To say things are bad right now would be an understatement. Just five weeks ago, the Bulldogs were undefeated and ranked No. 8 in the AP poll heading into a massive game against Alabama between the hedges. But Alabama crushed the Dawgs 38-10, and it’s been all downhill from there.
Georgia lost the next week to a reeling Tennessee team, squeaked out a 9-6 win over Missouri and then, after a bye week, fell 27-3 to Florida. It’s been nearly nine full quarters since the Bulldogs’ offense scored a touchdown. In a year when Georgia was supposed to walk to an SEC East championship, the Bulldogs were completely eliminated from contention before the calendar hit November.
So, yeah, things are bad in Athens.
FootballScoop is in our 17th year doing this; so this isn’t the first time we’ve seen Georgia underperform; however, the feedback we’ve heard from sources in the profession over the past few weeks regarding Georgia is unlike what we’ve ever heard during Mark Richt’s tenure.
On Tuesday, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution published a lengthy report saying changes, of one kind or another, are coming:
To be clear, change is coming at Georgia. It might not be today or even this week, but it’s coming. And we’re not talking about just the quarterback position or the offensive line.
Georgia’s issues at the moment are chiefly with the offense, but it goes beyond that. There is general dysfunction and dissension not only within the team but also within the football staff.
Richt has been issued a directive to fix it, according to several people familiar with the situation. His ability to do that over these final four weeks of the season — as the Bulldogs play Kentucky on Saturday and Auburn, Georgia Southern and Georgia Tech after that — will determine not only the futures of some of the coaches on his staff, but Richt’s as well.
Also on Tuesday, former Georgia quarterback and Pro Football Hall of Famer Fran Tarkenton appeared on sports radio in Atlanta and didn’t just remove the curtain from which the AJC wrote behind, he ripped the darned thing off the wall.
As Tarkenton sees it, the staff is dysfunctional and it’s Jeremy Pruitt’s fault.
“I think he has come over and been very boisterous, been very loud,” Tarkenton said. “I think he’s taken advantage of things over there. He personally has hired four of the assistant coaches over there including the weight guy. I’m not a great fan of Jeremy Pruitt. That has not been a good, workable solution.”
One doesn’t have to be Magellan to map what’s going on here.
It appears Georgia AD Greg McGarity and the red-and-black power brokers will have to decide whether the path to resurrection involves bringing back Richt – and ripping out the Pruitt tree down to its roots – or replacing Richt and starting over completely.
Update: Shortly after we published our story, USA Today’s Dan Wolken published a lengthy, well-reported piece on the situation.
Among the highlights:
- Pruitt almost certainly will not be back, regardless of what does or does not happen to Richt.
- Offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer could be removed as well if Richt returns.
- McGarity wanted to fire Richt after last season, but was overruled by president Jere Morehead.
And then there’s this:
Just so everyone knows, Jeremy Pruitt is our defensive coordinator and is in the office working diligently getting ready for Kentucky!
— Mark Richt (@MarkRicht) November 5, 2015
As always, stay tuned to the latest at The Scoop.
Thursday afternoon update: Late this afternoon, refuting Dan Wolken’s report that he wanted to fire Mark Richt last year, Georgia AD Greg McGarity told Seth Emerson and USA Today, “There isn’t one ounce of truth to that. That is not right.” Emerson adds that he, along with other UGA beat writers, were unaware of any such talks last year, “at no time did any sources indicate that McGarity wanted to make a change.”