When Georgia played Texas A&M in the Independence Bowl back in 2009, little did the two fan bases know that they were destined to be embroiled in a coaching change rumor that would bring people to virtual blows just three short years later.
The two fan bases traded the usual barbs. There were smack talk threads, there were “our players are better than your players” threads and there were “our women are hotter than your women” threads.
All of the threads were good natured and after the game was over several fans stuck around to talk football with their new friends.
It is understandable, then, that when a rumor started on one of the boards that Georgia’s Mark Richt had shown interest in the A&M head coaching position, that there were plenty of Georgia fans around to defend their coach.
Had this been any other two schools, the backlash would have been minimal at best. There were other coaches mentioned in association with the open position, but only Richt’s name caused such chaos.
Part of the reason that the response was so strong is the way it was presented, that Richt had initiated the contact. The other part of the reason was because there were so many Georgia fans still lurking about on the A&M board.
No matter the reason, a weeks long battle has raged. Tempers have flared and people have been banned.
Both Coach Richt and Athletic Director Greg McGarity have come out publicly to state that Coach Richt was never interested in the job. Insiders at A&M still insist that he was in fact interested. They have stated first that Richt was interviewed in New York, and then later seen on campus with his wife.
Just yesterday, after a FOIA request, it was shown that if Richt was in Texas, his cell phone was not. It was making calls and doing all of the things that one would expect it to do while being attached to a head coach in the middle of recruiting season.
Where did all of this come from? Some think that A&M needed to show their fan base that they did a thorough search, including some of the best coaches in the nation.
Others believe that the rumor was started by a booster from an SEC school with close ties to A&M so that their school could get a leg up in recruiting.
Still with all of the proof to the contrary, the A&M boards continue acting as if Georgia fans are raving lunatics who won’t let it go. I doubt that this will continue until A&M and Georgia play, but I’m betting someone will bring it back up.
In either case A&M has made great strides in making its first rival in the SEC. If they could just find it in them to say “I was wrong,” this would all go away.