Despite the Bulldogs' impressive effort in Georgia's recent win over Auburn, I continue to question Willie Martinez's fitness to serve as the Red and Black's defensive coordinator.
Head-to-head comparisons between Coach Martinez and his predecessor, Brian VanGorder, are not favorable to Georgia's current defensive coordinator, which is partly why Coach VanGorder remains such a beloved figure in Bulldog Nation.
The question, then, is a simple one: "Can we get Coach VanGorder back?"
I'm not so sure we couldn't. I am told by an old friend of mine who practices law with a Georgia Southern booster that many in Statesboro were not pleased when the Eagles' most recent coaching hire came from outside the G.S.U. family. Even though the current incarnation of Georgia Southern football quite literally was founded by a former Georgia defensive coordinator, the selection of Coach VanGorder was unpopular among some Eagle boosters.
Earlier this afternoon, Georgia Southern fell to Central Arkansas in an overtime game in Statesboro, dropping the Eagles to 3-8 for the season. G.S.U. ended the 2006 campaign riding a five-game losing streak and the Eagles dropped six of their last seven decisions.
It is open to question just how long a leash Coach VanGorder is on in Statesboro and his days there may already be numbered. It seems clear that Mark Richt is not going to jettison Coach Martinez at the end of this season, so both Brian VanGorder and Willie Martinez will have something to prove in 2007.
If neither man shows significant improvement in his present position next fall, should Coach Richt pull the trigger on replacing Willie Martinez with the man Willie Martinez succeeded but could not replace?