When they began playing football at Georgia, Coca-Cola was only six years old. Seldom, if ever, has a home opener carried any greater perceived importance than tonight’s game against South Carolina. Here we are, not yet halfway through September, and the Bulldogs face a “must-win” game.
A loss would drop the Dogs to 0-2, and the prevailing sentiment — at least in the cyberworld — seems to be this:
The season would be shot. Forget having a chance against Florida. Kentucky and Vanderbilt are looking pretty scary. But thank goodness for that game against Tennessee Tech — if that.
The program would be on the decline.
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Back-to-back losses to Georgia Tech? Oh, lord, let’s not even go there.
Time to clean house and start the rebuilding process NOW. Among the fallout from Georgia’s season-opening loss to Oklahoma State was a blog earlier this week by Mark Bradley, an Atlanta sportswriter, about the distressing state of the Bulldogs’ program. The lead and the gist: Something is missing.
“And it can’t be talent.”
The blog included a fan poll: “What’s lacking at Georgia? Coaching, effort or talent.” Sixty-two percent said coaching, and 34 percent said effort, a reflection of coaching. Only 4 percent said talent.
Well, here’s what’s missing. It’s none of the above. It’s not the quarterback. It’s not the play-calling. It’s not the defensive coordinator. It’s not the offensive line. It’s not the receivers.
What’s really missing?
The intent here isn’t to bash Bradley. Rather, it’s to note the reaction of the fans.
The blog elicited 838 posts. A majority placed the blame directly on head coach Mark Richt, offensive coordinator Mike Bobo and defensive coordinator Willie Martinez.
Like this from some nitwit named Correct: “If UGA loses to SC, they are staring at 0-6 and possibly 1-11 square in the face!”
We assume Correct was referring to Tennessee Tech and not Florida as the lone win.
Or this from Dandydawg: “Get rid of Mark Richt, send him packing to FSU. Bring in Phil Fulmer or Norm Chow. NOW!”
Yeah, bring in the guy from Tennessee who lost the edge to Georgia in the SEC East. Or another assistant coach who has never proved himself as a head coach. That makes perfect sense. SEC Football writes in detail that Georgia has never won a big game in nine years under Richt. Those blowouts over LSU? Mere mirages.
Somehow, those three SEC championships in eight years meant nothing. Eight of nine seasons with 10 or more wins? Merely feasting on the Purdues and the Houstons of the college football world. Never mind that Georgia had TWO 10-win seasons between 1984 and 2000.
Oh, and those seven straight wins over Tech? That’s history now that Paul Johnson has the Jackets on the rise. Never mind that Jim Donnan, Richt’s predecessor, who lost his last three games against the engineer school.
This is not to anoint Richt as the second-coming of Bear Bryant, nor to gloss over the Oklahoma State loss, nor to suggest that these Bulldogs don’t have some concerns.
True, Richt’s 10th season may prove to be his worst. Then again, it might not. Every game on their remaining schedule, save Florida, looks entirely winnable.
Joe Cox, for all his immense heart, just might not have the talent to win big in the SEC. Then again, he has played one game on the road against a BCS contender while overcoming the flu. That hardly seems a fair barometer to measure his — or his team’s — whole season.
Guerry Clegg, firstname.lastname@example.org