Good Article About Richt and Motivation

Richt Attends Press Conference

Richt Attends Press Conference

Courtesy of the Montgomery Advertiser

Mark Richt found himself at a professional crossroads last fall.

His Georgia team took a 21-point thrashing at Tennessee in early October, which eliminated all hype from what many believed would be a charmed season for the Bulldogs. His team trailed Vanderbilt at halftime a week later.

The 47-year-old coach looked inward for answers.

“As I looked around, I was seeing that everybody was kind of waiting on someone else to do something — coaches and players,” Richt said. “I was kind of mad at them until I looked in the mirror and realized they were just basically reflecting me. I knew it had to start with me.”

So the most serene coach in the Southeastern Conference became a firecracker in a matter of minutes. His team rallied to beat the Commodores that day. Fueled by Richt’s transformation into an emotional catalyst, Georgia beat No. 11 Florida two weeks later and emerged as a dominant team during the season’s second half.

Things ended with a 41-10 win against No. 10 Hawaii in the Sugar Bowl.

You know what that means.

Armed with a slew of returning players — most notably quarterback Matthew Stafford and tailback Knowshon Moreno — Georgia has become a darling on the national scene. Several credible magazines have picked Richt’s team to win its first championship since 1980 a few months from now, which has changed the players’ lives.

“We can’t avoid it,” wideout Mohamed Massaquoi said. “Anywhere you go in Athens, anywhere you go in Georgia, that’s what people are talking about.”

It all started with Richt.

The transition wasn’t easy. Richt worked as Florida State’s offensive coordinator 10 seasons beginning in 1990 and found that decisions came more easily while relaxed. So he eschewed emotion along the sidelines.

That placid nature continued after Richt accepted the Georgia job in 2001. He handled play-calling duties until 2007, when he finally conceded control to offensive coordinator Mike Bobo.

Richt said the decision changed everything.

“It was probably mid-season before I realized I don’t have to continue to stay in that type of calm mode,” he said. “I’m a little bit more free to kind of turn it loose. That’s what you want your team to do — to turn it loose.”

Emotions hit a crescendo during the Florida game. A short touchdown run from Moreno on Georgia’s opening drive touched off a team-wide celebration on the field.

It was the definition of an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.

Richt was behind it all.

He had instructed his team to celebrate together following their first score. Solidarity was in short supply, Richt believed, and a show of unity was exactly what the team needed.

Not everyone found the display an encouraging sign. Many analysts said the move was classless and motivated by a thirst for attention.

Still, Richt doesn’t fully regret the decision.

“When I saw the exuberance, when I saw the energy, when I saw the passion and the fire get unleashed that had been dormant in this football team, I got excited,” he said. “In hindsight, I shouldn’t have done it. I asked the team to do an unsportsmanlike act. It could have easily turned into a big stupid brawl and everything else.”

The players don’t mind.

Massaquoi and teammate Jeff Owens said Richt’s willingness to show fire on the sideline has created a phenomenon inside the locker room.

“He did quite well with the adjustment,” said Owens, a senior defensive tackle. “He’s changed completely since I was a freshman. He’s found his swagger. He’s more encouraging and has a come-get-you (attitude) now.”


More on “celebration-gate”

Dawgs Celebrate After First TD Against UF.  The incident has become known as \"celebration-gate.\"

Courtesy of Athens Banner Herald:

HOOVER, Ala. – Jeff Owens was sitting in a restaurant back home in Sunrise, Fla., after last season when he heard whispers about Georgia football at a nearby table.

Naturally, Owens’ curiosity was aroused. He strained to pick up on what the folks were talking about. He wasn’t too surprised when he heard the words “Florida” and “celebration” emanate from the table.

“That’s what everybody wanted to talk about,” said Georgia’s beefy defensive tackle Thursday during Day 2 of SEC Media Days. “People didn’t even know I played for Georgia and they’d say, ‘Do you remember the Georgia celebration?’ It was crazy.”

Georgia’s end zone celebration last season against Florida was an issue that Georgia coach Mark Richt had hoped would fade with time. But the Bulldogs’ collective Watusi in Jacksonville remains a hot topic, especially with Gators coach Urban Meyer.

In “Urban’s Way,” his autobiography to be released in September, Meyer voiced his continued displeasure of Richt’s premeditated ploy on Georgia’s first touchdown of the 42-30 win.

“That wasn’t right. It was a bad deal,” Meyer told the book’s author Buddy Martin this past December. “And it will forever be in the mind of Urban Meyer and in the mind of our football team. … So we’ll handle it. And it’s going to be a big deal.”

Richt revealed Thursday that he tried to diffuse Meyer’s anger when he called him the day after the game and tried to explain his intentions.

“I said I was a coach desperate to get some enthusiasm, and I was willing to take a 15-yard penalty,” Richt said.

Apparently, Meyer didn’t sympathize.

Richt bristled a bit Thursday when asked about the situation; mostly because it was the umpteenth time he was asked to explain himself in the last nine months.

He methodically told reporters how he hatched the unsportsmanlike plan and why it went haywire when Georgia’s bench poured into the end zone.

Richt still doesn’t regret giving his offense the order to coax an excessive celebration penalty. He regrets that it mushroomed into what could’ve been a disaster if Florida’s players on the field hadn’t been so dumbfounded by what was happening and that it escalated into a Miami-like brawl.

Richt pledged that he’s put the intentional celebration in a vault, never to be used again.

As for Meyer’s retaliation plans for Nov. 1, who knows? One thing’s certain, though – what was a one-sided rivalry for the last 18 years is now all-compassing. For the first time since Georgia dominated the series before Steve Spurrier’s arrival in Gainesville, Florida has more venom for Georgia than any of its other opponents.

Shouldn’t it be that way every year with these schools?

“I don’t think there’s any doubt it’s intensified the rivalry,” Richt said. “But what intensified the rivalry is that we won, okay? I mean, that’s the reality. The way I see it, we won last year. We won two of the last four.”

What seems like a strained, professional relationship between Richt and Meyer doesn’t seem like it will improve any time soon. Richt could ship Meyer a Virginia Ham for Christmas; Meyer would return it C.O.D.

What is unfortunate for two of the SEC’s top coaches makes the rivalry so much better. If a cockamamie celebration is to blame, then so be it.

Richt on “Celebration-Gate”: In hindsight, end zone celebration was wrong

Dawgs Celebrate After First TD Against UF.  The incident has become known as \"celebration-gate.\"

IS THIS STORY NEVER GOING TO GO AWAY? ESPN.COM IS NOW REFERRING TO IT AS “CELEBRATION-GATE”! Any time a story gets the word “gate” added to it, it becomes an everlasting scandal. Don’t get me wrong, I love Mark Richt and support him all the way. But with that said, I don’t know if I agree with him giving in to Urban Meyer by admitting he was wrong an apologizing.


BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Georgia coach Mark Richt just finished addressing the media, and among the highlights, he apologized for the way the Bulldogs’ celebration after the first touchdown against Florida last season went down.

He said he was “in shock” when he saw his whole team out there and added, “In hindsight, I shouldn’t have done it and won’t do anything like that again.” Richt said he called Florida coach Urban Meyer that Sunday to apologize.

I’ll have more on celebration-gate later on, so check back. The bottom line is that Richt got results. The Bulldogs’ season changed on that touchdown and ensuing dance party in the Gators’ end zone … even if it was unsportsmanlike.