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Does Mark Richt Need to Win SEC East to Keep His Job with Georgia Bulldogs?

AUBURN, AL - NOVEMBER 13:  Head coach Mark Richt of the Georgia Bulldogs against the Auburn Tigers at Jordan-Hare Stadium on November 13, 2010 in Auburn, Alabama.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
John SmithCorrespondent IIAugust 5, 2011

Being and staying a head coach in the SEC in 2011 isn't necessarily about your accomplishments or credentials, but a lot more about "What have you done for me lately?"

Mark Richt will enter his 11th year as head coach of the Georgia Bulldogs with more pressure to win than ever before.

After leaving Florida State to coach the Bulldogs in 2001, Richt became the first head coach in SEC history to win two SEC Titles and a record four straight 10-win seasons during his first five years at the helm.

That is quite impressive, considering the coaching legacy in the SEC. But there is one thing absent from his resume that Gene Chizik, Nick Saban, Urban Meyer and Les Miles added within the last four years: a national championship.

Georgia has won the SEC in 2002 and 2005, but they have failed to reach a BCS National Championship during Richt's 10 years—and that isn't the only thing bothering Bulldog fans.

Entering the 2011 season, the Bulldogs are coming off their first losing season since 1996.

The Bulldogs played in the Independence Bowl following the 2009 season and lost in the Liberty Bowl to Central Florida last year.

If Georgia fans ask Richt what he's done for them lately, there is little debate to the answer.

Even he would admit that he has underachieved with the talent level he brought to Georgia. Richt hasn't been able to produce on the field for the last couple years.

So what will Richt need to do in 2011 to keep his job?

It can be done in a couple ways. The easiest way is to defeat South Carolina in Week 2 and play in the SEC Championship Game. They don't even have to win the game.

Another way would be to finish with nine or more wins, including a victory over Florida and a January bowl appearance—either the Capital One, Gator or Outback Bowl.

Granted those aren't that impressive results, but Georgia fans will accept them

Although much has been made about the first two games against Boise State and South Carolina, the final 10 games will ultimately decide Richt's fate.

Following the first two games, Georgia fans will have their mind made up about Richt.

With an 0-2 start, it's simple. Richt needs to go—right now.

With a 1-1 start, it's a bit more complicated, depending on what game they won. 

If the win is against Boise State, Georgia beat a top 10 opponent to open the season but probably won't win the SEC East with the loss to South Carolina. 

On the other hand, if the win is against South Carolina, the fans will start planning for an early December trip to Atlanta and the Georgia Dome.

With a 2-0 start, Georgia will be all but a lock as the Eastern Division representative of the SEC title game and a dark-horse national championship contender.

Four different scenarios, four different results,

And while it isn't fair to the rest of the season, it's the reality of this day and age of Georgia football.

If you had to put me on the spot, I would say Georgia starts 1-1, and finishes the year with nine to 10 wins.

To answer the question, does Richt need to make a trip to the Georgia Dome to keep his job? 

No.

It depends on the final result and the team's record and how the team plays throughout the season.

The Bulldogs could hypothetically go 11-1 (7-1 SEC) and still miss out on a trip to Atlanta. That wouldn't be the same as going 8-4 (5-3 SEC), missing out on Atlanta and another mid-tier bowl appearance.

Richt doesn't need to get to Atlanta to keep his job. But he better win nine to 10 games and look competitive and in control of his football team for the 2011 season to keep it.

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