The Bulldogs take on the Yellow Jackets at 7:30 pm in Stegeman Coliseum on Wednesday. The game will be tape delayed on CSS, and I think it's available live via some flavor of ESPN Gameplan (probably out of state or at sports bars). If someone has the details on that, please post them in the comments section.
For Dennis Felton and the Georgia Bulldogs the game is positively enormous. The Dawgs currently sit at 8-4; although, the win over Div II Augusta State doesn't count for NCAA or NIT post-season consideration.
For purely practical reasons, Georgia must beat the struggling Yellow Jackets (7-6) to maintain even a shot at the NIT...much less anything bigger. We will need at least 17 recognized wins to make the NIT due to the quality of the non-conference schedule and the RPI killer losses in Hawaii. More than likely it will take 18 wins including the SEC Tourney to get there. A loss to the Jackets starts making the requirements for success during SEC play (which begins this weekend) staggeringly tough for even the most modest of ambitions.
For symbolic reasons, the game is even bigger.
No Georgia basketball coach has lost to Georgia Tech in Athens since 1976. Most of that stat is inflated due to the extended time frame in which the game was played in the Omni. However, the fact remains that the vast bulk of the Georgia fan base has never watched us lose to Tech on our own court.
The mainstream Georgia fan will let a lot of things slide as it relates to sports not played in Sanford Stadium. Particularly when things are going well in football. However, losing to the Tickle Pilers brings a world of attention to yourself as coach that you don't want. Losing to them at home when they are fielding one of their worst teams in a generation is extremely bad.
Dennis Felton needs to show the Georgia people that there's some reason to maintain confidence in the direction that he's leading this program. We're half way into a Year 5 that has completely gone off the tracks due to a brutal combination of bad luck, frustrating academic issues, questionable off court decisions, and puzzling on court moves.
Everything that has gone wrong -- including the most recent injury to Billy Humphrey -- has not been Felton's fault. I'm not really interested in quibbling over what percent of "blame"for where we are goes to him or anyone else. If you search this site, you'll find very few instances where "blame" or "fault" are ever used (other than sentences involving Mike Adams). At this point, it not about "fault" or "blame." It's more simple than that.
A win vs. Tech would give Coach Felton some much needed breathing room. A loss would bring a level of heat that he has never experienced as a head coach.
The Opportunity is Still There for Good Things:
The SEC is positively awful this year when compared to its historic norms. League teams are dropping games to directional colleges and hyphenated schools at a shocking clip. This should be the season to take the program to the next level. Clearly, that task was made tougher by the dismissal of Takais Brown and Mike Mercer, but still...some level of progress must be maintained to get fans in the door.
If we beat Tech, we can get some momentum going as our SEC schedule sets up nicely for strong start. If we can get some momentum, we could build around potential stars like Jeremy Price. There is plenty of season left to play, but you won't find a more critical game in America this week for one coach's future at his school than this one for Dennis Felton.
It's backs against the wall time. They are going to need all of us to show up and be loud. I'll see you there.
Hoping for the best,