Monday, January 10, 2011

Mark Richt, There's a Glimmer of Hope

Let me first say, I've been very neutral on Mark Richt until recently. With a record like his (which he doesn't mind throwing it around now and I can't stand it, but that's a different story), I gave him the benefit of the doubt. You can't win that many games just on talent- I think he's a pretty good coach. I've found out recently that you can, in fact, lose them with just talent, however. All else aside, with the discipline issues and the lack of an expectation of winning every game, I've become very pessimistic about Richt lately.

If you've read this blog for any amount of time, I'm sure you know that by now. Expectations and discipline are what troubles me most about the program at present, even though I guess the expectation problems are probably a sign of deeper problems. Anyway, when I walk into Sanford, or any other stadium for that matter, I don't expect to win every time. You can call that what you what want, but I really don't care. If you're honest with yourself, have you felt confident we were going to have a W after every game you watched in the last five years? If you say yes, please direct me to your opium tent in the comments.

While this expectation problem needs to be addressed sooner rather than later, the discipline issues have become a much more troubling black cloud surrounding our program. Despite his efforts, guys are still getting caught with alcohol underage, having scooter accidents with no license, and stealing stuff. This all starts with recruiting guys with character/grade issues. Both of these stem with the same problem, the kids have no respect for themselves and then they feel entitled on top of that. It's a very bad combination.

Enter Zach Witchett. Witchett was a teammate of former Washington High star and current Dawg Branden Smith. He was scheduled to come in and play a versatile role on offense and perhaps some defense as well. On October 12 of last year, Witchett was involved in an incident with one of his coaches and was kicked off of his team. Adding insult to injury, Witchett proceeded to go on a Facebook diatribe and trash his coaches, which made it even worse for him in the end. Initially there was no ruling from Georgia, but last Wednesday, Tony Ball spoke with his coach Stanley Pritchett to discuss the future of the apparent future Bulldog. These are quotes from Michael Carvell's story from last week:

“[Ball] said they were going to revoke the offer,” Pritchett said. “They said Georgia couldn’t take a chance on a guy that they didn’t know whether or not he could stay out of trouble and contribute to the team next year.”

“The [suspension] was the big thing to Georgia, and then there were some character things that kept coming up that I really can’t discuss,” said Pritchett, citing privacy laws. “It was a combination of things over a period of time … up until November.”

“I didn’t know what Georgia was going to do. They are in a position where they have to win now, and they don’t have time to deal with these off-the-field issues with players.”

“He’s a good person at heart,” Pritchett said. “He’s young and made some bad decisions. But he’s a kid, and kids make mistakes. I guess this situation will show other kids that you have to make good decisions at all times or something like this can happen to you.”

Based on what I've heard from other sources, Witchett understood where Georgia was coming from and thought that something might happen based on the behavior he had shown. While I feel bad for the kid, it's obvious that he knew he made a mistake and his offer was contingent on displaying a modicum of decency and respect for those around you. I hope he finds some place to land and gets things together. Tough for him, but you have to live and learn.

This was a situation that Mark couldn't miss his opportunity. If you couple this with the S&C hire decision, there is a very small margin for error on his part. He had to make a tough decision and I feel that he did the right thing by setting an example. We've already got enough problems with discipline and sucking in general and we sure didn't need any more. Kudos to Richt. Maybe there is a chance that he has the fortitude to make the tough decisions and turn this thing around. As much as I've been down on him lately, I hope he does.

1 comment:

  1. Just out of curiosity- how do you propose Mark Richt does a better job of evaluating recruits' character if A. we are recruiting the same kids as our rivals and B. they have no history of misbehavior. A lot of times, these kids have no past discipline issues and then get a little freedom at a school named the nation's #1 party school and make a few mistakes. How does he fix this and still recruit at a high level?