Monday, November 17, 2008

"You know we've won the last two games. I don't know if anybody's noticed that"

- Coach Mark Richt tonight, at the Macon Touchdown Club.

You can tell this season has been tough on Coach Richt. He was in Macon tonight and, though he almost seemed his normal dinner-speech-circuit self, you could tell he was tired.

And maybe a little defensive, though he belied it with humor. I think he said "9-2" about a dozen times. He noted that his teams are 30-4 in opponent's stadiums. He talked about how Auburn hasn't given up a touchdown in the 1st quarter all season.

He acknowledged that it's "really been tough" for fans the way we lost to Florida and Alabama. But he seems... I don't know. Like he wants something more from us. Some understanding that we haven't been willing, or able, to give.

Maybe we feel that way, too. We'll work it out like a family, but David Hale did a Q & A with Coach Richt before the event, and it made me want to respond:
Q: What about all the fan reaction to the past few games? Has it been hard for you to hear some of the criticism?

CMR: The thing that is interesting to me is that everybody wants to – I think people are missing the fact that we've won nine games so far. We're 9-2. We lost to a No. 1 and the No. 3 in America. That's not too shabby. It's not perfection by any means, but I'm proud of this team. I'm proud of how they've battled and fought. The coaches, too. We've had some games where we certainly didn't finish the way we wanted to or play the way we wanted to, but it's like life. You get some disappointments and you could certainly just sack your bats and go home, or you can get back up and fight. We've gone that, and there's a lot to be said for that.

Q: How different do you think people would view this year if you had started the year ranked No. 24 instead of No. 1?

CMR: They'd be doing cartwheels right now.
Coach, do you think we should have started the season ranked No. 24?

Beat tech and get us to 10-2. Ten-win seasons are nothing to sneeze at, and every fan I respect knows this. We remember the 1990s. We appreciate you. Hell, we love you.

But we don't set our expectations by the media, or the voters. And even when things were low, 10-2 was not the goal. I hope it will always be a stepping stone, however a lofty one.

Please make the defense remember how to tackle so it's noticed. And fix the special teams. And crush Georgia tech.

You have my trust, and the expectations that go with it.

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