The Georgia Bulldogs have found their program under the gun lately. Between the tailgating restrictions imposed on North Campus, the arrests and suspensions of several players, and the possibility that Logan Gray may transfer, people have begun to wonder exactly where Georgia football is heading.
Well, if I may be so kind as to offer my opinion, there are a few things that I think need to be clarified about the University of Georgia football program, Mark Richt, and the quarterback controversy.
Let me warn those of you who read me often, in advance, that this article could be deemed as “homeristic” but today I’m okay with that—I’m still an unapologetic red and black fan despite my meager writing aspirations.
Fact: Aaron Murray was always presumed to be playing for No. 1.
At the start of spring practice, it was a known fact that Aaron Murray was the guy that the coaches felt was the most prepared to take the reigns. Zach Mettenberger was going to be a capable No. 2 with a genuine opportunity to have playing time during the season. Mettenberger’s performance in the spring game did not change that fact and he wasn’t any more likely to be named the No. 1 guy, outright, then than he was the week prior.
The arrest charges complicated matters for Mettenberger and coach Richt always reserved the right to discipline him further once the police investigation was complete. Richt did not know all the details of the case prior to his initial one-game suspension and he did not allow Mettenberger to play knowing that he would later have to dismiss him.
Once all the information was revealed, he let Mettenberger go.
Fiction: Logan Gray’s transfer will impact Georgia—significantly.
This is Gray’s third season at Georgia. In his limited capacity, he has not shown that he is a capable replacement at the quarterback position. Is he valuable to have on the team, yes, but he is not the guy that a majority of Georgia Bulldog fans ever expect to see in the starting role. The general consensus is that if he couldn’t wrestle the spot away from a struggling Joe Cox last season, then he won’t be able to hijack it from Aaron Murray this season either—period.
His potential transfer from Georgia will hurt depth at the position. However, so would a choice to change positions—Gray flirted with going to WR at one point. Either way, his decision will be an inconvenience to Georgia but would it kill the team? No, because if Aaron Murray performs well and stays healthy, Gray could possibly never see the field at the QB spot.
Fact: Georgia isn’t reeling from player arrests.
The team may be dealing with a littany of troubles this offseason but the only significant player losses were Montez Robinson and Zach Mettenberger—both of which were justified. The other players were walk-ons, with no shot at playing time, who were only as valuable to the team as their status on the scout team made them. These aren’t simply scholarship players run amok.
It’s troubling to see the team in the news so often in 2010, but this is not the norm and the tendency to make it seem as if Mark Richt is absent from the train, is an incorrect one.
David Hale, of Bulldogs Blog, wrote a more detailed of analysis of Georgia’s player problems in April 2010—see his breakdown here.
Fiction: The multiple transfers shows just how bad the program has become.
On the contrary, the transfers indicate there is, for the most part, good depth at each position. If a guy has been sitting for two or three seasons, he sees the writing on the wall. None of these guys are here just for the experience. They want to play and are willing to go where that possibility is more probable. That story is not exclusive to Georgia—it happens everywhere—and it happens often.
Fact: Coach Richt is NOT ON THE HOT SEAT!!!
This is the one thing that is the most erroneous. Coach Richt has a lot of support amongst the Georgia Bulldog fans, boosters, and administration. He is not in any trouble of losing his job this season.
Despite the troubles, the perception of a mediocre 2009 season, and the possibility of some growing pains in 2010, Richt is expected to continue to have support from the majority of those who are fans and supporters of the program through this season—no matter what happens.
No one is looking for Richt to go into 2010 with a new quarterback, new coaches, and a new defense, and come out with an SEC Championship. That’s not realistic for this year. If he does perform well, great, but if he goes 8-5 or 9-3, he’s not getting his walking papers. 2011 is the year where people will look to see major strides—not 2010.
As for the coaching gaffes of the offseason, people made too much of that situation too. Coach Richt made one confirmed offer to Kirby Smart and he turned it down. Once he did, Richt moved on to Grantham. Nothing more.
The idea that Richt is on any kind of a hot seat is just plain incorrect. Is there frustration? Yes, but most fans will agree that Richt is the best man for the job at Georgia right now and they wouldn’t trade him away just because he had one bad season.
So, I say this with as much respect as possible—Mark Richt is not on a hot seat and to say as much is simply ridiculous—get your facts straight.