On Saturday, Georgia coach Mark Richt will shake hands and chat a bit with Auburn’s Gene Chizik. It’s likely the Bulldog coach will have some words of encouragement for the embattled Tiger coach… seeing that it was only a year ago that he himself was on a scorching hot seat in Athens:
“It is kind of a roller coaster, and sometimes you do go up and down, and you just don’t know how close you might be to having a really good football team if you’re just patient for one more year. I think a lot of teams go backwards because they make changes when maybe they are on the verge of something good happening, and then if you make change and you start over again, it’s hard for all the cumulative reps that you’ve had to all of sudden blossom. I would imagine it’s hard to try to figure out as a decision maker if that team is close or if they are not…
There is truly a very, very fine line between winning and losing. There are a lot of good teams in our league in my opinion that still might have a losing record in league play. You lose some close games and sometimes you win the close games. Sometimes you get a break here or there and you grab momentum, and it serves you well for the rest of the year, and sometimes you don’t ever find it.
Obviously I’ve been coaching going into 12 years now, and it is a very fine line. Even the year we went 6-7, how much of a different team did we have than some of the teams that might have gone 10-2? Probably not a whole lot different. Not making a play here or making a bad decision there as a coach or the other team just making a play that day. It’s not all that mind-boggling to me because it’s just a really tough league.”
While the future is uncertain for Chizik, Richt knows exactly what he’ll be doing this offseason. He’ll be having hip-replacement surgery.
According to The Atlanta Journal Constitution, the Bulldogs’ coach has reportedly been in “excruciating pain, particularly after standing and pacing on the sideline for three-plus hours on game day.” Yet Richt’s kept the pain to himself. When asked about to explain how he hurt his hip, the coach was against doing so at first, but then gave in to tell a the story of how he was “trying to show off” to his wife on a swing set in the early 90s:
“I was trying to show her what a good swinger I was…
I was swinging really high on a big heavy swing set with those big heavy chains. Sometimes if you go super high, on the way back you get a little bit of that lag. You’ve got those big S-hooks on top, and you’re swinging, and I swung enough to where the one on the left came out. So it comes out, but I didn’t know. I’m still on the swing. So when I come back down, the chain on [on the right] stayed taut and the other one just goes. I turned sideways and the first thing that hits the ground is my left hip. Just smashed it.
It was traumatic. I mean, when I hit I was like, ‘I think I broke it.’ I couldn’t hardly breathe. Sometimes with an injury like that you get a full-body sweat and a little nauseous. But the pain kind of went away and I went about my business, until about a year and a half ago.”
Richt thanks the P90x video workout series for kickstarting his hip pain. “I thought I just had a hip flexor injury. But I said if I quit now I’m just going to get fat, so I just kept doing it.” And now he’ll need to replace the hip.
At least he can joke about it now. Last season there weren’t many laughs around the Georgia campus. Just as there are few laughs around Auburn this year.
Whether or not Chizik will be telling funny stories to SEC reporters in 2013 is still up for debate.