But perhaps there's also a case to be made for quality rather than quantity. It's worth pointing out that, according to Rivals.com's annual rankings, Auburn averaged the 10th-best recruiting class in the nation over the past three years with all those recruits, South Carolina the 18th-best -- while Georgia, with 20 fewer total recruits than either of those rivals, averaged the ninth-best class (including a top-five haul earlier this year that only went one scholarship over the limit). The key, then, is getting the most out of the talent you do bring in.
Clearly there's a case to be made that Richt hasn't done that over the past few seasons. But he seems to recognize that better conditioning and coaching, not rampant oversigning, is the key to getting the Dawgs back where they belong. If those two factors can help the class of 2011 (along with the veterans on Georgia's roster) achieve their full potential this season, nobody's going to be going over scholarship counts with a fine-toothed comb come January.
In both cases, an individual broke the law, then tried to minimize the impact of those revelations in a way that severely damaged their credibility with the rest of the University of Georgia community. Now, an athletic director is expected to be a strong leader, a savvy evaluator of coaching talent, and a shrewd businessman -- but he's also expected to be, to some degree, a role model for the athletes who fall under his purview. If Zach Mettenberger was stripped of his status as a Georgia Bulldog, but Damon Evans was allowed to retain not only his job but also his half-million-dollar salary, what kind of message would that send to the athletes at UGA? Among other things, it'd say that our leaders have less of a responsibility to obey the law -- or even tell the truth -- than the people they're supposed to be leading. It might also send the message that once you get to a certain level of wealth, power, or public stature, you're not held to the same standards of integrity as everyone else. And that's a dangerous signal to be giving to young, up-and-coming athletes whose talents may soon earn them big money in the pros -- or, heck, major stardom at UGA itself.
So no, this isn't about me, my diploma, or how much shame I feel about going out in public with a super-G on my jacket or a Bulldog logo on my license plate. (Which is still zero, in case anyone was curious.) It's about Damon Evans' ability to do his job effectively, an ability that -- in spite of all his demonstrated talents and intelligence -- has been severely damaged by his actions on Roswell Road last Wednesday night.
None of this is to say that I don't hope Evans can rehabilitate his career, or his public image, or his relationship with his family; I certainly hope all of those things happen. But based on the events of the past week, it's become clear that he's going to need to do a lot of soul-searching -- and, as condescending as it might sound, a lot of growing up -- to make that happen. And while I wish him well on all those tasks, I don't think it's UGA's obligation to let him do them on company time.
Kind of a buzzkill -- but maybe when they finally do make the switch, they'll keep secondary coach Scott Lakatos's innovative new "stay within five yards of your guy and actually know where the ball is whilst doing so" coverage scheme, which, after five years of Willie Martinez "Widespread Panic Dancer" defenses in Athens probably looked like the black monolith at the beginning of "2001" to Georgia's beleaguered fan base. Also, the "black" team wore white jerseys, which is sad and adorable at the same time, because when is Georgia ever, ever going to break out those black jerseys again?
So let's pat ourselves on the back over an Independence Bowl well played, but let's not act like it really means that much in terms of momentum for 2010. Let's find ourselves some excellent new defensive coaches, but not expect them to be the ones to snap their fingers and solve all our problems.