Back in June, John Pennington of MrSEC.com wrote that the two SEC coaches who would be on the hot seat if they had bad seasons this year were Mark Richt and Les Miles.
Pennington was inundated with attacks from Georgia fans. And, he notes, “Even Bill King of The Atlanta Journal Constitution’s Junkyard Blawg took up the issue. …He provided a G-rated commentary on my commentary (unlike a lot of the emails I received) and concluded it as such: ‘We’re disappointed, but we’re not deluded. Georgia fans know we have a good thing going with Mark Richt and that it’s only a matter of time before he brings the Bulldog Nation another national championship. … Richt on the hot seat? Only in some strange alternative universe SEC.’”
Not surprisingly, after Saturday’s meltdown against the Vols, and with Georgia looking at a struggle to try and get a winning season, Pennington thinks we’ve moved into that alternative dimension.
And he’s issued a challege, asking me to write about “the mood of the fanbase right now” and whether I now admit “that Richt’s seat can get (and is already) warm?”
OK, I’ll bite.
Are there Georgia fans calling for Richt to be fired? Sure. Are we hearing such calls from more than just the usual lunatic fringe? We are.
Is it a realistic response, and do I really think Richt’s job is in jeopardy?
No and no.
As Chris Low of ESPN.com put it, “Richt has been too good, too consistent and too classy for any reasonable Georgia fan to call for his job.”
Now, Willie Martinez’s job definitely is in jeopardy. In fact, I’d say barring a miraculous turnaround like he pulled off in 2007, Martinez is gone. Mike Bobo? He might skate by if he can discover a running game and make the Dogs respectable on offense by the end of the season. But his seat definitely is warm.
Do I think Richt needs to take decisive action in upgrading his staff after this season to avoid putting himself on the old hot seat?
Yes, without a doubt.
But those of us who recall the Years in the Wilderness (also known as the Ray Goff era), know that just because Richt’s program has faltered a bit and isn’t performing up to the high standards he set for himself early in his tenure, that isn’t a rational reason for a coaching change. I still think Auburn was insane getting rid of Tommy Tuberville.
So in answer to MrSEC.com, as I read the Bulldog Nation, fans are unhappy. Very unhappy. And as I wrote earlier today, many fans don’t like what they’re hearing from Richt so far. But there is not currently any widespread support for getting rid of him, especially among those who have the ear of Damon Evans or Michael Adams.
If we’re still having this discussion a year from now, that’ll be a different matter altogether.