Well, I know when the Bulldog Nation is all in a frenzy. I can tell when a disappointing loss has caused all the Georgia fans to start calling for Mark Richt’s head, because I get lots of hits from people searching under the terms “fire mark richt”.
And this week the calls for Mark Richt’s head have reached a fever pitch. This week Mark Richt sank to a new low, earning the humiliating distinction of being the first SEC coach ever to lose to that loudmouthed doofus Lane Kiffin. And he did it in style. His offense was nonexistent. His defense was scorched earth. And his special teams were dreadful, though they did have their good moments.
The fact that he put in such a dreadful performance against a team that was already careening off the cliff only makes matters that much worse. Now, for as long as Lane Kiffin is at Tennessee, he will always be able to say that he beat Georgia in his first year. And it will hurt.
Things have gotten so bad that this week AD Damon Evans felt compelled to issue a statement. Now at first glance it seems that Damon Evans said the right thing to both sides–to the fans: “I do have some concerns about where we are at this point of the season”, and to Mark Richt: “Beyond that, I have total confidence that Coach Richt will properly evaluate our team, address concerns and prepare the right path that will direct us back into the position we all want to be in–competing for championships.”
But the fact that Damon Evans felt compelled to issue a statement in the first place speaks volumes. Consider this: Back in 2006 Georgia was 6-4 after a brutal October which saw humiliating losses to Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Florida, and Kentucky, and a narrow escape against Mississippi State. With then-No. 5 Auburn on deck and Georgia Tech to follow, we were looking at the very real possibility of a 6-6 nonwinning season (and a losing season if we went to a bowl game and got beat). Everybody was calling for Mark Richt’s head at that point. Guess what? No statement from Damon Evans.
Sure enough, Mark Richt figured some things out and went on to beat Auburn, Georgia Tech, and Virginia Tech in the Peach Bowl. By the end of the 2007 season, Georgia was No. 2 in the country.
So don’t think that Damon Evans is going to come out with a statement just because some fans are angry about Mark Richt.
This time, he did. And that speaks volumes.
It means that this could well be the beginning of the end for Mark Richt. Not that he is in any danger this year. He is a very popular coach who has built up a lot of good will over the years. And from what I hear, he has influential supporters who have the ear of Damon Evans right now. This should be enough for him to survive at least one more disappointing season
Look, I’m not ready to jump on the “Fire Mark Richt” bandwagon just yet. I tried that once already back in 2006 when it seemed that Georgia was slouching back toward mediocrity, but Mark Richt proved me wrong when he somehow found a way to bring back the magic. Who knows? He may do it again. He may yet figure some things out, win all the rest of our games this year and all our games next year, and leave us all wondering what on earth we were thinking when we thought he was through.
But I will say this: If we’re still having this discussion next year, you can bet that I will be singing a different tune.