Like everyone else, I've been doing some soul searching regarding the coaching staff since the disaster at Starkville. My initial inclination was that, barring an outright collapse and failure to reach a bowl game, we owed Coach Richt one more year to right the ship. But then I wondered: why exactly do we owe him that?
I'm guessing that most of us think of 2002-2005 as Mark Richt's best years in the program. What exactly did he accomplish? In 2002, we still managed to lose to a Florida team coached by Ron Zook, and our bowl victory was over a 9-5 Florida State program that had begun its tailspin into mediocrity. In 2003, we lost (twice) (badly) to LSU, lost again to Ron Zook, and needed overtime to beat Purdue. In 2004, loaded with senior talent, we lost to the Auburn team whose strength of schedule was so poor that it kept them out of the national title game and lost to a Tennessee team that had begun its death spiral and would go 5-7 the next year. In 2005, we lost to Ron Zook AGAIN and became Rich Rodriguez's signature win at WVU before he left for Michigan. What exactly did we manage to accomplish during that period other than beating teams who were (a) beginning precipitous declines, (b) experiencing down cycles, or (c) just not that good to begin with?
2007 was our most recent "good" year. That edition was loaded with NFL-caliber talent, but still managed to lose to South Carolina and a middling Tennessee team and needed dance classes to beat a Florida team playing mostly freshmen on defense. The culmination? Beating Hawaii. Yay?
So, what has Georgia really accomplished in the last 10 years? We won the SEC in what were definite down years for the conference. We haven't won a bowl game over a credible opponent. (Virginia Tech couldn't even win the ACC when we beat them...) Maybe we only looked good because everyone else was bad. Maybe 2007 was the dead cat (dawg?) bounce of a team that was crashing off a deceptive bubble.
We're 2-2 against Kentucky over the last 4 years. We're 0-1 against Lane Kiffin. We've lost to Vanderbilt. We couldn't beat Florida regularly when they were coached by Ron Zook. My heart tells me that firing Mark Richt is a bad idea; now why can't my brain come up with any good reasons to justify that feeling?
Just to clarify: I don't mean for this to turn into a FIRE MARK RICHT!!! thread. There are enough of those out there right now. I'm just really curious about what Coach Richt has really accomplished here. We can quote impressive numbers all day -- 10 wins/season, 2 SEC championships, first SEC championship in 20 years -- but they don't seem to stand up to closer inspection.