“None, I don’t feel any pressure. None at all.”
That’s Mark Richt’s not entirely convincing answer to the question of whether he’s feeling pressure coming off a losing season. Richt made the comment when his spring speaking tour stopped at the Savannah Golf Club on Wednesday, as reported by the Savannah Morning News.
I know the guy is supposed to have ice water in his veins, but with most of the football world figuring his job is probably on the line in the coming season, you’d have to figure that maybe, deep down inside, Richt is feeling the pressure. Just a little.
Something Richt also said Wednesday night does a nice job of summing up the enormity of his situation.
“I think the biggest challenge is to be at midseason form for our first two games,” Richt said. “They’re big games for us. [The Boise State game] will help set the tone for our season. The very next week, South Carolina will be big. Since they’re one and two, we have to be ready.”
Rarely has a team coming off a losing season and with a coach considered to be on the hot seat entered a season with two bigger, more important opening games.
One way of looking at it is that Greg McGarity has stacked the deck against Richt by putting Georgia in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game against a high-powered offensive juggernaut the week before the Dogs open their SEC season against Steve Spurrier’s defending SEC East champion Gamecocks. But conversely, McGarity also has given Richt (who agreed to the scheduling of Boise State) a chance to completely turn things around for his program in just two games.
As Richt said in Savannah, the nationally televised game against the Broncos gives the Dogs a chance “to show the college football world we’re still a pretty good football team.”
Win both of those first two games and the Dogs, whom Chick-fil-A’s Gary Stokan seems sure will be ranked in the pre-season 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.
Split the games and the Dogs will have either a quality nonconference win but start out in a hole in conference play, or have a nonconference loss against a well-regarded team and still be favored to take the SEC East.
No pressure? Yeah, right.
So what are your expectations for Georgia’s first two games? Are you dreading them? Do you expect Georgia to take both? Or, if you’d be satisfied to come out of those games 1-1, which game would you rather have as a win? Does a conference game always trump a nonconference one, or is defending the SEC’s honor against Boise State more important this time?
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— Bill King, Junkyard Blawg