He's a great coach, he's the best thing that's happened to this program since Vince Dooley. We've just gotta go out there and play ball this year. We've still got goals we want to achieve. We want to go to the SEC, I mean we went last year but we want to win. We want to go to Miami, for the national championship.
Georgia's Mark Richt entered 2011 on one of the hottest seats in the country. Despite having won at least nine games in seven of 10 seasons (they had done so seven times in 18 seasons before Richt arrived), the grumbles that began when the Dawgs didn't win the national title in 2008 (after beginning the season No. 1), grew considerably when Georgia fell to 6-7 in 2010. The perception was that things could totally fall apart if and/or when Richt began 2011 poorly. And sure enough, Georgia was picked apart by Boise State and lost via some crazy bounces against South Carolina. Georgia was 0-2, and Richt was supposedly on his last legs in Athens. But anyone who looked at Georgia's schedule knew the Dawgs could go on a major run if they held together. They did, and they did. The defense clicked, and the offense did just enough. Georgia held all but one of its final 10 opponents under 21 points and, when South Carolina stumbled offensively, they not only caught the Gamecocks in the standings, but surpassed them for Richt's first SEC East title since 2005.
Which leads to the conspiracy theory for why this might be relevant for SEC fans.
There are two programs, Ole Miss and Kentucky, who are very likely to be looking for new head coaches after this season. . . .
The lesson: Old bulls get a short leash when boosters start to grumble and attendance starts to slip. The other lesson: Be careful what you ask for – five of the eight successors to the coaches on this list were fired themselves within five years, and another (Lane Kiffin at Tennessee) bailed on a depleted roster after just one. The new must replace the old, but it doesn't always amount to progress.
Going into his 10th season, some folks are wondering how much time is left for him in Athens. I personally am wondering if that is more a reflection of his record (unlikely) or just the fact that we're not used to SEC coaches sticking around for that long.
The assumption in both cases is that there's actually something to the "Richt on the hot seat" meme – that he was feeling some kind of pressure from Evans himself or his bosses, who Evans was somehow able to keep at bay – which still defies public statements from UGA power brokers and common sense. What was Evans supposed to be protecting Richt from? Criticism of his pace to become the winningest coach in Georgia history? Antsy boosters looking to grill him over four straight top-10 finishes, or two SEC championships in four years after a 20-year drought since Herschel Walker's final season? The unlikely late-season run to No. 2 in the final polls in 2007?
Despite Bradley's optimistic take, the conventional wisdom is that new athletic directors are a threat to coaches: Personalities may clash, and if the record suffers at all, the new boss has no incentive to remain loyal when he can bring in "his guy." But as Bradley also notes, Richt wasn't Evans' guy; he was hired by Evans' predecessor, Vince Dooley. Whatever the internal impatience with Richt, Evans was certainly aware of them; for all we know, he originated them. But unless someone high up the chain is specifically looking for a hatchet man who'll have Richt's head at the first opportunity, whoever inherits the AD's chair won't have any more reason to put Richt in his crosshairs than Evans did.
An utter disaster of a season could change that equation. If there are high-placed Richt skeptics, the end of the Bulldogs' 12-year bowl streak could conceivable force a heavy hand or two to try to sweep him out. Short of that kind of wholesale collapse, though, Richt shouldn't need any buffers or friends in the short term beyond his own resumé.
The future of Maryland Coach Ralph Friedgen is now in doubt, and a buyout of more than $4 million will not prevent the school from making a change, according to sources who have been briefed on the financial details of Friedgen's contract.
Friedgen's fate is expected to be determined in a postseason meeting with school officials, the sources said, and Friedgen may have to make multiple staff changes to save his job.
I realize the expectations are a lot higher, but we’ve played three tough games against three good teams.