A current rumor surrounding Athens, Georgia has given rise to speculation that Georgia Bulldogs head coach Mark Richt's job is on the line after a somewhat rough start to the year.
The issue goes much deeper than a couple poor outings in 2009, though; Bulldog nation is tired of playing second fiddle in the SEC East.
Last year Georgia started the season ranked No. 1 in the nation, and everyone thought they were a legitimate contender for a national title. Things went straight downhill as the Bulldogs lost three games, most notably to rival Florida.
The defensive struggles that Georgia experienced last year have spilled over into 2009, and many are claiming that defensive coordinator Willie Martinez should be fired.
Much of the frustration amongst the Bulldog fans is due to something Richt can't control: Last year Georgia suffered 18 season-ending injuries, a fate that would cripple any team.
Two major things need to happen for Richt to maintain his position as head coach of Georgia.
1. Richt needs to prove he can make the hard decision and fire a coordinator if he is not performing.
Many people doubt his ability to be the tough guy he needs to be as a head coach. His personal relationships with both coordinators would make a decision to move along without them very tough. If the defense doesn't improve by the end of the year, Richt will need to pull the trigger and fire Martinez.
2. Georgia needs to outperform Florida on the recruiting scene.
While Richt's Bulldogs have been a consistent top 10 or 15 team in recruiting, the Gators are almost always in the top five. It will be impossible to get any traction on Florida if they are continually falling farther behind in talent.
While this seems far-fetched, the emergence of Florida State and Miami back into the national picture helps Georgia. Recruits in the state of Florida now are considering all three schools as legitimate programs, whereas the past few years has allowed Florida to get the cream of the crop.
One other thing comes to mind that should help Bulldog fans feel more confident about their coach. A saying in any sport regarding coaches is, "Don't fire somebody until you know who you are going to replace him with."
Be honest with yourselves, Georgia fans. Who out there is available and is going to outperform Mark Richt? He is definitely a step behind Urban Meyer at this point, but last time I checked Pete Carroll is the only contender for that position, and he's not leaving sunny Southern California.
Richt has a great program going at Georgia, and it would be a mistake to let him go. He has some steps to take to get the program to a national title, but going with someone else would be taking steps backwards and would put Georgia among the South Carolinas and Kentuckys of the SEC.
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