“What’s wrong with Georgia?”

That’s the question asked at Saurian Sagacity by Mergz in this post, based on his study of class recruiting ratings and final ranking in the coaches’ poll:

In compiling our listing of the top recruiting classes for the 2004-2007 period, and in looking at the past 2 studies on the relationship of recruiting to success, one team in particular seems to have become a chronic underachiever – the University of Georgia Bulldogs.

When the dust settles, here’s what he concludes:

This year Georgia had one of its poorer more recent recruiting efforts, coming in 17th on Scout.com. Their trailing 4 year average however remains strong at 5th.

This past year was painful for Georgia, with losses to Kentucky and Vanderbilt. With Tennessee apparently getting back on track, Florida showing no signs of weakening, and South Carolina rising, the challenge for Georgia will get worse, if anything.

And one wonders how long the Bulldog faithful will continue to support a coach who is 1-5 against their archrival.

Well! It’s all over now, baby blue.

In response let me point out that Georgia sports the best record of the top four teams in the SEC East over the past five years.

It’s also the only school of the four that hasn’t lost five or more games in a season during that period. Georgia’s worst season is better than South Carolina’s best season in that time. (And, unlike Meyer or Fulmer, Richt hasn’t lost to Spurrier the Gamecock.) Tennessee finished with an identical record to Georgia in 2006, after going 5-6 in 2005.

Florida’s just concluded season bears an eerie resemblance to Georgia’s 2002 season (one loss SEC championship teams under second year coaches) – and we don’t really know how well Meyer can coach his own players, now, do we? It’s a question that’s never been answered at any school at which he’s been the head coach, because he’s never been at any school long enough to generate four years of his own recruiting classes.

Given the records on the field, I assume that when Mergz writes about “getting back on track”, “no signs of weakening” and “rising”, he’s really talking about the ’07 recruiting classes Georgia’s rivals brought in. Make no mistake, they’re impressive (UF’s may be one for the ages, as a matter of fact). But that’s still a matter of potential. It will take some time before we know if what Mergz asserts is true.

I’ve posted before that I’m not as convinced as Mergz seems to be of the reliability of the science of recruiting. Here’s something else to consider. Look at the rankings given Georgia’s 2007 class – Scout puts the Dawgs at #17; Rivals ranked the Dawgs in its top 10. According to Scott Kennedy of Scout, his service discounts JUCO players’ ratings because they have (potentially at least) less years of eligibility at the college they commit to play. Rivals evidently doesn’t factor that into its ratings. Which approach is more valid? Beats me. But it’s a significant issue when you rate Georgia’s ‘07 class, with the large (for Georgia, anyway) number of junior college commitments.

So to answer the question, I suspect that what’s been wrong more than anything else is the offensive line – which makes all this angst about the Dawg ’07 class, with its heavy emphasis on shoring up that obvious weakness, somewhat ironic. If you’re a Georgia fan, you have to hope that the talent coming in, combined with Searels’ coaching ability (he’s the most important coaching hire for Georgia since Van Gorder, IMO) will stabilize quickly. If not, ’07 could be as long a year as ’06 was.

Down the road, who knows? There are too many variables to consider. One thing I don’t think we have to worry about is the continued quality of the talent pipeline flowing into Athens. Georgia already has six commitments for the class of 2008, including three on Rivals.com top 100 juniors list.

Rodney Garner is on the mother.

(photo courtesy Rivals.com)

So I’m not slitting my wrists just yet. Check back with me in a couple of years. If the Gators have won two more MNCs, and Georgia’s coming off two straight fourth place finishes in the SEC East, maybe I’ll be singing a different tune.

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