Remember two weeks ago when all the rumors began circulating about the Georgia coaching staff? Many thought defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt wouldn’t make it to the end of the week, and others -- including some Georgia fans -- wanted Mark Richt gone after the season. The media was already speculating about Richt’s potential replacement.
Since that week, the Bulldogs have won two straight games, beating both Kentucky and Auburn, and for now, it has at least quieted the chatter in Athens. But even if Georgia wins out and finishes 9-3, will that be enough to keep Richt around for another season?
Alex Scarborough and Greg Ostendorf debate in this week's Take Two.
Scarborough: Remind me why wins over Kentucky and Auburn mean anything? Both opponents are, putting it as mildly as possible, mediocre. And even so, Georgia has looked only slightly better in both games, passing for fewer than 100 yards in each case while converting a combined 10 of 27 third downs.
Finishing with nine wins would be nice to look at on a piece of paper, but it doesn't mean much for a team that was picked to win the division. Late-season wins shouldn't excuse early-season failures, especially when they're against sub-par competition. Georgia has done this for years, it seems. Under Richt, the M.O. is simple: build up the hype, lose a key game, beat Auburn and Georgia Tech and call the season a success. But what if Florida was the regular-season finale? Would Richt still be there with a 5-10 record against his biggest rival if the game weren't in the middle part of the schedule? I'm not so sure.
Ostendorf: The record against Florida is troubling, as is the lack of recent appearances in the SEC championship game. No offense to Missouri, but how did Georgia let the Tigers win back-to-back division titles? Here's my thing, though. Who is the alternative?
Nebraska fired Bo Pelini after seven straight nine-win seasons, and while there were some other issues, the main reason was that Pelini hadn’t won a conference title. The only problem is that Pelini’s successor, Mike Riley, is 5-6 in his first season with the Cornhuskers. I imagine nine wins might sound pretty good to Nebraska fans right now.
And maybe an even better example would be Mack Brown at Texas. After 16 seasons with the Longhorns, Brown was basically forced to resign following an 8-4 season because many felt the program had grown stagnant under his leadership. Sound familiar? So how’s that working out for Texas? Charlie Strong is 10-13 since taking over for Brown.
All I’m staying is the grass isn’t always greener on the other side.
Scarborough: Here's the thing about Mack Brown: If Texas could do it all over again and have him leave, don't you think they would? After so long in one place, things go stagnant. It's human nature. And that's what it feels like with Richt, who is in his 15th year in Athens. The problem isn't that he's been there that long, it's that for the last few years it doesn't feel like they're on an upward trajectory. They've been passed by in the West by Alabama and LSU and now it looks like Florida is ready to pounce.
Ostendorf: If the program is stagnant and Richt has lost that fire, then I would encourage him to step down at the end of the season, maybe find a new job. I hear the weather in Miami is nice this time of year. But I’m not sure that he has.
Just look at this past weekend. Georgia gets a win over rival Auburn, and the same day he’s on a plane to Washington to surprise his five-star quarterback commitment Jacob Eason. Does that sound like a coach who has lost interest? To me, it sounds like a coach who is still hungry. Maybe Eason is the game-changer that the Bulldogs have been looking for since Aaron Murray left. Would he sign with Georgia if Richt is let go?
At some point, Georgia has to make it to Atlanta and at least contend for a conference title. I get that. But he’s still going to win nine, maybe 10 games. He has another top-10 recruiting class in the fold. And he gets Nick Chubb, one of the SEC’s best players, back next season.
Scarborough: The Eason visit does nothing for me. Because I don't doubt that Richt wants to stay. The question for me is whether the administration feels the same way.
Let's play this out. Say Richt stays with Eason in tow. Then what? Is he going to start as a true freshman? If so, what are expectations? True freshmen QBs don't win conference titles. Look at Josh Rosen at UCLA. He's a stud and UCLA is third in the Pac-12. So if Eason plays right away and Georgia goes through similar growing pains and loses a few games, we're right back where we started.
With a coach who has a track record as long as Richt's, you don't have to look ahead. He's had good young QBs before. All Georgia needs to make a decision is to look at past results and determine whether they're good enough moving forward. If the answer is no, then it's time to move on.