At no time in Mark Richt's 10 seasons as coach at Georgia have he and his program been under more scrutiny. The Bulldogs' 29--27 loss to Colorado (a team with major issues of its own) in Boulder last Saturday dropped his team, which was ranked No. 23 in the preseason, to 1--4 for the first time since 1957.
Richt has led Georgia to its greatest success since the Herschel Walker era, having coached six 10-game winners. (Prior to his arrival in 2001, the Bulldogs had experienced just 12 10-win seasons since 1892.) Nonetheless, the long knives are already out in Athens, where a few members of Georgia's rabid fan base have mobilized a Facebook group called The Fire Mark Richt Club, a haven for disgruntled partisans of the Dawgs who "don't see 10--3 seasons as ultimate success, and are ready for a change."
Those club members should be careful what they wish for—Texas A&M fans expressed similar sentiments during the mostly successful tenure of R.C. Slocum and, two coaches later, are still waiting for the good times to return. Fans of the Bulldogs are salivating at the prospect of Richt being replaced by either Kirby Smart or Will Muschamp—the defensive coordinators at Alabama and Texas, respectively, and former Georgia players to boot—but neither is a slam-dunk to deliver a crystal football to Athens, let alone establish a program with the consistency of Richt's.
It hasn't helped the coach's cause that the gap between his team and the one in Tuscaloosa seems to have widened while Auburn, Mississippi State and South Carolina have all made strides to catch up to Georgia—which lost to both the Gamecocks and the Bulldogs last month (Auburn awaits on Nov. 13). Neither does it help that 10 of Richt's players have been arrested in the past seven months, or that the NCAA suspended wideout A.J. Green for the season's first four games after he sold his 2009 Independence Bowl jersey to someone who qualifies as an agent. But even the most ardent of Richt's detractors would be able to look the other way if he were to start winning big once again. (See Florida coach Urban Meyer and his team's 30 arrests over the last six years.) "The bottom line in football is wins and losses," Richt said on Saturday night. "And right now we haven't gotten a win in a while."