Since Georgia's convincing Belk Bowl victory over Louisville we've seen UGA assistants get nice salary bumps, support staff positions have been added, and the big Dawg himself just got an extension and a raise. One might view this as a sign that the Athletic Association is building for the long haul.
Or, one might view it in the exact opposite terms. Somehow or another Mark Richt has gone and turned into a 55 year old grandfather with an artificial hip in the past couple of years. His new contract very nearly takes him up to his twentieth season in Athens. It's a widely held opinion that we've likely seen more than half of the Richt era.
Which is not to say that all of these moves seem like a "now or never "series of reaches. But it is hard to dispute that at some point in the relatively near future Georgia is going to have to start thinking about running it's football program through someone other than Mark Richt. And it is hard to argue that Richt has been a damn good steward of that football program. Further, it is hard to argue when a man who has his track record, and has exhibited his level of dedication, comes to you and tells you what resources he needs to reach the pinnacle of his profession.
I always engage in a hearty eye roll when I read a fan on social media saying that Mark Richt has not kept up with "Georgia standards." Georgia standards for the 15 years prior to his arrival involved annually being third in the SEC East. And losing at home to Southern Miss. Mark Richt, and the whole-program attitude adjustment he brought with him, are the Georgia standard. We remind readers of that every time he wins another football game, which he's done with greater frequency than any of his predecessors. Now the man who has delivered the most consistent, sustained success in program history is being given some of the resources which he believes he needs in order to win a national championship. Thank goodness.
And while no one is saying that it is now or never for Mark Richt, the facts seem to bear it out. Not because he needs to win a national championship or be fired. I believe the Mark Richt will leave his office at Butts-Mehre Heritage Hall when he darn well pleases, and on his own terms. But simple mathematics dictates that that day is coming sooner than perhaps some of us may have been comfortable with. And there's now a real sense, for me at least, that the Richt era at Georgia is indeed a finite period, and that the next guy will be following the most successful coach in program history. It may not be now or never for Mark Richt but it's "soon or never". These moves indicate to me that Mark Richt knows that, and is moving accordingly. I dig that. Until later...