I like Mark Richt.
I think he’s a class act.
What he had his team do Saturday after scoring its first touchdown against Florida won’t change that.
There is, however, no way to reconcile that staged “celebration” as good sportsmanship and the Georgia football program ought to be ashamed of itself.
Georgia won, the tactic worked, they slay the mighty Gators, but if the shoe were on the other foot and it was Florida who pulled a similar stunt, Bulldog fans would woof at the top of their lungs about how the move was classless, disrespectful, bush league and obscene – and they’d be right.
Why a Georgia team that had lost 15 of 17 games to its biggest rival and was playing on national TV felt it needed extra motivation and energy to top the Gators, I don’t know. What confuses me more is that the team found that energy from a sophomoric stunt that looked more like a forgotten episode of the MTV series “Jackass.” What has me questioning everything I thought I knew about college football is that Mark Richt, the guy who adopts kids from Third World countries and seems to carry himself with a greater dignity than any other big-time coach, not only allowed this to happen, but hatched the idea and encouraged – no, demanded – his players do it.
Everyone looks smart when their ideas work, no matter how dumb those ideas were. This was a dumb idea that now looks smart because it worked.
Cashing out your 401K to place a bet on a horse in the Breeders’ Cup is a dumb move, even if that horse wins and you never have to go back to work again.
If this move had backfired on Richt and the Bulldogs had lost it would have been the single most embarrassing moment in the history of Georgia Football and Richt would be a national laughingstock. His legacy would have forever been tarnished and he would have been remembered for that moment more than any other no matter what else he went on to achieve in the same way the first thing we think of when we hear the name Woody Hayes is him punching an opposing player on the sidelines, not his three national and 13 Big Ten titles.
The Dawgs won.
It will go down in Georgia folklore as a bold stroke of audacious brilliance.
It was not. It was juvenile, stupid and one of the singularly worst examples of sportsmanship and dignity I can ever remember college football giving us.