Since Mark Richt arrived at Georgia in 2001, he's been one of my personal favorites among Southeastern Conference head football coaches.
He's a good man who wants to do good things. I never see him that he doesn't call me by name. He's that way with everyone. He makes people feel like they matter.
In his first nine seasons at Georgia, Richt won 10 or more games six times. He won two SEC championships. But hard times have hit. The Bulldogs are 1-3. Worse, they are 0-3 in the SEC and have lost three straight league games. Going back to last season, they are 2-7 in their last nine SEC games. They were whacked 24-12 at Mississippi State last Saturday.
This season's bad start comes on the heels of a disappointing 8-5 record last season. On top of that literally dozens of Georgia players have been arrested in recent months, mostly for alcohol-related offenses.
And the wolves are howling at Richt's doorstep. Even long-time supporters are starting to ask questions. What once seemed unthinkable is now openly discussed. Is Richt coaching for his job?
I have a theory about what happened to Georgia football. It started in 2007, when Georgia players left their bench en masse to celebrate their first touchdown against Florida.
Smack-talking became the order of the day. By 2008, they were taunting and dancing to their unofficial theme song, "Crank That" by Soulja Boy. More than a few former Georgia players expressed their disgust. And things really have never been the same.
The dancing and showboating seem to no longer be a part of Richt's program, at least not a big part. Georgia certainly has enough players to win, and they resurface now and then, as Auburn can attest.
But the consistency that was the bedrock of Richt's program is gone. Can he get it back? We will see.
A couple of other thoughts on a damp Monday morning. ...
I'm not saying it will happen or even should happen, but it could. Auburn could go into the Iron Bowl in Tuscaloosa with an 11-0 record. The next six games are against Louisiana-Monroe at home, at Kentucky, Arkansas at home, LSU at home, at Ole Miss, Chattanooga at home and Georgia at home. Winning them all might not be likely, but it's certainly possible. ...
It was perhaps the clearest sign of how far Tennessee football has fallen. After UAB dominated the game in every way but on the scoreboard, missing five field goal tries, Tennessee beat the Blazers in double overtime last Saturday when quarterback Matt Simms threw a touchdown pass to Denarius Moore.
Until next time ...