Yesterday, I mentioned a Bible verse from the Book of Job in connection with Georgia football, which reminded me that it was high time I dug up another posting from the archives of my old weblog.
What does Mark Richt have in common with Jake and Elwood? Stay tuned. . . .
The devil was down on Georgia
'Cause he did not like Mark Richt
And, though it was odd, he went to God
To see if He might be tricked.
Last night, I set forth certain facts and figures to provide a quantitative overview of Mark Richt's first five years as the Bulldogs' head coach. This evening, I would like to take a different approach and offer a qualitative analysis of Coach Richt's tenure, which I believe will lead inevitably to the conclusion that, not only does Mark Richt do a great job, he does a great Job---impersonation, that is.
I am sure all of you will recall the Old Testament story of Job, a man of faith who was the subject of a wager between God and the devil. The devil bet that he would be able to afflict Job with sufferings that would cause him to turn away from God, but the Lord believed Job's faith in Him would enable him to stand firm.
Evidence has come to light that, approximately one year ago, the devil went back to God and proposed the same wager a second time, with a new subject. Here is how the tale unfolded.
The devil came knock, knock, knocking on Heaven's door and, upon being admitted to see the Almighty, he came directly to the point. "Double or nothing," he said. "I want a rematch on that whole Job bet."
God asked whom he had in mind.
"Mark Richt," replied the devil.
God considered this. The Lord knew of Coach Richt, of course. Years of service on Bobby Bowden's staff at Florida State had instilled in Coach Richt a strong religious faith. Coach Richt was an upstanding man and a fine role model who restored discipline to a Georgia program that had become lawless under Jim Donnan. He ran off bad apples like Quincy Carter, kicked Jasper Sanks off the team after one too many second chances, and made character education courses mandatory for incoming freshman football players. He put admirable young men like David Greene, Tony Milton, and David Pollack front and center. Moreover, Coach Richt had delayed his arrival in Athens in order to allow himself time to bid a proper farewell to his church home in Tallahassee and his Christianity had led him to adopt two children from the former Soviet Union. God had good reason to have faith in Mark Richt's faith in Him.
"Very well," said the Lord. "I will take your bet. You're going to regret, 'cause Mark's the best there's ever been. What do you propose to do to My servant?"
The devil grinned. "First, I'm going to take from him the winningest quarterback in the history of college football."
"My servant will not falter," God assured him. "I have given him D.J. Shockley."
"Did You see him in the Georgia Tech game?" scoffed Satan. "Please. Shockley's best game was his first one and he hasn't looked anywhere near as good as he looked in the '02 Clemson game since."
"We shall see," said God knowingly.
"Next," the devil continued, "I'm going to deprive him of his wide receivers. Reggie Brown? Fred Gibson? Gone."
"Fear not," the Lord answered. "I have given My servant Mohamed and Pope."
Satan laughed derisively. "You can send him all the Islamic prophets and Roman Catholic pontiffs You like, but somebody has to catch the dadgum ball."
"No, no, no," God explained patiently. "Mohamed Massaquoi and Leonard Pope. Trust Me on this one. Besides, My servant has an experienced offensive line and a stable of talented backs and, anyway, everyone knows that offense sells tickets but defense wins championships."
"I'm glad You mentioned that," said the devil with a smirk, "because I'm going to go after his defense next. David Pollack? Thomas Davis? Odell Thurman? All history. Vanished. Vapor. In the archives. Finished. Poof!---they're gone!"
"Fear not," replied God. "I have given My servant Moses."
The devil chuckled. "The guy with the stone tablets and the burning bush? Hey, You do what You want, but he'll need more than 'Let my people go!' to lead a depleted Georgia D past Urban Meyer's spread option and back to the Promised Land."
The Lord sighed. "I meant Quentin Moses," He remarked.
Satan continued gleefully, "Then I'm going to take away Brian VanGorder. I'm going to send him to Jacksonville---that's foreshadowing, by the way."
"I know," said God. "I'm omniscient, remember? Willie Martinez is up to the challenge."
"Hang on," replied the devil. "I'm just getting started! Next, I'm going to take away Georgia's usual season opener against North-by-Northwest Louisiana A&M Junior College from the Sun Belt and force the Bulldogs to play a nationally televised E.S.P.N. night game against an offensively potent three-time defending W.A.C. champion that's won 36 games in the last three years . . . and I'm going to dress them in orange and blue."
"No matter," answered the Lord dismissively. "I will give the Bulldogs the benefit of half a dozen first half turnovers."
"You're playing right into my hands!" Satan pressed on, undaunted. "There'll be a huge letdown after Georgia's big win over Boise State, so I'll take that opportunity to send in South Carolina . . . and I have set my servant over them to lead the Gamecocks back to glory. Well . . . to glory, anyway."
"I will consign the Evil Genius to the flames," said God in a firm tone, "or I will send him to Shreveport. I haven't decided which yet."
"I'll make them play in Knoxville," responded Satan.
"I will give Tennessee a Clausen," retorted the Lord.
"I'll give D.J. Shockley a knee injury," threatened the devil.
"I will give him an open date in which to recover," promised God.
"I'll let Florida and Auburn beat Georgia," came the answer.
"I will give My servant the opportunity to win the division by beating Kentucky," came the reply.
"Fine," said the devil, growing more desperate. "I'll make him play L.S.U. in the conference championship game."
"Very well," the Almighty responded, "then I will send Nick Saban to the Dolphins and allow the Tigers to be coached by Les Miles."
"Yeah, well," the devil muttered, casting about for anything, "maybe I'll let Georgia Tech beat 'em. I always liked Georgia Tech, You know? I like the way they say they want to send people to Hell in their fight song. It's nice to know they're on my side."
God smiled. "Georgia Tech hasn't beaten Georgia since 1990."
Satan's brow furrowed. "What about 1998, 1999, and 2000?"
"Wait and see," the Lord answered knowingly.
The devil would not meet God's gaze. "I'm going to lose this bet, aren't I?"
God nodded. "My servant will not falter."
"It's a rebuilding year," the devil whined. "You're going to let him win an S.E.C. championship in a rebuilding year just to reward Mark Richt's faith?"
The Lord stated simply, "Yes."
The devil bowed his head because he knew that he'd been beat
And he laid that conference title on the ground at Mark Richt's feet.
God said, "Come on back, now, devil, if you ever want to try again.
I told you once, you son of a gun---Mark's the best there's ever been!"
Now you know the real reason why Mark Richt has the greatest job security of any coach in the Southeastern Conference . . . as even newspaper reporters and webloggers can see.