Barring a miracle of Lindsay Scott proportions, Georgia’s football season is shot.
Actually, even the absolute best-case scenario — win out, have South Carolina lose to Alabama, Arkansas and Florida (likely) and Florida lose to LSU (hardly shocking) — would be less than satisfying.
In a way, such a miraculous recovery would make it even harder to reconcile successive losses to South Carolina, Arkansas, Mississippi State and Colorado.
But if you’re Greg McGarity, Georgia’s athletics director for all of two months, what do you do?
Say you fire Mark Richt. Then what?
Do you hire a smart, relatively young assistant from one of the most successful programs in college football? Then you’ve just rehired Mark Richt.
Do you hire a head coach of a lesser known program ready for his big break? Then maybe you’ve found the next Nick Saban or Urban Meyer. But, more likely, maybe you’ve found the next Jim Donnan or Les Miles.
Do you hire a head coach of a BCS conference school that lacks the resources to compete every year for a national championship? Then maybe you’ve just hired the next Tommy Tuberville.
Do you hire someone from the NFL, someone who brings in a 24/7 work ethic? Then you might have just hired the next Charlie Weiss — who suddenly becomes much less brilliant without Tom Brady running his offense — or the next Pete Carroll, who prompts the NCAA to take up permanent residence in Athens.
There’s only one Nick Saban. Even Mack Brown and Bob Stoops — each with a national championship ring — have produced substandard seasons.
There’s a chance Georgia could do better than Richt. But there’s a certainty that it could do much, much worse. Either way, here’s what the Georgia fans calling for Richt’s firing do not get: They are part of the problem. Turning on the coach who restored their national credibility can create a perception of instability. If that costs you even just five recruits, consider the impact five starters could have on a program.
It’s OK to be dissatisfied with losing to Florida every year, especially when the gap seems to widen every year. It’s certainly reasonable to be disgusted with losing four straight games to teams which Georgia had a cumulative 72-22-2 record against going into the season.
Yeah, Georgia’s season is essentially shot. And this marks three consecutive seasons of underachievement, and there’s reason to be disillusioned.
If this free fall continues into next year, firing Richt might be unavoidable. At some point, the risk of hiring the wrong guy becomes outweighed by the cost of losing. But, as Benjamin Franklin said, don’t borrow trouble. All Georgia fans should be concerned about now is beating Tennessee today and trying to salvage the season, even if another trip to Shreveport doesn’t excite the fan base.
This is not like Auburn two years ago, when inner turmoil within the coaching staff combined with a shortage of depth and no productive quarterback made the season a lost cause. The Bulldogs have plenty of talent. The biggest concern on the offense going into the season was how freshman quarterback Aaron Murray would handle the speed of SEC defenses. Murray’s play has ranged from adequate to superb.
The defense has ranged from adequate to awful. Even so, all four losses were winnable games in the final five minutes. The Dogs don’t have to play much better to win, just a little better in several areas.
The Bulldogs have some serious problems. But the man best suited to fix those problems is the man currently dealing with them.
Guerry Clegg is an independent correspondent. You can write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org