Georgia Football: 5 Inaccurate Myths About the State of the UGA Program
Mark Twain once stated,"The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated" This, in essence, is the condition the UGA football team finds their program and the point of this article.
Please do not misunderstand my intentions. I acknowledge, as any rational fan or journalist would have too, that the current state of the UGA football program is both disappointing and unnecessary. I am not pleased with the state of our program and realize this ship must be righted quickly.
With that said, people outside of the Bulldog nation have made assumptions that are both inaccurate and misleading. On top of that many fans are grasping for anyone to blame. While that is understandable, let's examine the untruths that have arisen from this condition.
Myth #5- Kirby Smart Will Be The Next Head Coach at UGA
One of the hottest topics in college football, over the past year, has been who will be the replacement for Mark Richt if there is a coaching change. Multiple articles have been written on whom that replacement would be. One of the easiest ways to see if there is any validity to their article is if they mention Kirby Smart as one of the top options.
If Richt is replaced in the next year or two, Kirby Smart will not be his replacement. In the case that there is a head coaching change, the job of the AD is to bring in someone who will be able to take UGA to the next level, who will excite and unite the fan base. Right now the UGA nation is split on what to do with Richt. Some believe his time has passed. Others believe he has earned the right to stay. Some would never want him gone because of his impact in the community.
With that said, Kirby Smart would lead to a riot in Athens. Many Bulldog fans believe he used UGA for a raise. Others believe he is simply a Saban puppet. Whatever the case, he would not be welcomed at UGA by the vast majority.
If Smart wants to return to UGA as a head coach there is only one way. He will need to go to anther school and prove himself as a head coach. The Bulldog nation would forgive him if they “knew” he would be a successful coach. As much as UGA fans hate coaches like Urban Meyer and Steve Spurrior, most UGA fans would forgive them and receive them as their coach. Why? Because they are proven. The hatred for Smart by many, if not most, UGA fans can not be overcome without experience.
Myth #4- The Defense Didn't Make Great Strides Under Todd Grantham
Before looking at any stats, I want you to take three things into consideration. One, the offenses in the SEC were much improved this season over last. Teams like Auburn, South Carolina, Arkansas, and Kentucky were better on offense this season.
Two, the UGA defense lost a great deal of talent last season to the NFL on the defensive side of the ball. They loss three great defensive linemen in Kade Weston (Patriots), Jeff Owens (Eagles), and Geno Atkins (Bengels). They also lost one of the SEC's top defensive performers in Rennie Curran (Titans) and a very physical and gifted safety Reshad Jones (Miami). They also had two other players, Bryan Evans (Bengals) and Prince Miller (Ravens), who were at least talent enough to sign initial NFL contracts.
Thirdly, and this is the more obvious point, he had to teach a whole new system to the UGA players. A system that is prone to big plays when assignments are missed. This led to a season on patching up positions with parts that did not fit. Now with that long introduction, consider this. UGA was 7th in 2009 in the SEC in total defense. This season, they were fourth. In 2009, they were 10th in scoring defense in the SEC, this season they were 5th.
The lost of Jones and Curran to the NFL draft early prevented this team making greater strides. Depth was an issue. As the season went on, and the players became worn down, the defense began to give up more points. However, look at the numbers early on. We held an improved South Carolina program, the same team that scored 37 points on us last season and 35 on Alabama this season, to 17 points. In fact of the 7 SEC teams that we played in both 2009 and 2010, UGA held 6 of them to fewer points this season. While the defense still has a long way to go, they were greatly improved despite losing key players. Could you imagine if Jones and Curran would have stayed another year?
Myth #3- Mike Bobo Is To Blame For The 2010 Season
In the past, I have been one of the greatest critics of Mike Bobo. I once wrote an article nominating replacements for Bobo. However, I have come to several conclusions after this season.
One, Bobo improved greatly as a play caller this season. While it is our nature to look at the last game, remember this. After the return of AJ Green, the Bulldogs had one of their most successful seasons on the offensive side of the ball.
All of this, despite the fact, that they were starting a freshman quarterback and constant uncertainty at the running back position. Neither Caleb King or Washaun Ealey ever displayed stability this season at the running back position. Between injuries and multiple suspension the backfield was a mess. Despite this, UGA scored over 30 points nine times, over 40 points 7 times, and 50 points twice. These are not numbers that should result in a 6-7 overall record.
The other thing to keep in mind is he is running Mark Richts offense. There is almost no chance that a big name offensive coördinator will ever be brought in with Richt at the helm. This is his offensive system, his team, and his choice. Yes Bobo has a long way to go as a play caller but he did make great strives and his offenses scored enough to that they should have been able to win in all but two games.
Is he a bipolar play caller? Yes. However, we scored points at a record pace.
Myth #2- UGA Is Getting Out Recruited In The State Of GA
One of the greatest myths about the University of Georgia is that we have been getting out recruited in the state of GA. While we have loss key players to teams outside of the state of Georgia, consider the following.
First, just being in the state of GA does not mean you are closer to Athens. Consider Quan Bray a recent Auburn verbal commit. He lives in LaGrange, GA. LaGrange, according to MapQuest is 50 minutes from Auburn and two hours and thirty minutes to Athens.
Should we assume because he is geographically in GA, he should be a UGA lean? Of course not. This is the case for many recruits in the state of Georgia. Georgia is surrounded by and connected to the states of Alabama, Tennessee, South Carolina, Florida, and North Carolina. Many recruits are closer to other campuses than they are UGA.
The only major recruiting market that is closer to Athens is Atlanta and as you know Atlanta is a transient city. People come from all over the world to work in Atlanta. As a result, the are just as likely to grow up dreaming of playing for Alabama, USC, Texas, and Florida as they are the University of Georgia.
Secondly, and maybe most importantly, UGA only has a limited amount of scholarships to give out. Unlike the SEC West, most notably Alabama, we do attempt the unethical approach of over signing. Consider the last three seasons, despite UGA sending as many or more players to the NFL, Alabama has signed 23 more players than UGA.If UGA applied this unethical approach, imagine how many more players in the state of Georgia they could land.
Also consider, with those limited scholarships, how well UGA has recruited outside of the state of GA. Many of their top players have been from out-of-state like Matthew Stafford (TX), AJ Green (SC), Knowshon Moreno (NJ), Aaron Murray (FL), Mohamed Massaquoi, and Orson Charles (FL). In other words, you can't win them all.
Myth #1- Mark Richt Has Forgot How To Coach
I think I should start this slide with my own personal stance. At this juncture, if nothing changes, I think it is time for Mark Richt to step down as head coach. I believe my stance will become clear at the end of this point.
My reasoning for his need to step down, however, has nothing to do with his ability to coach. People quickly forget how successful Richt has been. UGA went 20 years without an SEC championship and Coach Richt made us relevant again.
Why then do I think, at this moment, it is time for a change? I believe Richt is in full burnout. He has replaced his contagious smile with defending his record at Georgia. In my opinion, the SEC is no longer built for long tenures.
The stress of winning, recruiting, and living under a constant microscope is greater than it has ever been. Unproven recruits are treated like gods while proven head coaches are treated harshly. Look at what it did to Urban Meyer in much less time.
The SEC is not built for long-term success any longer. Compare Richt's first four years to Nick Saban's first four years at Alabama.In his first four years, Mark Richt had a record of 42 wins and 10 losses. Nick Saban, in his first four years at Alabama, had 43 wins and 11 losses. Both men had one SEC Championship during that time.
Saban did when a national championship. However, Mark Richt was one dropped pass away during the 2002-2003 season. Terrance Edwards dropped a wide open pass that would have given UGA the win versus Florida and a chance to play for the BCS National Championship. The point being, he called the right play to get Edwards 15 yards open, the player just didn't execute. Alabama, was one Terrance Cody finger tip away from the same fate.
The point is, the only difference in Richt's first four seasons and Saban's first four seasons is one play. Not to mention, Richt won another SECC in his 5th season. The bottom line is that Richt has the fourth highest winning percentage of active coaches despite playing in the nations toughest conference.
He is 7-3 in bowl games and 2-1 in SEC championship games. He has had 8 top 25 finishes, 6 top 10 finishes, and 2 top 5 finishes. The man can coach with the best of them. However, if he wants to stay at UGA he needs to find the joy he once had.
I don't believe anyone, who is capable of being objective, would doubt if he took a season off and went to LSU he would be right back in contention for the national championship. Yes he needs to find his love for the game but don't mistake that for an inability to coach.