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Fortunately, I live in the Atlanta area. There are a lot of well paying jobs, and if you live far enough away from the city, you can comfortably call this place home. Unfortunately, I have to listen to Atlanta sports talk radio. It's not that the content is terrible, or that people aren't knowledgable about football - it's just all about the Georgia Bulldogs, all the time.
The good news is, I've been able to learn a lot about fan bases and their reactions. The best part is that I've been able to do this from a completely objective standpoint. Let me tell you what I've learned from watching Georgia Football over the last several years.
Georgia has had a good football team in recent years. Their coach, Mark Richt, has run a solid program. They recruit well, perform well and have been in the upper-tier of the SEC almost every year. But in 2009, the fan base had seen enough mediocrity. They were tired of 10-3, or 9-4. Something needed to change. They had gone 8-5, and their defense wasn't playing up to Georgia standards. So Mark fired their coordinator and brought in someone from the NFL - Todd Grantham.
Todd brought a 3-4 scheme change to the bulldogs, and with it renewed excitment to the program. With an NFL coordinator, 2010 would be the year Georgia turned things around. Only they didn't. The team imploded, and Georgia finished Todd's first year 6-7. The fan base was livid. Mark Richt couldn't get it done. He needed to go.
Only he didn't. All of the anger from the fan base didn't get Richt fired, and 2011 brought in a good recruiting class and again renewed excitment from the fan base. With a 5-star running back at the helm, and with Grantham having his rookie year behind him, things would be better. But they didn't start that way.
Georgia fans circled the first two games on their calendar as measuring sticks for the program. They opened with Boise State and with South Carolina, and fans were hungry to again be dominant and open the season 2-0. With a big time game right here in the Georgia Dome, the Bulldogs were humilitated by the Broncos in front of a national audience. Not to be outdone, Georgia lost to South Carolina the following weekend. It wasn't a pretty time for Atlanta talk radio. Mark had to go. He had lost control of his program. He had lost his edge. Sometimes you just need a change. Or do you?
Fast forward to 2012. I logged onto ESPN to see what was going on in the sports world, and I see an exclusive article with the headline, "Can UGA win the BCS title?" What a difference a year or two makes. Grantham's defense steadily improved during the 2011 season after that 0-2 start. Georgia reeled off some wins during the meat of the season, and finished with a respectable 10-4 record after a couple losses to end the season. Now their linebacker just won National Defensive Player of the Week, and they are in the hunt for a national title, thanks to an improved defense and good recruiting.
No one is calling for Richt's head. No one is angry. Everyone is excited. All because someone was rational enough to let everyone mature into schemes and positions. They were able to see the big picture and not be consumed with one or two games, or even an entire season. They are looking at the overall program.
Auburn is evolving. We are changing players and we are changing systems, but we aren't changing who we are as a university. Gene has done an excellent job representing Auburn in every way. He demonstrates class, faith, and character - things not easily replaceable. (See Kiffin, Lane, and Petrino, Bobby.) We are recruiting better than at any point in Auburn history, with players coming from around the country to play for our program. We have an unproven quarterback and two difficult NFL style schemes to learn on both sides of the ball. There will be challenges, sure, but the pieces are in place for Auburn to once again be in the chase for the National Championship.
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Great observation. Sometimes it does take time.
..........BEAT BAMA .................BEAT BAMA..................BEAT BAMA
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come out of his six string
This is the best post I have read the last two weeks. We do have a solid foundation plus the right coaches to lead us from here to where we need to go, back in the hunt for championships each year. It is understandable that people are mad at our coaches because of the performance on the field, but my guess is that the performance will improve dramatically throughout this year. I will continue to pull for our coaches to right this ship, because they have proven through hard work and getting results in the past that they are capable. I believe they want it as bad as anyone.
By the way, I live in B'ham and feel your pain with the media. I quit reading the paper, I quit listening to talk radio, and I quit watching local news because of the way Auburn is treated by them compared to uat. I stay positive by reading select posts on this Board.
A very good post. Really puts things in perspective.
This thread is the type of conversation that keeps me here on AUC. It is also an example of what we need to see more of. My congratulations to all who participated in it.
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