The life of a college football coach

Published 6:15 pm Tuesday, November 3, 2015

You can count on hearing about college football at the coffee shops around Southwest Georgia in the fall.  Georgia and Auburn fans are probably doing a little less talking now than they had planned to do eight games into the season.

Given the fact that my brother, Ernest, is a long suffering Georgia fan and I am a long suffering Auburn fan, we share the disappointment as our teams have failed to live up to the pre-season hype.

Auburn was widely expected to be in playoff and the SEC Media picked Auburn to win the Southeastern Conference Championship.  After the last two tough losses, the Tigers have a 4-4 record and will struggle to be bowl eligible.

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Georgia, also was received a large amount pre-season hype.  They were almost universally considered to be the likely SEC East Champion this year and potentially go all the way to the playoffs.  Like Auburn, the Bulldogs are in the midst of a disappointing season, especially following a crushing loss to their hated rival, the Florida Gators.

The Tigers have had a roller coaster ride since the Terry Bowden days.  Undefeated seasons are followed by predictions of even greater glory.  Unfortunately, there has often been a collapse shortly after the glory year.  It seems this is a program that does the opposite of their projected destiny both good and bad.  When predicted to have a spectacular year, they seem to fail spectacularly.

The Dawgs, on the other hand, have been a consistent 8 or 10 win team.  Richt’s winning percentage is just under .750.  They haven’t won or played in a national championship game since 1980.    Georgia usually winds up with a highly ranked recruiting class and tend to lose at least one game a year that everyone expected they would win.

At this point, the blame game starts to play out.  Auburn fans are distraught that Auburn’s offense under offensive genius Gus Malzhan now ranks last in the SEC.  Georgia fans are convinced that Mark Richt, widely regarded as a good man, is not a coach that will ever lead the Dawgs to the Promised Land.

I wonder if there will ever be a coach to last as long as Vince Dooley or Bear Bryant again, without winning at least an occasional championship.  With today’s inflated salaries for coaches, I doubt Mark Richt would survive for 15 years at one school if he were just starting out today.

College football has become a huge business.   Richt and Malzhan both make around $4 Million per year.  The expectation that comes with that type of salary is that the team is more than just competitive; these teams are expected to win.

To be fair, I think that the fan bases of Auburn and Georgia are two of the best in college sports. They even have a healthy, but intense rivalry.  However, their fans face the fact that the game between these two teams in a couple of weeks will be for bragging rights only.

Ernest and I will cheer our team on, rib the loser, and wear our school colors proudly for the week of the game.  We will enjoy the game, our friends, and the atmosphere of college football.  Winning, while important, it isn’t everything.  That is, unless Auburn is playing Alabama.  In that rivalry, nothing but winning counts.

Gus Malzhan and Mark Richt are good men and good coaches.  Unfortunately, fans’ expectations are higher than ever and like or not the life of a college coach isn’t nearly as easy as it used to be.