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Trouble’s Brewing In Athens And Injuries Could Make Things Worse For Richt

A couple of summers ago we said that Mark Richt was on one of the SEC’s two hottest seats (with Les Miles atop the other).  Our reasoning: By the time you become the Dean of SEC Coaches, fans have had plenty of time to build up a list of grievances against you.  Happens everywhere.

Our column was initially met with outrage from Georgia fans.  And then UGA finished 8-5 in 2009.  We again said Richt’s seat was warming the following summer.  Fewer Dawg fans took issue with us then.  After last year’s 6-7 campaign, there aren’t many who are denying the temperature of Richt’s seat at this point.

But saying that Richt is on the firing line because of the length of his tenure — and now a 14-12 record over two seasons — isn’t the same as saying Richt should be fired.  We’ve never said that.  In fact, we’ve said just the opposite.

Richt is possibly the best ambassador that Georgia and the SEC have.  He’s also been a remarkably successful football coach.  Check the numbers and you’ll find that he’s been a more consistent winner than even the now legendary Vince Dooley.  He’s certainly been successful enough that one losing record in a decade should not lead to his dismissal.

One of the folks we’ve debated this topic with is Bill Shanks.  Shanks hosts a radio show on WPLA-AM in Macon and writes opinion pieces for The Macon Telegraph and The Columbus Ledger. 

His latest piece on Georgia’s rash of injuries sums up the thinking of some of the anti-Richt crowd in the Peach State:

“Georgia’s offensive line depth is embarrassing.  And now they are down to three running backs.

Look, things happen.  Players do get hurt.  They do flunk out.  But isn’t it a logical question to ask why this stuff continues to happen under a head coach that is in his 11th season?

No, it’s not Mark Richt’s fault that (Washaun) Ealey left or (Caleb) King didn’t have the grades.  But if some offensive linemen or a running back or two get hurt and that jeopardizes Georgia’s chances to win this year, who are fans going to blame for the continuing offseason storylines that other programs just don’t seem to have?

Maybe (Isaiah) Crowell runs for 1,000 yards and everyone stays healthy and all will be fine.  But all of this seems to instead represent a program that is hanging on by a thread, when it really shouldn’t be.”

Over the past two years, two camps have popped up in Athens.  For simplicity sake, we’ll call ‘em the pro-Richters and the anti-Richters.  The pro-Richters will stand behind UGA’s head coach no matter what.  But the anti-Richters believe the die has already been cast.  They’ve seen enough to know that UGA is heading in the wrong direction.  So if Georgia loses four or more this year, they’ll call for Richt to be jettisoned.

And if UGA wins nine or more?  They will likely write it off as a fluke and call it a delaying of what they believe to be the inevitable.  If this seems familiar it’s because SEC fans witnessed this same debate play out at the end of the Phillip Fulmer era at Tennessee.  (Note to the anti-Richters, if UGA does have a second losing season — as Fulmer did — hope that Greg McGarity doesn’t hire Lane Kiffin to replace him.)

The bad news for Richt is that the second group is growing in number.  There are more and more folks who believe he’s already taken the Bulldogs as far as he can take them.  With that conclusion already drawn in their minds, there’s nothing the coach can do — short of winning a national title — to lure them back into the pro-Richter camp.

In other words, rather than waiting on all the facts to make a decision, many have already made their decisions and will simply be looking for facts this fall to back up their conclusions.

That’s what happens when you become the Dean of SEC Coaches.



Would the anti Richters rather revert back to say, Ray Goff?? Didn't think so, now they can shut up!!!!


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