As I read the newspapers and check out the internet postings daily, I see so many interesting things that make me reflect on what is happening these days. I’ll share a few.
First, for you baseball fans, Mike Hessman is retiring from baseball. Does anyone know who Mike Hessman is? Well he was drafted by the Atlanta Braves in 1996 and later played for the Braves for brief periods in 2003 and 2004. He also appeared in the majors with the Mets and Tigers. The reason for my mentioning Hessman’s retirement is that last season he became the all-time leader in home runs in the minor leagues. This guy hit 433 minor league home runs! Now that’s a bunch! He also hit 14 major league homers, of which four came with the Braves. Quite a record!
OK, Georgia fans let’s get right to it. Mark Richt is no longer the head football coach at the University of Georgia. A man who averaged 9.7 wins a season over a 15-year career is no longer the coach in Athens. A man who did things the right way and treated people properly and with respect is no longer good enough to guide the Dogs. Beats me!
Oh, I forgot, he didn’t win a National Championship. It’s much clearer now. But isn’t there only one champion each year? That’s a tough pinnacle to reach. SEC titles? Only two for Richt and that probably got him fired more than anything, or was it that McGarity saw Kirby Smart slipping away to South Carolina? Whatever, I hate to see Richt treated with such disrespect. He deserved much better. He will most likely resurface and be successful again. I hope so!
Can Smart meet Georgia fans’ expectations? Maybe – maybe not! Hiring a coordinator with no head coaching experience is taking a pretty big chance. He has never hired a coaching staff, put together a recruiting class, made the big play decisions in a tight game, took all of the media pressure after a big loss, disciplined a player who breaks the rules or the law, or made all of the daily decisions that a head coach has to make. Can he do it all well? Maybe!
My belief is that you should not fire your head coach unless you can find someone better. Is Smart better than Richt? Not now he isn’t! We’ll re-evaluate in 15 years.
And another college football note. I was watching the Houston-Navy game last week and lost all respect for Houston Coach Tom Herman. Houston was leading the game 45-31 with less than one minute to go. They had the ball at Navy’s two yard line and Navy had no time outs remaining.
Instead of “taking a knee” and ending the game with a two-touchdown victory, Herman chose to score again. Houston won 52-31. My point is that he should not have added more points to an already guaranteed win, especially against the Naval Academy. These guys are not only playing football at a very high level but are also preparing to defend our country and our freedom in the near future. I know that adding a touchdown doesn’t mean much in the whole scheme of things but I think it shows total disrespect to these special young men. Herman should be reprimanded by his athletic director. He has lost my respect!
Jim Fowler is a sports columnist and retired teacher and coach who worked in the local school system for many years. He is a founding board member of the Thomaston-Upson Sports Hall of Fame and is also the statistician for the Upson Lee football team, and has written a book about the history of football at R. E. Lee High School.