Fran Tarkenton: Mark Richt Needs to Go

It’s one thing when a young punk blogger like yours truly goes on record as saying that there needs to be a change of leadership in the football program at Georgia.  But when one of said program’s most distinguished alumni comes out and publicly says the same thing, that is a game changer.

Last week I offered guarded support to Mark Richt after his end-of-season press conference, in which he made statements suggesting that too much of his time had been taken up with non-football matters and that adjustments were being made to ensure that that would not happen again.  Mark Richt will bear the ultimate responsibility for how his team does on Saturday, so anything that enables him to spend more time in a hands-on capacity setting his players up for success on Saturday is a good thing.

Fran Tarkenton takes an exceedingly contrary view.  In an interview that he did last week at local radio station 680 The Fan, he castigates Mark Richt and suggests quite strongly that the Georgia football program is in need of new leadership.  Here are some choice quotes:

On the Mark Richt press conference:

I think that what’s happened in the last week at Georgia has been the most disturbing time that I have seen at Georgia football in a long time….People don’t want to look at reality.  They don’t want to look at the signs.  There are always signs out there that show us that we’ve got pending disaster…

And then I read this quote…where Mark Richt says “I have been freed from some administrative duties to spend more time on football”…He said the moves give him more time to study the game of football and be an expert and be on the cutting edge.  What has he been doing for nine years?  I have never heard any college or high school or professional coach [say] that [he] was not able to spend enough time on football…It sounds like a cop-out.  It sounds like “I’m not going to take responsibility.”

On changing the strength and conditioning coach:

Today, the strength and conditioning coach is as important as the offensive and defensive coordinators.  Every person, every scout, all the combine people that train and work out all the college athletes, have told me for the last five-six years that Georgia football players are not in anywhere near the condition that the rest of the players from all the other schools [are in]….They said they rank dead last.  Why couldn’t this coach recognize that before now, before disaster happens?

On Mark Richt’s faith:

He is a wonderful guy.  He’s a good Christian guy.  He wants to be a missionary, goes on mission trips.  That’s a wonderful thing.  But do you know the religion of Nick Saban?  Gus Malzahn?  Or Chip Kelly, playing for the national championship?  I don’t think we care what their religion is.  That’s their business.  But we hire them to be football coaches.  If we are going to hire a religious instructor, let’s go to the Candler School of Theology…and get some of their people to come coach our football team.

On the state of Georgia’s recruiting:

We’re going to lose the elite players this year. We haven’t in the past — we’ve gotten the elite player. We either didn’t choose right or we didn’t coach right, because we didn’t have success.

Right now our program has had three years of regression, and I don’t see any way this thing is going to get out of the ditch. When I read comments like [Richt’s] … we’re putting spin on everything. In the meantime Alabama and Auburn and Tennessee are working and kicking our butts and recruiting people and getting coaches that have spread offenses. I mean, can you imagine? We scored two field goals against Central Florida.

In closing, does Mark Richt need to go?

I think Greg McGarity has got to look at this awfully hard.  I think the signs are that we have a program that’s in big trouble.

Take a listen to the Fran Tarkenton interview, if you have not done so already.

Comments, anyone?