A couple of days ago, I posted a link to a radio interview that distinguished Georgia standout Fran Tarkenton did with Atlanta sports talk radio station 680 The Fan, in which Tarkenton excoriated Mark Richt and suggested that the Georgia football program was in deep trouble. I also ran copious quotes from that interview.
Lest anyone think that my running copious quotes from that interview is an unqualified endorsement of Tarkenton’s opinion, let me state that it is not. As proof, let me offer this:
I agree with Tarkenton that Georgia’s program is in very sad shape right now, and that much has to change in order for Georgia to get better. But towards the end of the interview, Tarkenton offers this gem:
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.
As if the problems at Georgia right now can be traced back (at least in part) to the fact that we do not run a spread offense.
That is not the case. The problems at Georgia right now do not have anything to do with offensive or defensive schemes, or who is calling the plays.
Ultimately, the biggest problems at Georgia right now are about the identity of the program. What sort of team are we going to see on any given Saturday? Are we going to see a team that is consistently well-prepared, that plays with a strong sense of urgency and a high level of intensity? A team that, when it gets smacked, rises up and hits back harder? A team that gets the tough yards when they need to be gotten and makes the big plays when they need to be made? A team that finishes out close games, that can hold a lead in the fourth quarter or come from behind in the fourth quarter?
All of these issues point inexorably to the tone of the program that is set by the head coach. Mark Richt has not set a very good tone for the program in recent years. The changes that he spoke of at the end-of-season press conference are very small changes, but if they help Mark Richt to set a better tone for the program going forward, then these small changes will go a long way.
That is why I remain optimistic, albeit very guardedly so, regarding Mark Richt’s remarks at the end-of-season press conference.