by Dillon Meehan
In today’s win-now mentality that has become college football, coaches are under as much pressure now than ever before.
That statement could not be any more apparent with the decision Georgia Bulldogs made Sunday night, when it was announced that Mark Richt had decided to “step down” less than 24 hours after beating in-state rival Georgia Tech for the thirteenth time in his 15 seasons with Georgia.
Throughout his decade and a half tenure with the Bulldogs, Richt compiled a record of 145-51, (.750 win percentage) as well as an 83-37 Southeastern Conference (SEC) (.70 win percentage) record, which is simply appealing that his winning percentage was that high considering how the SEC has dominated the college football landscape during his entire tenure. Not only did he do it in the nation’s best conference, but he did it the right way. He ran a clean program. Whenever a player was involved in an NCAA violation or legal issue, they were always dealt appropriate punishments, which usually resulted in being removed from the team. That type of behavior doesn’t work at any other college (see Charlie Strong at Texas).
When I saw the notification pop up on my phone, I really wasn’t too surprised, which was the worst part. Richt has the fifth highest winning percentage for active coaches only behind Urban Myer, Bob Stoops, Gary Patterson and Nick Saban – which is a somewhat decent group of coaches to be associated with. But Georgia somehow believes they can do better. It is hard to imagine another coach being as successful given the situation Richt is in – but don’t worry, college Athletic Directors don’t have enough brain power to possibly put rational thought into something. I mean after all, Les Miles nearly lost his job this week as well, and to be honest, he’s not out of the woods yet.
Nick Saban voiced a similar opinion when he was asked what he thought about the firing, telling a reporter, “I don’t know what the world’s coming to in our profession.”
One thing that is always fun to think about is to imagine if NFL executive’s handled their coaches in the same way college Athletic Directors did. Jeff Fisher has somehow found a way to be considered a legitimate NFL coach despite only finishing with a winning record in six of his 20 seasons as an NFL Head Coach. If he were a college coach, he would’ve been fired during the Clinton administration.
Reports now suggest that Maryland is the favorite to land Richt, which is simply appalling that one of the most respectable men in the entire sport is being reduced to a team that hasn’t won a conference title since 2001.
However, as disrespectful and downright stupid as it is, I still cannot say I am surprised at how Richt has been handled. It’s tough to imagine any other job in the country in which if you do it better than everyone else in the world except for five people, you are fired without a moments notice.