Mark Richt’s Press Conference: Am I Encouraged? Are You Encouraged?

Mark Richt had his final press conference of the 2010 season yesterday.  The upshot:  No major changes, but he will be more hands-on with the team going forward.

Some statements from the conference:  “We’ve got some things that have been put in place and are being put in place that are going to make us better. And quite frankly things are being put in place that are going to help free me up to [spend] more time doing the things I love the most, which is study the game of football and … be on the cutting edge.” Also, this:  “…I’m going to have the ability to have the time it takes to truly study the game of football, the trends and what’s going on, so a higher percentage of my time is going to be able to be used for that, which is exciting to me.”

Interesting statements.  Apparently, too much of Mark Richt’s time lately has been taken up with things not related to football, and now changes are being made to ensure that that does not happen again.

This is good.  Anything which frees up Mark Richt to do the job that he was hired to do is a good thing.  Given that Mark Richt bears the ultimate responsibility for how his players perform on Saturday, anything that allows him to spend more time working directly with his players in order to set them up for success on Saturday is a good thing.

Question:  Why did it take Mark Richt this long to realize that a change was necessary?  Why did it take a 6-7 finish and a loss to a Conference USA opponent in a lower-tier bowl for Mark Richt to realize that some things needed to change?

For several years now, it has been clear that things needed to change.  Even back in the 10-win season of 2008, there were signs that something was amiss.  Two of Georgia’s losses that year came against Alabama and Florida.  In both of those games, Georgia’s opponents looked far better prepared.  They showed a much greater sense of focus and urgency, a much stronger physical and mental edge, and of course they dominated Georgia completely and totally from start to finish.

Since that time, things have only gone downhill.  In the last two years, Georgia has accumulated losses to LSU, Tennessee, Kentucky, South Carolina, Arkansas, Mississippi State, and Auburn.  There is no denying that all of those programs have now passed Georgia by.  Oh, don’t forget:  They also lost to Florida twice.

The same themes have resurfaced on a much broader scope:  Opponents have come out looking far better prepared than Georgia.  They have played with much greater focus and urgency, and with a much stronger physical and mental edge.  They have smacked Georgia and Georgia has failed to rise up and hit back.

I am glad that changes are coming.  Given the present state of Georgia football, it is quite clear that something needed to change.  I just hope that it is not too little, too late.