ATHENS David Greene talks about it with his co-worker, fellow former Georgia player Matt Stinchcomb. Others also constantly ask Greene, the winningest quarterback in Bulldogs history, the same question:
Whats wrong with his former team?
Greene thinks its a culmination of things, but he would not point the finger at Mark Richt, his embattled former head coach.
Its not that he all of a sudden doesnt know how to coach, Greene said. Its just not working right now.
Another former Bulldogs player, defensive end Charles Johnson of the Carolina Panthers, echoed his support of Richt. He said his former school had to stick with Richt because hes such a good coach.
But Johnson also didnt mince words on his evaluation of the current team.
For us to lose to Colorado, thats just a disgrace right there, Johnson said. A disgrace to Georgia. Thats as low as you can get.
Johnson also isnt a big fan of the teams switch to a 3-4 defense, saying we aint never a 3-4 defense. Its not looking like its working out down there.
Richt, for his part, has shown some signs lately of making some changes, albeit minor ones.
For the first time in his decade-long tenure at Georgia, he held a full-pad, in-season Monday practice. A day later, he allowed the media to stay an extra 25 minutes.
On his radio show Monday night, a caller asked why Richt doesnt lead his team out of the tunnel before games. Richt, who has not done so in 122 games as the Bulldogs head coach, said on the spot he would do so Saturday against Tennessee.
The caller made a good point, youre the leader of the pack, why dont you lead the pack? Richt said Tuesday.
Otherwise, there have been no major changes. No personnel shakeup among coaches, no word of any fire-and-brimstone speeches.
Thats the right move, according to Greene.
The worst thing that any coach can do is be somebody that hes not. Players can see right through that, Green said. I played for Tony Dungy in 2008, and theres plenty of ways that guys can get their point across without throwing helmets.
Trust me, Coach Richt, he has his ways of getting his point across, and hes not a pushover. When things are going bad and youre losing, everybodys looking for something different. The worst thing for Coach Richt to do is something different.
But the criticism has mounted with each loss.
There was a column Monday in the Georgia student newspaper, the Red and Black, calling for Richts ouster. Some callers to Richts radio show have been critical, and the Internet is full of invective.
I understand thats the nature of the business, said Greene, who works at a commercial insurance firm with Stinchcomb, a former Georgia and NFL tackle. Its like anything in life, if a company is not doing well, who gets all the blame? Its the CEO. Obviously its not realistic. Coach Richts not out there playing the game. Its just ultimately his responsibility.
When things arent going right, everybodys gotta take responsibility. The players, the coaches, the strength staff. Everybodys gotta look around and say, What can we do better?
A more succinct defense of Richt came from John McKissick, the all-time winningest high school coach in the nation and A.J. Greens high school coach in Summerville, S.C.
I think they should leave him alone, McKissick said. Theyre not gonna get anyone better.
Other players are standing behind their former head coach. David Pollack gave a spirited defense of Richt and the program on ESPNs College Gameday on Saturday morning.
Corey Irvin was a defensive captain for Georgia in 2005 and 2006. Now the defensive tackle is on the Panthers practice squad.
You know how the fans in the outside base are once youre losing, theyre really going to go against you, Irvin said. But I believe Coach Richt, hell be OK. Like Charles said, hes done a lot for the University of Georgia and also the community. Were just having a down year right now. Hopefully we can bounce back this week and get a win.
The Charlotte Observer contributed to this report.