Enough people have repeated the words often enough, closely enough together, that some other people really seem to imagine Georgia coach Mark Richt is on the proverbial hot seat. If so, according to the Tennessean's David Climer, the resignation of disgraced UGA athletic director Damon Evans this morning is an ominous sign for Richt's job security if things go south again this fall: Evans was one of Richt's staunchest allies, an "important buffer" between the coach and demanding higher-ups who may ultimately determine his fate.
That is, unless the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Mark Bradley is right, and Evans wasn't really in Richt's corner at all. In that case, a fresh start under a new boss could do wonders for the coach's position.
The assumption in both cases is that there's actually something to the "Richt on the hot seat" meme – that he was feeling some kind of pressure from Evans himself or his bosses, who Evans was somehow able to keep at bay – which still defies public statements from UGA power brokers and common sense. What was Evans supposed to be protecting Richt from? Criticism of his pace to become the winningest coach in Georgia history? Antsy boosters looking to grill him over four straight top-10 finishes, or two SEC championships in four years after a 20-year drought since Herschel Walker's final season? The unlikely late-season run to No. 2 in the final polls in 2007?
Despite Bradley's optimistic take, the conventional wisdom is that new athletic directors are a threat to coaches: Personalities may clash, and if the record suffers at all, the new boss has no incentive to remain loyal when he can bring in "his guy." But as Bradley also notes, Richt wasn't Evans' guy; he was hired by Evans' predecessor, Vince Dooley. Whatever the internal impatience with Richt, Evans was certainly aware of them; for all we know, he originated them. But unless someone high up the chain is specifically looking for a hatchet man who'll have Richt's head at the first opportunity, whoever inherits the AD's chair won't have any more reason to put Richt in his crosshairs than Evans did.
An utter disaster of a season could change that equation. If there are high-placed Richt skeptics, the end of the Bulldogs' 12-year bowl streak could conceivable force a heavy hand or two to try to sweep him out. Short of that kind of wholesale collapse, though, Richt shouldn't need any buffers or friends in the short term beyond his own resumé. If it takes that to carry him through another mediocre effort, we can return to the political discussion in earnest next year.
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Matt Hinton is on Twitter: Follow him @DrSaturday.