Sunday, October 28, 2012

It Makes a Difference

Anybody notice the difference between the demeanor of Mark Richt and Will Muschamp?

On one notable occasion, a Florida player was called for a penalty (I think it was illegal substitution). When the player came to the sideline, Muschamp glared at him, almost going cross-eyed in his anger. Then, after an inordinately long stare-down, Muschamp got in the guy's face and screamed (if my lip-reading was correct), "G-D-you!"

I don't want to make more of it than it is, but I don't want to miss the point either.

Football is an emotional game. Coaches have pretty wide latitude in how they motivate their players and instill discipline. However it seems to me that Muschamp crossed the line.

I want the Florida coach to be passionate about the game. It's good for the sport. I do not want him, however, to have a coronary on the sidelines, nor do I want Muschamp to go all Woody Hayes on a player.

This post isn't even so much aimed at Muschamp as it is a reminder to myself. Attitude is important.

When Georgia lost to South Carolina, not having even showed up for the game, Mark Richt didn't jump and scream, nor did he throw players under the bus.

A lot of UGA fans were livid. Losing a key game was bad. Losing 35 to 7 was worse. Now Coach Richt wasn't angry, not throwing his proverbial visor? That was too much to take. Many wanted Richt fired. "He can't win the big game", "can't beat a top ten team," "can't motivate his players". On an on. But Richt was calm under fire. He said "the one thing Georgia was not going to do was panic." He knew that football is only a game, and that the game itself is played over a long season.

Richt wants to win. He is just as passionate, if not more so, than other coaches. He is just as conscientious about the requirements of coaching at a proud institution like Georgia. The difference is that he channels his passion in positive ways.

And that's a difference that makes a huge difference. I sure am glad we have Coach Richt at the helm. If I were the parent of a player with lots of options for which college to attend, no way I would send him to a school with an out of control coach. I would, however, be proud for my son to spend key formative years with Coach Richt.

Not only does the attitude of the coach pay dividends in recruiting, it more often than not shows up in the wins and losses columns. When Georgia's Aaron Murray was having the worst day of his career, when Malcolm Mitchell had let his excitement get the better of him, when Florida was driving with two minutes to play, when it came to crunch time, the Dawgs stayed calm and we were able to hunker down and make a play.

Go Dawgs!

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