It seems that Stewart Mandel at Sports Illustrated is looking for a fight.
For two years you've been dodging my question. When will Georgia coach Mark Richt start to feel the heat for never making the BCS title game, let alone bringing a national title to Athens? It seems like every year the Bulldogs are overhyped and every year they load the NFL, but it never translates to the BCS Championship Game. What gives?--Jeff, Atlanta
It's not that I've been dodging it -- I just can't believe anyone would ask that with a straight face. The last time I checked, Richt has produced four 10-win seasons and two SEC titles in a six-year span. That's two more titles, by the way, than Georgia had won in the previous 20 years. Perhaps you'd prefer to go back to Jim Donnan? Or Ray Goff?
Not that Jeff represents the average Georgia fan (I hope), but I lived in Atlanta for five years, and it always baffled me just how inflated a perception people have there of that program's place in the national landscape. Keep in mind, because of my age, I didn't start following college football until about the mid-'80s, so I missed the Herschel Walker glory years. To me, Georgia was just an average, top-20 type program for most of my life. But to listen to their fans, you'd think Georgia was a USC or Notre Dame. They've won two national titles in their entire history, the last one coming 27 years ago. BYU won one more recently.
I think part of the problem is that many old-school Georgia types still view arch-rival Florida as their measuring stick. Yes, it's true, the Dawgs used to beat up on the Gators regularly in the '70s and '80s, but that changed in a big way after Spurrier took over Florida. (The Gators have won 15 of the past 17 meetings). Times have changed, and both because of Spurrier's legacy there and because it's the flagship school in the most talent-rich state in the country, Florida is now one of the elite programs nationally; Georgia is still more of a regional power. Which is not to say the Dawgs shouldn't beat the Gators from time to time or make an occasional run at the national title, but to hold Richt or any other coach to a national-title-or-bust standard is just plain ludicrous.
Photo Credit: Athens Banner Hearld