Who gains from the SEC’s turmoil? Alas, not UGA

The SEC East is in flux in a way nobody could have envisioned on Christmas Eve. Urban Meyer resigned and recanted and is said to be relaxing. Tennessee has no coach. Kentucky has a new coach. Vanderbilt … OK, there’s the one constant.

With so much in motion, the moment seems ripe for a stable program to make a bold move upward in 2010. That program would not seem to be Georgia.

Having searched for six weeks, the Bulldogs don’t have a defensive coordinator or a defensive staff. They’ll enter next season with a new quarterback, the result of having left Aaron Murray to redshirt. (A wise choice in most years, but not necessarily in the worst season under this head coach.) Worse still, there’s a growing feeling across the South that Mark Richt is a year away from feeling the big heat.

From MrSEC.com, usually a clearinghouse of conference links, came this post-Kirby-Smart post from John Pennington, its headline reading: “Smart Stays; Richt In Trouble.” Pennington’s argument isn’t that Richt should be in trouble but that, having been spurned three times now by coordinating candidates, he’s being perceived as “inept.”

Short of landing Bill Belichick, it will be nigh-impossible for Georgia to emerge from this protracted search with a coordinator who will satisfy the majority of Dog-lovers. And it does seem troubling that three men who worked in the South and have coached against Georgia — Bud Foster of Virginia Tech, John Chavis of LSU and Alabama’s Kirby Smart, who’s a Bulldog born and bred — saw greater opportunity in the current positions than anything awaiting them in Athens.

Is Georgia now radioactive? Is Richt viewed in the industry as damaged goods? Is there a way for the coach who once moved from strength to strength to overcome this onset of weakness?

Sure. There’s a way. Just win, baby. (That’s Al Davis’ signature quote. The second-most famous Al Davis utterance: “Lane Kiffin is a flat-out liar.”) But I don’t see Georgia as poised to win big even in an SEC East that’s without Tebow, without Kiffin and perhaps without Meyer. Indeed, if you’re looking for the program harboring realistic expectations of a 2010 breakthrough, look first to the one that has never won anything of consequence.

South Carolina.

It has a head coach, which puts it ahead of Tennessee and perhaps Florida, and he has a national championship in his portfolio. It has a defensive coordinator, which puts it ahead of Georgia, and Ellis Johnson is a fine one. Its quarterback is returning, along with 15 other starters on offense and defense. And it plays Georgia in Columbia on Sept. 11.

No, the Gamecocks weren’t much good in 2009: They finished 7-6 and looked awful in losing the Papajohns.com Bowl to Connecticut. But the new season is another day, and long-suffering Gamecock fans get geeked up for every next season as a matter of course. This time they might actually have cause.

Not many Georgia fans seem similarly enthused, at least not at the moment. The coordinator search won’t go on forever, but it has left a mark on the Bulldog psyche. Georgia fans are like most: They can’t imagine why anyone wouldn’t want to come coach their team. But they’ve just seen three men choose to remain in place despite the lure of big money at UGA.

Which team will have the better season in 2010?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

We learned in 2005, when he won the SEC in his first season without David Greene and David Pollack and Brian VanGorder, not to dismiss Mark Richt. We saw it again this season when he took his worst team and beat Georgia Tech’s best aggregation in a decade. That said, the prevailing wind now seems to be blowing against him.

He’s 14-8 over the past 22 games. (And that’s with victories in the final two of 2009.) He can wind up making a good hire and it won’t be seen as such. Some of the UGA fans who once swore by Richt have taken up a different brand of swearing. As Pennington suggested, Richt is no longer the fresh prince of the SEC but an elder and somewhat diminished statesman.

Five years ago I wouldn’t have thought Richt and Georgia incapable of anything. Now, heaven help me, I see South Carolina as the program on the rise. South Carolina, of all teams.

785 comments Add your comment

UGA #1

January 13th, 2010
1:14 pm

GH27

January 13th, 2010
1:17 pm

More trolling by Mark Bradley. South Carolina? Really? I’ll go ahead and wager that South Carolina wins no more than 8 games next year. Want to take that bet, Mark?

tom

January 13th, 2010
1:17 pm

Georgia needs to act fast. Promote Garner and solidify our staff. Then go after the Tennessee commitments. Especially the ones from GA. We cant go after anyone right now with no DC.

MikeInValdosta

January 13th, 2010
1:18 pm

SSIgator

January 13th, 2010
1:18 pm

Do not be so quick to discount the Gators in 2010. Even with a lot of departures the shelves are well stocked.

Ponte Vedra Dawg

January 13th, 2010
1:18 pm

matt_t

January 13th, 2010
1:18 pm

South Carolina has a coach, one that has had second half collapses every year he’s been there. One who is still counting on Garcia to be his QB and isn’t far from retirement himself.

This is a coach who apologized for his team after losing to Uconn in the bowl game.

If Richt is no longer the fresh prince, what does that make Spurrier?

AndyC

January 13th, 2010
1:20 pm

Mark

Weren’t you the one that said that it was good that UGA tried to get a big name DC even if it didn’t work out? That they at least had to try? Now you crush them for it? I think you are wrong about this tarnishing UGA and I think it’s silly to say that South Carolina is going to benefit from all this. UT, UGA, and UF will all lose a few recuits, some to each other, but at the end of the day one post season in turmoil will not change the power structure in the SEC. Relax.

jah

January 13th, 2010
1:20 pm

ajc needs to call in garbage collector for all the trash it allows its’ staff to write.. bradley, please shut up!!!!

Socal Dawg

January 13th, 2010
1:20 pm

Jona

January 13th, 2010
1:21 pm

Pennington is an idiot

Hank Reardon

January 13th, 2010
1:21 pm

What a load of crap Mark. If they hadn’t gotten huge pay raises, any one of them would be in Athens right now. Those type of articles are deceiving. Especially to a recruit that may be reading here. UGA will be fine as soon as they get a DC. Richt has been very good (except for the CWM mistake) for UGA and will continue to do so.

Buckhead Dawg

January 13th, 2010
1:21 pm

Who benefits from all the turmoil in the SEC? Sports writers.

Senator Blutarski

January 13th, 2010
1:21 pm

If some of those Tennessee recruits consider coming over to Georgia, I’ll pull some strings and get them in as pledges to the Delta House!

Where's my crack pipe?

January 13th, 2010
1:22 pm

How many years have i heard this same BS about South Carolina…….time to move on to another refrain. This song is getting old

Eric "Easy E" Bischoff

January 13th, 2010
1:22 pm

Alabama owns the SEC and will next season as well.

Florida is a close 2nd..

After that who the hell knows.

UGA 2010

January 13th, 2010
1:22 pm

What to do???? WIN BABY!!!! Thanks for the article Mark.

Ponte Vedra Dawg

January 13th, 2010
1:22 pm

Mark, I think you are being a little to negative on UGA. We will be better. UF will drop off, maybe not much, but they are losing proven talent. UT will be off. New coach and loss of talent

South Carolina will be better, but they will not contend for the East in my opinion.

If anything all this turmoil in the league takes a little pressure off of Richt. But, the DC hire obviously needs to happen soon.

Bradley is Bitter

January 13th, 2010
1:23 pm

Bradley, you are such a f****** child when it comes to your negativety about UGA athletics.

What year did the Athens Banner Herrald deny you a job?? was it in the 30’s? 40’s?

Give it up you washed up piece of s***

One more question….. did you vote for Lincoln?

wolfdawg

January 13th, 2010
1:23 pm

Mark you are starting to p!$% me off!

Russ, the Temporary Mascot

January 13th, 2010
1:23 pm

How is South Carolina fixed for mascots?

BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

January 13th, 2010
1:23 pm

South Carolina! Hehindeedy!

You’re too much, Bradley.

Socal Dawg

January 13th, 2010
1:24 pm

“Some of the UGA fans who once swore by Richt have taken up a different brand of swearing.” Mostly the ones you stir up. Have yon made it your goal to get CMW fired?

Flowery Branch Dawg

January 13th, 2010
1:24 pm

Without a doubt the vast majority of the Dawgnation are solid Mark Richt supporters. I’ve come across a few of the fair weather types that run him down but the vast majority—the ones that bleed red and black love mark Richt and look forward to seeing the best Richt years yet to come!

Virginia Dog

January 13th, 2010
1:24 pm

Just like 24 hour news the pundits at the AJC have to put out continuous stories, so they often get off on tangents just like this one. Mark, your article is demeaning and belittling to Mark Richt and the UGA program and has very little basis or reality. Being a journalist, and not a business person, you have no clue about the “business” of recruiting employees and I really get tired of all the analysis and second guessing. Remember how you ate crow over the hiring of Mark Fox? My bet is that you will do it again next year during the college football season. South Carolina??? My daughter goes there and I pull for them regularly, but really? UGA may not win the East next year, but I earnestly feel they are on a path to win the SEC within the next 2-3 years. I guess we will just have to wait and see.

Ron recruitment

January 13th, 2010
1:26 pm

Don’t forget about the powerhouse class Florida has been putting together, Richt should worry about that one to.

The Truth

January 13th, 2010
1:26 pm

The prevailing wind is blowing you out of a job.

Hank Reardon

January 13th, 2010
1:26 pm

Mark, do you guys get bonuses for huge blog responses? If that’s the case, I guess I would try my best to piss everybody off too.

Mark Richt vs Mark Bradley

January 13th, 2010
1:27 pm

Mark Richt is highly respected college football coach who is of high morals,exudes much class and dignity and had won 90 games in 9 years and 1 SEC titles.

Mark Bradley is a mediocre sports writer. Class and dignity? Like I said he is a sports writer.

H.S. Coach

January 13th, 2010
1:27 pm

Wow, you’ve gone down hill quick with your columns about the DC search. What’s next Vandy will win the East by going undefeated?

aaron

January 13th, 2010
1:27 pm

seriously… you’re trying to sell that south carolina will have a better year than georgia? you’re insane bradley, you’re the new terrence moore. wake up, nobody wants to go to south carolina, their fans even know that. uga could fire every coach and staff right now, replace them with middle school football coaches and still have a better year than south carolina. give me a break!

Grant

January 13th, 2010
1:28 pm

I’m sorry Mark you are an idiot…. Did you see the beating USC took at the hands of UConn in their bowl game? CONNECTICUT!!!!

mike

January 13th, 2010
1:28 pm

just deleted ajc.com as a favorite. enough of the uga bashing.

Mark Richt vs Mark Bradley

January 13th, 2010
1:29 pm

Excuse me for my typo – make that TWO Sec titles for Mark Richt’s Dawgs with 3 SEC title games. And don’t forget a 7-2 bowl record.

col foot

January 13th, 2010
1:29 pm

more filth spewed by bradley!!

DawgFan

January 13th, 2010
1:29 pm

Yeah and like UGA does almost as frequently as it does against Tech, UGA will beat South Carolina AGAIN in 2010.

Jim Donnan

January 13th, 2010
1:29 pm

Nice jab Marky just like the ones you took at me. Keep it up. Oh I’m in the HOF and you’re still an idiot.

sarfdawg

January 13th, 2010
1:30 pm

Mark, seriously. You could make a million anti Georgia statements, but to put Georgia behind South Carolina is insane. South Carolina has no high-school talent, and Georgia only has to get the middle of the crop in this state to stay above them.

Spurrier and all of his offensive genius have REALLY become old and stately.

AJC Sports Editor

January 13th, 2010
1:30 pm

Mark, this is unacceptable work. Again.

Please see me in my office immediately.

Virginia Dog

January 13th, 2010
1:30 pm

Wow. Mark you set off a firstorm with this article. When I started writing my post there were no comments and by the time I hit the submit button there were 10 posts all blasting you for your negative atttitude and baseless article. There is a message there somewhere!

Mr. Question

January 13th, 2010
1:30 pm

Who will have a better year, Mark Bradley or Jeff Schultz? Which one has more writing ability? Which one is smarter?

Mike

January 13th, 2010
1:31 pm

You really think South Carolina will finally turn the corner? Weren’t people, including Spurrier, saying this last year?

Bradley = Kiffin of the AJC

January 13th, 2010
1:31 pm

You have absolutely no credibility. I swear you just make stuff up to see what people will say. My 10 year old daughter could write a better, more coherent, piece on college football. I’m not even surprised at the nonsense you write anymore – just that your boss still has his job letting this trash get posted. And that, Mark, is why I do not blame you. If you’re the Kiffin of the AJC, then your boss is Mike Hamilton – the man who truly deserves the blame.

La Jolla Dawg

January 13th, 2010
1:31 pm

If that’s what you “see” Mark, I think you need to get your eyes checked–no disrespect intended. UGA will hire a DC and will move on. Doesn’t have to be a marquee name, has to be a talented coordinator. Aaron Murray will benefit greatly from our running game, which as I think you saw, developed nicely near the end of the season. Georgia is but a few years removed from playing in the Sugar Bowl, they remember how to win, it hasn’t been that long. When was the last time South Carolina played in a BCS bowl? Do you remember when you last saw that?

Tony

January 13th, 2010
1:31 pm

SOUTH CAROLINA WILL NOT COMPETE FOR AN SEC CHAMPIONSHIP IN THE NEXT 5 YEARS. Is it really that hard to see that Mark Richt is the problem at georgia, and South Carolina just doesn’t have the overall program to ever compete on the national level. Do you think Nick Saban would ever let his players control him like Richt gets tooled around at Georgia. You think Saban would let his players wear special uniforms to “pump them up”. Mark Richt is a great guy, not a great coach.

wolfdawg

January 13th, 2010
1:33 pm

Mark I am not going to forget this!(when you eat crow)

The AJC?

January 13th, 2010
1:33 pm

If Mark Bradley was good at his job and/or talented he’d be going to LA with Lane Kiffin. But he’ll stay with the AJC trying to stir up controversy because that is all he knows how do do. He has no real talent, creativity or imagination..

te29wr

January 13th, 2010
1:34 pm

MB has his head so far up his A$$, and is using other peoples blog, he does not have a clue to what is going on at UGA AL TN or anyother school in the country. Why does he not get off his A$$ and go out and get the truth rather than use other peoples blog or better yet write about KY basketball coach who is two steps ahead of the NCAA at his last two stops

ToccoaDawg

January 13th, 2010
1:34 pm

Breaking news: Mark Bradley is now the AJC sports writer for Spurriers Cocks

GeoffDawg

January 13th, 2010
1:35 pm

South Carolina fans get geeked up every preseason only to come back to reality around early October. Why would this year be any different? Besides, whether or not the fan bases are enthused is going to make little difference to the actual team playing on the field. That’s when your second favorite Al Davis quote is applicable.

Georgia is going to get a significant upgrade at DC regardless if the fans are disappointed after dreaming of Smart and Foster. Conversely, the Gamecocks didn’t even show up to play against a team from Connecticut of all places. You must be reading the tea leaves because I don’t follow your logic in this one.