Who would you rather be this week — Richt or Obama?

Published 5:18 pm Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Who would you rather be this week? That’s kind of a silly question. Most of us have enough trouble just being ourselves and don’t need to be borrowing anyone else’s troubles. Yet, it’s a question I thought of this morning from the vantage point of two people.

Another way of asking the question would be to consider the Book of Daniel in the Old Testament. Which would you rather encounter: the fiery furnace of the third chapter or the lion’s den of the sixth chapter? Going in, the outcome looks pretty bleak for both. There were happy endings to both, however.

I’m sure the two people I am thinking about this morning as I pose this question to you would love to have a happy ending to their situations this week.

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Who would you rather be this week? Georgia football coach Mark Richt or President Barack Obama?

On the surface, the two face unequal challenges. As much as I love Georgia football, there is no question that what happens on the gridiron on a Saturday does not rise to the level of national concerns. We Georgia fans, along with other schools, may think that the world is coming to an end if our teams lose, but 14 million Americans unemployed will trump that disappointment every time.

Still, the so-called buck stops with each of these guys and this week each will be called to answer their critics. As I have already stated, there is a world of difference between being the coach of a college football team and being the president of the United States, but there are some similarities to the situations.

For instance, both face perceptions of incompetence. Mark Richt’s team lost seven games last season, including the last one to another of those “small” schools. He was given the benefit of the doubt and another year to prove his leadership. Last Saturday night on the big stage of the Georgia Dome, he did not start off well and a majority of the fan base feels that he has lost his touch.

As far as Barack Obama is concerned, the polls are not treating him well either. A majority of Americans think the bloom is off the rose and three-quarters polled think the country is headed in the wrong direction. He will try to “coach” up the country on Thursday night. Richt’s next opportunity comes Saturday.

Both face daunting tasks.

The unemployment problem that Obama faces is a real doozy. With a diminished manufacturing sector, a country in which the majority wants savings instead of spending, a workforce that is unprepared and demoralized, and a business community that is trying to figure out what kind of future there might be, his toolbox is almost empty.

Plus, his opponents are not champing at the bit to do anything that will help or increase his chances for another term. His Thursday night speech has been forecast as major and he did not help his situation by calling for prime time and a spot before the two houses of Congress. He asked for and received high expectations for the speech.

Just as the president’s problem is real, so is Georgia’s coach. He doesn’t face the same financial woes as Obama; UGA fans are still contributing to the football team, but there are substantial problems. His team seemed unprepared and his coaching assistants were not able to adjust to the problems posed by their opponent. His team’s high expectations were blunted by a stampede of Broncos.

Obama’s opponents will offer no quarter and neither will Mark Richt’s. If Obama thinks the Republicans are tough, try garnering any sympathy from Steve Spurrier or Nick Saban. The road is rocky for both the president and the coach.

Here is another similarity. The critics of both are impatient and not intimidated. There was a time when the positions of the presidency or head coach at a place like UGA offered some kind of insulation against an angry or disillusioned base, but not anymore. Anyone with a computer and Internet connection can find a blog or place to vent their opinion in just about any way and manner.

And finally, one more way that their situations are the same. I feel that both face turning points this week. The wolf, so to speak, is at both doors.

Mark Richt can go a long way to making his life more pleasant by doing something to inspire his team to victory over Steve Spurrier and South Carolina. He may have dug himself too deep a hole by losing last week, but surely his days are numbered by the same kind of one-sided loss as last week’s.

The president, definitely, needs to pull some kind of rabbit out of the hat Thursday night. He will probably have a pretty large audience since he is the lead-in to the country’s professional football season. However, if he gives the same old warmed-over porridge of the last two years, his days, also, may be numbered.

It may be too late for either of them, so who would you like to be this week? Coach Mark Richt or President Barack Obama?

That’s an easy one for me. I want to be Coach Richt. Why? Because he makes $3 million for his one year, while the President only makes $400,000. And, the coach gets to live in Georgia.