I had an interesting caller on my radio show Friday afternoon. We were in the middle of hearing stories from our listeners on their first sports memory ... and then this happened.
BILL: “Jim from Macon, hello.”
JIM: “Bill, did you graduate from the University of Georgia?”
BILL: “Yes, sir, I did.”
JIM: “And you call yourself a Bulldogs fan?”
BILL: “Yes, sir, I do.”
JIM: “Well then, why do you bash Mark Richt?”
BILL: “He needs bashing sometimes, sir.”
JIM: “He’s the best thing to ever happen to the University of Georgia.”
BILL: “How many national championships does he have?”
JIM: “It’s not about national championships. It’s about wins.”
And then, I ended Jim’s conversation. His final comment made no sense whatsoever.
I’m used to people asking me about my criticism of Coach Richt. I have no problems talking about it. I have no problems making my point. I think he has done a very good job at Georgia. But he hasn’t won a national title in 13 years, while others around the SEC have.
If Alabama, Auburn, Florida and LSU can win a national championship, why can’t Georgia? Therefore, I am critical of Coach Richt. I believe he’s loved more than he should be. I believe he’s loved because of the type of man he is, regardless of what is done on the football field.
I respect that. I understand that. I just don’t agree with it.
Richt is at Georgia to win football games. His goal each and every year should be to win a national championship. If it’s not, he does not need to be at Georgia. This is not about what he does Sunday but instead about what he does Saturday.
What if Jim had instead been an Alabama fan calling a show in Birmingham or Montgomery and told the host that it’s not about championships at Alabama, just about wins? He probably would be afraid for his life. That’s all fans care about in Alabama, and Auburn is almost as bad as Alabama. They want to win national titles.
Heck, Nick Saban was under fire for losing to Auburn last year. Even with all he has done at Alabama, some were upset that his team lost to the dreaded rival. And to see Auburn go on to play for the national championship made it even worse.
College football is about winning national championships, particularly if a team has the resources to do it. Georgia has the facilities, the finances, the fan base and most importantly talent in its own back yard to compete for a national championship each and every year.
We hear about great recruiting classes, the dream teams. Yet how many times are Georgia fans disappointed when a highly rated recruit turns into a dud? There are more five-star prospects who turn into two-star players at Georgia than we want to admit.
Georgia fans are used to getting their hopes up only to be disappointed at a bad loss or a missed opportunity. Any Georgia fan who made the trip to Columbia, South Carolina, in 2012 will want to chime in here.
It’s funny that Jim said that national championships are not important to him. Georgia hasn’t won an SEC championship since 2005. So what’s the point if my goal is for the Bulldogs to win a national title when they can’t even win their own conference?
And yet since 2005, Alabama has won three national titles, Florida has won it twice, and LSU and Auburn have both won it once. That added up to seven straight national champions from the SEC, and Georgia didn’t win one.
But Richt is treated like a hero, like someone who has coached a national championship team. Why? It’s because he’s a good man. That’s fine. Admire that. Honor that. But that should have nothing to do whether this program is accomplishing its ultimate goal, and so far in 13 years under Richt it hasn’t.
I’m not saying I want a criminal as the head coach or even someone accused of orchestrating a Ponzi scheme. But it is about winning championships. How long will Georgia fans accept being a program that can’t win one? Probably as long as most of them look at Richt the man more than Richt the coach.
So yes, Jim, it is all about national titles. If the Georgia fan base has become so comfortable with Richt that it will settle for anything he gives them, then he’s probably going to be in place for a long time and the streak of not winning national titles will unfortunately continue.
Listen to “The Bill Shanks Show” from 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WPLA Fox Sports 1670 AM in Macon and online at www.foxsports1670.com/. Follow Bill at twitter.com/BillShanks and e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.