This weekend, Mark Richt will take his #5 Georgia Bulldogs into Columbia (East) to face Steve Spurrier’s #6 South Carolina Gamecocks. Like Spurrier — or any other coach — Richt has suffered his share of ridicule and second-guessing. He’s even had to deal with columnists and radio hosts who Dawg fans are certain want to have the man’s job and destroy UGA’s football program.
The difference between Richt and Spurrier? Richt doesn’t refuse to answer questions from all media members if he’s upset with just one of them and he rarely even let’s anyone know when he’s upset at all. As we suggested last week with regards to the ongoing Spurrier-Ron Morris feud in the Palmetto State, it’d probably be best for Spurrier to have a behind-closed-doors talk with his nemesis rather than take things out on every reporter trying to cover his team.
Jeff Schultz of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution — ironically he’s one of the columnists who many Georgia fans believe wants Richt’s head on a plate — compares Richt’s personality with Spurrier’s in his latest column. It’s an interesting piece and my colleague Mike Mitchell posted it in today’s headlines as well.
But I wanted to give a bit more emphasis here on the homepage to Richt’s own words:
“I don’t think I’m totally Teflon, but there’s not much anybody can say that can get me bent out of shape…
I know that most most criticism is pointed toward the coach, not necessarily the person. If I’ve ever felt something became more of a personal attack, there have been times when I’ve talked to people privately. Or if a guy beats up on a player more than I think he should, I’ll get sensitive about that once in a while. But in the grand scheme of things, it’s still momentary light affliction, like Apostle Paul talks about. It doesn’t last.
I know when my wife had cervical cancer, if that doesn’t put life in perspective, what does? There are just thing bigger than whether I’m the head coach at Georgia, or whether anybody thinks I’m smart or not smart, or a good coach or a bad coach. I know I’ve got a job to do, and I want to know that the process I go through in that job is one I can live with when I go to sleep at night…
When somebody critiques me, I try to filter the information, regardless of whether I think the person is mean-spirited or sweet-spirited, because the guy might be right. I may not give him credit from a pride standpoint, but sometimes there’s validity to it.”
Schultz suggests Spurrier could learn a lot from Richt. I think he could, too.
In fact, reading Richt’s words I just realized that I’m a heckuva lot more like Spurrier in my work life than I am Richt. When insults or accusations of being a fan of this team, a fan of that team, or just plain stupid roll in via comment boxes and emails, I get ticked. This is a free site after all. If you want to present a different point of view in a calm, cool way… have at it. But when the barbs and shots begin to fly, well, I tend to return fire in-kind. I need to work on that (though it sure feels better just to give as I get).
South Carolina’s coach has lived his life one way for nearly 70 years and he’s had a lot of success. I don’t expect him to be moved by anything another coach says… if he even hears about it. Heck, he’ll probably just take another shot at Richt and Georgia over their number of suspended players. That’s Spurrier’s way.
But I’m at least going to try to remember Richt’s comments and handle my own business a bit more coolly.
(At least until the next guy calls me a Bama/Auburn/Ole Miss/Mississippi State/Tennessee/Kentucky/Georgia etc, etc, etc fan.)