SO true to our problems. We need "MEAN" not discipline...
My 2 cents worth is CTG has been reeled in with his dominating character and that's why we're seeing the dominance disappear. The herd only goes as fast as the slowest.
Richt can get by on his calm, nice guy personality so long as he has dominant presences running each area of his program.
You can't just have it on one side of the ball, though. Everyone wants to draw the line where it all seemed to change with BVG's departure. That was only one half of the equation.
It really changed when Callaway left too. With BVG and Callaway, you had two nasty, grizzly, DOMINANT presences on each side of the ball. Both sides of the ball had a leader who the players were uncomfortable around. Guys you dreaded getting into the elevator with or getting stuck seated next to on the bus. They were coaches you avoided if you could.
People don't understand or appreciate the dynamic we had in place when we had both BVG and Callaway. It could have been theater, but they didn't like each other either. Callaway once threatened to beat BVG's a$$ right there on the practice field when he dressed down one of his OL's. They berated their players not just on football, but personal levels. BVG challenged his players' status as "men" constantly. If Callaway hadn't called you a "pu$$y" or a "worthless fat a$$(" that week, then you simply hadn't been at practice.
And I'll add another element with Fabris. Borderline insane, some ill-conceived schemes at times, but he brought a wildman attitude to special teams. And the other coaches clearly couldn't stand him any more than the players could. But it sort of worked and reinforced an overriding attitude of tough, crazy...MEAN.
Collectively, those guys gave the program an edge. Just an unspoken sense that we were more grizzled than the opponent, and because of the daily crap the players had to endure with those leaders, there was a cocky swagger that whatever ran out of the other tunnel on Saturday was going to be an easier task than the men that coached them during the week.
And guess what - none of the players liked any of these three coaches. But they ALL respected them and feared crossing them. And yet, when we get together and recount our fondest memories, guess which three coaches get brought up the most? Yep, those three.
That crap is contagious and creates an atmosphere and culture of not only toughness, but MEANNESS. BVG and Callaway are MEAN. Fabris was legitmately CRAZY.
Staff chemistry can be overrated, IMO. Friction creates a lot of positive things in a competitive environment, Richt likes harmony and I have never thought him to be comfortable with confrontation, but the friction is what made him successful. And in fact, the players sensed the friction between staff members and they loved it. It was invigorating.
I hate to dumb things down as Neanderthal-like dynamics, but so much of a competitive environment among men is based on perceived dominance. There is an unspoken heirarchy within any group of men. It's why when we fired Martinez I harped for weeks here on this board that the #1 qualification for the new DC was to hire an "alpha male." An alpha male is a real thing and it is necessary especially in football when you must manage a lot of high-testosterone, very confident young men, many of whom are alpha males in their own right.
Richt is admired by everyone, but in a room of strong men, he is not the alpha male. If the leader is not an alpha male, every one of his surrogates must be one.
It's no different than parenting or managing anyone else. Even children sense weakness and dominance of presence. I have other parents ask how my kids are so well-behaved. Because I am the freaking alpha male in this family and they know ONE thing for sure - they're not going to win any battle with me. Ever. Period. Poorly behaved kids are that way because they perceive weakness in their parents. It's why fatherless kids end up on bad paths.
People romanticize successful teams, but in the early Richt years we had some bonafide turds not only playing, but starting on those teams.
And I tell ya something I've learned over the years...if they're coachable, the turds make great football players because they're just naturally mean and intimidating. Odell was MEAN. Derrick White was MEAN. Chris Clemons was MEAN. Those were guys who with their pads off in the real world would rather knock your teeth out than give you the time of day. Clemons is the only freshman I was ever intimidated by - he was tall, skinny, and quiet but that boy was mad at something in life, and I made sure it wasn't going to be me each day. And you know why guys like that were coachable? Because Van Gorder was a more dominant presence so they fell in line.
Discipline is 100% about strength of leadership and the perceived dominance of the man in charge. It's not about character education, it's not about suspension policies. It is about genuinely believing the man in charge is a stronger character than you are, and an element of fear is there as a result. You fear having to deal with the guy in charge, not the suspension or penalty. When I was a kid, I feared my Dad, not being grounded. THIS is why we have discipline issues under Richt. They know Richt will hand down a suspension but ultimately love on them and give them a hug after they serve it.
Saban recruits plenty of thugs. But he has a stronger, more dominant presencethan they do and they don't dare cross him. Facing Saban is what they fear most.
You cannot truly lead unless you are THE dominant presence. Richt isn't, and he doesn't have enough surrogates who are. Folks like to think Richt doesn't know what he's doing, but he absolutely does, and as well as anyone in the country. The foundational principles and methods of Richt's program are nearly identical to all the great coaches in the game today, and I've always thought his most closely align with Urban Meyer. Perhaps that's why Meyer likes Richt so much. Richt is a fantastic coach who understands the plan and the process to be successful, but he doesn't have the presence to execute it. He needs that presence and dominance from his surrogates.
That dominant presence over the team isn't there, nor has it been for several years. The plan is sound, but it must be executed with authority and unwavering dominance from the leadership. It ain't there.
People are tired of this example but watch in pregame when we walk to the end zone after flex and run up to Richt on the 25. They don't run, in reality. A handful of geeked up players do, but most of the team drags ass up to him, many don't listen to what he's says after they break it down, and too many look disinterested. That is disrespect, and in a public setting.
There is no fear in the program. There used to be.
Re: "MEAN" IS the Missing Link
1 year 9 months ago #2
That is a great and very interesting post. Yeah, we definitely don't have "NASTY".
This guy has to have been a psyc major.
Do believe you can win without his scenario though....like maybe "cerebrial".
Don't think Bill Walsh was exactly nasty and the alpha male....or Dungy.....or Landry...etc
But do agree we need some "NASTY". When I look back at the 1st six games, the only one we looked nasty or at least HUNGRY and ticked off was the Vandy game and look how they played....physical and dominating.
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Re: "MEAN" IS the Missing Link
1 year 9 months ago #3
Yeah, we've become the golden retriever of football. Warm, cuddly, but not much of a threat.
I like to think of life as a giant herd of Wildebeest. The strong Wildebeest lead the herd to greener pastures (national championships.) Hell, even a moderately healthy wildebeest knows enough to mill around in the middle of the pack and learn from the Alphas so that one day, perhaps, he'll get to lead the herd to greener pastures (national championships.)
Then there are the gimpy wildebeest who exist at the edge of the herd. These poor animals don't have the chutzpah to make it into the herd, and are too comfortable being on the fringe of greatness to make the extra effort required to get there. These are nice wildebeest, friendly wildebeest. These wildebeest are the ones that annually get picked of by lions and alligators (and gamecocks, apparently).
These are Mark Richt's wildebeest. Or, perhaps, bewildered beasts, but I've already carried the metaphor far enough.