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Writer: UGA’s First Two Games

The writing is on the wall in Athens.  Even long-time Mark Richt supporters like Bill King of The AJC understand the magnitude of the coach’s current situation.

While the coach said yesterday that he doesn’t “feel any pressure at all,” The Junkyard Blawger knows that — as he puts it — Georgia’s first two games this fall could “make or break” the Dawgs’ veteran coach:

Win both of those first two games (versus Boise State and then South Caroilna) and the Dogs, whom Chick-fil-A’s Gary Stokan seems sure will (be) ranked in the preseason Top 25, likely will vault themselves into the Top 10 and put themselves in the driver’s seat in the SEC East in a rebuilding year for the Florida program.

Lose both of them, and even Richt is going to be sweating bullets.

True enough.  We all want instant gratification.  We also like for things to be simple.  And judging Richt on his first two games — either “he’s got it back” or “he’s lost it” — is both quick and easy.  The fan reaction to those first two games will likely have some impact on the psyche of Richt’s squad.  In other words, winning both games could put his team on a roll… losing both could cause a panic and a tailspin.  Players know what’s being said about their coach.

But in reality, Richt will be judged for his body of work in 2011.  If he starts of 0-2 and then wins his last 10, the first two games won’t mean much.  The same will be true if he starts 2-0 and then drops his last 10.

The two things that we believe will have the biggest impact on Richt’s job security are the following:

1.  Does he win 9 games in 2011?  Anything less can be called a disappointing season by the anti-Richters in the Peach State.  Nine wins against an SEC schedule will land the Dawgs in the Top 25 and in a pretty good bowl game.  No one’s going to be fired if that’s the case.  Nine is the goal.  Eight is survivable, but nine is finer.

2.  Does he beat Florida?  Richt was owned by Urban Meyer.  Even during the Gators’ stumble-filled 2010 season, UF was able to right its ship long enough to outlast the Dawgs in Jacksonville.  Georgia fans are getting tired of losing to their bitter rivals.  If Florida has a mediocre season in Will Muschamp’s first year on the job and the Gators still get past Georgia, that could be very, very bad news for Richt.

King and all the folks who are focusing on UGA’s first two games are correct in doing so.  Those contests with Boise State and Carolina are huge. 

But getting to nine wins — one way or another — and topping Florida will mean more for Richt’s job security in the long run.


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