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Mark Richt may be the dumbest football coach in history

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Which is kind of like being the sleaziest lobbyist on K street.

Situation: Georgia needs a FG to win in OT, starting from the 25 first and ten. First down: two yard rush. Second down: QB centers the ball, losing three yards in the process. Third down: 43-yard FG attempt by a kicker who was 6-16 on kicks of 40 yards or more.

Update: And while I’m ranting, Meathead Bielema punts on fourth and five from the Oregon 37, because “field position” is so crucial in a game where it makes the difference between a 91-yard TD run and an 80-yarder.

Update #2: OK to be fair going for it on fourth and one from the OU 17 was the right move.

UPDATE [SL]:  Even though it devastates my once-decent chances of winning the LGM pool, part of me is still happy that this Hall of Fame-caliber example of irrationally playing not to lose cost his team the game.

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  • Scott Lemieux

    You beat me to it. It’s like, Herm Edwards lives.

    Not that I’m bitter because this mind-blowing idiocy may cost me the LGM pool, of course.

    • witless chum

      That’s what you get for not picking Michigan State.

  • DownriverDem

    Go MSU! Yea!

  • rea

    If I’m reading you right, they tried to kick a 43-yard field goal from their own 24. Well, there’s your problem, right there.

  • K26dp

    Very poor analysis. That wasn’t a kick to not lose, it was a kick to win. No reason to risk a fumble or other such nonsense.

    In any case, congrats to the Spartans. It was quite a comeback.

    • Paul Campos

      You have a future in football coaching. It’s an insanely bad move from a percentage standpoint.

    • Scott Lemieux

      Unless you think that GA had at least a 33% chance of turning the ball over if it tried for a first down, that was am insane decision.

      • K26dp

        Mark Richt may be the dumbest football coach in history is your headline. Even if you disagree with the call, that’s an insane thing to say.

        • KLG

          No, actually, it is not insane. As a UGA graduate (twice over) who pays some attention to their football fortunes, it is clear that Mark Richt has not quite developed the necessary smarts to win as he should, given the talent on his teams. In his first or second year in Athens, the Dawgs were very deep in Auburn territory with a chance to win with less than 30 seconds on the clock, no timeouts left. What did Richt call? A running play that failed. End. Of. Game. Asking Blair Walsh to win the game like that after the putrid year he had was a similar call. That Walsh made a critical FG to keep UGA in the game in the subsequent OT period was plain dumb luck.

      • K26dp

        Sorry, not your headline, Paul’s. But otherwise my comment stands.

        • Njorl

          I’m sure it isn’t the dumbest thing a college coach ever did, but was spectacularly stupid, though. No one who coaches for a living should have done that.

          He should have aggressively tried to gain a few more yards to make it an easier kick, or get in the end zone if possible. Instead, he did what all bad coaches do. It isn’t “playing not to lose”, as stated above, but rather playing not to be blamed for the loss.

          Most fans think a kicker should make a 43 yard FG. Superficially, the coach looks smart playing it safe. In truth, the coach should know that his kicker isn’t good enough to rely on.

    • Craigo

      Turnover percentage is what, 2-3%? You’re more afraid of that than a guy who is 6-16 from that range.

      • K26dp

        And Walsh was 6-7 from 40+ last season. And 11-12 in 2009. Walsh clearly had the yips around mid-season, but had seemed to turn a corner. The kick just curled right.

        • Scott Lemieux

          The kick just curled right.

          Yes. Why, it’s almost as if a first down or two would have made a successful field goal more likely.

        • Craigo

          Which is higher, a 14% chance of a missed field goal or a 2% chance of a turnover?

          • K26dp

            Michigan State’s defense is not an average defense. Especially with how they were blowing through Georgia’s O-line in the second half.

            • Craigo

              Okay, not only will we magically allow Georgia to use last year’s version of their kicker, but we’ll accept Georgia’s above average turnover percentage in this game of roughly 4%. Even with granting you as favorable terms as possible, he’s still three times as likely to miss as the offense is to fumble the ball.

    • You may be the dumbest commenter in the history of this blog.

      • K26dp

        Come on, have you actually read comments on this blog?

  • c u n d gulag

    SEC! SEC!! SE…

    WTF?

    MSU won?

    This has been today’s episode of today’s sports results in words of 3 letters or less.

  • todd.

    Jeeeeeeeeesus. I changed my all-SEC-all-the-time entry at the last minute to pick Ohio State (you know, for variety), and I lost both of these games.

  • LosGatosCA

    I agree that playing percentages by football coaches is not their strong point.

    But Insanely bad? I think 6-16 over 40 yards requires more granularity.

    If the 10 misses are over 45, for instance, it’s actually percentage justified. I think you are prematurely letting the fanatic out.

    I’ll be back with data.

    • Paul Campos

      Seriously? What sort of “granularity” would make this a good decision? The risk of trying to gain yards to either score a TD or have a chip shot field goal is that you’ll turn the ball over. Keep in mind that we’re talking about running a half dozen plays at most before either scoring a TD or trying the FG. What are the odds of turning the ball over in six plays? Two per cent? Hell the difference in the percentage chances of making a 40-yard FG (which they would have had if they hadn’t intentionally lost yardage) and a 43-yarder is going to be bigger than that.

  • LosGatosCA

    This kind of granularity is what I like. The kicker has a leg but he’s erratic. He’s 2-5 over 50 yards, 56 long, the other 53. But he was 1-3 under 40 against Florida which Georgia won anyway.

    That data tells me that they should never play for the field goal if they have options besides this guy. But that if they needed a desperation (not the point here) field goal over 50 yards this kid would give them a shot.

    So, with the benefit of data now, it was insane.

  • Craigo

    It’s nice to see the running commentary on 4th down decisions – this is one subject that I’ve felt like I’ve been trying to explain to casual (well, non-sabermatrically inclined) fans for at least five years.

    Icing the kicker is another fun one – I’ve never seen a tactic become conventional wisdom as fast as this one did, so maybe people will figure out that it’s suboptimal just as quickly.

    • Ronnie P

      The reason they ice the kicker now is because they changed the rule about sideline timeouts. You didn’t used to be able to do that. And coaches don’t want the players on the field waiting for a last moment TO.

  • Anderson

    Even tho the OP was clearly written, I had to read it twice to realize Georgia kicked on THIRD down.

    Because that was just crazy.

    (Even crazier than Dan Mullen’s not taking the FG at the end of the 1st half, in that Miss. State bowl game none of you were pitiful enough to watch.)

    • Ronnie P

      Correct. This is NOT a debate as to whether they should have kicked that FG on 4th down.

  • LosGatosCA

    Brent Musburger makes the most insanely fluffing comments of his partner’s most insanely obvious predictions.

    After that Wisconsin fumble on the sideline – ‘You said if would come down to a turnover.’

    Ranks right after the prediction that the team with most points will win.

  • LosGatosCA

    That spike is the most insane call ever.

    Bar none – apologies to William Floyd

    • Morbo

      You mean the officials or the decision to spike it instead of running a play? I agree on the latter; on the former it looked like Wilson played to the ref getting set with the clock being started while he was still moving.

      Of course it would’ve been irrelevant if Bielema hadn’t apparently taken the Jim Schwartz class in calling a timeout in the hopes that a play will be reversed.

      • Paul Campos

        Michigan fans will recall that Ryan Leaf made exactly the same mistake on the last play of the 1998 Rose Bowl, at almost exactly the same spot on the field. Of course it was Ryan Leaf so . . .

        • Robert Farley

          This is not the point; wouldn’t have been an issue if Bielema hadn’t called a time out to try to get a review an unreviewable call that would have gone Oregon’s way in any case.

          • witless chum

            Clearly, he needs a card telling him what plays are reviewable and what aren’t.

            I was pulling for the Badgers for Big 10 solidarity, but if they’re going to lose I’m glad it was heavily influenced by Bielema’s derping.

      • LosGatosCA

        I meant the decision to spike the ball. Folks familiar with the last minute tenth of second last minute clock used in basketball know that their is no way the clock can be started by the ref, the ball hiked by the center, and the QB spike it inside 2 seconds.

        Impossible. You could have laboratory conditions (not game cvonditions) with all three actors (ref, center, QB) coordinated and you would still NEVER have one second left on the clock.

        That was insanely crazy stupid to end the game that way.

        • LosGatosCA

          Sorry for the typos and redundant repetitiveness on the last minute clock.

        • The Shaggy DA

          Especially if the ref winds the clock for a full second plus before he blows the whistle. Virtually impossible then.

  • todd.

    I’M A MAN, I’M FORTY

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  • mpowell

    College football coaches are pretty terrible. A fact I am reminded of virtually every time I watch a college game. And that’s even comparing to the standard set by the likes of Herm Edwards in the NFL. Remember, we’re not just talking about these kinds kick or not kick decisions. I was watching the A&M/Northwestern game, and while needing to run the clock out to end the game A&M repeatedly ran out of bounds. And then, desperately needing a stop on 3rd and 13, Northwestern ran a zone defense that gave up an easy 15 yard out to the WR. Terrible play after terrible play. Not to mention being down by 23, going for 2 on your first score and then kicking the PAT on the 2nd. That was hilarious.

  • JR in WV

    I don’t have cable, so am going to be able to see like 2 bowl games at home, not to include the Orange Bowl (WVU-Clemson, will attend at a sports bar now that they are toxic-fume free). So I watched the MSU-GA game, and rooted for the Big 10, much as that goes against my grain.

    I see from other remarks that there may have been questionable play-calling in other games broadcast by the monopoly sports conglomerate, no surprise.

    I’m strictly a fan, mostly arm-chair now, although my Dad (big WVU fan, although didn’t graduate as the family business needed him back to work) took us to bowl games often. Don Nehlen was the second worst play caller in WVU history, to Frank Cignetti who called up-the-middle, u-t-m, pass, punt so often it became a jeer cheer.

    Yet with my scant experience, I could have called a better mix of plays for GA at the end of that OT period. Crossing pass, similar deeper pass, then a run if needed to center for the kick. Any pass would have been better than a loss to center on 2nd down… or even a real run.

    And on 4th down, almost always go for it, except for 4th and long in your own red zone perhaps. There’s a reason you get 4 tries, and why 98% of coaches only take 3 is beyond me, the odds are so good. Oregon almost always goes for all 4 downs, and it works well for them.

    I wish the Mountaineers well in the Orange Bowl. They need all the luck they can get, Clemson is good, historic, close to home, etc. The refs will probably be from down south somewhere, too, like SEC?

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