But, when is enough, enough? Over the last 7 years, there are many things that have usurped Georgia Bulldog football on my life priorities list. My wife, my children, my career, my mortgage. I no longer live and die each week by the performance of 18-22 year old athletes trying to showcase their talents in the NFL minor leagues. And, as I get older I continue to gain appreciation and pride in having a man like Mark Richt leading the UGA football team. He's a great man, a devout Christian and exactly the type of ambassador anyone would be proud to have for their university.
But, DAMMIT I STILL BLEED RED AND BLACK! At what point does the cache that Richt accumulated in the early 2000's dry up? At what point will the UGA program no longer be satisfied with playing the also-ran? At what point will the UGA fans and administration stop and take stock in the 3 year continual decline in this program? How about right now? How about the Monday morning after an excruciating loss (yet again) to the program (yep, I'm actually about to say it) UGA wishes it could be? Florida wished it could be Georgia for decades before Spurrier and Meyer took control, so I'm not embarrassed to say it. I've been squashing these feelings for a year, telling myself that Richt was still the right man to lead UGA, and that he hadn't just suddenly forgotten how to coach. But, in an attempt to validate or nullify those feelings, I did a little research. Take a look at these 5 coaches in the last 5 years of their careers:
|Overall||Conference||Top 3 Rivals||Highlights / Lowlights|
|Richt||42||19||68.9%||23||16||59.0%||8||5||61.5%||No SEC championship game appearances. 4-0 record in bowl games. Top 25 national finish 3 times. Top 10 twice. Top 5 once.|
|Fulmer||39||24||61.9%||24||16||60.0%||6||9||40.0%||No bowl 2 years. Went to SEC champ twice. 2-1 record in bowl games. Top 15 national finish twice. Top 25 3 times.|
|Tuberville||47||16||74.6%||28||12||70.0%||8||7||53.3%||SEC Champs once. 3-1 record in bowl games. Top 15 national finish 4 times. Top 10 twice. Top 5 once.|
|Donnan||40||19||67.8%||25||15||62.5%||5||10||33.3%||No SEC championship game appearances. 4-0 record in bowl games. Top 20 national finish 4 times Top 10 once.|
|23||15||60.5%||16||8||66.7%||4||5||44.4%||No SEC championship game appearances. 0-3 record in bowl games. Top 25 national finish 3 times in Coaches poll; once in AP.|
So, there it is. In the last five years Richt has performed very evenly with all those coaches, and all those coaches were fired. To play out 2010, assuming a loss to Auburn puts Richt's conference percentage at 57.5%. And, if we were to drop the game against Tech, he would fall to 67.2% overall and 53.3% against our top rivals. Zook was run out of town on roller skates, Fulmer, a life-long Vol, was unceremoniously shown the door, Donnan, with all his bowl wins and recruiting prowess, was let go, and Tuberville, well, everyone mocked Auburn for making that call. And, only 1 of those 4 firings could be questioned now in hindsight (obviously that being Tennessee). UGA hired Richt and won 2 SEC championships in 5 years. Florida hired Urban and won 2 National Titles in 5 years. Auburn hired Gene Chizik and are currently undefeated and in the top 2 nationally. We have a new AD who was on that staff at Florida who fired Zook and hired Meyer. He would be taking a HUGE risk by firing such a successful coach in his first year on the job, but he might be taking just as big of one if he sits back and lets the program spiral further. I still feel very uneasy about this, but I think change has now become necessary. A change at the top could irreparably damage the 2011 recruiting class, but no change could leave us stuck in mediocrity for years.
By the way, the top 3 rivals I used were UGA: GT, Florida, Auburn; Tennessee: Florida, Bama, UGA; Auburn: Bama, UGA, LSU; Florida: FSU, UGA, Tennessee.