While we brace ourselves for the inevitable new round of Mark-Richt-on-the-hot-seat talk with the arrival of the SEC’s annual media days, it’s interesting to see the way expectations of what Richt needs to do to keep his job vary.
Recently we discussed here how many wins we thought Richt needed to get this season to keep his job, and the consensus appears to be that 10 wins was a sure thing, nine probably would save him and if it was eight, it would depend on whether that number included a victory over Florida.
But while South Carolina appears still to be most prognosticators’ favorite to win the SEC East, Georgia has popped up in quite a few predictions as the dark horse to take the division, and CollegeFootball News even goes so far as to posit that if the Dogs don’t win the East, Richt won’t be back.
Their all-or-nothing reasoning goes like this: “The timing couldn’t be better to come out of the blue and be a major player in the SEC. Florida probably has one more year before it becomes a monster again, Tennessee is still sleeping, and South Carolina, as good as it is, is still South Carolina; there’s going to be a gaffe or two along the way. Georgia might have a ton of flaws, and it might be relying on a slew of unknowns to carry the way, but the East is never going to get easier than it is right now, and Richt has to take advantage. … No, Georgia won’t be 2010 Auburn, but it could rise up and be good enough to win the East and play for the SEC title. And if not, next year will be all about a new era in Georgia football.”
Summing up its preview of Georgia, CFN says, “The season will be a success if … the Dawgs win the East. When you miss the three best teams from the West — Alabama, LSU, and Arkansas — and get South Carolina, Mississippi State, and Auburn at home, you have to take advantage of it. There are major holes on the offensive line, receiver, and linebacker, but the schedule is favorable, the influx of new talent should be a boost, and the desperation is there to win the East. Winning the SEC title is a stretch considering how good the West champion will be, but getting to the title game will be enough for Richt to stick around.”
At the other extreme, the Macon Telegraph asks whether Richt’s recruiting prowess and the commitments he keeps snagging might not be enough for him to keep his job even if the Dogs have another subpar year on the field, simply because a coaching change might send some of those recruits elsewhere.
I’m not buying either of those scenarios.
While winning the SEC East would surely boost Richt’s stock quite a bit, I don’t believe his job is riding on it. At the same time, if the wheels come off and Georgia has a disaster of a season, I don’t think nonbinding verbal commitments from some blue-chip recruits who may or may not pan out down the road are going to be enough to save Richt. That will still come down to wins and losses.
What do you think?
While I’m dismayed yet another Georgia running back has gotten himself in trouble, I have to admit the first thought I had when I heard Carlton Thomas likely won’t be playing against Boise State was that at least Mike Bobo won’t be tempted to run him up the middle on third-and-long.
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