The Risky Draft Declaration Debate Verdict

January 18, 2011

Read the opposing arguments from Loyal Homer and Bleacher Fan.

I charged our esteemed writers with the task of writing an argument for a college underclassman turning professional in an uncertain NFL climate. With a possible lockout occurring in 2011, is it really wise for a college player – who does have remaining eligibility – to make a jump to the pros?

The topic is all too relevant as we enter the final weeks of the NFL season. It was not that long ago – November of 2010 – that NFLPA officials went on the record with the certainty of the NFL lockout. There is plenty of smoke surrounding the idea that we will not have an NFL season in 2011.

It is fair and proper for a college junior to sit down and contemplate the enormity of this decision. Bleacher Fan and Loyal Homer made things difficult for any junior squarely on the fence with equally compelling arguments.

Loyal Homer crafted an argument carefully centered on the virtues of making gobs and gobs of money. He rightly pointed out that a rookie pay scale will likely be a part of the league structure when it does resurface should a strike take place, so the 2011 draft is the final opportunity for players to get unrestricted amounts of money. Loyal Homer also points out the value of getting money before possible injury disrupts a player’s ability to haul in a big payday.

The only problem with those two arguments is that the money for players picked outside the top 10 likely will not be vastly different between 2011 and 2012. Further, Sam Bradford and others have now proven that getting injured during a final college season after passing up on the NFL draft is not a draft stock killer.

Bleacher Fan convinced me beyond the shadow of a doubt that that injuries don’t matter, and extra playing time does. Rookies struggle to get reps in the pros right after they are drafted unless they are in the top 20-30 overall picks. Those reps are invaluable opportunities for experience, and with uncertainty surrounding the notion of securing professional reps in 2011, securing SOME reps is the smarter course of action.

Each college kids’ situation is different. There are some that come from really destitute family situations where the money would be life changing, not just for the player but for the whole of his extended family. There is no 100 percent right or wrong answer. But for kids on the fringe that are likely not top 10 picks (which, by the way, is the VAST majority of players), the money will likely not be that different in 2011 compared to 2012 – even with a rookie pay scale. So if the money is equal, then what is the most valuable factor in making this decision?

That factor is consistent playing time to gain experience and reduce the size of the learning curve between the college and professional game. A kid that thinks they can take the paycheck from a high draft pick, and then just sit and not get game experience or game action for a year – and then adjust to the pro game a year after NO playing time – is fooling themselves.

Not a perfect apples to apples example, but years ago Mike Williams – a standout receiver from Southern Cal… along with Ohio State’s infamous Maurice Clarrett – challenged the rules of early entry into the NFL draft. They lost, and were forced to sit out of football for a year. Neither player – when they finally reached the pros – was worth anything because of the amount of time they were away from the game, regular body maintenance, and general organized focus on their craft. Being around a college program for another year is far better than nothing, and they will have longer pro careers for making the investment in college now.

Oh, and they’ll have a college degree, too. Nothing wrong with that.

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The Risky Draft Declaration Debate

January 17, 2011

Read the opposing arguments from Loyal Homer and Bleacher Fan.

It is an understandably perplexing decision to make.

Put yourself in the following sticky scenario:

A few weeks ago you were a junior in college and a somewhat known amateur athlete. (The “somewhat” is appropriate only because you are on ESPN every so often with an occasional highlight.) You are a student, having to maintain a class load, attend mandatory study halls, and keep passing grades. Not to mention the huge commitment of volunteer time to perfect the craft of playing college football. You are a year away from your degree, happy, but less content that you used to be because you now have an eye toward the post-college “real world” and are struggling to define what that means.<br.

Then your bowl game comes, and as the final seconds tick off the clock you begin to be accosted by a variety of agents and others promising you big bucks if you make the decision to forgo the final year of your college education to enlist in the NFL draft.

It is a decision faced annually by a number of talented college football underclassman. Except this year is different. While the list of accomplished early entries into the NFL draft grows, so too does speculation NFL owners will lock players out from work in an attempt to leverage themselves into a better negotiating position for a necessary replacement to the expiring collective bargaining agreement.

Today’s debate asks our writers to make the decision about what to do – Should college underclassman jump to the pros (assuming they have an active league to jump to), or stay in school for another year to complete their degree… entering a more certain professional world in a year?

Loyal Homer will argue that it is too risky to jump to the pros this season, while Bleacher Fan argues the time is right.

Writers, explain your arguments thoroughly. Readers, put yourselves in the shoes of the players when reading this debate. That’s what I’ll be doing when I render judgment tomorrow.

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The Suspended Players Starting A Bowl Game Debate… Bowl Games Really About Benjamins

January 4, 2011

Read the opposing argument from Loyal Homer.

The 2010 college football regular season is in the books, and it has made me realize one thing—I miss Tim Tebow!

Since the universally admired Florida quarterback departed for the NFL, college football has been a parade of negative headlines. The pre-season NCAA probe into illegal contact with agents, the Cam Newton inappropriate benefits controversy, and the Reggie Bush Heisman relinquishing melodrama were all tabloid quality mainstays of the media that defined college football in 2010. So it should come as no great surprise that the 2010 Bowl season should be overshadowed by yet another scandal.

Five Ohio State players, including QB Terrelle Pryor, have been busted for selling championship paraphernalia and receiving improper benefits at a tattoo parlor. The NCAA investigated the matter and ruled that all five players must be suspended for the first five games of the upcoming 2011 season (Ohio State is appealing the ruling to reduce the suspension). Although the case against the players was fairly straightforward, and the action against them swift, it left many pondering the question, “Why didn’t the NCAA suspend them from the Sugar Bowl?”

The answer is simple, but discomforting to many. College football is all about the money.

At one time collegiate sports were a bastion for the STUDENT-athlete, but for most schools those days are long gone. Football programs are revenue generators and major attracting forces for potential clients… I mean students. There is so much wealth and revenue wrapped up in college sports that today’s game no longer tries to hide its commercialism.

Just looking at the names of bowl games clearly illustrates the profit driven commercialism of the modern “amateur” game. Bowls names, such as the Meineke Car Care Bowl, the Chick-Fil-A Bowl, Bowl and the Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl have virtually no connection with the sport other than a cooperate sponsorship, and that is to say nothing of the formerly sacred bowls – such as the (Discover) Orange Bowl, (AT&T) Cotton Bowl, and Rose Bowl (Presented By VIZIO) –which have sold out their naming rights to maximize revenue. Even the national title game bears the imprint of big business with its new moniker the Tostitos BCS National Championship Game.

My point in all this name nonsense is that there is nothing wrong with a sport making money, but it seems that the NCAA is in a ludicrous state of self denial continuing to purport the antiquated image of non-professional, uncompensated athletes in the profit driven big business of sports. We see it time and time again in college sports. Each year it seems that more and more college stars are revealed to have accepted some sort of illegal benefit or to have had in appropriate contact with an agent. Why? Because college sports are all about money.

It is that fixation with money that clearly drove the decision to ban the Ohio State five from games next season and not this year’s Sugar Bowl… correction that’s the Allstate Sugar Bowl. The absence of these five players, especially Pryor, would have hurt the competitiveness of Ohio State and in turn undermined the competitive validity of the gme. Watching a Pryor-less Buckeye team take on the Arkansas Razorbacks is a far less compelling game to watch. A less exciting game makes for poorer attendance and poorer ratings. Poorer ratings make for weaker commercial endorsement and the profitability of the whole bowl game decreases as a result.

Paul Hoolahan, Sugar Bowl CEO, validated my argument in his statement about lobbying to keep the suspensions from impacting the bowl game when he said, “I made the point that anything that could be done to preserve the integrity of this year’s game, we would greatly appreciate it… That appeal did not fall on deaf ears, and I’m extremely excited about it that the Buckeyes are coming in at full strength with no dilution.”

He is right. A punch-less Ohio State team would have undermined the entire bowl. Although I believe Mr. Hoolahan was looking at it from purely financial eyes consider the fans stake in the game. Fans that purchased Sugar Bowl tickets did not do so to watch backups play, they came to watch the REAL Ohio State take on Arkansas. Anyone who has ever bought a ticket to watch a sports team play only to find that their favorite superstar attraction is missing, for whatever reason, understands the disappointment I am describing. Recently I purchased tickets to watch the Miami Heat play. Had LeBron James been M.I.A. I would have been S.O.L., and would have been very upset about it. It would definitely impact my future ticket purchasing decisions, and the Sugar Bowl is no different.

Last, I’d like to consider the suspension itself. Players were punished, in essence, for selling their personal effects and getting discounted tattoos. TATTOOS! To channel my best Allen Iverson, we are not talking about cheating or a crime or the game that they go out there and die for and play like it’s their last. We are talkin’ about TATOOS. I simply don’t see the need for such drastic measures over something so very inconsequential. Does anyone really believe that Ohio State has a competitive advantage in signing recruits because of discounted tattoos?

These five guys are being punished enough. The NCAA would only hurt the sponsors and the fans by suddenly taking a principled stand against minor infractions. Where were all these so called principles when the naming rights for bowl games went up for bid anyways? The punishment is fine the way it is. It will be a deterrent to future devious tattoo discounts and will make Ohio State be more accountable for their athletes. But enough is enough; let them play in the Sugar Bowl.

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The TSD Best of 2010 Debate… To Fire or Not Fire Tops The List

December 29, 2010

Read the opposing arguments from Sports Geek and Bleacher Fan.

Since our first FULL calendar year of running this website, I think it’s fair to say we have grown tremendously. We added another writer, Optimist Prime, who has brought some wonderful insight to blend in with the other four outspoken minds we have on the site. I think he has made our arguments and debates better. I noticed this as I was looking back over some of our debates from this calendar year. One debate sticks out to this Georgia native, however, and that’s a debate we had back in late September regarding the status of UGA football coach Mark Richt. It also ended up being one of our more popular debates of the year, judging from the hits it received and continues to receive even now!

At the time we had the debate UGA was coming off a road loss to Mississippi State, who actually went on to have a solid season and win eight games. At the time, however, it appeared to be a bad loss, and it was the absolute perfect time to have the debate. The heat had been turned up in Athens and much of that fire was directed at Richt.

Optimist Prime and Bleacher Fan both presented outstanding cases. Bleacher Fan was, and still is, of the opinion that Richt should have been fired. The program had noticeably slipped (this is true) and Bleacher Fan brought on the interesting point that guys like Urban Meyer, Les Miles, and Nick Saban had flown past Richt in terms of winning championships. Optimist Prime believed that it was too soon to panic and that Richt had earned the right to turn things around.

I ultimately sided with Optimist Prime. I felt that Richt had done enough in his tenure to keep his job. There were some circumstances, such as the whole A.J. Green fiasco, that caused the Dawgs problems early.

Looking back, do I think I made the right decision? Granted, the Dawgs finished with a 6-6 overall record, with the outcome of Friday’s Liberty Bowl matchup against Central Florida still pending. Included in those six losses was a terrible loss at Colorado. But, to answer my own question, yes I still think I made the right decision. Richt definitely goes into the 2011 campaign needing a big season out of his team. I think he needs at least eight wins.

Being a Georgia resident, this debate often went on at sports bars, dinner tables, and office break rooms around the state. The Bulldogs bring out a lot of passion in the Peach State. I’ve heard the pros and cons of keeping Richt around ad nausea. But the fact that it was such a high profile coach in a high profile conference made this debate exciting and extremely relevant at the time. I sure hope you enjoyed it!

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The 2010 Sport You’re Most Thankful For Debate… Gobble Up Some College Football

November 24, 2010

Read the opposing arguments from Bleacher Fan and Babe Ruthless.

Happy Thanksgiving!! In other news, college football sure is great.

Week in and week out it is the only sport in America that consistently entertains, delivers, surprises, and boggles.

College football is great for so many reasons, and it makes no sense to recount the many hackneyed references that so many bloviate about in end of the season highlight clips from ESPN. The real joy of college football is hidden in the nuance of every weekend.

Of all of the sports in this fair nation of ours, the rivalries in college football are unmatched in both number and quality. Virtually every college football program has a significant game against a hated rival every season. That rivalry may be borne out of a long-standing border dispute (see Pittsburgh and West Virginia), deep-seated hatred (see Georgia and Georgia Tech), vitriolic bragging rights (see Auburn and Alabama), the charm of toughness (Army and Navy), or just consistently great football (see Ohio State Michigan). Rivalries matter, and the volume of rivalries in college football simply cannot be, well, rivaled by any other sport.

The palatial surroundings these teams play in adds to the grandeur and awe of the sport as well. Whether you are in The Big House in Michigan, Happy Valley in Pennsylvania, Neyland Stadium in Tennessee, or Autzen Stadium in Oregon, great stadiums and local, traditional atmosphere’s abound across our fair nation. Contrary to what your college experience may have been, college football is not solely about drinking and stumbling to a game that becomes a foggy memory. It is about feeling the emotion course through you when your team scores a big touchdown or makes a big fourth down stand that is sure to turn the season around.

College football is also – for better or worse – historically amazing at setting expectations before a season begins. This may seem inconsequential, but it does berth a bunch of exciting games, even in the first week of the season. Plus, just in this season alone, several games have come down to a final possession, a final play, that for good or bad can turn an entire season. Think back to the dropped pass in the end zone Clemson had against Auburn. A catch in that moment – overtime – would have dramatically turned the season for both teams. If Michigan State is unable to convert on a fake field goal to win the game against Notre Dame, perhaps Notre Dame solidifies some swagger and Michigan State again falls into the middle of the Big Ten like usual. No other sport is setup where a single play that completely change an entire team’s season like college football. Plus, games are exciting from the very beginning of the season because of the expectations set by those seemingly ridiculous pre-season polls.

The NHL is not a great league. Major League Baseball has come off of an interesting year with some new star players beginning to emerge, but the sport does not build up the emotion that college football does. Sure, the NBA has its share of drama, and so does the NFL. But none of the above have the history, tradition, and pageantry that college football also includes in its full package. Professional athletes – like it or not – are mercenaries. Though some may argue that college football players share some traits with mercenaries, the only reason those kids play is because they truly love the game. Every game is important, every game is an emotional roller coaster with a plot that twists and turns… with big games that end as surprisingly as a great film.

Check out the full slate of college football games we can enjoy this weekend. Every ranked team is in action, many of them playing against another ranked opponent. And, many of those games are also featured rivalry games. Oklahoma plays Oklahoma State, LSU plays Arkansas, Ohio State plays Michigan, Notre Dame plays Southern Cal, Missouri plays Kansas, Auburn plays Alabama, and Texas A&M plays Texas. Each game is personal, regional, and nationally important. No other modern sport boasts so many games in a single weekend with national implications. The professional leagues never come close. College basketball has the tournament which can create great matchups for one or two weekends, but not consecutive amazing weekends of close games like college football can.

While college football has lost a measure of its innocence in 2010 with the way the Reggie Bush scandal wrapped up, and the way the Cam Newton scandal seems to be progressing, it is still the most pure and entertaining sport on the market. And for that I am very thankful.

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The Best Game of THIS Weekend Debate… Iggles Must Bear Down

November 23, 2010

Read the opposing arguments from Bleacher Fan and Sports Geek.

It should come as no big surprise to the TSD faithful that Babe Ruthless is not the biggest fan of college football. While NCAA football may be the tantalizing main course for other writers here at The Sports Debates, college football is usually just lumpy mashed potatoes to me.

So while this holiday weekend provides a virtual cornucopia of mouth watering college matchups – such as the intense border battles between schools like Michigan and Ohio state and the deep-seated state rivalries between schools like Auburn and Alabama, Clemson and South Carolina, Florida and Florida State, and Georgia and Georgia Tech – the amateur action leaves me wanting for seconds on my fill of football.

But, I have no fear. The NFL delivers its own smorgasbord of marquee matchups and dramatic storylines to fill the awkward silent moments while you await the departure of your house guests. Storylines such as the well timed return of Vincent Jackson to an underachieving San Diego Charger offense, and the highly publicized war of words between T.O. and Darrelle Revis. It’s enough for any with gridiron glutton.

But far and away the game that packs the most punch this Thanksgiving weekend is the NFC showdown between the NFC East leading Eagles (7-3) and the NFC North leading Bears (7-3).

This matchup figures to be a classic case of the unstoppable force colliding with the immovable object. Philadelphia is playing ridiculously well with Michael Vick under center, but the team faces, quite possibly, its biggest challenge against one of the league’s best defenses in Chicago.

By all appearances the Eagles offense seems to be unstoppable. The Eagles have posted the second most points in the NFL this season with 284 points, just five points fewer than the league leader New England’s 289. But, if Vick had been starting the entire season, it is possible the Eagles would be at the top. Keep in mind the short-lived Kevin Kolb era had Vick pulling down sideline duty with a clipboard in hand. But now Philly has found its groove with a dynamic offense that has been running wild with #7 as the full time signal caller. Many certainly doubted the legitimacy of Vick’s ability to bounce back after his time away from the game – myself included. But he has bounced back… in a big way. Look no further than the absolute humiliation of the man who brought Vick to the Eagles, Donovan McNabb, when the Redskins were drubbed 59-28. Make no second guesses about Vick’s Eagles, they are a force.

Still if any team figures to slow down these juggernauts it’s the Daaaaaaaaa Bears (I always wanted to write that). Chicago has earned its reputation once again as the dominant defensive powerhouse in the league. This season the Bears have held opponents to a measly 146 points, tied for best in the NFL with division rival Green Bay. Even more amazing is the fact that the Bears have secured the top spot in the competitive NFC North, to say nothing of posting the same win-loss record as Philly, all while ranking among the bottom third of the league in average points per game as well as rushing and passing. I do not intend to celebrate offensive ineptitude. I mean to call attention to just how awesome the defense truly is, and the scary thing is it seems to be getting better. Since adding phenom defensive end Julius Peppers this off-season the Bears have become much more dangerous on defense. The most recent shutout performance against the Dolphins indicates that Peppers and company are heating up at the right time.

This is certain to be a brutal clash of epic proportions. One that should make even the worst Thanksgiving experiences a distant memory even if just for a few hours.

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The Ranking a Banned Program Debate

October 3, 2010

Read the opposing arguments from Loyal Homer and Bleacher Fan.

Earlier this summer the BCS brought the pain when it punished the University of Southern California for its lack of institutional control. As a result of a four year investigation into inappropriate benefits received by USC players, the BCS stripped the school of several scholarships, demanded forfeiture of previous wins, and, among other things, banned the university’s football program from BCS bowls for two years. The punishments doled out as a result of this process got us here at The Sports Debates thinking – “If the Trojans are banned from a BCS bowl game, then should the team not also be banned from the rankings?”

As of this weekend the Trojans were ranked in the top twenty teams, but the question at hand is, “Should USC be ranked at all?” It is not a matter of whether the Trojans are one of the most competitive programs in the nation, but whether they still warrant a ranking because of their bowl ban. No matter how well USC performs or who they beat, they will still not participate in a BCS – or any other – bowl at season’s end.

Which leads us to today’s debate: Should a ban from bowls include a ban from the rankings?

Loyal Homer believes it should. Obviously there is logic supporting this argument, but to win this debate he will have to prove that the team deserves a ranking ban.

Bleacher Fan, on the other hand, believes a bowl ban is not a good idea. He believes that although bowl bans are a punishment it does not actually change how well a team is playing.

Whoever wins this debate will be number one in my book, but their poll ranking may be a different story.

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The Ranking a Banned Program Debate… Post-season Ban Applies Post-Season Only

October 3, 2010

Read the opposing argument from Loyal Homer.

Six years ago, Reggie Bush (while playing at Southern Cal under then-head coach Pete Carroll) violated an NCAA eligibility rule by accepting money from a professional sports agent.

The NCAA unfortunately has a very difficult task when it comes to situations such like this, where the infractions are being addressed several years after they actually took place. The people guilty of committing infractions are no longer under the governing body’s rule. Therefore, there is very little that can be done to hold the actual guilty parties accountable.

While the NCAA does still retain the authority to penalize a program, the NCAA must also be very careful about the way punishments are implemented because the people who will be most greatly affected by the punishment are those currently in the program, who had nothing at all to do with the infractions that took place.

To avoid a situation where the children must pay too greatly for the sins of the parents, the NCAA has stripped away any recognition for what the football program did during the season infractions take place, and has banned the program from participating in post-season football for the two years following the discovery of infractions.

Although I would like to see a more aggressive partnership between the NFL and the NCAA so that guys like Reggie Bush and Pete Carroll don’t get to walk away virtually unscathed (don’t forget, Bush gave back his Heisman Trophy, it wasn’t taken from him), this is actually a very fair and just punishment to be levied on the program.

The institution suffers by missing out on the exposure and profits of playing post-season football, but the impact to the athletes and coaches CURRENTLY within the program will be extremely minimal. They will not get to play in a bowl game for the next couple of years, which is unfortunate, but they will retain every other benefit that comes from playing at a major university.

So, why take the punishment a step further by banning the program from consideration when ranking the top 25 teams in the nation?

Rankings and Bowls are Independent of Each Other

If there were only 25 bowl invitations extended every year, and those 25 invitations were offered to the top 25 teams in the nation, I would completely agree with a ban on ranking to accompany the ban on bowl eligibility. But that is simply not the case.

The national rankings serve as a gauge of which are the best 25 programs in the nation, not the best 25 bowl eligible programs. Last season there were 43 teams that played in bowl games and were not ranked in the top 25. What does USC being considered for a national ranking now have to do at all with bowl eligibility?! Absolutely nothing!

Just because a team is ineligible to play in the post-season does not mean it does not deserve consideration as being one of the best teams in the country.

If Alabama was banned from 2010 bowl eligibility it would not change the fact that it is the best team in the nation right now. Why try to ignore, cover up, or alter that fact by producing a fraudulent ranking written as though Alabama did not exist? It would completely devalue the entire ranking process.

Southern Cal, bowl eligible or not, is going to remain in contention as one of the 25 best football programs in the country. Any attempt to disregard or ignore that fact is pointless.

You Can’t Penalize the Wrong People!

It is important that the current active members of the USC organization are not penalized too harshly for the rule-breaking of the predecessors. But, there is another group that would also be unfairly punished if USC were to be banned from ranking eligibility – opponents.

That’s right. Banning USC from consideration for a national ranking is actually penalizing every single team that USC would play while they were under that ban. Why? Because there is greater prestige associated with playing and potentially beating a ranked team.

Think about what the Washington Huskies accomplished last weekend. Which sounds better – beating USC, the team banned from bowls AND rankings, or beating USC, the team ranked as the 18th best in the nation?

When the BCS rolls around, and a team that beats USC is potentially jockeying for position within the BCS standings, should they not be given full credit for defeating one of the 25 best programs in the nation? It is not their fault (nor is it their concern) that USC is banned from bowl games. But if you take away USC’s ability to be ranked, you essentially rob their opponents of the credit they deserve for competing against one of the best teams in the nation.

A Rankings Ban Adds No Value

What could possibly be gained by stripping a ranking away from USC this season?

Whether they are bowl eligible or not, they are still potentially one of the best football teams in the nation. The ONLY benefit gained by removing the ranking is that the team that is ACTUALLY the 26th best could be artificially bumped into a ranking they did not earn, nor deserve. That minor, arbitrary alteration would come at a far greater cost to USC players today (who were only 13 and 14 years old when Reggie Bush broke the rules) and their opponents (who deserve full credit for beating a major football program).

Taking away USC’s ability to earn a national ranking is the same as banning them from playing at all this season. Their opponents gain nothing by playing them, and their current athletes would have absolutely nothing to show for all of their hard work this season.

They were banned from the POST-season, not the REGULAR season. Let the regular season play out as it should, and when bowl season rolls around USC will serve its punishment accordingly.

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The Fire Mark Richt Debate… Expectations Outpace Mark Richt

September 28, 2010

Read the opposing argument from Optimist Prime.

Mark Richt is no longer able to compete in the SEC.

Yes, he HAS led the Georgia Bulldogs to nine consecutive bowl appearances, and boasts a bowl record of 7-2 in those nine games. He has maintained exceptionally strong recruiting classes during his tenure, and has twice been named the SEC Coach of the Year. And if he were head coach of a Big East or ACC program, that would be considered a wildly successful performance, and Richt would be at the front of the line for the next “elite” coaching job in college football.

The only problem is he already HAS that elite coaching job in the nation’s top football conference. And when you look at his performance, specifically over the past four years as the SEC has completely dominated college football, Richt has actually UNDER-performed.

BCS Shortcomings

In the nine full seasons since Richt became head coach at Georgia, he has coached his squad to a 2-1 BCS record, with no national championship game appearances.

Now, let’s compare that to some of his SEC colleagues:

Les Miles is 2-0 in BCS games since 2005, including a national championship with LSU.

Nick Saban is 3-1 in BCS games, with two national championships for two different SEC programs (LSU and Alabama).

Urban Meyer is 3-0 in BCS games, with two national championships.

Pop quiz, what is Mark Richt lacking? That’s right! A national championship, DESPITE being at the head of one of the supposed powerhouses in the SEC.

As for those two BCS wins, one came in 2002, back before the SEC had really developed into the conference powerhouse it is today, and the other came in 2007 against a Hawaii team that had no business being in the BCS, DESPITE an undefeated regular season record (don’t forget that Hawaii earned their record by playing the WAC, two different FCS teams, and the only team they played from a BCS-caliber conference was the 4-8 Washington Huskies).

While the SEC has improved, Georgia has declined

There is clearly a gap in talent between Mark Richt and the other premier coaches of the SEC. And with each passing year the irrefutable evidence indicates that the gap is widening.

Since Georgia’s last BCS win in 2007, while the SEC has improved as a conference, the Bulldogs have been on a steady and sharp decline.

Entering into the 2008 season Georgia was ranked as the top team in the country. How did Richt respond to that ranking? By losing not once, but THREE times that season.

Again, a 10-3 record (with a win in the Capital One Bowl) is not bad, but as the pre-season favorite to win the national championship, three losses equals to a HUGE disappointment.

Then in 2009, Georgia (who still managed a top-ten recruiting class) was ranked in the pre-season as the 13th best team in the nation, and they played on to a record of only 8-5… falling COMPLETELY out of the top-25 by season’s end.

Somehow, despite that slide even deeper out of SEC relevance, Georgia managed ANOTHER solid recruiting class and found itself once more ranked in the 2010 pre-season as one of the 25 best teams in the country.

And once again, Richt has failed.

So far this season he has managed to win only one game (against Louisiana-Lafayette), and his three losses (all of which have come against SEC competition) have him sitting in dead last as the worst team in the conference.

It is time for Richt to go

During his tenure, Richt’s performance at the University of Georgia has been good, but as far as the University of Georgia’s expectations are concerned, “good” in the SEC simply isn’t good enough. This is a program that has recruited some of the top talent in the country, but has failed miserably on the field.

Since 2007, Mark Richt has had top-ten caliber talent coming into each season, and has progressively dropped further and further out of contention. He has lost 11 times in the SEC during that time (compared to only four losses each by Florida and Alabama during that same period). This season, he has the Bulldogs off to their worst start in 20 years (they also started at 1-3 during the 1993 season).

The SEC has progressed to a level at which Mark Richt can no longer compete.

Three different head coaches have won national championships in the SEC over the last four years. Each one has progressively improved their program’s stature, elevating the conference in the process. All the while Georgia fans have been left on the sidelines with nothing but disappointment.

Mark Richt has had all the tools, and every opportunity, to improve his program right alongside the likes of Saban, Miles, and Meyer. But unlike those three, Richt has failed to capitalize on his opportunities.

While the SEC has gotten better, Mark Richt has gotten worse. The only way that Georgia can progress as a football program is if they leave Richt behind.

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The Best Game of THIS Weekend Debate… Dawgs Must Summon Razors Edge

September 17, 2010

Read the opposing arguments from Babe Ruthless and Bleacher Fan.

Georgia Bulldog fans, settle in for a long, long season if the team is unable to get past the twelfth Arkansas Razorbacks at home Saturday at noon.

It has already been a long year for the Bulldogs after opening SEC play with a loss to division rival South Carolina. The stakes are high again this weekend. While Georgia is rebuilding to a large degree this season expectations were still high because, well, it’s Georgia. Georgia fans are notorious for letting expectations far outpace reality, and this season was no exception. With the team down a game already in the SEC – within its own division – another loss is downright impossible to recover from if a trip to the SEC title game is still in the offing in 2010.

Arkansas is poised to finally be a legitimate player in the SEC. After several seasons of close calls and big time talent at the running back position, Arkansas finally has a balanced offense led by a fringe Heisman candidate in quarterback Ryan Mallet. Though the team has only played two games against far inferior opponents – Tennessee Tech and Louisiana-Monroe – the Razorbacks DID win by a combined 75-10. Mallet, through just two games, is already over 1,000 yards passing with 1,101, nine touchdowns, and three interceptions. He even has a touchdown toss of 85 yards and has completed passes to ten different receivers.

While it is clear that Mallet is the real deal, it remains to be seen whether his team is or not. Georgia, though the team struggled mightily on offense last week, does have a strong defense full of opportunism and big time playmakers. Mallet is prone to trust his arm, nearly to a fault. But even if Arkansas gets behind, the team has the offense to catch up quickly. On defense Georgia has to play a mistake free game, which is highly unlikely with so many youngsters.

Speaking of mistake free, Georgia likely will not be able to do that on offense either, especially with a red shirt freshman at quarterback. The good news for Georgia is that the offense is last in the SEC in penalty yards with 55. Quarterback Aaron Murray has only thrown on interception through two games this season, and he has only thrown one pass to the other team. But he also does not take enough risks yet to make enough plays. Arkansas will prove a very big test for the youngster, though he is at home. He must prove that he does not make mistakes, of course, but he must also prove that he can make the plays to win a game instead of just avoiding mistakes to prevent a loss.

Arkansas head coach Bobby Petrino does have more experience with Georgia from his days at Auburn. He understands how to gameplan for Georgia’s style under Mark Richt, and he is a good coach for a road team. Arkansas is favored in this game, and for good reason. After all, the Razorbacks are a better team than the Bulldogs.

But, Georgia has passion and inspiration on its side. While every game between the hedges is the biggest game of the season, this may very well be the biggest game of Mark Richt’s coaching career. Those pesky expectations – the ones that routinely outpace reality – will not give Richt a pass indefinitely. Ever this humble little blog received a hit from the following search query: “fire Mark Richt hire Kirby Smart.” Georgia fans are desperate, and the team must be as well. A win over Arkansas is a must this weekend, buying Mark Richt one more week of sleep. Still, humbling a Heisman Trophy candidate and beating a top 12 team in the nation will do a lot to quiet critics. Losing just is not an option if Richt, and Georgia, are going to survive.

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