The background chatter isn’t letting up. Quite the contrary, it’s getting noisier.
USA TODAY Sports spoke with multiple people who have insight into the situation at Georgia. They spoke on the condition of anonymity and encompass all levels of the college athletics industry from well-connected supporters of the program to agents to search firms.
Those conversations produced the following conclusions:
► Georgia athletics director Greg McGarity favored a coaching change after last season but was overruled by president Jere Morehead. Richt was then given a contract extension.
► Regardless of the ultimate decision on Richt this time, defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt almost certainly will not be back, as his relationship with Richt and Georgia administrators has grown toxic.
► Georgia does not have one or two mega-boosters with the influence to make the call on Richt, but the displeasure of the Bulldogs’ high-dollar financial supporters has made its way to Morehead’s office.
► If Richt stays, it will be with a coaching staff that looks very different as first-year offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer has also been viewed as a problem.
It’s an untenable situation for any major program, particularly one like Georgia that should be competing for SEC titles annually but has squandered opportunity in the weakened Eastern division over the last few years.
The personality conflict between Pruitt and Richt stands at the center of Georgia’s failed season. Pruitt, who came up from the Nick Saban tree and was Jimbo Fisher’s defensive coordinator in 2013 at Florida State, was given wide latitude to improve the program from its recruiting operation to autonomy over several coaching hires.
But as Georgia has continued to lose, the intense and brash Pruitt has butted heads with the laid-back Richt, who has never been a fan of the idea that Alabama influence has become pervasive in his program. A lot of the blame internally has also been directed toward offensive line coach Rob Sale, who was hand-picked by Pruitt but has coached a unit that underperformed despite high expectations.
Many in the industry question whether Georgia will have the stomach to ultimately force out Richt and that it might be better for all parties involved if he chose to walk away after this season.
Little leakage there, Butts-Mehre? In the immortal words of Wilford Brimley’s character in Absence of Malice, “You had a leak? You call what’s goin’ on around here a leak? Boy, the last time there was a leak like this, Noah built hisself a boat.”
That’s the sign of an inept administration. And this is a sign of a coach having to deal with that, on top of his self-made problems:
Whatever you think of Richt at this point, there is no way to excuse what’s going on right now. There’s no way to think it won’t factor into the process when the next coaching hire comes in to play, either.
Jesus, what a fucking mess.