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Post Quibbles: Muschamp the traitor and the meaning of “damn good”

Tuesday December 21, 2010

It might be a little early for the Airing of Grievances, and this isn’t exactly “I got a lotta problems with you people” stuff.

“Pretty damn good”

This is probably a better post for the long off-season, but the short attention span summary of the 2010 Georgia season is quickly taking shape as a tale of Georgia righting the ship and recovering from a poor start and the absence of A.J. Green.

Mark Richt suggested that “we played pretty damn good” after the team’s 1-4 start. There’s no question that the 5-2 finish was better than the start of the season, and the team did play well in certain areas – primarily on offense as Aaron Murray developed at quarterback. The accomplishment of consecutive games with 30+ points is significant, but so is the point that 30 is just an arbitrary benchmark. If your offense is capable of scoring more and needs to do so in order to compete and win, 30 points is meaningless. We’ve heard plenty about the seven straight games with 30+ points scored. We’ve heard less about the Dawgs giving up 30+ in their last four games against FBS competition.

That 5-2 finish included a 3-2 SEC stretch. Above-average, but hardly what I’d call “pretty damn good,” and not up to the standards of what we’ve come to expect from a Mark Richt team. None of those wins were over a ranked team or anyone with more than six wins*, though there were three bowl-bound teams in there. Losing to Auburn was no shame this year, but there was a huge missed opportunity against a Florida team whose late-season dive was put on hold for one productive afternoon in Jacksonville. It’s to Georgia’s credit that they didn’t lose games to teams with similar records like Tennessee, Kentucky, or Georgia Tech, but that’s setting the bar pretty low.

I don’t take Richt’s quote to mean that he thinks everything is just fine. We’ve already seen changes with the strength program, he’s noted the need for a team that’s physically and mentally tougher, and he realizes that the defense has a ways to go.

I still don’t know that the team I saw down the stretch had improved to the point that I’d say the South Carolina, Arkansas, or even Mississippi State games would have turned out differently. Those teams improved a good deal themselves.

* Bowl game result pending

Pining for Muschamp

I caught this line from Mr. SEC in a post over at Get the Picture. The hiring of Will Muschamp at Florida might have the effect of tweaking more than one program, but I have my doubts that Muschamp coming to Florida really bothered Georgia fans all that much (other than the obvious: he’s still Florida’s coach, after all).

There are probably a lot of Georgia fans who are upset tonight. As a Georgia grad, Muschamp was viewed as a “someday” coach of the Bulldogs. You can bet the folks who wanted to blow out Richt and hire Muschamp this offseason are bummed.

Oh, I’ve seen some of what he’s talking about, but it’s nowhere near the reaction of “a lot” of Georgia fans. If anything, the typical reaction from what I’ve read seems to follow along these lines: first, mild amusement (as opposed to being “bummed”) that Florida turned, of all things, to a former Georgia player and, second, a small sense of excitement – even if misplaced – that Georgia won’t have to face Meyer or Mullen or Stoops in Jacksonville for the near future. Muschamp is (or was) a Bulldog in good standing whose progression from walk-on to starter to co-captain to rising coaching prospect is admirable, but let’s not pretend that this was a beloved icon like David Greene heading to a rival’s sideline. Most of us couldn’t pick him out of a team photo without a cheat sheet.

Frankly, I’ve found the whole Muschamp-as-prodigal-son meme to be much more a creation and fantasy of those outside the program rather than of those who follow the Bulldogs. It’s the same connect-the-dots logic that had Dan Mullen as the all-but-announced successor to Urban Meyer. Once you get to the small subset of fans ready to “blow out” Richt after this season, Muschamp was about as informed a choice as Gruden, Petrino, or any other name that usually comes up when fans play athletic director. If you anticipated that this offseason would include the firing of Mark Richt and the pursuit of Will Muschamp, you deserve to be bummed.

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