Posted by Chip Patterson
The 2010 season was not kind to the Georgia Bulldogs. In the most winnable SEC East in recent memory, the Bulldogs finished their season with an embarrasing 10-6 Libery Bowl loss to Central Florida and a 6-7 record. It was the program's first losing season in 14 years, and the worst season in Mark Richt's head coaching career. Luckily, the slide has had little effect on the fundraising efforts for the athletic program.
The Athens Banner-Herald reported that as of midday Tuesday the Hartman Fund (the fundraising initiative tied to season ticket priority) had raised $22.4 million, just slightly less than $22.7 million from last season. The deadline for donations was Febrauary 15. While the total may be less, the number of donors actually increased from 13,705 to 14,002. Athletic director Greg McGarrity called the numbers "encouraging."
“There was not an outcry of our supporters that were jumping ship,” McGarity said. “You’re certainly going to have a small percentage that say that we just don’t care to follow the team any further, we’re frustrated, blah, blah, blah. You’re going to have that with our economy as it is."
But there are plenty of reasons for Georgia fans to have faith in the Bulldogs turning 2010 around. First would be the way they finished the regular season in 2010. If you toss out the bowl game Georgia won 5 of their last 7 contests, and averaged 41.0 points per game in that stretch. Aaron Murray grew comfortable with the starting position once the season got underway, though admittedly a lot of that could have had to do with A.J. Green being back in the lineup.
Another reason that Georgia fans are not concerned with the state of the program is Richt's success on the recruiting trail. Once again, Georgia's recruiting class ranks among the best in the nation, finishing at #6 nationally according to MaxPreps.com. Richt battled for key recruits all the way to national signing day, and when touted running back Isiah Crowell had to make a decision: he reached out for the Bulldog(s). Literally.
Georiga will also still be Georgia. Despite the frustrating season, it is difficult to imagine a diehard fanbase like that jumping ship so quickly. As long as the Dawgs are suiting up on Saturdays, there will be fans between the hedges to yell "Sic Em."