Some in the media — first the Orlando Sentinel, then the Mobile Press-Register — have suggested Mark Richt sits atop the ol’ hot seat. Esteemed colleague Tim Tucker quotes both Damon Evans and Michael Adams as saying it’s not true.
Very rarely, however, do such men say such a supposition is true. For one thing, it hurts recruiting, and as we know recruiting means more than actually winning games: How else to explain Lane Kiffin making $4 million to coach USC?
For another, admission of displeasure with a coach generally leads to a coaching change. See Vince Dooley’s call for “significant improvement” in 1995, which led him to fire Ray Goff that November and then led him to hire first Glen Mason and then Jim Donnan — on Christmas night! — as replacements.
The belief here is that Richt can remove himself from heated-seat speculation with a nice 2010 season, and the belief here is also that Georgia is capable of such, er, significant improvement. But we must also be ever mindful of what Evans said of his athletics program after it finished second — second! — in the SEC all-sports standings.
This has been an interesting year for Georgia athletics when it comes to a national perspective. We are not where we want to be nationally. I think our program should be much higher than it is. This is probably one of the toughest years from a competitive standpoint that we’ve faced in quite some time.
Let’s not be naive. If the equestrian program has a bad year — and the equestrian program tends to win national championships — the masses and the media aren’t going to be asking Messrs. Evans and Adams: “What do you plan on doing about this?” If Georgia football goes 8-5 again, that question becomes a daily discussion on both a state and national scale.
Richt is a fine coach. He has earned the benefit of every doubt, and his willingness to change his defensive staff bought back most of the good will he’d lost. But his is a business predicated on results, not good will. Unless his team goes 1-11, there’s no way he gets fired within the next year. Another middling season, however, and the heated-seat talk will become more than just talk.
Put it this way: Evans and Adams aren’t paying a first-time collegiate defensive coordinator $750,000 just to make this program competitive. They’re paying big money because they want to win big. Georgia fans came to love Mark Richt because he won SEC championships. He would do well to win another soon.
For further review: What would it take for Paul Johnson to be on the hot seat at Georgia Tech?