Aloha, folks. Remember me? Yeah, I know... four days in a row with no blog posts. I'm a terrible person.
I do apologize. I was out of town the past two days and, while I'd hoped I could squeeze in some time for writing, it just didn't happen.
On the upside, I have a couple things planned for later the rest of this week, a few projects in the works for early next month, and next week I'll be heading to Destin for the annual SEC league meetings. So there's plenty of blogging to come, and hopefully most of you found ingenious ways to blow off work for the past few days so no harm was done.
In my travels -- which included plenty of down time on an airplane -- I was pondering the "great" debate over the relative temperature of Mark Richt's seat. Again, I can't stress enough that I think the idea of him getting canned at the end of this season is silly. But... just for fun, and to prove my point, here's a rough case I made for why every other coach in the SEC could be gone at season's end, too:
Urban Meyer, Florida. Corch already tried to quit once, only to change his mind a few hours later. But what happens if those health concerns continue? And particularly -- what happens if his health is a concern, but so is his team? Or... what if the NFL comes calling? There's almost as many scenarios that have Corch leaving Gainesville as have him staying.
Derek Dooley (Tenn) & Joker Phillips (UK). First-year coaches aren't likely to be on a tight leash but... Kentucky's already seen a lot of Phillips, so maybe if things go really sour in Year 1, they'd be more apt to part ways quickly. And Dooley -- well, he's no Lane Kiffin, but Tennessee is on its third coach in three years.
Steve Spurrier, South Carolina. Entering Year 6 of his plan to make South Carolina relevant, all that's happened is that Spurrier has largely become irrelevant himself. For USC, having Spurrier as their coach is much like the loser from high school finally getting to date the prom queen 10 years later when she's packed on some pounds, had three kids and been divorced. Yeah, he can probably do better now, but he's too obsessed with the image. So I doubt Carolina makes a change, but perhaps Spurrier decides he's had enough.
Bobby Johnson, Vandy. Hey he's done more at Vandy than anyone in recent memory. But... another winless SEC campaign and even the Commies have to think that they've reached a bad place.
Gene Chizik, Auburn. Remember how upset fans were when Chizik was hired? Much of that anger was erased by a relatively strong season, but what if Auburn takes a big step back in Year 2? Might the calls for a change return vociferously? OK, I'll admit it... this was among the hardest ones to conceive of a reasonable exit strategy.
Dan Mullen, Mississippi State. Here's Mullen's problem -- He's a good coach at a school where winning consistently is going to be close to impossible. So while a six-win season would probably thrill MSU fans, how happy will Mullen be with that? Then imagine that the Florida job comes open.
Les Miles, LSU. With a chance to beat Alabama late in the game, Miles calls for Jordan Jefferson to spike the ball on fourth down to preserve some clock.*
Bobby Petrino, Arkansas. High expectations in Year 3, but still has a terrible defense. Add to that the fact that Petrino hates staying at one job for more than six months and it's fair to consider the idea that he'll be headed elsewhere.
Houston Nutt, Ole Miss. David Cutcliffe had won at least seven games in five straight seasons, including a 10-3 mark in 2003. Then after Eli Manning left, the Rebels dropped to four wins in 2004 and Cutcliffe was fired. Would anyone be surprised if Nutt and Ole Miss won just four games during a major rebuilding effort in 2010? Yes, it'd be stupid to fire Nutt... but it's happened before.
Nick Saban, Alabama. Another SEC West title reminds Saban that there's nothing left for him to accomplish in college and, after insisting that there's no way he would ever leave Alabama, he quickly takes the job as the Cleveland Browns new head coach.
(* -- This scenario actually unfolded during an arena football game I covered in Albany once. The perpetrator? Former Georgia Tech QB Donnie Davis.)
Now, what would it take to get Mark Richt fired in 2010?
I suppose if Georgia won just three or four games, it might be enough to require a change. But I just can't see any scenario in which that happens without some drastic outside circumstance (like an Aaron Murray injury) being at the root of the problems, and Richt could hardly be blamed for that.
I suppose, too, if the financial motives were strong enough, a change could be made. But how much would donations and ticket sales have to fall for it to be financially worthwhile to buy out both Richt and Todd Grantham's contracts, then overpay to land a new coach? Again, there's just no way that happens.
So my question for all the hot-seat enthusiasts would be this: Of all the scenarios listed above -- some of which, I plainly admit are tough to envision -- where would Richt getting the axe fall on the levels of likelihood? I'm not sure what the answer should be, but I'd feel pretty safe in saying that, even if you told me six SEC coaches wouldn't be back next year, Richt would still be on the sideline at Sanford Stadium in 2011.
OK, on to some links...
-- Two Georgia football players are considering giving baseball a shot this summer. I really don't like the sounds of this. Mark Richt just commented last week that he thought Israel Troupe could have a big year because he had finally put baseball behind him. And like Troupe, Sanders Commings is also playing a position where depth is a real concern.
Perhaps in the long run it doesn't really matter -- and perhaps both have a better chance at making the pro level in baseball than in football -- but if I were one of Georgia's coaches, I'm not sure I'd be completely pleased with this development.
-- One of my favorite former Bulldogs made a stop in his hometown to visit some sick fans. (h/t Jim F)
-- So I mentioned earlier about how former Tech QB Donnie Davis once decided to spike a ball on fourth down to stop the clock. And yet, I don't consider him to be anywhere close to the worst QB in Tech history. And with that in mind, Bubba N Earl present the honorable mention on their list of the 100 greatest players in Georgia history.
-- Dawg Bark thinks Georgia has the third-best DB depth chart in the SEC behind Florida and South Carolina. I think it's dangerous to get too far ahead of ourselves in predicting greatness for a unit short on experience... but yeah, that secondary has a chance to be really, really good.
-- Talking to most fans, this seems to be a sports year at UGA that they'd rather forget. Down year in football, historically bad in baseball, missed the tourney in basketball and, at least by their standards, a bit of an off year for gymnastics. And yet, Georgia still ranks second in the SEC in all-sport standings. So to answer Tim Tucker's question... yeah, I'm surprised.
-- A Damn Beast wonders how well Aaron Murray can stand up to all the pressure that will invariably be on him this summer and fall. And that's the question about Murray, isn't it? The kid is talented, but of all the hyperbolic worries about how he'll perform, I think this is probably the most legitimate one, given what happened on G-Day. Of course, my best guess is... he'll be fine.
-- If you haven't been on board from the beginning, here's your chance to catch up on "Friday Night Lights".
-- The Grit Tree has a great entry this week for Lewis Grizzard Wednesday on dining at truck stops.
My best/worst truck-stop story was probably at an all-you-can-eat diner in Oklahoma.
I was driving cross-country with a friend (we were in the process of moving to San Diego) and the diner had a name so hilarious that we had to stop. Sadly, I can't remember the name now, which likely has to do with the brain damage I incurred by eating the meatloaf. Also, it's never a good idea to choose a dining establishment based on the comedy value of its name.
I do remember there being Jell-O for dessert. It was a color I had never seen before, but the closest approximation I could give you was when a high-school girlfriend of mine drank too much blue Mad Dog and threw it back up.
We concluded that leg of our journey that evening in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and all I can say is that, while the motel we stayed at charged just $35 a night, they would have been wise to also ask for a security deposit based on the condition the bathroom was in when we left the next morning.
-- And finally, I know a number of you have asked my thoughts on the "Lost" finale. I'll write some later this week, but in the meantime, here's a list of answers to a number of burning questions.