The old Georgia coach and former athletic director used to build up his opponent non-stop in the press the week of a game. He wasn't sure if Georgia "could handle" the opposing team.
Dooley was so good at reverse psychology that he even played that game on his own team. Like the time he didn't bother to start Herschel Walker in his first game as a freshman at Georgia. Yeah, that Herschel Walker – "Oh you Herschel Walker" Herschel Walker.
Cue Richt and his elevation of Jadeveon Clowney to all-world status two years into college.
"I would say that Clowney is the best football player in the world, though. Seriously, I think he might be the very best player who exists today at any level," Richt told assembled reporters in Gwinnett County Monday night.
My eyes are rolling.
Clowney is the best player in college football – that we all know. I think he will be a NFL Hall of Famer sometime down the road. But the "very best player who exists today at any level"? Come on Mark.
I see what Mark Richt is doing, and Steve Spurrier probably can, too. But does Clowney? That's a good question.
But Richt's point is probably two-fold: to make sure that his team knows just how good Clowney is – to reinforce how much trouble he will be in September; and to make Clowney think that he's so good that he doesn't have to do anything to beat Georgia. In other words – no need to work Jadeveon… you already got us beat.
This is Mark Richt pulling a Vince Dooley. It's an old coaches' trick that works on occasion on the other guy, but often works better on your team. Dooley was very good at these types of things. Older fans remember how Dooley would pump up the other side – and occasionally do what Richt did in singling out one player on the other team to give high praise.
Richt has done this before, too, but he's not as good at it as some other coaches have been.
Many younger fans probably don't remember what pulling a Vince Dooley is really like. Perhaps some will remember Lou Holtz's antics at South Carolina. The old timer seemed to be the master the elevation of his opponent the week (note: that was Holtz before he started shamelessly picking South Carolina to win every game it plays and before he embarrassingly picked Notre Dame to beat Alabama in January; that was Holtz before he lost credibility).
I'm not really sure. Talk is talk – it works when you are talking… not when you are playing. Richt is saying this sort of stuff a month before Georgia even takes the field against Clowney and company.
Richt has certainly gotten the national media's attention with his comments, but has he gotten his offensive line's? One thing is clear - with more than a month to go before the South Carolina game he's laid his marker down to his offensive line: This guy is as good as you will see all year... what are you going to do about it?