Sunday, June 26, 2011

A Different Kind of Motivation

Steve Hummer has a really good article over on the AJC about Richt's trip to Honduras, and balancing his interests outside of football with what is required to be successful in the SEC.  A few months ago, Fran Tarkenton vocalized what has at least crossed the minds of most UGA fans the past few years:

“[Richt] is a wonderful guy,” Tarkenton told Atlanta’s 680 The Fan. “He is a good Christian guy. He wants to be a missionary. He goes on missions. That is a wonderful thing. But do you know the religion of [Alabama’s] Nick Saban? Or [Auburn assistant] Gus Malzahn? Or [Oregon’s] Chip Kelly? I don’t think we care what their religion [is]. We hire them to be football coaches. If we are hiring religious instructors, let’s go to the Candler School of Theology over here in Decatur and get some of their people to come and coach our football team.”
However, Richt counters with a list of coaches who have proven that you can have interests (specifically religious interests) outside of football and still be successful:

Richt rejects any notion that his heightened interest in serving a humanity outside the school’s athletic association mailing list conflicts with the demands of college football’s toughest conference. Success does not require its servants to wear blinders, he argues.
“Ask Tony Dungy if he was that way,” said Richt, beginning to list former big-time professional or college coaches who shared an active spiritual side. “Ask Bobby Bowden. Ask Tom Landry. Ask Tom Osborne. Those guys had success. We’ve had success, tremendous success. Lately, though, it hasn’t been much to write about.
“I think [the idea that winning requires complete tunnel vision] has been proven untrue and it’s still untrue.” 
Maybe it's just the homer in me, but I think that Richt's desire to be able to make an impact in the missions field may be his biggest motivator to turning the Dawgs back around, not his biggest obstacle.  As evidenced by putting his lakehouse on the market, Richt has a strong desire to be able to make more financial contributions to mission work.  You know what the biggest obstacle to being able to give money away is?  Unemployment.  Not that Richt hasn't already made a lot of money, but if he coaches another 10 years or so at UGA like he has said he wants to, that will be at least another $30 million that he'll make (less taxes, of course).  If he gets fired at UGA, I don't doubt that he would end up with another coaching job, but I do doubt that it would be at another school with the financial resources that UGA has, and he would likely take a significant hit in future earnings.  So in my opinion, his renewed desire to make an impact in missions work actually dovetails nicely with the desire of the fan base to see a renewed desire for success throughout the football program.

We've stated this many times here, but I don't think there's anybody in our fan base that doesn't want Richt to be the guy who turns us back around.  You simply can't find a better human being to be your head coach.  As a fan, it's one thing to feel connected to your team, but it takes it to another level when you also feel connected with your head coach.  In the first half of Richt's tenure, being a Dawg fan was so great not only because of the success, but because of who the coach was that brought the success.  I have taken a large measure of pride in having a man with Richt's character at the helm, and I think that sentiment is shared by most Dawg fans.  Goff & Donnan were never able to reach that connection that with the fans, but even with our lack of success the past few years, I still feel that connection with the idea of Richt as my head coach.

Please prove all the doubters wrong, Coach, we're rooting for you.  And so are all those people you'll be able to help in the future.

-Rev.

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