ESPN did one of its SportsNation polls recently to determine who was the SEC’s most underappreciated football coach.
Georgia’s Mark Richt won, with 43 percent of more than 13,200 votes cast, beating out LSU’s Les Miles, who took 27 percent of the vote.
Third place went to Mississippi State’s Dan Mullen (12 percent), followed by Florida’s Will Muschamp (11 percent) and Missouri’s Gary Pinkel (7 percent).
Richt and Miles have each won two SEC championships, and Miles won a national title in 2007.
Two years ago Richt was on the hot seat after a 6-7 season, but he turned things around. After opening the 2011 season 0-2, his Dawgs have won 22 of their last 26 games. And, as ESPN noted, two of those losses came in the SEC championship game to teams ranked No. 1 and No. 2 in the country.
Still, there are still plenty of gripes from a noisy contingent of the Bulldog Nation about Richt not having won a national title during his time in Athens. That, along with his understated style, probably accounts from him being the conference’s most underappreciated coach.
So, flipping it around, who do you think is the SEC’s most overrated head coach? Certainly not Nick Saban, who has more than earned his accolades at Alabama. And while I don’t like him much, I don’t think you can really consider South Carolina’s Steve Spurrier overrated, even though he hasn’t yet won an SEC title. After all, he has done a pretty impressive job reversing a long underachieving program in Columbia — and he’s beaten the Dawgs three years running.
How about Coach Boom? His Gators were one of the nation’s hottest teams last year, but they still lost to Georgia for the second year in a row and were embarrassed by Louisville in the Sugar Bowl.
Any other candidates for most overrated?
HISTORIC WIN FOR DIAMOND DOGS
Any win over the school from North Avenue is worth celebrating, but when it’s the kind of upset that took place Tuesday night at the Ted, it’s doubly gratifying.
It’s mostly been a season to forget for David Perno’s Diamond Dogs, but in the 11th annual Spring Baseball Classic For Kids, Georgia pounded the No. 19-ranked Yellow Jackets 17-0 before a crowd of 18,240, the largest attendance so far this season in college baseball.
It was a historic win, with only a 25-1 victory for UGA in 1898 in Athens having a bigger margin of victory.
Perhaps this will turn the Dogs’ season around somewhat. Perhaps not. But even if it doesn’t, well, they’ll always have Turner Field!
McGARITY SPEAKS OUT
Perno and and Georgia baseball were one of the many subjects that came up Monday when UGA athletic director Greg McGarity sat down with Anthony Dasher of ugasports.com to answer questions provided by the site’s subscribers.
McGarity was pretty tightlipped on whether there’ll be a change in baseball coaches after this season, saying, “You have a review at the end of the regular season, you’ll go through that process. It would be unfair of me to say anything one way or the other.”
As for another troubled program, basketball, McGarity said he’s looking for “constant improvement” and added: “we need some consistency in that sport, that would be the first goal to have a level of consistency there, but you know, Coach [Mark] Fox and his staff know that improvement is something everyone expects. I don’t think there’s anything unrealistic there.”
Other subjects covered included hiring more football staff (“I don’t think there’s any question that Mark Richt has every resource that he needs”), building an indoor football practice facility (“It’s not really on the map right now”), and football scheduling if the SEC goes to nine conference games (“I don’t foresee us dropping Georgia Tech, but I do think if you went nine games and played Georgia Tech, to play two more BCS schools is going to be pretty difficult to do”).
He also made a strong case for UGA sticking with its super-strict drug policy, no matter what other schools are doing.
“Each school has to set their own parameters and we don’t apologize for anything we do in our drug education program,” McGarity said. “We’re focused on what’s best for the young person. Some people argue that we’re at a disadvantage. No, we’re at an advantage. Me, as a parent, if I knew there were strict consequences for my child if they did something illegal — and what we’re talking about are things that are illegal. We don’t have anything to apologize for.”
“Everybody knows the rules,” McGarity said. “There’s nothing hidden here. When you come to the University of Georgia, if you elect to break the law, there are going to be consequences.”
He did say, however, “What I think we’ll see in the future is see more schools adopt what we do, and make consequences a little bit tougher.”
I hope he’s right, but I’m proud of the stance McGarity and UGA have taken.
REMEMBERING ONE OF GEORGIA’S GREATEST
USA Today featured Georgia football great Charley Trippi on its sports front this week in a story about him being the NFL’s oldest living No.1 draft pick. It’s an interesting read that notes how drastically things have changed over the years for top draft choices.
And speaking of Trippi, I’ll take the opportunity to repeat what I’ve written here in the past: It’s disappointing that Georgia legends like Trippi, Frankie Sinkwich and Herschel Walker aren’t recognized with any sort of tribute inside Sanford Stadium. It’d be nice if the athletic department did something about that while two of those three are still able to attend a dedication ceremony in person!
JUNKYARD MAIL CALL
Got something you want to discuss concerning UGA athletics or a question you want the Junkyard Blawg to tackle? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Find me on Facebook.
Follow me on Twitter.
— Bill King, Junkyard Blawg