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October 29, 2010

Mailbag: End of the line for Georgia's Richt?

Four current SEC coaches have won national championships, and four more have been a part of national championship teams as assistants.

So, in a league with that many accomplished coaches, wins don't come easily, much less championships.

Still, standards are high and demands are higher. Even successful coaches have been fired. Tennessee axed Phillip Fulmer and Auburn axed Tommy Tuberville. Is Georgia's Mark Richt next?

That's a question to be answered in the mailbag.

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End of the line?

How safe is Mark Richt's job right now? Let's face it: He has won a lot of games at Georgia, but no championship. Do you think it is time for the Bulldogs to move on?
Kingston in Paragould, Ark.

Wait a minute. Georgia did win SEC championships under Richt in 2002 and in '05. True, Richt hasn't brought a national championship to Georgia, but a couple of SEC banners have to count for something, don't they?

Richt has won a lot of games at Georgia. In fact, he's in his 10th season and has a record of 94-31, a .752 winning percentage. In legendary coach Vince Dooley's last decade -- which included the Herschel Walker glory years -- Georgia was 89-26-4, a .764 winning percentage. There isn't a huge difference there.

Richt's teams never have posted fewer than eight victories. At 4-4 this season, they obviously need a strong finish to get to eight wins, which also was the win total last season. That's reason enough for some Bulldogs to call for a coaching change.

But who could Georgia hire that you know would do a better job? Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart? Texas defensive coordinator Will Muschamp? Heck, would either of those guys -- both Georgia alums -- be interested?

Personally, I think Richt will be retained. And I think he should be.

True, Georgia is enduring a dip of sorts, but anyone who didn't anticipate a difficult season in Athens this fall was kidding themselves or simply hoping for the best.

Georgia entered this season with a new defensive coordinator, a revamped defensive scheme and a redshirt freshman quarterback. In addition, the Bulldogs were without their player, wide receiver A.J. Green, for the first four games; he was suspended by the NCAA for accepting illegal benefits.

The loss at Colorado was a bad one, but the other three losses don't seem so bad in retrospect. South Carolina also beat top-ranked Alabama. Arkansas beat Georgia on a 40-yard touchdown pass with 15 seconds remaining. Georgia also lost at Mississippi State, which is 5-2 and also beat Florida and almost topped Auburn.

Georgia currently is on a three-game winning streak; the Bulldogs scored at least 40 points in beating Tennessee, Vanderbilt and Kentucky. Of course, some will counter that none of those are great teams, and they have a point. But all Richt can do is keep leading the Bulldogs to victories.

If he does on Saturday against Florida, the calls for Richt's firing will quiet down, at least for a while.

But if Florida wins ... well, anything can happen.

And lest we forget, Richt was hired to replace Jim Donnan, who was fired after consecutive eight-win seasons.

Don't blame the 'experts'

Boise State has won 21 consecutive games. Its head coach is 55-4. The Broncos have won more BCS bowl games than most Big Six schools. But they might as well not even be ranked at this point because, according to the experts, there is no way they will play in the national championship this season. With the kind of injustice going on, why should I even watch college football anymore?
Matthew in Atlanta

Why is everyone always blaming the "experts" for the perceived injustices in college football? It's not the "experts" who set up the ridiculous BCS system used to set up the national championship game. And just who are the "experts," anyway?

If you're referring to the media that covers college football, let me remind you that The Associated Press poll -- the poll of media members -- is not used in the BCS formula.

If it were, it would be to Boise State's advantage. The Broncos are No. 2 in the AP poll. They're also ranked No. 2 in the coaches' poll.

That should make it clear that it's the computers (and the weak Western Athletic Conference) that are responsible for Boise State being third in the BCS standings.

This season again will show why the BCS is a dumb system and that college football is in dire need of a playoff.

Should Boise State, Oregon and Auburn finish unbeaten, the Broncos will be left out of the national championship game even though they may be capable of beating the other teams. But, hey, that's tough luck. Just ask Auburn fans. Their team was undefeated in '04, but was denied a shot at the national championship because of the stupid BCS system.

But there will be even more controversy if, say, Boise State and Oregon finish as the only unbeaten teams, but Alabama is in the title game with one loss.

In that scenario, Alabama probably would face the Ducks in the championship game -- and I'd have to say that would be the right call. In that scenario, Alabama would have posted victories over four teams currently ranked in the BCS top 25, including No. 1 Auburn. In addition, they might beat South Carolina in the SEC championship game; that would give Alabama five wins over teams that are currently in the BCS standings.

In contrast, Boise State will have beaten one team that's currently ranked in the BCS standings -- No. 23 Virginia Tech. By the way, all the teams that Alabama would have beaten in this scenario are higher in the standings than Virginia Tech.

Actually, what may be more unfair than Boise State's possible omission is TCU's. The Horned Frogs also are undefeated but are just fourth in the BCS standings. Yet, there doesn't seem as much outrage that they might miss the national championship game even though they have a more difficult schedule that Boise State.

Like Boise State, TCU has beaten Oregon State. The Frogs also have a win over Big 12 member Baylor, which is 6-2 and ranked No. 25 in the AP poll.

Next week, TCU meets unbeaten Utah, which is eighth in the BCS standings. TCU also has beaten a solid Air Force team and a decent SMU team. The Frogs also have a game remaining against San Diego State, which is also solid.

Yet, some BCS computer geeks don't think TCU would jump Boise State if both teams finish unbeaten.

Don't use Boise State's 17-10 victory over TCU in last season's Fiesta Bowl as a reason the Broncos should be ranked ahead of the Frogs. Teams change year to year. Just ask Boise State; in 2008, TCU beat the Broncos in the Poinsettia Bowl.

There are injustices in college football, and until a playoff is adopted, there will remain injustices in college football.

Go ahead and stop watching if the injustices are too much to bear. But in all likelihood, your love for college football will keep you going to games and watching on TV despite all those injustices.

The BCS suits know that. In fact, they're counting on it.

Yeah, but ...

Michigan State is definitely a quality football team, but it should have lost to Notre Dame. They won the game on a fluke play in overtime.
Bruce in Pittsford, N.Y.

Whether Michigan State's fake field goal to beat Notre Dame was a "fluke" is subject to debate. Some might say it was lucky. Others will say it was a calculated risk that was sharply executed and caught Notre Dame by surprise.

That's up to the individual to interpret, I guess. But even if someone opts to interpret it as a fluke, it should be noted that several teams have posted wins on flukey plays en route to winning recent national championships.

Just last year, Alabama secured a key victory via a blocked field goal by a guy who basically couldn't jump -- 350-pound Terrence Cody.

Florida also clinched a key victory over South Carolina with a blocked field goal in '06. And didn't LSU complete a last-play touchdown pass against Auburn when a field goal would have sufficed in '07? By the way, that same season, LSU ran a fake field goal for a touchdown in a victory over South Carolina.

Were all those flukes, or examples of teams and players rising to the occasion to make big plays in big games? Again, that can be debated depending on one's point of view.

But what cannot be debated is that a win is a win. And when it comes to winning at the end of the season, this adage holds true: "They don't ask how; they just ask how many."

Randall under the radar

Why doesn't wide receiver Randall Cobb of Kentucky get more love from the national media? He just topped the career touchdown list for Kentucky and he is only halfway through his junior season. I believe he should be considered for the Heisman.
Brad in Tokyo

No offense, but owning a Kentucky career record doesn't carry as much weight as it would as owning a career record at a school such as Oklahoma, Ohio State or Alabama.

Because of that, Cobb may not have much of a national profile, but he is without a doubt an exceptional player and may indeed be the most versatile player in the country. This season, he's thrown three touchdown passes, has rushed for 195 yards and three touchdowns, and has 47 receptions for 511 yards and five touchdowns. He also averages 23.9 yards on kickoff returns and almost 10 yards on punt returns, including one he brought back for a touchdown.

While those are indeed impressive stats, I don't think that places him among the Heisman contenders. Though Cobb is eighth in the nation in all-purpose yards, Oregon's LaMichael James is third -- and he doesn't return kickoffs.

Cobb is primarily a receiver, but ranks just 69th in the nation in receiving yards per game. And he's playing for a team that's just 4-4.

Cobb definitely deserves postseason accolades and should be listed on the All-SEC team. But I don't think he belongs in the Heisman discussion at this time.

Olin Buchanan is the senior college football writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at olin@rivals.com.
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