As SEC teams go, Georgia is the one I empathize with most.
Much like my Michigan Wolverines, the Bulldogs are an esteemed program with an accomplished, down-to-earth coach, facing a torrential offseason, a restless fan base, and a must-win year in an increasingly tough conference.
Of course, saying Georgia or Michigan qualify as "underdogs" sounds inaccurate on the surface. Given the esteem of the brands in question, these teams should be succeeding, should be setting the stakes in their conference year after year.
But both teams have suffered their share of offseason issues, Georgia's the most recent and, at least as 2010 goes, potentially the more damaging.
Zach Mettenberger, arguably Georgia's best performer at quarterback in the spring game, was suspended, then kicked off the team earlier this week.
Transfer rumors surrounding backup QB Logan Gray followed the news on Mettenberge. Gray was reportedly dissatisfied with redshirt freshman Aaron Murray being named the starter out of spring ball.
Coach Mark Richt, trying to stop the bleeding, had to iterate that the competition would still be open in fall camp .
Georgia fans, faced with the prospect of an untested starter and a true freshman composing their entire QB depth—in the SEC, mind you—needed some good news this week.
Well, they got it in the form of QB Christian LeMay.
LeMay, 2011's most technically sound quarterback recruit, named Georgia his "leader" in a ceremony at his church today over Clemson, Texas A&M, Auburn, and Notre Dame.
Lemay intends to enroll early at Georgia and, better still, recruit on behalf of the Dawgs at camps and other events. He'll compete at the Under Armour All-American game in January before stepping foot on Georgia's campus and angling for the starting job next spring.
Can he save Georgia in 2010?
Of course not.
That's still Aaron Murray's job, and AJ Green's, and Caleb King's, and Logan Gray's, if he has it in him.
But most of all, it's Mark Richt's job.
Wins and losses ultimately fall to the head coach. If Richt can't keep the Bulldogs competitive in the SEC, he'll have questions to answer this winter. Three disappointing seasons is when the losing diagnosis goes from acute to chronic.
But if you're Richt, landing big-name recruits like LeMay is a great way to take out an insurance policy against your own termination. If you fire the coach who has just landed your QB of the future, you throw that whole future into doubt.
Now, I'm not one of those casual college football fans that likes to post incendiary articles alleging Richt faces a serious hot seat in 2010. Unlike Rodriguez, Richt has done too much, won too much, on Georgia's behalf to really be facing the music.
Nor do I believe he should be fired at all , barring truly disastrous news like ethical violations, or that he's secretly letting Florida State and Tennessee steal all those recruits because he likes their colors better.
But there was something about LeMay's commitment that encouraged me about the process of recruiting—something along the lines of a door never gets closed without a window getting opened.
Georgia's QB depth-chart situation is becalmed, for the moment. The good news Georgia fans prayed for did come.
The decision—appropriately made in a church —appears meant-to-be.
The story of the Bulldogs in 2010—like the Wolverines—is survival. Hang tough, win a few games you aren't supposed to win, and—in return for landing LeMay—keep Richt around.
LeMay is a winner, a technical freak with great feet, a strong arm, and outstanding football intelligence.
Apropos of Athens, he's a Matthew Stafford with wheels.
The moment he steps on campus, a real quarterback competition will be underway. Out of it will emerge the kind of player who can lead Georgia back to winning SEC championships and landing BCS bowls, whether it be a time-tested Aaron Murray or a hungry, game-ready LeMay.
That's the kind of competition LeMay brings to the table.
I'll watch Georgia's season play out this fall knowing the stakes, and I'm sure LeMay will too.
The Bulldogs may not need a savior—yet—but today, they got one anyway.
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