Stewart, I am a believer that a fan base must always answer the question "And hire whom?" before they talk about firing a coach. If you cannot name a better option than the current guy, forget it. I find myself teetering on the Mark Richt discussion. If he goes, who would be your hire? -- Dave, Atlanta
I'm with you, Dave. If Georgia runs off Richt this year, it will be textbook Clemson/Ole Miss Syndrome. (Note the example cited in that link: Minnesota. How's that working out?) Historically, Georgia is more prestigious than either of those teams -- but not as much as Dawgs fans like to think. In all my travels, I'm not sure I've ever come across a fan base whose self-perception is so far from reality. Georgia fashions itself a national power in the vein of Ohio State, USC, et. al., based primarily off one glorious three-year run 30 years ago with Herschel Walker (and some kick-butt years in the 1940s). Prior to this season, the Dawgs under Richt had vastly outperformed their historical "equilibrium," and in fact Richt's career winning percentage (.752) is the highest in school history (not counting Bobby Winston's lone 5-1 season in 1894).
But in today's SEC, the goal is national championships, and three other league coaches hired by their schools more recently than Richt -- Florida's Urban Meyer, LSU's Miles and Alabama's Nick Saban -- have 'em. Richt doesn't. And at 0-3 in the SEC, winning one anytime soon probably seems like a very remote possibility. But realistically, the chances of hiring another Ray Goff are higher than the school landing its own Meyer or Saban. Texas head-coach-in-waiting Will Muschamp (a UGA alum) is a realistic and enticing possibility, but beyond that, there is not a single coach out there I'd consider an upgrade from Richt (and even Muschamp is no guarantee). Let's see how the season plays out. With a light upcoming schedule, a freshman quarterback who should theoretically progress and the return of A.J. Green, my guess is the Dawgs will go on a run. If they can salvage things and win eight games, and still fire him ... well, just take a look at Tennessee for a glimpse into their immediate future.