2012 UGA SEC Media Days Report
Mark Richt, the longest-tenured head football coach in the greatest American college football conference, headlined the SEC Media Days in Hoover, AL on July 19th. Over three gloriously long days in the Birmingham area, thirteen other head football coaches had spoken to the media masses. Richt stepped to the mic after 1 p.m., under a much different circumstance than existed in the previous preseason. After claiming a fourth SEC championship game berth by winning the SEC East and sweeping UGA’s four biggest rivals (Florida-Tech-Auburn-Tennessee), Richt is not on the proverbial hot seat as he was after two uncharacteristically subpar seasons Between the Hedges.
UGA is on an overall two-game losing streak and a two-game bowl skid. Georgia has lost two consecutive football contests to newer real rival, eleven-win South Carolina and old nemesis Steve Spurrier. The Dawgs have not defeated the Florida Gators in consecutive seasons since Vince Dooley handed the reigns to Ray Goff. Georgia has currently beaten the Auburn “War Eagle” Tigers in five-of-six games, in the record-wise most competitive rivalry in the long history of college football. The Border Bash, the Cocktail Party, the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry: each will be played outside of the largest state east of the mighty Mississippi River (GEORGIA). Can UGA realistically be expected to sweep these games? And beat state rival Tech for an eleventh time in twelve tries. This quote unquote easy schedule has some serious pit mines.
Win the East and Georgia gets the best of the West in The ATL. Arkansas was #5 in the country and did not even have stud runner Kniles Davis. Bama has won two-of-three national championships, while only claiming one SEC West crown during that run. LSU won eleven games and then thirteen games and may still be ascending. Auburn is two years removed from a crystal ball.
Did I mention that rival and traditional powerhouse Tennessee was the single best passing offense in the conference when facing UGA in game five last season, without the services of the then-injured All-American talent of huge wideout Justin Hunter. They are finally healthy and are oh so hungry. Florida had a top ten in the nation defense, which returns nearly intact. South Carolina has the best pass rush tandem in the country and returns the SEC’s best running back. Even Vandy is suddenly upstart under Coach James Franklin and was a tipped pass from beating Georgia last year. Quarterback James Franklin put up huge passing numbers for Missouri, while rushing for more yardage than departed SEC Freshman of the Year Isaiah Crowell. They are saying this will be the biggest game day environment in school history at “The Zoo” to start SEC play. I’ll be there.