ATHENS, Ga. -- One of the criticisms you’re starting to hear more frequently about Georgia coach Mark Richt is that he’s just too nice a guy.
I’ve heard it from some staunch Georgia fans and don’t buy it. Richt’s heard it, too.
Needless to say, he's not buying it either.
“But you know what? If you’re going to be accused of something, that’s not a bad thing to be accused of,” Richt joked.
He also points out, and correctly so, that his demeanor wasn’t being scrutinized when he was winning SEC championships.
“People look at my demeanor, I guess, and decide I’m too nice a guy,” Richt said. “But I’m the same guy I was when I got here. In 2001, when we beat Tennessee and then won the SEC in 2002, they’re thinking, ‘Boy, that’s the best way to be.’ My demeanor was being applauded, and I don’t really care, but I know that’s what people say.
“Back then, everybody thought it was such a great thing. Now, they want to say it’s not a great thing.”
What’s important to Richt is that his players and coaches know where he’s coming from and that he’s not going to change whether the Bulldogs are winning 13 games or eight games.
“The bottom line is that you have to be who you are, and your players have to trust that you’re genuine with them,” Richt said. “They want you to be real with them and truthful with them, and they want to know who they’re dealing with.
“If you’re a fraud, they’re going to know it, and your coaches know it, too. And your family knows it, and you know it. There are different styles of leadership and different styles of coaching. I think Tony Dungy was a pretty nice guy. I think coach (Tom) Landry was a pretty good guy. Most people felt coach (Bobby) Bowden was a pretty good guy, and Don Shula was a pretty good guy.
“I just think you have to be who you are.”
Richt’s even keel is one of his strengths, according to his players.
“That doesn’t mean he won’t get on you, because he will,” junior cornerback Brandon Boykin said. “But you always know where you stand with coach Richt. He’s always the same guy, and it doesn’t matter what’s going on around you.”