There’s a part of Seth Emerson’s premise about Richt’s situation with which I wholeheartedly agree:
… When Richt walks to the podium Thursday at the Wynfrey Hotel in Hoover, Ala., the Georgia head football coach will know what awaits. There may be a thousand credentialed media members at the SEC Media Days, and a lot of them will be thinking of nice ways to ask the hard-hitting question: Is he on the hot seat?
The short answer is yes. But anyone looking at a certain number of wins Richt needs to get this year is being too simplistic…
Obvious scenarios aside (10+ wins or less than six, it’ll be obvious what will happen) there’s a lot more that’ll go into the calculation of Richt’s survival than merely counting the number of wins it would take to get him over the threshold. But I hope this isn’t part of the math, at least not in the way that Emerson describes:
… If Georgia changes coaches, Richt will argue — and his bosses will be very well aware — then commitments become de-commitments. Theus would in all likelihood re-open his recruitment, with Florida and Texas ready to pounce. Other highly rated commitments, such as defensive tackle Jonathan Taylor and defensive end Leonard Floyd, will be preyed on by rival schools while Georgia looks for a new coach.
By itself, is that enough to convince Georgia’s administration not to change coaches? Of course not, if the school’s leaders feel strongly enough about the on-field product.
But let’s say it’s a tough call: If Georgia starts 0-2 — a very real possibility — the obituaries on Richt’s tenure at Georgia will be written like no one has ever seen. But it will in all probability still be way too premature.
This Georgia administration is going to give Richt all the rope he needs. And his success on the recruiting trail, adding to his goodwill within the Bulldogs fan base, is providing Richt with a lot of rope. He’ll be able to withstand a couple of early losses. At least that’s the smart bet.
Now if the Bulldogs are sitting later at something like 2-6, with losses to say, Mississippi, Mississippi State, Tennessee, and the like, yes, a change will in all likelihood come.
But athletics director Greg McGarity and president Michael Adams will weigh everything, including recruiting. And they will know that if they oust Richt, they’ll in all likelihood lose Theus and Henry and perhaps Ramsey and others.
Coaching transitions are never easy. Sometimes they’re necessary. Richt and his defenders will argue that the risks in this case would outweigh any benefits.
That’s awfully shortsighted. You can’t keep chasing your tail. Using possible recruiting defections as a crutch to justify the retention of a coaching staff that isn’t succeeding on the field is a fool’s mission, especially if you’re going to use recruits from two classes out as part of that justification.
Certainly recruiting is the lifeblood of any successful college football program. And what’s reassuring about the results from Dawg Night is that Coach Richt hasn’t lost his credibility in the eyes of recruits and their families. But at some point, success on the recruiting trail has to translate into success on the field if a head coach expects to be retained over the long haul. As much as I want him to do well and run the show as long as he wants, I hardly think Richt is the only man who can consistently recruit top ten classes to Athens. Worrying about a one year dip in recruiting shouldn’t be a reason to refuse to make a change if the program’s performance otherwise requires it.