The regular season is over. The Georgia Bulldogs ended their year with a satisfying win over their in-state rivals, the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets.
However, as the lights went out on Grant Field, the simmering question that has lingered all year regarding defensive coordinator, Willie Martinez, became a full boil.
Announcements have yet to be made about the embattled coaches future, or lack thereof, with the Georgia Bulldogs, but the question remains nonetheless: "Is he headed for the firing line or what?"
In my opinion, the answer to that question is less important than the potential backlash that could arise should he actually be given his walking papers.
What follows is merely speculation, not fact, just a "what if" of what could happen should ol' Willie get the heave-ho.
This past spring, linebackers coach, John Jancek was given the title of co-defensive coordinator.
Some felt that was a possible stab at Willie, while others took it for what it likely was meant to be: coach Richt's way of saying "thanks for remaining loyal to Georgia and working so hard for this team."
No matter which way you lean, you have to wonder what Jancek might expect if Willie does, indeed, leave.
In his current capacity as linebackers coach, he has developed NFL level talent—including all three of his starters in 2006 (Tony Taylor, Jarvis Jackson, and Danny Verdun-Wheeler).
If he's not given the opportunity to take over the defensive coordinator's job, would he be justified in remaining loyal to the program any longer?
Some would say that a break from Wille is a break from all things Willie as well—don't allow anyone from his regime to continue coaching at Georgia.
Well, Jancek is more from Brian Van Gorder's regime than Willie's—he was the defensive coordinator when Van Gorder was head coach at Wayne State University.
There is little to prove that coach Jancek can't get the job done—he's guilty by association only, and although that may be enough for a lot of Georgia fans, it may not be enough to rule him out for the job completely.
Rodney Garner has been at Georgia since 1998—before the arrival of Mark Richt.
Garner is a big part of the success that the Dawgs have had over the last 10+ seasons, working in his capacity as not only a defensive line coach, but as the team's recruiting coordinator as well.
The latter is what would be the biggest loss if he were to leave the school in favor of coaching someplace else.
Garner has never said that he is angling for a position as a defensive coordinator, and truth be told, there is a far greater chance of him leaving to become a head coach rather than a defensive coordinator. As far as we know, he's content to remain at Georgia until that opportunity arises.
Even so, if he is indeed wanting that shot at the brass ring and gets overlooked, does he then take his recruiting prowess and defensive line genius elsewhere?
Seriously, the guy is a closer. Here are some of the big fish he's brought to the Dawgs in the last five seasons:
2005: Jeff Owens (DT) and Roderick Battle (DE)
2006: Asher Allen (DB), Reshad Jones (DB), and Knowshon Moreno (RB)
2007: Jarius Wynn (DT) and Vince Vance (OL)
2008: Brandon Boykin (DB) and Dontavius Jackson (RB)
2009: Montez Robinson (DE), Branden Smith (DB), Abry Jones (DT), and Chris Burnette (OL)
2010: In the hopper so far; Alec Ogletree (DB)
It would seem that Garner's days in Athens are numbered regardless, because you have to figure he'll get that head coaching nod one day soon. That said, if he wants his shot at being the DC if Willie does indeed leave, he presents a strong case for getting it.
The overriding theme at Georgia seems to be loyalty. Loyalty to the program. Loyalty to each other.
Mark Richt, sometimes to a fault, is loyal to the guys he employs. He doesn't like to rock the boat and he's comfortable sticking to his guns where hirings/firings are concerned, much to the chagrin of some Dawg fans.
However, Richt isn't the only one blessed with this "problem."
For example, if Rodney Garner were to decide he wasn't getting a fair shake, would offensive line coach Stacy Searels jump ship too? After all, it was Garner who brought Searels to Athens in the first place.
Say what you like about the offensive line woes of the current season, last season's line netted a 1,000 yard rusher and a No. 1 draft pick. Searels' loss would be a blow.
Does coach Richt have to consider that his decision to directly snub one coach could have an indirect effect on his relationship with another?
Just a question that seems worth pondering.