Mailbag: Mark Richt Is Phil Fulmer
In August, I wrote:
"This is the year when Richt stumbles. And this is the year when it becomes more apparent than ever before that (defensive coordinator Willie) Martinez is to Richt what Randy Sanders was to Phillip Fulmer, the first chink in the armor.
If you'd seen Joe Cox at SEC Media Days, you'd be more nervous. Somebody elbowed me, "Travis," he said, "you look like a better quarterback than Cox."
Chances are, so do you.
Looks can be deceiving, but the problem for Georgia was that Cox needed to be as good as Matthew Stafford. Immediately. Last year Georgia's defense gave up 40 touchdowns. The offense behind Stafford and Knowshon Moreno helped cover up those lapses. This year there isn't that luxury."
The 2009 season was Georgia's 2005. Look for a one or two year bounce back -- although Georgia is not winning nine games in 2010 like Tennessee did in 2006 -- followed by Richt's resignation, firing, or departure for another school. The one advantage Richt has is that he's younger than Fulmer. So he can rebound from failure in a more rapid fashion.
Let me run some numbers for you. In his best four-year stretch, Fulmer went 45-5 (29-3 in the SEC) from 1995 to 1999 with two SEC titles and one national title. Similarly, in his best four-year stretch at Georgia from 2002-2005, Richt went 44-7 (25-7 in the SEC) with two SEC titles. In 1999, David Cutcliffe, Fulmer's offensive coordinator, left to become head coach at Ole Miss. Fulmer promoted from within, naming Randy Sanders as his replacement.
Similarly, Richt's defensive coordinator during this dominant stretch was Brian VanGorder, who also left for a better job, departing for the NFL. As his replacement, Richt elevated Willie Martinez to the role of defensive coordinator.
Both Sanders and Martinez bore the brunt of the criticism for the inability of their offense and defense, respectively, to match the successes of prior units. Eventually Fulmer fired Sanders and brought back Cutcliffe. A resurgence followed, but once Cutcliffe left again, this time for Duke, Fulmer's offense stumbled, and he was fired.
It's uncertain who Richt will hire, but the blueprint for the end of his tenure at Georgia has already been written. He's Phil Fulmer in red.
But in the meantime defensive coordinator Willie Martinez is out along with his defensive ends and linebackers coach.
And every other SEC East fan is shedding a tear over their departure.
In other news, my picks contest with Audrey, my family's former French exchange student, continued anew. Audrey went 4-2 and so did I.
(Then I blew it and didn't have us pick new games over Thanksgiving weekend thanks to travel.)
Our current tally looks like this:
As a result of messing up the final full week of the year, we're going to end this picks contest by picking all the BCS games and five other bowl games of my choosing.
So we'll have an epic 10-game finale to determine who the champion is for this season.
Our beaver pelt trader of the week is Tiger Woods for leading idiot Americans all over the country to drive the amazingly difficult word "transgressions" to the top of Google search results.
Think about that for a minute, these are people who are actually smart enough to look up the word on Google. What percentage of Americans didn't even know this was a word before Tiger released his statement?
Seriously, I don't even want to think about this.
On to All That and a Bag of Mail:
Jason L. writes:
Do you agree with my assessment of Les Miles as a modern-day King George III of England?
Both are/were insane. Coach Miles is obviously "mad" as many of his previously endearing -- currently demeaning -- nicknames, and his sideline antics from Ole Miss, portray. Further, King George was at the wheel of the most powerful nation in the world while Coach Miles is in charge (and has been since 2005) of arguably the most talented college football team in America. In the universe of SEC fandom, I think those two positions are comparable, don't you? The only difference I see is that it is thought that King George had a medical condition. What is Les Miles' excuse?
There is probably a litany of comparisons available and I give you full rights to this nugget of intellectual property should you choose to explore it more. This comparison kept me up for hours (no idea why) on Saturday night following the Ole Miss game. I was not sure if you thought of this angle but I figured you would appreciate the connection.
E-mails like this are why we do the mailbag. You can look at the Seven Years' War victory for King George III as the equivalent of Les Miles' national championship, a function of the English strength over the French, just like LSU's strength over the rest of the world, more than the ability of Miles.
The Stamp Act was George's equivalent of calling the spike play.
I could go on with this for days.
The peripatetic Nick Saban would, of course, be King Henry VIII.
Scott A. writes:
I want to first say that I am not a Texas fan. However, why does Colt McCoy not get mentioned as Tim Tebow does as the greatest college player of all time? If McCoy wins the Heisman this year and the Longhorns win the national championship, McCoy would finish with the same hardware, a Heisman and a national title that Tebow has. He also has three other bowl wins, one of which being a BCS bowl win and is the all-time NCAA leader in games won and will finish with close to 5,000 more career yards than Tebow while accruing similar total touchdown numbers. Tebow has been great for college football and the SEC, and I don't want to take anything away from his accomplishments, but can't you make the argument that it is McCoy, not Tebow that is the greatest ever in the college ranks?
Look, I'm a lawyer, so the idea that you aren't entitled to make any argument you want to make is one that is foreign to me. So, yeah, you can make that argument.
I just don't think it's as strong as arguing for Tebow.
First, your argument relies on a hypothetical Heisman and a hypothetical national title.
Tebow already has the Heisman and a pair of national titles. In my mind, in order to argue for greatest ever status in a sport, you'd have to have at least two Heismans or two national titles. Tebow has the chance to have two Heismans and three national titles.
Then, let's take a step back and put them within the context of their respective programs. Because in order to be the greatest player ever, you'd have to be the best that your team has ever had, right? At a minimum.
If they had to pick a quarterback to play any game, would very many Florida Gator fans pick a player other than Tebow?
I don't think so.
Now, flip that to Texas.
What percentage of Longhorn fans would pick Colt McCoy over Vince Young as their signal caller?
Half at best.
Probably not even that many.
So I've danced around the issue a bit to come to this conclusion, I think you have a stronger argument for Vince Young than you do for McCoy. And I think that will stay the same regardless of how 2009 plays out. So if McCoy isn't even the strongest argument in your own program, then I don't think McCoy is arguably the greatest player ever in the college ranks.
It's a good bar debate, but I'm coming down pretty firmly on the side of Tebow in this one. And in order for Tebow to be in that conversation for years to come, I think he needs to win a second Heisman or a third national title this season.
Robert Gearhart writes:
Nice article on the passing of UGA VII, I hope you come to Savannah, Georgia so I can punch you in the mouth!! What a dumb a-- you are!! Since you are a Vols Fan you must be upset that we kick your ass every year and your mascot is a mutt!!
Your perceptive abilities are particularly astute. As is your ability to add double exclamations after every sentence!! I'd expect more from a man whose Facebook profile picture is of him wearing a Georgia Bulldogs coaches' polo and jeans so tight he can't breathe.
Your knowledge of dogs is as strong as your knowledge of scores. In fact, I'll leave you with these numbers to cuddle up alongside as you make the long drive to Shreveport with a soundtrack playing recorded barks from UGA VII.
51, 35, 45
They've been on a scoreboard three of the past four seasons. Draw your own conclusions as to what they signify.
Keep on kicking a-- every year!!
Apologies for missing last week's mailbag for Thanksgiving and for abbreviating this version. By the time you read this, I'll be on the road for the SEC championship game.