A visit from Santa to the Smart Home?

Published 6:31 pm Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Ever since the middle 1960’s I have been in love with the Georgia Bulldogs. I did not say that I have been in “like” with the Dawgs; there are some games and years that I am saying bad words about them. But I have followed them with passion for over 50 years.

I’ve always like sports and college football has been one of my favorites. In 1964 the University of Georgia hired a coach from Auburn, of all places, who captured my fancy with his vim and vigor and his derring-do style of play. It didn’t hurt that he brought with him a bald-headed crazy man by the name of Erk Russell to coach the defense.

A few years later, the “University” added the final piece to the UGA football puzzle. It was a growling voice that became synonymous with Georgia football. That voice was the late, great Larry Munson.

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Vince Dooley, Erk Russell, and Larry Munson painted a pretty picture of Georgia football for 25 years. Contrary to what people might remember, it wasn’t always the good, ole days. There were some lean years, but that trio sort of held the ship together. Nothing lasts forever and those three are gone.

Unless you don’t care about college football or follow another team, this week has been very eventful. For me, it began with a text: “They’ve fired our coach.” On one hand, I thought Mark Richt might have been due one more season. On the other hand, it was time.

I would not make a good CEO or President or whatever you might call the head of an organization. I’m too nice. Funny, but that’s what they said about Mark Richt. I don’t know if that was the case, but if there is any poster job for the phrase, “what have you done for me lately?” it is head coach for a university football team.

It’s sort of sad, but I understand. It’s all about the “W’s” and “L’s.” Actually, it’s more complicated than that. If it were just about wins and losses, Mark Richt would still be head coach of the Dawgs. He won plenty of games, almost 75%. That is a really good percentage.

It’s those losses, though. They were against teams that might have been more talented, but not always. There is an old saying that I am afraid comes into play: “It’s not whether you win or lose; it’s how you play the game.”

When one gets paid the amount that head coaches are paid these days, the seat gets hot very quickly. When Vince Dooley started, he received $15,500. Mark Richt made so much more (about $4 million) that patience grew thinner every time he played the Gators!

Someone asked me, “What do you think?” I had to tell the truth. I had grown frustrated, but still liked Mark Richt for reasons that had nothing to do with football. I replied that I didn’t care if he stayed or left. That, in itself, was an indictment. You either want someone or you don’t. If you say, “It doesn’t matter,” that means something and it’s not good. So be it. Mark Richt is gone, but as they say, “there’s a silver lining in every cloud.” In this case, a son of Bainbridge seems to be the frontrunner for the position of replacing Coach Richt. Kirby Smart, former Bainbridge Bearcat, might soon be introduced as University of Georgia football Head Coach Kirby Smart.

Wouldn’t that be a great Christmas present for the Smart family?