But you can't ignore some what's been going on with Richt of late – a rebirth of sorts.
On Saturday Richt said the following: "I've just got a great feeling about the organization and effort and detail of the coaching. Players are giving everything they've got."
That's an important quote – very important.
Every now and then a program/school/organization needs a fresh start – not necessarily a new head coach (although sometimes that's the only way to refresh things), but a fresh start in some way or another. Richt has had that at least twice while at Georgia, and this January was one of those times.
I don't know if Jeremy Pruitt can coach football – but if nothing else he's given Mark Richt new energy… something to look forward to each day. Now, it should be pointed out that Richt went out and got Pruitt, so Richt does, after all, get some of the credit for this.
Every now and then you need something new in a program. New coaches, new players… a new perspective – solid change is a good thing. It sure seems like that's what is going on at Georgia right now.
The other time Richt seemed this rejuvenated? The summer of 2010 when the five-year nightmare that was Damon Evans' drag on the athletic department at Georgia was over. I remember how standoffish Richt was earlier that summer – he knew his job was on the line in 2010, and he just wasn't very friendly at the time… maybe grumpy is the best way to put it.
Still, after Evans was gone Richt certainly seemed happier. I can assure you he would never admit that – true or not. He's not that kind of guy – and, quite frankly, it benefits him none bringing up that time in his career at Georgia. But that's the way it was – Richt was happier.
Certainly not by Richt's hand, Evans was out and Greg McGarity was in by the time the 2010 season started. McGarity was a fresh start for Richt… a chance for someone new to come in and figure things out with. Even though Georgia was 1-4 you could tell that Richt was not even close to giving up on the season, and certainly not the program he had built.
I don't know what Richt would have been like with Evans still at the helm after five games in 2010 – we don't even know if Richt would have made it to game six to be honest. But the change had been made – and McGarity wasn't so eager to see Richt gone. Even after the disaster that was the 2010 Liberty Bowl, Richt would be back for the 2011 season.
Richt hasn't looked back since.
The feel? It is the same now as it was then. A change was needed in some way, but it didn't seem like it was coming until it happened – and happened quick. 2014 is another chance for Richt to restart – and his track record on those things is pretty good.
This time, however, he's in line to make an even stronger push to glory for the Dawgs. Georgia will be favored to win the SEC East. If they pull that off it will be the first time since Florida's run from 2006-09 that the same program in the East has won the division three times in four years. The only other program to do that in Richt's time in the SEC was, well, Georgia from 2002-05.
The expectations? They never change at Georgia. The Bulldogs will be expected to win every single game they play this fall. That's what happens when you build a program into a monster the way Richt has since 2001; Jim Donnan ain't coaching this bunch.
But now Richt is obviously more comfortable than he had been, and I can tell. That's not an indictment of Todd Grantham, who is being made to be a goat by everyone around (and that's fine) – but sometimes things are simple.
As Sheryl Crow put it in 1997: "A Change Would Do You Good."
That's obviously happened in Athens.