The manner in which Georgia decided to let Mark Richt go being another discussion, and as another member of the masthead said, "Well, the question is moot whether firing Richt was the right call or not. He's fired and he ain't coming back, so I move on." But while that may be true, in this time of want and woe, it may be beneficial to remember that there was a case to be made based on on-field results for making a change at the top of Georgia's football program.
INEXPLICABLE LOSSES/TOO CLOSE FOR COMFORT WINS
Georgia Southern is a good program. Erk built a champion down in Statesboro, and they've been building towards being a 1-A level team for years, and are rightly among the best of the Sun Belt. But again, Sun Belt. And that game took overtime for Georgia to come out successful. That can be argued as unacceptable for University of Georgia football, especially in a year when the expectation was to compete for the East, if not the SEC and the playoffs, as preseason expectations said Mark Richt's 15th season should have produced. This on the heels of demolishings by Florida and Alabama (which we'll get to later).
And this sort of head scratcher wasn't uncommon. Georgia has lost to Kentucky twice, and Vanderbilt twice over the last 10 seasons. They lost to an arguably worst major conference program in 2010 with Colorado. We've lost to down Tennessee teams, including the lone season of Lane Kiffin, and allowed slip ups to unranked SEC East foes keep us from making the SEC Championship game in 2007 and 2014.
Upsets happen, but Mark Richt had his fair share of them, and they were often poorly timed in ways that added fuel to a hot seat fire (like in 2010) or kept ultimate goals from being reached (like 2007).
We can start with the infamous Blackout Funeral in 2008 that also saw Urban Meyer rub it in with a few timeouts late in a 49-10 loss. The aforementioned game against Lane Kiffen led Volunteers that ended 45-19, and saw a 41-17 domination by the Gators a few weeks later. An SEC Championship game against LSU in 2011 saw the second half get out of hand on route to a 42-10 win for the Bayou Bengals. South Carolina jumped us 35-7 in 2012 as the only other loss prior to being 5 yards away from beating Bama (or 350 yards considering they had their way with us running the ball). Add in last year's out of blue ether loss to Florida where Georgia didn't look like it crossed the state line, and then again this year in the same game as well as Alabama once again looking in complete control all game long against us.
THE COCKTAIL PARTY
Sometimes, a single game matters. Just ask John Cooper about Ohio State and Michigan. Or Phil Fulmer about Florida. Like Cooper, Richt had teams that looked like possible national champions lose to their biggest rival even in their down seasons. And in seasons where that rival was also national title caliber, it could get ugly. But these last two iterations of the Gators aren't national title caliber. This deep into his tenure, Mark Richt was expected to maintain that level. Yet when faced with Will Muschamp's final season, Georgia was physically handled all game long. Going into the World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party with two weeks to prepare and a struggling offense, Mark Richt turned to his eldest QB, even though he'd never taken a snap for the Dawgs aside from garbage time. The winner of this game would represent the SEC East in Atlanta this coming weekend, with a chance to play for the SEC title and possibly a spot in the national championship playoff. And with so much on the line, against Georgia's biggest current rival, after last year's failed performance and so many other wet-our-pants moments at this party, it' was kind of a big, important game for Mark Richt and his offense. And for this thicker, more mobile, less arm capable QB, Georgia used their bye week of extra prep time and adapted their offense to ....... not take advantage of that QBs power running to open things for more in space runners like Sony Michel and do the same things we'd struggled to do all season long. Of course, that plan didn't work too well, and the third string QB has gone back to not taking a single snap. [insertJackieChan'smindblownimage]
If Mark Richt or any Georgia fan is curious why, after so much success on the field, but even more success off the field representing the school and community, that Greg McGarity and those calling the shots in Athens felt it was time to go in a different direction, look no further than the repeated party fouls committed by the man himself.