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Pencil Shavings

Weekend read: “Make the Call”

Dawn Hankins
Posted 1/29/22

Have you ever dived into one of those popcorn tins—you know the divided ones with different flavors?  

Well, I’m one who just can’t seem to help but mix it up.

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Pencil Shavings

Weekend read: “Make the Call”

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Have you ever dived into one of those popcorn tins—you know the divided ones with different flavors?  

Well, I’m one who just can’t seem to help but mix it up. I love it that way, actually. We have one in the T-G break room, thanks to a staff member. And yes, I admit it; I’m the one who got the cheddar into the caramel corn. Sorry bout that, T-G popcorn lovers. This got me to thinking the other day about how separated we are as a society, but no matter our professions, official titles or lifestyles, we’re all just as good, that is, loved just the same as children of God.  

I just finished a book that seems kind of fitting to review this time of the year. It’s about football wins, losses and one’s spiritual life (all encompassed, by the way.) While some folks may think there’s no room in sports for a spiritual life, Mark Richt, former Georgia Bulldogs’ (Dawgs) head coach, begs to differ. (Keep reading UT fans. I promise it’s good.)  

While Richt will tell you there were a lot more winning Southeastern Conference coaches in his profession, he still believes that he’s got a special place in heaven with God someday. That means more to him. And he points out that goes beyond his trophies and accolades on the football field. Here’s a snippet of his bio, for those of you who might not be familiar with this retired SEC coach. He began as assistant coach at Florida State in 1985.  

He was Georgia’s head coach from 2001 to 2015; he went to Miami for the next 3 years. Richt retired from football on Dec. 30, 2018, but has remained in sports media/ broadcasting. After retirement, Richt suffered a heart attack. He announced in July 2021 that he’s now suffering with Parkinson’s Disease.  

Though he’s obviously wealthy and accomplished, let’s say he’s lived, but suffered, just like many others in life. I really enjoyed this book, which is available for check out at Shelbyville Bedford County Public Library. It’s orange tagged 12-21, if you need assistance finding it. The library has such wonderful staff; they will always help you. (I took it back to the library Friday, by the way.)  

As always, double check referenced scriptures as sometimes in the editing process things can get transposed. That’s a good rule of thumb when reading any inspirational book, not just this one. Richt’s underlying theme is spiritual wisdom for life’s defining moments.  

Pastor Tony Evans said of the book, “If you want to know what made Coach Richt tick throughout his days as a coach and mentor, “Make the Call” will tell you.” While there’s a lot of football narratives inside the pages, it’s still an easy read for novices to the sport.  

Here’s a good one: “Whatever you’re facing, you know that no one else can bail you out. You have to make the call.” 

 One of Richt’s mentors was no doubt Bobby Bowden, former head coach at Florida State, where you might say Richt got his start in life—not in just football, but in LIFE (perhaps better coined, living in faith everyday.)  

Bowden, who was included in the foreword, says of now author, Richt, “While Mark was at Florida State University, I had the privilege to lead Mark to Christ in 1986. His life has never been the same. Mark not only talks the talk but he walks the walk. He is a great role model for young people to follow.” 

In this book, Richt shares what he calls one of his biggest tests during his first season at Georgia. He admits not only was Tennessee “good that year” but they “had dominated recent history in the Georgia series.”  

So he talks about his first away game as a Southeastern Conference (SEC) coach in front of over 100,000 mostly orange-clad fans and at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville. It’s at this mid point of the book that he builds anticipation, stating that the stadium was “so loud on the sideline” he had to yell into player earholes.  

Richt recalls that it was then he told freshman David Greene to run the play named, “P44 Haynes.” The “P” meant “play-action pass.” The “44” was the running play they were going to “fake.”  

Verron Haynes, then fullback, was the one the play was “designed to feature.” Richt says he knew Greene would follow through, good or bad.  

As most familiar with SEC football, it was indeed a success! Touchdown! Richt said he told his team he was proud of them. Someone yelled out, he recalls, “Coach! We finished the drill!” (Read Richt’s book to find out the deep meaning of that phrase. I won’t give that away.)  

While he had such defining moments as a coach, Richt says in his book that he now believes that his job all those years, through all those seas of jerseys, had as much to do with “growing good men” as it did with “growing good football players.”  

I loved the pullout quotes in the margins of this book. One of my favorites was when Richt said, “It’s more than just a football lesson; it’s a life lesson. It’s more than just not quitting on a sports field.” That’s certainly a sports quote for the ages. I pray it becomes a standard on and off the field.  

Thanks for writing this book, Coach Richt. I believe the former SEC coach’s real desire behind this book is that coaches, players and people in the everyday walk of life will seek “a higher calling in life.”  

“Make the Call” by Mark Richt— just over 200 pages—certainly a great weekend read! I give it 4 stars (on a scale of 5.) Our prayers are with “Coach” and wife, Katharyn, as they travel on their next journey.  

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