give Richt another year based on his body of work but there is just really no peg of justification on which to hang that argument other than being kind to a kind man. College football is not about kindness. It is not about saintliness. It is about winning and it is about money. Mark Richt is not winning and he makes too much money – $3.1 million per year. The stark reality is this: he is not earning his keep. Just this past week, the University of Colorado expressed an interest in hiring Richt as its head coach. He could go there and win big or he could do what many feel he really wants to do ‘“ full-time mission work. Here’s hoping he chooses one or the other for the SEC has passed him by and Georgia football will never again excel with Mark Richt at the helm. In the meantime, Adams and McGarity face a dilemma: How do you solve a problem like Mark?

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