ATHENS — It wasn’t so much a protest, but a vigil. At least that’s how one of them put it on Sunday afternoon outside the Butts-Mehre athletic building.
At first it was just three upset Georgia fans, sitting on a stone fence outside the Georgia athletic building. One of them, UGA junior Garrett Shearman, held a sign that on one side said “THANK YOU COACH RICHT”, and on the other said “FIRE McGARITY!”
That would be Greg McGarity, Georgia’s athletic director, who fired Mark Richt as head football coach on Sunday morning.
Andy Kite, a second-year law student, pointed out that Richt had a better win-loss percentage than Wally Butts or Vince Dooley, and that Dooley took until his 17th season to win his first national championship. He also pointed to Nebraska, which went 5-7 this year after firing Bo Pelini after consecutive nine-win seasons.
“I find it interesting how I find more people on campus, at the school, who are younger, who really support Mark Richt, and who really like him and prefer would have him stay,” Kite said. “And I feel a lot of the people who are salty about it and who are complaining and who maybe perhaps want him to leave — that’s not the majority of the opinion on campus. I feel like you get that off campus and the older subset, and maybe have been around this program and have had more time to fester since 1980, wishing that we had a national title.”
Shearman mentioned the indoor practice facility, which UGA finally gave the go-ahead on earlier this year, as well as pay raises for assistants this year for Richt’s staff.
“I think a lot of our frustration was with the penny-pinching that went on,” Shearman said. “And now they fire Richt. That doesn’t necessarily mean anything other than the decisions were close to each other, and they just fell together date-wise. But it’s almost like a slap in the face for Richt to have gone so long petitioning so long for this practice facility.”
A few minutes later a fourth person, recent UGA graduate Justin Patton, showed up with two handwritten signs.
“GLORY, GLORY TO OLE GEORGIA. TO HELL WITH McGARITY!”
“THANK YOU COACH”
Three other twenty-something fans showed up a short time later, then left after 15 minutes. As of 4 p.m. it was back to the three protesters, who occasionally would draw a honk of approval from a passing car, and attention from media members.
“I think that Coach Richt has done a lot for this program,” Kite said. “He should be thanked. He should not be given the treatment that he’s been given by this administration here at the athletic department. And that’s really why we’re here, to support coach Richt, and to air a little bit of displeasure towards Butts-Mehre hall.”
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