A Lesson In Futility From A Volunteer Hillbilly In the Ingles Check Out Line

3 years ago, when UGA and Coach Richt squandered a team that had a preseason #1 ranking, got its two toughest opponents at home and one a nuetral site, and was full of NFL talent on the offensive side of the ball, our friend Kensingtongdawg told me that Richt had turned into Phillip Fulmer.  Kensington was the first person who I heard say we needed to fire Richt-that was in 2008.  I thought he was just being irrational, and I still think he was, but it turns out maybe he was a genius all along (although I would never tell him that).

His big gripe that the SEC had passed Richt by, like it had with Fulmer years earlier. 

Well here we are now, 3 years later, 2 UT coaches later, and a partridge in a pear tree.  I see where people can make a comparision with Richt in Fulmer in the most simple, common denominators, but that is really it.  Fulmer spent 4o years involved with Tennessee athletics.  He was a much “bigger” icon to Tennessee football that Richt is at Georgia.  Fulmer had two losing seasons in his final 4.  So far, Richt has only had one.

I went to the 2005 and 2007 UT games.  2005 was glorious, and that is a differernt story for a different day.  Today’s story involves our trip in 2007.  After leaving Athens early Saturday,  Ocotober 6, 2007, we drove straight up 441 through the tip of North Carolina and into Knoxville.  We got to there around 10:30 or 11:0o in the morning, and stopped by a local Ingles to get some fried chicken and some other supplies for a quick tailgate lunch. 

As we stood in the checkout line, a friendly hillbilly walked up to us. 

“I hope you beat our socks off today,” the hillbilly said, “beacuse if you do, we are going to fire Fulmer’s ass on Monday.  I’ll be pulling for you.”

I don’t want to even go into how that attitude is dumb.  But I took that as the feeling of the Tennessee people.  Fulmer’s Volunteers had just been beaten by two TDs at California and were hammered 59-20 by Florida.   But we know what happened, the Volunteers whipped the Bulldogs for the second consecutive year in a game that was over in the first quarter.   Florida finished 2007 with 3 SEC losses, and UGA had just two (Tennessee and South Carolina).  Tennessee limped through the rest of the season, narrowly escaping with wins against Kentucky, South Carolina and Vanderbilt.  If Tennessee had lost any of those games, I would bet my year’s salary that UGA would have won the National Championship that year, because no team in America could hang with the Bulldogs by the end of 2007.

But Tennessee did what it needed to do in 2007 and UGA didn’t.  And Fulmer was safe, and even got a contract extension after that season.  Well, 2008 started off poorly for Tennessee with losses to UCLA, Florida, Auburn before they came to Athens and got beat by UGA.  They followed up that with non competitve losses to Alabama and South Carolina.  By the time the Vols lost to Wyoming, Fulmer was already dead man walking.  

With a Tennessee win on Saturday, the Vols still wont’ win the East.  They still must face Arkansas, Alabama, LSU and South Carolina.  Florida won’t win the East now without Brantley.  With a UGA loss, they probably won’t win the East since South Carolina has a favorable schedule and one game lead.

I have never, no will ever, pull for Georgia to lose so Richt can lose his job.  But I know there are folks out there who listen to Bill Shanks that would wish that.  Tennessee was at the point where they wanted to fire Fulmer, but didn’t want to becuase he had just made them a winner.  If Richt wins the East this year, or even has a good season but falls short, and the next few years are good again like I think they will be, is that going to be enough for the impatient fan base?  Are we at the point where it doesn’t matter what UGA does this season, or the next couple?  If UGA goes 9-3 this year, wins the East for the next few years, are we at the point where the next 8-4 or worst season means Richt will be unemployeed-even if there is success again along the way?

Sometimes, no matter what, there is no turning back once you abandon your guy.  There are some that are already there.  There are some, like  me, that wants to see improvement and change and will judge the whole body of work at season’s end. 

Where are we at?  Well on Saturday night, we will have a good idea where UGA is at in the short term and probably the long term too.   



11 Responses to “A Lesson In Futility From A Volunteer Hillbilly In the Ingles Check Out Line”

  1. 1 Spence October 5, 2011 at 11:26 am

    The scenario you described sounds like a lot of Texas fans pre-Vince Young. However, I think you’ll agree that winning a National Championship was enough to keep him around. Do you think that’s a good corollary?

    • 2 Corbindawg October 5, 2011 at 12:38 pm

      I agree. Mack Brown has won 2 Big 12 titles to Bob Stoops’ 7. The Georgia-Florida rivalry is a lot like Texas-Oklahoma. And until Texas went to the MNC game, there were a lot of comparisions between Mack Brown and Mark Richt also. I didn’t say in the post, but short of winning a National Championship, Richt will never truly be safe at UGA. If we do well for a couple of years, say win the SEC a time or two, during the Crowell-Murray-Mitchell era, but never make it a MNC, the first 8-4 season Richt will be on the hot seat again.

  2. 3 1992 Dawg October 5, 2011 at 1:22 pm

    How for the love of God can anyone in their right mind even THINK that we are “back on track”? Too many people are drinking the Kool aid again. We are 5 games removed from losing to CENTRAL FLORIDA. Follow that up with losses to Boise and South Carolina, the heat was ON! So what, we beat Ole MIss, Coastal Carolina, and Mississippi State. This team has yet to have beaten anyone of substance this season, and I unfortunately think the jury is still out on Tennessee. If we win, i’m not sure that it really means much. If we lose, then i think it will tell us more. I personally don’t enjoy donating thousands of dollars to go sit and watch crappy football, and i’m not satisfied with 3 and 4 loss seasons with the talent pool we are bringing in. We are are always in the top 10 in recruiting, and in the top 5 in regards to NFL players from UGA….. so we have the talent coming in and the talent is going out. WHAT ARE WE DOING WITH IT WHILE IT’S AT UGA? That falls on coaching.

    • 4 Spence October 5, 2011 at 1:25 pm

      The last couple of years certainly have been unacceptable. However, the top 10 recruiting rankings would be a guarantee of 11 win seasons if we were in the PAC 12 or not playing against 5 of the 9 other teams that have top 10 recruiting rankings. But when you play Auburn, Florida, Tennessee, and ofter Bama and LSU in the same season, sometimes you’re not going to win 10+.

      That said, we haven’t won 10+ in way too long, and I agree the jury is out on Tennessee. The real test this year is Florida. We better play them damn close, though I’m sure we’ll find a way to lose the game. We get blown out there or in any game left on our schedule (Tech, God forbid), and it’s night night for Richt.

      Would like to find a way to keep Grantham though.

    • 5 Corbindawg October 5, 2011 at 1:45 pm

      I agree…a win is a win vs a team we should beat and doesn’t mean much. A loss means much, much more.

  3. 6 1992 Dawg October 5, 2011 at 1:35 pm

    Spence, agree with your point and i’m smart enough to realize you aren’t going to win ALL the time. However, with talent like we have, should we be losing to Central Florida, Vandy, Kentucky, Miss St, just to name a few. The fact that we are barely over .500 in the past two and half years tells me something stinks. A schedule like this season or last should be easy pickings. I’m simply stating with this level of talent, we should have made some noise on a national stage, at least winning the SEC since ’05 at a very minimum.

  4. 8 OldDawg55 October 5, 2011 at 4:08 pm

    To 1992 Dog: Save your money..stay home and watch other games on TV…we don’t need or want you in our fan base..not because you’re unhappy but because down deep you’re a lousy Dawg fan. It’s got to be personally satisfying to you, huh? You can’t see the hours of work and the nights of lying awake analyzing and planning that the staff goes thru? No, it’s got to entertain you personally or fire them all? To hell with you and your fellow travelers…we’l back our Dawgs knowing that they aren’t the epitome of winning football but they’re our Dawgs and we love them. Go Dawgs, GATA!!!

    • 10 Spence October 5, 2011 at 5:21 pm

      Wait, is being unhappy with the coaching staff a sign that you’re a lousy UGA fan? Are you happy with the last 3 years? Do you think any of that is the responsibility of the coaches?

      OldDawg, I think everyone has a right to disagree about whether this coaching staff can get the job done, and maybe you fall on a different side of the fence than 1992 Dog. But just because someone thinks this staff is not the staff that will get us where we want to be doesn’t mean they’re a “lousy” Dawg fan.

      Some people are upset with the President of the United States. That doesn’t make them unpatriotic.

      Go Dawgs.

  5. 11 Andy October 5, 2011 at 8:59 pm

    We’re still Georgia and they’re still Tennessee. It’s go time this Saturday night and I’ll be supporting our Dawgs and coaching staff. Let’s GATA!

    Go Dawgs!

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