If UGA can’t win the SEC East next season, that’s it for Richt

If Mark Richt doesn’t win the SEC East next year, he never will again. I know how simplistic that sounds, but the 2011 Georgia season can be boiled down to these basics:

Richt hasn’t won the SEC East since 2005. Florida, which has won it three times since then,  just hired a career assistant to replace a man who took two BCS titles. South Carolina, which won the East for the first time ever, is demonstrably not unbeatable — it lost the SEC championship by 39 points — and must play in Athens next season.

Beyond that, there’s little else to know. Richt dumped three of his four defensive coaches last December and changed his strength coach two weeks ago. He has fired essentially everyone he can — Mike Bobo’s detractors will raise a howl, but Georgia did score at least 31 points in seven consecutive games to end the 2010 regular season — without pointing the finger at himself.

Richt is 44-20 over the past five seasons, 23-17 in SEC play. Jim Donnan, by way of comparison, was 40-19 and 25-15 in his five seasons at Georgia — and got fired. Richt lost five games in 2009 and has lost six in 2010. The Georgia program hasn’t been on an uptick since the end of the 2007 season, which was so long ago Knowshon Moreno was a redshirt freshman.

And now Florida has, in its nefarious way, ramped up the pressure on Richt by hiring Will Muschamp, the Rome native and former Bulldog whom some fans had hoped would be the next man in Athens. Muschamp was so well regarded in Texas he’d been designated the coach-in-waiting, but the reality is that he’s 0-0 as a head coach. He could do well. He could also be Ron Zook.

Florida is vulnerable in a way it hasn’t been since the overmatched Zooker was in charge. (Even Urban Meyer described the Gators as “broken.”) South Carolina filled the gap this fall, but even in a breakthrough season the Gamecocks didn’t bear the look of a colossus. They lost three regular-season games and nearly threw away the division title. They’ll be good again — Marcus Lattimore and Alshon Jeffery return — but probably not great.

Can Georgia win the East in 2011?

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Georgia has the sort of schedule that can make for a great season. Its road games: At Ole Miss, Tennessee, Vanderbilt and Georgia Tech. The collective 2010 record for that foursome is 18-30. The Bulldogs don’t play Alabama, Arkansas or LSU. (They do open against Boise State at the Georgia Dome, but next year’s Boise won’t be this year’s Boise.) If Georgia can beat South Carolina at Sanford Stadium on Sept. 10, it should be undefeated when it plays in Jacksonville two days before Halloween.

Two caveats, though: Georgia is no longer a lock in games it should win, and Richt is never a lock against Florida. He has a losing record against each of the three Gator coaches he has opposed, the Zooker among them. But if Richt in Year 11 can’t beat Muschamp in Year 1, something’s wrong.

WILL Georgia win the East in 2011?

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The Bulldogs effectively retired their “Finish The Drill” slogan with the re-assignment of Dave Van Halanger, creator of those mat drills. Just as well. Next year’s theme can only be, “No Excuses.” This listing program has exhausted those.

A.J. Green will surely be gone to the NFL, which means he can sell his Liberty Bowl jersey without fear of NCAA reprisal. Todd Grantham will be in his second season of defensive coordination, which means convenient bailout — “They’re still learning the system” — won’t apply. Assuming Cam Newton leaves Auburn and Ryan Mallett exits Arkansas, Georgia will enter next season with the SEC’s best quarterback. (Even if they stick around, Aaron Murray will be the class of the East.)

The chief argument Richt’s defenders make is a tepid one: That he has earned the chance to fix what’s wrong with Georgia. This neatly overlooks the greater truth, which is that the program has gone wrong on his watch. If Georgia doesn’t get fixed in 2011, a new fixer will be required. If Richt can’t win the East next fall, Georgia needs to find someone who can.

By Mark Bradley

803 comments Add your comment

GTHorsie

December 13th, 2010
12:28 pm

I think Richt has a little more wiggle room than that. If the last 2 years haven’t brought his dismissal, I’m not sure next season will.

We'll See

December 13th, 2010
12:31 pm

First?

I think one year is more than generous!

We'll See

December 13th, 2010
12:32 pm

One year is PLENTY generous!

GStateBen

December 13th, 2010
12:34 pm

Richt has no wiggle room and will be fired after the 2011 season.

Mark, did you forget about Stephen Garcia? He will be a Senior and has Marcus Lattimore & Alshon Jeffrey back. That’s a loss.

There is still more than enough talent on Florida’s roster to beat Georgia, again. In the players lifetimes, Florida is 20-3 vs. Georgia. Stop calling it a rivalry folks.

Tennessee will be better, Auburn still is better than Georgia without Cam (Dwyer and a boat load of defensive players that are incoming/coming back).

No discipline, no player development, poor coaching. Wave goodbye Mark Richt.

Steve

December 13th, 2010
12:35 pm

Good grief Mark, are you serious?

this is a 6-6 team.

If they improve to 8-4 next season, Richt will be fine.

McGarity just want to see improvement.

If Richt goes 8-4, that’s a pretty big improvement.

Mark Bradley

December 13th, 2010
12:35 pm

Close, We’ll See. Nice try.

UGABugKiller

December 13th, 2010
12:35 pm

– Stands and Applauds –

Bravo, Mark Bradley.

Especially even more kudos for your slamming of the blind homer loyalists who erroneously believe Mark Richt “deserves” more time to fix the situation he created –

- Created by putting his personal relationships ahead of OUR football program.

- Created by playing favorites with untalented, coach’s pet players (Joe Cox and Bryan Evans come to mind).

- Created by refusing to back BVG’s understandable request to be compensated as a Broyles Award Winner should be… all so he could promote hack BFF Soft Willie to DC.

- Created by letting the inmates run the asylum, with over 30+ arrests the last five years (not so coincidentally, AFTER BVG left in disgust)… which is MORE arrests than Florida in the same time span.

Mark Richt “deserves” NOTHING.

And he should’ve been fired after THIS wretched season.

Mark Bradley

December 13th, 2010
12:36 pm

That’s the point, sort of, Steve: This shouldn’t have been a 6-6 season.

GIVE ME A BREAK

December 13th, 2010
12:36 pm

Dylan

December 13th, 2010
12:38 pm

He’s lucky he got the one extra year. I agree, he has earned the chance to fix this, but absolutely no excuses next year. SEC East Champs and beating Florida are the two things he needs to accomplish to keep his job.

GO DAWGS!! BEAT UCF!!

SmyrnaMan

December 13th, 2010
12:39 pm

SECs Best QB? He might not be the SEC East Best QB. He is good, but he isnt “Class of the East” Tyler Bray is looking just as good and with better young talent to throw to. UGA has to come into Knoxville next year and we all know, UGA doesnt do well in Neyland.

Sanford Drive

December 13th, 2010
12:39 pm

(((((42-34))))) hahahahaha

DawgInDFW

December 13th, 2010
12:41 pm

I don’t want agree with you, Mark.

But, after reading (yes, I READ before posting) your column, I have no choice but to agree. “No Excuses” sounds like one heckuva slogan to me. Coach Richt, I hope you pull this together. If you can’t, I’ll be sad to see you go. But the program is bigger than any one person. May you and the team rise to this occasion.

Chris

December 13th, 2010
12:42 pm

I have been a Richt supporter since the beginning, and still am for that matter. HOWEVER, I believe Bradley is correct. Richt deserved a little time to right the wrongs at UGA and next season will be the tipping point. If he fixes the system and wins the SEC east and brings the dawgs back into the national spotlight (in a good light) then he will have proven that he still has what it takes to compete at the highest level. If for some reason next year turns out anything like this year, then Richt should and will be gone from Athens.

yoda dawg

December 13th, 2010
12:42 pm

article i did not read, but comment i will. knowledge i have

Loyal Homer

December 13th, 2010
12:42 pm

There’s a reason why this is the case. UGA had the most disappointing season of any D-1 team.

http://thesportsdebates.com/2010/12/06/the-2010-disappointing-college-football-team-debate%e2%80%a6-dawgs-with-no-bite/

Steve

December 13th, 2010
12:43 pm

I got the SEC East like this:

1- South Carolina (they bring back the big 3, and they’re defending Champs of the SEC East, they’ll be everybody’s #1 in the SEC East by a landslide)
2- Florida (they’re always just a little better than Georgia–loaded with talent–how Meyer went 7-5 with this kind of talent is bewilidering)
3- Kentucky ( I could have easily put them #2)
4- Georgia (More Murray, No AJ Green, No Justin Houston)
5- Tenn (look out, could take Georgia’s #4 place)

8-4, is a 25% improvement over 6-6, and mcGarity would be ok with a 25% improvement in wins, especially if one of those wins included Florida, which it will.

meh

December 13th, 2010
12:44 pm

As long as Coach Richt can make sure his players have valid drivers llicenses and pay their speeding tickets UGA will be fine. That was the big problem this year. So many suspensions and injuries early on that it took half the season for the team to mesh. If everyone shows up on day 1 ready to go they’ll get all the kinks worked out alot quicker.

dawgwalker

December 13th, 2010
12:44 pm

I just threw up in my mouth a little bit.Fla. bites us again…I wish were getting the young fiery coach we need…..I’m so sick of the CEO aw shucks approach.

Andy

December 13th, 2010
12:44 pm

So if UGA goes 10-2, losing only to South Carolina and Auburn (but beating, Boise St., Florida, and GT), and South Carolina goes 6-2 in the conference, Richt should be fired? I think you need to classify your ultimatums a bit more.

Dylan

December 13th, 2010
12:44 pm

Richt is 3-2 in Neyland, just so you know Smyrna. He’s better against Tennessee in Neyland than in Sanford.

jarvis

December 13th, 2010
12:46 pm

This is a true statement, and we’re talking an outright trip to Atlanta.

Something similiar to Tech’s claim as to having “tied” for their Divisional Championship in PJ’s first year isn’t going to cut it.

Felix Millan

December 13th, 2010
12:46 pm

welcome back MB

Steve

December 13th, 2010
12:47 pm

I do agree Richt needs to better the 6-6 record, but geez, in what, 25 years as a coach, he wins 8 games or more 24 out of 25. 6-6 was the 1st time in 25 years of tewams Richt has coached he didn’t win at least 8 games. Richt’s finished in the top 10 in the final rankings 18 out of 25 seasons, so yes, that earns him a whole lot of freeway.

8 wins for Richt in 2011 should be a realistic expectation.

Mojoe

December 13th, 2010
12:47 pm

It is time to put a fork in Richt because he is done. This season is a great example. Bulldog nation wants better performance than we have seen in the past 2 seasons. Next year will probably be better than this year but not a championship by a long shot.

Big Macon Dawg

December 13th, 2010
12:47 pm

Wrong again.
Richt is a fine man, and a great coach.
No one except Dooley has been better.
He beats GT like and drum.

Time

December 13th, 2010
12:48 pm

I have been and remain a Richt supporter. But the numbers don’t lie and right now they’re saying his record is no better than Donnan’s.

That being said, I still say the worst mistake Richt has made was giving Joe Cox a “thank you for hanging around on the bench for 4 years” starting job. Had Aaron Murray gotten his feet wet last year, and entered this season as a experienced SEC starter I think the Dawgs win all those close games we lost at the beginning of the season, with or without AJ. He set the program back 2 years with that move. Murray will be special at UGA and I think next year UGA is again a contender not only in the SEC, but on the national stage as well.

AAdawg

December 13th, 2010
12:48 pm

I TOTAL AGREE. Still love Mark. Hope he does it.

Travis

December 13th, 2010
12:49 pm

Don’t SLEEP on TenRc next year folks….although we whipped there arse this year i’m afraid next years a different story. Their QB looked pretty darn good after they pulled sims and they are on a monsterous rebound. Be affraid…be very affraid…we play them in knoxville!!

Billyboy

December 13th, 2010
12:49 pm

Mark, your close but no cigar! UGA must win 9 games and beat Georgia Tech to guarantee Richt another year. If UGA wins 8 games it depends who they lose to and by how much. If UGA wins 8 games and loses to Florida and Tech, then goodbye Richt. How much you want to bet on your scenario versus mine? Name your price, I am in.

Richt is overrated

December 13th, 2010
12:49 pm

Mark Richt is overrated and should have been fired at the conclusion of this season. You can’t have that many off-field problems (arrests etc.) and NOT win. That’s not the SEC way LOL

bruce mac

December 13th, 2010
12:50 pm

I agree with everything you say here MB but also believe that CMR will be back if he wins 10 games. So, can you go 10 and 3 and lose the East? Probably not but it is possible. Lets say Florida goes 12 and 1 and beats UGA, I say CMR still returns with 10 win season, especially if the Freshman class turns out as good as CMR hopes it will. So that is my only caveat to your perdiction. Do you agree?

what of it?

December 13th, 2010
12:50 pm

In our 3rd rebuilding year, I would hope we can beat the weakest SEC East in my lifetime

Fortydawg

December 13th, 2010
12:51 pm

Ok so what can he do to turn it around? One player (Even a great one in Aaron Murry) is not going to make the difference. Give us specifics of how he can change this. What does he have to do?
Give your specifics of how he can get back to the caliber of teams he had in the early part of his career.

jarvis

December 13th, 2010
12:51 pm

Big Macon…unfortunately there’s more to life than beating Tech.
If dragging the Jackets around the field was all UGA needed, Ray Goff would still be coach.

yoda dawg

December 13th, 2010
12:51 pm

steve- goober you are, sports pundit you are not. jedi is not in your future. potato chips most likely will be

Chris

December 13th, 2010
12:52 pm

This sounds exactly like what everyone was saying before this season. We have a favorable schedule, we have so many guys returning on offense, our defense can’t get any worse, and if Murray just plays descent, we will win 10 games. Evene Mark Richt pretty much guaranteed that this 2010 team would improve.

Has everyone just forgot all about that??? I don’t understand why so many people think Richt deserves another shot. He should have been fired the day after the Georgia Tech game. I actually agree with you for once Mark. If we can’t win the east (which we wont), Richt should be fired. How could Georgia hold on to this guy after everything he has done wrong over the last 5 years? Not to mention, if Muschamp has a successful season, and beats Georgia, then we should have Mark Richts head on a platter. Richt had the chance to go after Muschamp in 2004 after BVG left, but chose to promote his buddy Willie instead of doing what was right for the future of the program. Richt has had ample opportunity to fix what is wrong with Georgia, but has done too little too late.

We need a new coach with fire that wants to win. I can’t help but think about what Meyer said the other day. He just wasnt totally into it this season. Florida’s fan’s could see it, the players could see it, and their performance was a reflection of their coach. This same crap has been going on at Georgia for over 5 years!

Lord I hope next year is Richt’s last!

McDawg

December 13th, 2010
12:53 pm

we don’t have a defensive line or rather one that is suited to the 3-4-but the difference next year is the team leader will not be a freshmen-those close games we lost this year will be Ws next year-whether that willl be good enough to win the East is anybody’s guess-who knows maybe Geathers will emerge as a dominating NG and we can move tyson over to DT–its all about the trenches

Supes

December 13th, 2010
12:53 pm

Mark…seriously? You come back with that piece…so much more to write/blog about…

Can UGA win the East…sure, there is no clear cut great team in the SEC East.

South Carolina will be and should be favorites.

After that, it’s fair game.

Will UGA win the East in 2011…probably not.

Should CMR be “fired” if UGA doesn’t win the East in 2011…no…and there is also no way for you to know that the WINDOW of opportunity is closing on UGA. That’s probably the most premature thing you’ve said.

Just like Barnhart crowning FLA the 2011 East champs based on the Will Muschamp hiring…

Sometimes I wonder about the AJC…I really do.

Steve

December 13th, 2010
12:54 pm

Mark-

I think this was a 6-6 season. Murray really didn’t play well against Miss St, South Carolina, or Florida. That was expected, he’s a freshman QB in the SEC. And you had a totally new defensive staff, new 3-4 scheme, Grantham didn’t have time to go get 4 guys to replce the three DL & LB that went to the NFL. Only game that Georgia shouldn’t have lost was Colorado. They shouldn’t have won against Kentucky either, so those evened out. But 6-6 was expected given Murray’s inexperience, and the new defensive coaches & scheme.

I’d say if Bobo can’t get the rush game going this year, it’s gotten worse each year for the last 2 seasons in a row, then he’ll be let go at the end of 2011.

So, Bobo will go before Richt does.

DawginLex

December 13th, 2010
12:54 pm

The east is going to be a crap filled bonanza next year just like this year. SC, UGA,FLA and UT will all battle it out. The schedule favors UGA but the kicker will be beating florida.

Win the home games including the Dome-6 wins
Win at Ole Miss-1 win
Lose at UT- 1 loss
Florida???

10-2 or 11-1 is possible. They could lose at home to MSU or SC.

9-3 and 5-3 in the SEC could get them to ATL

Is that good enough?

I see a lot of stuff like Fulmer in 2007 and in 2008 he was fired.

Richt is overrated

December 13th, 2010
12:54 pm

Free tickets to the DAWG’s bowl game in Memphis if you bring a canned good!

Jethro Bodeen

December 13th, 2010
12:54 pm

Well Mr. Drysdale…anybody with a 5th grade education knows that Georgia will bounce back and win the SEC East! Florida made a big mistake with their hire! Sam Drucker would have been a better choice!

SteveW

December 13th, 2010
12:55 pm

4 reasons the Dawgs won’t win the SEC East in 2011: Marcus Lattimore, Jeff Garcia, Alshon Jeffrey and Stephen Gilmore. Spurrier is stacked at South Carolina.

And we will be better in 2012, but won’t win it then either. Why? UF’s best recruiting class in the history of college football in ‘010 will all be Jr.s. They will be beasts unless Muschamp is a total idiot.

9-3 is realistic for UGA next year.

And the schedule is worse in ‘012….

thUGA

December 13th, 2010
12:56 pm

Oh hell yeah

SmyrnaMan

December 13th, 2010
12:56 pm

Hey Dylan the past two games in Neyland he is lost by a combined score of 80-33

SteveW

December 13th, 2010
12:56 pm

Hope I’m wrong, and we go 12-0 both seasons.

Jimbob

December 13th, 2010
12:57 pm

What’s getting lost here is that Richt isn’t getting “one year.” Next year will be the third opportunity he has been given. It will be the third year he’s tried to right the ship.

I’m not convinced that he can do it. This program is complacent. The Tereshinski promotion reeks of the Martinez promotion. You don’t fix problems by renaming the status quo. Georgia and Florida have similar problems. There’s been far too much talent and brain drain. UGA began slipping after 2005, when Van Gorder left. Florida began slipping (though it was hidden), in 2008, after Mullen left.

What’s different is that Florida is going in another direction and UGA is keeping the status quo. Well, I’m willing to keep it one more year. I’m willing to see if the Grantham hire will make a difference, but I think the problems run very deep. I think they’re cultural. I think UGA is complacent and lacks leadership. This stems from the top. Unless there’s a David Greene, David Pollack or a DJ Shockley somewhere on this team, I don’t think it will win more than 8 games next year. Richt can’t do it, he needs leadership from his players and I don’t think it’s there because I’m not sure he recruits it.

bruce mac

December 13th, 2010
12:57 pm

Chris and company. That ship has sailed, CMR is back for 2011. Get on board and support your team’s players if nothing else. Send all the notes you want to Adams and company but it is stupid to keep bashing these boys IMO on these blogs. I suspect you have failed a time or two at your job but maybe you are perfect, huh?

jeremy c.

December 13th, 2010
12:57 pm

I create motivational videos using team footage and existing movie action scenes. I also know somethings about nutrition. And lifting. (3 sets of 10).

Can I work in Athens?