Perception: Mark Richt is on the hot seat according to some outside observers
Reality: Mark Richt is not on the hot seat according to anyone who covers the Dawgs on a day-to-day basis
Perception: Damon Evans' departure hurts Mark Richt
Reality: The opposite
I was driving back from SEC Media Days on Friday. Apparently I didn't get enough media chatter while I was in Birmingham, so I tuned in to two radio shows for the ride home.
Jim Rome, the always-entertaining national broadcaster from Los Angeles, had CBS's Dennis Dodd on the air to talk about Media Days. When Mark Richt came up Dodd talked about how Damon Evans' being fired actually hurt Richt.
Then, later in the drive, I turned in, for the first time, to Paul Finebaum's show. The Alabama talk show host, while not taking calls from people who sounded like they'd just escaped a mental hospital, talked about David Pollack's radio segment from earlier in the day where the former All-American said that Richt would still be the head coach at Georgia even if the Dawgs went 2-10 in 2010. Finebaum went on to say that Richt would probably be fired if he won eight games or less.
Pollack, who said (probably correctly) that Finebaum was the source of the hot seat talk for Richt, was probably exaggerating his position to make a point and defend his former coach.
The problem with all of the statements said is that they are not based in reality. In fact, after spending time with a few of the beat guys at Georgia, the consensus wasn't so much about if Richt is or is not on the hot seat (none feel like he realistically is on the hot seat), but more that we were unimpressed with the lack of knowledge from folks talking about Richt's fate.
Mark Richt is not on the hot seat. Could he ever get fired at Georgia? That's certainly not out of the realm of possibility, but I wouldn't bet on it happening in 2010.
Still, Pollack is sorely mistaken if he thinks that Richt wouldn't position himself for the chopping block at 2-10 (which seems nearly as unlikely as me starting for the Dawgs at quarterback in a few weeks). Finebaum, who has been known to stir the pot whenever the chance presents itself, is incorrect to think that Richt would be fired with an eight-win season. That sort of performance would actually put Richt on the hot seat… not get him fired.
But at some point during the ride home I asked the question: at what point does all of this become more than pre-season talk? In other words: when does perception – even if it is not entirely based on what is reality – become reality?
The problem for the minority position – firing Richt – is three fold.
1. Damon Evans, the person who could have beat the drum the most to convince Michael Adams to fire Richt, is gone. Not only is he gone, but also he left in a manner that probably put the stops on any sort of move at the head coach position. Unless the roof falls in, Georgia will need some stability, and firing Richt would not provide that.
2. With a new governor coming into office Michael Adams might not want to draw any new attention, of any sort, to him. Firing the most successful head coach at Georgia since Vince Dooley would make state-wide headlines to be sure. Sonny Purdue has had Adams' back for some time now, but a change at the top political spot in the state could be tricky for Adams.
3. If a new AD is hired before the end of a very bad season at Georgia its hard to know if that person would want to get rid of Richt. Really, that's the most unknown thing. Perhaps that person would be a Richt fan… who really knows? But a move to oust Richt would put immediate pressure for the AD to get someone in who can win… and win big fast.
The reality is that if Richt isn't doing the job he needs to be removed – no question. The reality, too, is that media (I am including myself in this) has to talk. We have to have something to talk about, and the hot seat is the number one thing to discuss this time of year. I guess I was a little taken aback by incorrect information many of those talking about it have.