UGA football program in need of change

This past offseason the UGA football team has had to endure many changes. The team has to answer to a new athletic director, they have a new defensive coordinator and they have to break in a new starting quarterback. But what UGA should be worried about this coming season is possible NCAA sanctions and possibly a new head coach.

UGA can claim one trophy before the team even starts playing games. UGA has won the Fulmer Cup. The Fulmer Cup is “awarded” to the team who has racked up the most arrests in the offseason. With starting running back Washaun Ealey’s arrest on Aug. 27 for hit-and-run, UGA leads all of college football with eight arrested players. Since 2008, the football program alone has had 23 players arrested.

One of UGA’s notable losses this season was former quarterback Zach Mettenberger. Mettenberger easily had the best spring of any Georgia quarterback and threw two touchdowns in the spring game. After his sexual battery charge, Mettenberger has left UGA, leaving question marks for UGA at quarterback.

However, in the player’s defense, they are without any quality role models or leaders.

Who could forget the absolutely embarrassing arrest of former Athletic Director Damon Evans in early July for DUI? Not to mention the possibility of bribery and adultery surrounding Evan’s case. This was the same man who supported Head Coach Mark Richt and raised millions of dollars for the program. UGA cannot expect players to behave when their officials cannot keep their pants on and know when to stop tipping the bottle.

The program also has problems on the field with penalties and higher quantities of losses. Last season, UGA led the SEC in penalties and penalty yards, and the Bulldogs were sixth in the nation in total penalties. What is most disturbing about most of UGA’s penalties is the high amount of personal foul penalties, not to mention 2007’s UGA game against Florida when Richt orchestrated a giant dance competition when UGA scored its first touchdown.

In the ultra-competitive SEC, UGA cannot afford to have its best players miss games due to arrests. They cannot just give other teams free yards because of stupid penalties. This program lacks discipline and that falls squarely on the shoulders of Richt.

The time is perfect to fire Richt. UGA has a new athletic director, players are getting suspended left and right, and Richt is no longer the coach he was in 2006.

This proposition may sound crazy to some considering Richt has the third-highest winning percentage of any other coach, but SEC coaches have been fired for much less than a few arrests and a couple of penalties (remember Tommy Tuberville?). By retaining Richt, the Georgia athletic department is saying that they value winning over morals.

There is one problem with UGA’s evaluations. Richt is not winning games anymore. In 2008, the Bulldogs were ranked No. 1 heading into the season, only to go 10-3 and lose to inner-state rival Tech. UGA was not even within striking distance of the SEC Championship as Florida got revenge on UGA’s “dance-off” of 2007 and smacked the Dogs 49-10.

Last season, Richt and his coordinating cronies went 8-5 and almost lost three other games winning those games by a total of 13 points. Richt promptly fired his defensive coordinator after the season and the athletic department thinks that solved the team’s losing streak. I have news for the UGA athletic department: firing a defensive coordinator will not solve the team’s problems. Richt needs to look in the mirror and realize that it is not his coordinator’s fault for losing games; it is his fault for hiring them.

Any bystander will notice a difference in coaching styles in coaches like Paul Johnson or Nick Saban and Richt. Johnson and Saban will yell at players and seek perfection on every single play. Johnson and Saban are motivators and their trophies and records speak for themselves. Richt looks like a statue on the sidelines.

If Georgia scores a 90-yard touchdown Richt will stare into space. If UGA loses a game on a last second touchdown Richt will stare into space. Richt’s style fits well if he were a Major League Baseball manager, but the problem for Richt is that he is a college football coach in a highly competitive league. Actually, with Bobby Cox’s retirement from the Braves after this season maybe Richt can start a new career. Does Richt know anything about baseball?