Son of the Bulldog Tooth

If someone had told Rick Astley back when he was a little boy that when he grew up he would write a song that would go to #1 on the US pop charts, and that two decades later that same song would be at the center of one of the biggest practical jokes on the internet, do you think he would have believed it?

Of course I could play the joke on you right now by asking you to click this link and find out what it is.

But that would not be a very nice thing to do, since some of you probably have no idea and wouldn’t get it.  So instead, I will be nice and tell you straight out.  The joke is called “Rickrolling”.  Somebody emails you a link or posts a link to a discussion board, with a comment along the lines of “Here’s an interesting article/video/whatever about (whatever the subject of discussion happens to be).”  You click the link and are taken to the video of Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up”, and the screen at the top of the video says “YOU’VE BEEN RICKROLLED!!!!!”

Now, if you clicked the link and watched the video, you probably noticed the dancing bartender who appears at the 0:52 mark.  You probably noticed that when he turns to the side, he kinda looks like Mark Richt.

Who knew?

Who would have thought that Mark Richt had those kind of moves in him?  (Well, if you’ve seen him do his annual high dive at the UGA swimming pool, you might have suspected.)

At any rate, it’s nice to know that Mark Richt has something to fall back on in the event that the Georgia gig goes south.

Speaking of which…  (Transitions.  Don’t you just love ’em?)

It is no understatement to say that 2011 is a HUGE year for Georgia and Mark Richt.  The buzz has been growing for the past few years, and is now at a fever pitch, that Georgia is in decline and Mark Richt is on the hot seat.  It may be an exaggeration to say that this year is do-or-die for Mark Richt, but it isn’t too far from the truth.  No one has come out and said anything definite in this regard, but I think the smart money says that Mark Richt needs to win an SEC championship this year, or at least win the Eastern division, in order to keep his job.

The good news is that winning the East is eminently doable this year, even for a Georgia team that is coming off a losing record and failing to score a touchdown in the process of getting punked by a Conference USA opponent in a third-rate bowl game.

Vanderbilt and Kentucky are…well, Vanderbilt and Kentucky.  Derek Dooley has restored some semblance of order at Tennessee and they are trending upward, but they are still a few years away from being ready for prime time.  Florida is under new management.  South Carolina is good but beatable, and they got a whole lot more beatable when Stephen Garcia was suspended.  Currently Garcia’s status is in flux, and it is a coin toss as to whether or not he makes it to the Georgia game.  This could be a deciding factor.

Mark Richt recruited very well this spring, bringing in a “Dream Team” of top-notch talent that is ready to make an impact at several key positions this year.  Will that be enough to get the job done for Georgia?  We shall see.

On with the predictions…

Boise State  It’s Boise State and Georgia in the ATL on college football’s opening weekend.  Boise State figures to start 2011 in the preseason Top 10.  Georgia’s game plan is to hope that the Boise State players get discombobulated from playing on a field that isn’t Smurf-blue.  But Boise State knows how to win on the road, as we saw last year against Virginia Tech in DC.  We shall see how this works out.

Prediction:  Georgia 41, Boise State 37.

South Carolina  I had a dream that I was in Athens at the South Carolina game this year.  Marcus Lattimore scored a 70-plus yard touchdown without anybody near him and South Carolina went on to win 7-0.

Every ten years or thereabouts, right around the end of the decade or the beginning of the ensuing decade, South Carolina owns Georgia for a couple of years in a row.  It happened in 1988 and 1989.  It happened in 2000 and 2001.  It happened in 2010, and I say it happens again in 2011.

Todd Grantham’s defense is much better in Year 2 than in Year 1.  They keep Georgia in the game.  But Stephen Garcia plays in this game–and plays just well enough to keep South Carolina’s offense on the field–and Georgia’s offense off–just long enough to keep them from getting into anything remotely resembling a rhythm.  Marcus Lattimore breaks through untouched for the deciding score.

Prediction:  South Carolina 7, Georgia 0.

Coastal Carolina  Georgia manages to avoid getting swept by Carolina teams this year.

Prediction:  Georgia 52, Coastal Carolina 13.

Ole Miss  Houston Nutt, along with Nick Saban of Alabama, has become the poster child for the practice of oversigning (signing more players than you have scholarships for and expecting some of them to not make the team).  He has come up with some very creative ways to make the numbers work out, but he will not make the numbers on the scoreboard work out in his favor.

Prediction:  Georgia 31, Ole Miss 21.

Mississippi State  Mississippi State is the rising class of the SEC West and could challenge Arkansas and LSU for the division title this year.

Prediction:  Georgia 24, Mississippi State 20.

This seemed like a good idea at the time. Tennessee fans: My condolences.

Tennessee  Lane Kiffin made a mess here and got out while the getting was good.  Now the NCAA is breathing down Tennessee’s neck.  This will probably not end well.

Prediction:  Georgia 35, Tennessee 17.

Vanderbilt  New coach James Franklin tries to build Vanderbilt into something other than an SEC doormat.  He is off to a promising start:  Vanderbilt just signed three of their state’s top prospects.

Prediction:  Georgia 31, Vanderbilt 24.

Of course, if Harold Camping is right about the end of the world being on October 21, nothing that happens after this game will mean anything to anyone.

Alas, this is an all too common scene in Jacksonville.

Florida  Florida is in flux right now.  They are coming off their worst season ever under Urban Meyer.  New coach Will Muschamp is hailed as a rising star but brings a boatload of questions because of his inexperience as a head coach.  Why, I’m ALMOST tempted to…

Nah.  Can’t do it.

Prediction:  Florida 30, Georgia 27.

New Mexico State  How many Aggies does it take to screw in a light bulb?

Whoops!  Wrong Aggies.

Prediction:  Georgia 41, New Mexico St 14.

Auburn  No Cam Newton, no problem for Georgia.

Prediction:  Georgia 23, Auburn 17.

Kentucky  For all you Kentucky fans out there, I only have this to say:

Prediction:  Georgia 45, Kentucky 28.

Georgia Tech  The big story about Georgia Tech this week is that they just opened a brand new practice facility which boasts a 280,000-gallon rainwater-collecting cistern.  That should help out with Paul Johnson’s stylized offense.  Of course the fact that a cistern is making the news at Georgia Tech means there’s not much happening there.

Prediction:  Georgia 23, Georgia Tech 20.

So does Georgia win the SEC East?  The question now becomes:  Does this South Carolina team have three losses on its schedule not counting Georgia?  I think it’s not outside the realm of possibility.  I see losses to Arkansas and Mississippi State, along with possible losses to Florida or Auburn or both.  That leaves the door open for Georgia.

But I still see South Carolina taking the SEC East for a second consecutive year.  (They just won two consecutive baseball championships, why not football?)  I see LSU beating South Carolina in the SEC championship game 34-17.

So does Mark Richt keep his job?  A 11-2 record which includes a win in a decent New Year’s Day bowl is definitely enough to give the haters pause.  But is it enough to save Mark Richt’s job?  You’ll have to flip a coin for that.  There are some questions that even my trusty old bulldog tooth can’t answer, and it is avoiding this one like the plague.