Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Next 10

Our faithful reader & commenter, Mr. Bulluck, posed the question: what do we here at OTA think Richt has to do in terms of not only wins, but everything across the board to justify returning for another season. This has been talked about countless times on other blogs, in bars, at tailgates, etc., so here's my opinion:

I liken where we are now (as a fanbase) as (forgive me for this, but it's the best analogy I can come up with and the one that has been sticking w/ me) an abused wife (bear with me). You know how they'll say:

  • "But, he's been really good lately!"/We played better vs. South Carolina.

  • "He's changed!"/Firing Willie & crew and overhauling the S&C program.

  • "Yeah, he hit me last night, but...he had a bad day"/Any game vs. Florida.

  • "I'm done! (Yet, she doesn't go anywhere)"/Us since 2008.

You get the point. These next 10 games, I honestly feel, will re-shape the program going forward. Take a look at that schedule. If the ship has been righted (with 2 conceivably gimmie games coming up to shore up mistakes that cost us the SC game), we could run the table. That is not out of the question. Take another look at that schedule. There are 3 very likely losses on there in October (MSU, UT & UF). If that happens, I don't care what we do in November, I think he's done.

Bottom line, we have to beat Florida to save Richt's job. Not just based on the past, but now. Look at our new AD. You think he wants to play second fiddle to them? I don't think so. This guy WAS second fiddle down there. He came here to run the show. I don't know Greg McGarity from Greg Focker, but I know he doesn't want to leave a school and lose to them on an annual basis.

Now, let's say this team experiences deja vu and goes all 2007 again. Does Bulldog Nation want Richt & his staff to come back? Will we be scared of another decline that we're either just now coming out of or still mired in?

What scares me the most of making a coaching change is it completely backfiring and setting us back years. We're still getting good recruits. This isn't like what UT experienced w/ Fulmer at the end of his run. The talent is still here. I also can't liken this to what Tuberville experienced/caused at AU, although he was pretty much run out of town for holding on to a staff that was clearly behind the times for too long. The similarities are close, but not to the extreme over on The Plains.

For all the angst Bobo causes us, the man does coordinate offenses that put up some nice numbers and every QB that left here has said in interviews that he made them better and is an excellent QB coach. That doesn't forgive his predictability and almost blatant steadfast refusal to either go off script or stick with what is working during the flow of a game. (I'm not endorsing him, but he's not completely inept, either).

Grantham is in the pivotal Year 2 with his 3-4 D and he has the horses to get things done (although the LBs are dropping like flies on Yao Ming-like feet). I thought his schemes and adjustments were much better vs. SC than they were a week prior. A Bama fan was telling me that he heard Saban give an interview about the 3-4 and he said, "You want to force the offense to run to the outside and try and get yards, not up the middle." That's exactly what we did w/ Lattimore and he got his on the edges, but we won't see anyone that good until Auburn (Dyer is good, but not Lattimore good).

Having said that, should Richt return, he will be bringing back those 2 guys. While Grantham is too new to judge right now (try telling that to Rev, tho), Bobo's criticisms are well documented. As an alumni and season ticket holder, these 3 returning would give me pause and I can't say I'd be completely on board unless we went 10-2, won the East, the SEC and the Sugar Bowl while looking damn good in the process. Not that I ever care about preseason polls, but, hell, the pollsters for 2012 might have the "fool me once" feeling, too.

Back to the original question, tho. How many does he have to win? 8 just sounds too vanilla because who are the 8? Florida has to be in there, but I think it's going to come down to how we look vs. UT, UF & AU. If SC stumbles (and that is completely conceivable) and we continue to stumble, the label of missed opportunity is going to be stamped on the program and I think that might be it for him. If we're in the thick of things until the end, yet finish 2nd in the East because we lost to SC, I think he'll be back.

I honestly can't tell you that I want him to return. Sometimes a new voice is needed. Sometimes a guy needs to recharge his batteries (see: Meyer, Urban) and step away for a while. The time to snag the East is NOW. UF is down a little, UT looks to be stabilizing and SC is too shaky to be considered elite. If the proposed realignments put Bama and/or Auburn in the East, well then, we're really going to look back on the last few years and kick our own asses. But, if Richt is somehow right about better days being ahead and we do respond and return to elite status, I will be beyond thrilled because I'd like nothing more than to look back at where we started with him, how far we slipped and how far back we came all with the same man at the helm who did what took to get us there. I was too young to fully remember Dooley, but I was at UGA during the Goff & Donnan years. Regardless of the past 3 years, the Richt era blows them out of the water. I don't want to see a knee-jerk reaction cause us to be back at that level. There's no guarantee Dan Mullen, Kirby Smart, or whomever elese is on the love list today will come here.

I'm a Bulldog fan. Whether it's Urban Meyer or Phil Fulmer at the helm, I'm always going to be a Bulldog fan. A confession for ya: I entered Sanford Stadium Saturday expecting to get beat and was almost hoping we would to simply get the ball rolling & end the misery because I was still so disappointed in the Boise performance and wondered if the end was near, but those feelings naturally subsided once the ball was in the air, Crowell was doing his thing and we were completely outplaying the immortal Gamecocks. I left feeling a lot better about us, but was still concerned. I won't be surprised if we go on a tear and win the East or be right in the thick of it until the end, nor will I be shocked if we tank and the change everyone is talking about takes place.

Keep an eye on October, faithful readers. That month, I think, is the key.

What say ye, commenters? Let the opinions fly.

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