It was just three weeks ago, after a humuliating 29-27 defeat at Colorado (the same Colorado, incidentally, that's currently sharing the Big 12 North basement with winless Kansas ) that the question wasn't if Mark Richt would be relieved of his head coaching duties at Georgia , it was when : midseason, after another flogging at the hands of Florida in the World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party? Or at year's end, after defeats to bitter rivals Auburn and/or Georgia Tech ?
Richt might still find himself in hot water if he can't get past the Gators, Tigers or Yellow Jackets, but after three emphatic wins over fellow SEC East rivals Tennessee , Vanderbilt , and Kentucky , Richt's ship officially appears righted and the Dawgs find themselves just a game out of the divisional lead. How complete has the Dawg overhaul been? Despite Georgia's 3-17 record against Florida since 1990 and losses by a combined 90-27 score the past two seasons, Vegas oddsmakers have installed the Dawgs as 3-point favorites over Urban Meyer 's reeling Gators for this week's annual grudge match.
The odds on that decision were probably off the board following the defeat in Boulder, a loss that newly-installed Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity doesn't seem to have entirely forgotten about just yet. From the Department of Backhanded Compliments, McGarity's thoughts on the Dawgs' season to-date :
No doubt McGarity is sincere in his respect for Richt's ability to change course and willingness to (successfully) improvise once that improvisation became necessary.
“At one time it didn’t look it was going in the right direction for our program. And I have to credit Mark with what he was able to do, to basically rally the troops after a rough run there and a tough game at Colorado,” McGarity said on Monday.“If you’re always looking at ways to get better, then I think you have to do things that are a little out of your comfort zone. And that may be admitting that you make mistakes. But the ability to make it publicly, and chart that, I think that’s a credit to him.”
Georgia was 1-4 after that loss at Colorado. Richt called a full-pads practice for the next Monday, saying it was the first time he has done that at Georgia.
“I think that Monday really set the tone for the season. I really do,” McGarity said. “That different tone, and Mark being a man enough to take some responsibility to say we probably made some mistakes the front end, in terms of the practices and the two-a-days ...
But his recognition that Richt failed to have the program going in "the right direction" coming out of preseason practice (particularly given Richt's track record for slow starts) suggests that as far as Richt has brought the Bulldogs the last three weeks, if he can't bring them past the worst Florida team of Meyer's tenure with a squad playing as well as any in the SEC (Auburn excepted), we still won't be certain how much longer Richt will be allowed to bring them anywhere. If a coach who can admit his mistakes is nice, a coach who doesn't make them in the first place is better.