Tuesday, February 9, 2010

What do Georgia Fans Have a 'Right' to Expect?

The Georgia Bulldogs have now gone four consecutive seasons without winning the SEC, or even just the SEC East (although, they finished the 2007 season ranked #2, which is not too shabby). They've also had what should be considered below-par years for two of those four seasons. After finishing out a recruiting class that was less than stellar according to the 'experts,' there continues to be a slow and steady increase in the volume and pervasiveness of rumblings around Athens that Georgia is not where it should be in the overall conference/national pecking order of college football programs.

While last season would not be considered a great success by any measure of Georgia football, the overall performance of Richt's teams begs the question, "How good is Georgia really supposed to be?"

Looking at it from a competition standpoint, there are, in my estimation, six teams that have a "right" (the quotes imply a bit of sarcasm, in that many fans of many schools believe it's their right) to win the SEC: Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, LSU, and Tennessee. By that rationale alone, Georgia should average one SEC Championship every six years. They have two in nine years under Richt, so they're still ahead of the game there. Georgia should also average one SEC East Championship every three years. With three in nine years, they're right on pace there.

Obviously, there's an ebb and flow of the overall strength of competition throughout the SEC in a given year, and teams go through both upturns and downturns (clearly, Tennessee has not been a powerhouse the last few years). On the flip side, Georgia hadn't won the SEC in 20 years before Richt arrived, a fact his proponents are happy to acknowledge.

Look, the Bulldogs had one of the all time greatest 4 year runs from '80-'83 of any program in history, but to suggest that two SEC Championships, three SEC East Championships, and six top-ten finishes since 2002 is below Georgia standards is completely ridiculous.

People have also cited the pattern or trend that seemed to be forming lately, but with a revamped defensive coaching staff, and one of two highly touted redshirted freshmen quarterbacks taking the reigns this fall, there is at least a reasonable chance that the Dawgs will be competing for more SEC Championships and top 10 finishes very soon.

The bottom line is, Georgia is as good (probably better) than they have been during just about any time during their storied history. More to the point, either live in the past or don't. If you think the 'real' Georgia is the incarnations of the early 80's, then acknowledge the successes of the past 10 years.

Whatever the case, tempering expectations as a Georgia fan does not a loser make. The fans aren't playing anyway.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Recruiting, She's Over or, Put Away the Hemlock

OK. Georgia's overall recruiting class could have been better, and it appeared it was going to be until about the last week leading all the way up to Wednesday morning. A few highly regarded defensive players and possibly the best WR prospect the state of Georgia has had in over a decade all left the Dawgs standing at the altar. You always want to sign the best and most complete class you can every single year, and there is no two ways about it: Georgia's class looked like it was going to be better than it turned out.

Having said all that, it's really not that big a deal. Again, I want to reiterate that it could have been better, but let me also repeat...It's really not that big a deal.

Georgia needed to get some depth on defense, and that's what they did. They also needed to make sure to get about 3 solid offensive line prospects (something I think we'll see each and every year to avoid past issues along the O-Line). Obviously, any time you have a chance to get one of the elite players at a position, you want to try to do that, but wide receiver was really not an area of absolute need this year. Georgia filled out the D-Line, and got some "flex" guys that could end up at DE/LB, or S/LB, and got one of the better true safeties out there. I would have liked to get one more top-tier CB, but that is really the only true shortcoming I saw.

Recruiting, at the end of the day, is a bit of a crap shoot. Like craps, it's predicated on a degree of odds. So, yeah, you want to give yourself the best odds possible that a particular class will grow into a junior/senior class of All-SEC caliber players. You do that by signing as many highly rated kids as you can. However, those are still just odds, and there is still a very good chance this class will be as solid as any Georgia's had when it's all said and done.

To put it in perspective, and without calling out any Bulldogs of years passed, but say Georgia had signed one more 5 star and one more 4 star. The class would then have been ranked in the top 10 in most lists. Well, it's no secret that we've had more than one 5 star, and plenty of 4 star kids that, due to injury or simply never blossoming, never even started a game.

I don't want to get into a debate about the value of the rankings system, and am certainly not suggesting that rankings don't matter. I'm simply making the point that there is an extremely fine line between being ranked 15th, and being ranked 9th, and one year of 15th is far from a death sentence for Georgia. So, just relax, breathe, and get ready for spring ball. You might not have heard, but there's supposed to be a pretty decent battle for QB lined up.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Recruiting Limbo

National Signing Day fast approaches. That day of days when National Championships are won with the signing of a 5 star Offensive Tackle, and entire families are burned in effigy with the last minute switch of a 4 star Tight End.

While entirely too much importance is often placed on a single player or ranking, the process as a whole is obviously crucial to the success of a program. After all, teams that consistently finish in the top ten in recruiting have consistently finished in the top ten in rankings during the actual season (yes, Georgia has fallen off a bit in the actual rankings the past couple of years).

Barring a complete meltdown and mass exodus of the supposed verbal commitments Georgia has lined up for the 2010 recruiting class, the Dawgs will finish with what would seem on paper as, at the very least, a solid recruiting class. Further, the coaching staff has once again put together a very well-rounded class with some players that could potentially play more than one position.

There have already been a couple of defects after the firing of Willie Martinez, coupled with the hire of Charlie Strong at Louisville, oddly enough. There are also rumors swirling about Georgia's prized WR recruit switching to Tennessee on National Signing Day. Regardless of what happens, this blogger/expert is here to tell you that an SEC Championship is not made by the signing of one or two Blue-Chippers, nor does a decade of .500 football become Georgia's fate with the loss of a couple.

"Busts" are equally as common as those diamonds in the rough, and while hardcore recruitniks get inappropriately aroused by the prospect of prospects, the rest of us will be fine with whoever we sign.

As Norman Dale said in Hoosiers, "I was hoping you would support us for who we are, not who we are not."