Mark Bradley is a well-respected journalist. He was the top writer at the Lexington Herald-Leader for many years, which is why the Atlanta Journal-Constitution hired him.
So when Bradley says that Mark Richt must win it all in the Southeastern Conference football race in 2011 or be fired, you have to take notice.
That's exactly what Bradley said in the wake of Florida's hiring of Will Muschamp to replace Urban Meyer at Florida. And with the SEC Eastern Division landscape being what it is, who can argue with him?
After all, Tennessee's Derek Dooley will just be in his second year of what many believe will be a multi-year rebuilding program in Knoxville. Muschamp certainly has his work cut out for him in Gainesville. Vanderbilt has yet to hire a new coach to replace another failed regime.
Kentucky's Joker Phillips couldn't even beat Tennessee for the first time in 26 years. So, the Head Ball Coach at South Carolina, Steve Spurrier, appears to be Richt's only real competition on the way to Atlanta next season.
In the SEC West, Alabama, Auburn, and Arkansas all have experienced quarterbacks leaving. LSU may get the Western Division title, unless Mississippi State can sneak in there. In any case, no one can say that the West will clearly be better than the East in 2011, as it appeared to be in 2010.
All of this adds up to enormous pressure on Richt, who is now the dean of SEC coaches in terms of how long he's been at the same school. His tenure at Georgia has been marked with spotty success.
The team Georgia has returning will be experienced and deep. Even with a young squad, they overwhelmed Tennessee in Athens this year. The game was over after the first quarter.
Bulldog fans have been patient. They smell blood in the water with all of the turmoil among their league brethren. There's a sense that it is their time to shine.
If Richt doesn't produce the championship that the Dawgs demand, look for them to be in the market for a new helmsman by this time next year.
Nothing less than winning it all will be acceptable for the boys in the silver britches.
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