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is richt becoming a wild and crazy coach?


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is richt becoming a wild and crazy coach?

bulldogs love their coach's new image

by carter strickland

the atlanta journal-constitution

published on: 11/14/07 athens mark richt was spent.

florida had taken just as much out of him as it had his georgia football team. true, richt hadn't played a down or called a pass in the game. but he'd sweated out every yard, yelled at every official, high-fived every player, even winked a few extra times at the water girl.

this was richt like nobody had ever seen him. demonstrative? shoot, he was cheering louder than anyone in the stadium. outrageous? he orchestrated one of the greatest touchdown celebrations in georgia history. hyper? richt waved his arms so many times to rev up the crowd, it looked as if he'd take flight any minute.

"i was whipped," richt said.

it was halftime.

"then one of the players said, 'coach, you are the key. you have got to keep it going,' " richt said.

the bulldogs' coach hasn't stopped since.

welcome to the new world of georgia football, where the coach has found his fun side and decided to let it fly.

"it's cool to see," senior cornerback thomas flowers said.

admittedly, it's a little strange to see as well. this is richt, the pillar of the program who so often imitated a pillar on the sidelines. peace was needed to call plays, richt had always said. so in those moments of pandemonium richt was a serenity-now, serenity-now guy.

not anymore.

"i guess he just decided he was going to have some more fun out there," said lou richt, mark's father.

fun? richt?

sounds strange to his former players, too.

"you look at him now and see what he is doing and sometimes it is hard to believe that is the same guy," former dogs wide receiver bryan mcclendon said.

black was all the rage

georgia players have been pestering their coach for years to break out the black jerseys. then boom, right before saturday's game against auburn, to the surprise of everyone but the seniors, the coach pulls them out.

he's been pulling out all the stops lately.

katharyn richt, the coach's wife and the team's water girl, went mad scientist with the sideline powerade on saturday and tried to turn it black. ("dark purple was the best she could get," her husband said). this week in practice, officials have used black flags instead of yellow.

the other day, before practice became too heated, richt stopped things and set up a 40-yard dash between a walk-on and a student assistant who, shall we say, have enjoyed a buffet or three in their lifetimes.

the ground shook. the team roared.

"it just brings so much excitement to the team and it makes practice fun," senior wide receiver sean bailey said. "we are just cutting up, but at the same time we are still getting the work done. it is just a lot more enjoyable being around here."

somebody please stop richt before he does the soulja boy dance.

"i don't think he can dance," athletics director damon evans said.

what richt can do is motivate and be innovative in the ways that he goes about it.

"it's calculated fun," said dave van halanger, the team's director of strength and conditioning. "there is nothing that is done without an immense amount of thought and prayer."

van halanger should know. he has been with richt for more than a decade. he has watched him grow from a florida state assistant to the leader of a top-10 team.

"great people can do things to change the atmosphere," van halanger said.

epiphany in knoxville

on oct. 6, in the closing seconds of a 35-14 loss at tennessee, richt stood on the sideline at neyland stadium and said to himself, "never again."

he never wanted to experience that lack of emotion and energy in a game. so he made a conscious effort to emote those qualities himself from that point forward.

"it is out of character," richt said. "but i have been enjoying it. and they have been responding so i will keep cheering."

the players aren't the only ones responding.

"you'd watch him on tv these past couple of seasons, and he was usually in the playbook and really not doing anything with the players on the sideline," said zebrie sanders, a highly regarded offensive tackle recruit from clayton, ohio, who was on hand for saturday's "blackout" at sanford stadium. "now he is out on the field, trying to get the players excited and getting the crowd into it on every third down."

"the quotes about the stoicism have always been overblown," uga president michael adams said. "i knew he had it in him. i have been in the locker room after the games and knew that was there."

family and friends agree: richt has always had a fun-loving side, one they've seen firsthand. but the public hadn't until a few weeks ago, when richt ordered his team to do something so extravagant after the first touchdown against florida that the officials would flag the bulldogs for excessive celebration.

"he was probably that way in college and probably that way in high school, but he probably felt like he needed to be more reserved because he is a head coach," said florida state's bobby bowden, richt's mentor and another coach who's not afraid to have a little fun on the job.

"it's not an act," evans said. "he has always had fun out there. maybe this year, he is just having a little more fun."

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pretty cool...sounding like the sky's the limit w/ these motivational tactics.

as long as he's not losing sleep grasping for new tactics, we know we have the athletes...it seems like it's only a question of making sure the right buttons have been pushed to let the kids do their thing on the opponents. time for a raise for bobo at minimum imo.

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pretty cool...sounding like the sky's the limit w/ these motivational tactics.

as long as he's not losing sleep grasping for new tactics, we know we have the athletes...it seems like it's only a question of making sure the right buttons have been pushed to let the kids do their thing on the opponents. time for a raise for bobo at minimum imo.

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pretty cool...sounding like the sky's the limit w/ these motivational tactics.

as long as he's not losing sleep grasping for new tactics, we know we have the athletes...it seems like it's only a question of making sure the right buttons have been pushed to let the kids do their thing on the opponents. time for a raise for bobo at minimum imo.

don't worry, bobo will get his $$$$.. as will searles, that man is just amazing.

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pretty cool...sounding like the sky's the limit w/ these motivational tactics.

as long as he's not losing sleep grasping for new tactics, we know we have the athletes...it seems like it's only a question of making sure the right buttons have been pushed to let the kids do their thing on the opponents. time for a raise for bobo at minimum imo.

don't worry, bobo will get his $$$$.. as will searles, that man is just amazing.

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