Writing this column for my Thursday deadline, I have no idea how Saturday's SEC championship game between the University of Georgia and Louisiana State University will turn out. As a Tennessee alum, I don't really have a dog in the fight, so to speak, but I'm pulling for Georgia because I admire coach Mark Richt and because, well, I live in Georgia. If I lived in Louisiana ...
Never mind. I can't even go there.
Whether UGA wins or not, Coach Richt will probably remain a hero to most people in the state -- for now, at least. Until he once again fails to win 10 games or beat Florida or make it to the SEC title game. Then all those 35-year-olds blogging from their parents' basements will get busy, and all the "fire Mark Richt" websites will once again have enough traffic to sell ads.
Here's what I don't understand about sports, even after nearly 40 years as a player, coach, and (above all) fan: why in the world would anyone who loves UGA football ever want to fire Mark Richt?
I keep hearing, "Well, he's a good guy, but ..." OK, first of all, in major college sports, simply being a decent person is no small thing, as I believe a couple of recent national scandals have illustrated rather graphically. Second, it's not as though Richt doesn't have impressive coaching credentials. He's won 10 or more games on multiple occasions, captured SEC championships, beaten Georgia Tech almost every year.
Based on resume alone, he's easily one of the 10 or 15 best coaches in the country. Maybe even one of the top five. No, he's not Nick Saban or Les Miles or Bob Stoops or Urban Meyer, but he's certainly in the next group. And some of you think that's not good enough? Tell me this: how many of you are among the nation's top 10 pharmacists or insurance salesmen?
I've got news for you, Dawg fans: Nick Saban and Les Miles and Bob Stoops and Urban Meyer aren't coming to Athens, if for no other reason than that UGA has the second-highest academic standards in the conference. You think that's what Nick Saban is looking for -- top-flight academics?
You've already got the best coach you're likely to get. Instead of constantly criticizing him for being "too nice" while winning about nine games a year, you should spend your time praying he doesn't leave for Tallahassee once Florida State shows Jimbo Fisher (definitely NOT top 10) the proverbial door.
Take it from a Tennessee fan. We had a pretty good coach, one with a national championship under his belt, who was a pretty decent guy while also winning pretty big most of the time. That just wasn't enough for the Vol Nation, who couldn't wait to see him gone.
Look how that's worked out.
Rob Jenkins is a local freelance writer and college professor. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.