As prologue, I'll admit that I didn't watch the game closely. I took my rambunctious toddler to Starkville and she made it impossible to adequately watch the play-by-play in an analytical way. I haven't had the heart to watch the TiVo yet and I'm unlikely to have the desire to watch any significant portions of it. More stringent observation, however, isn't needed for what I'm about to say.
Georgia shouldn't lose to Mississippi State. Ever. We have too many inherent advantages, from our fertile recruiting base to our superior financial wherewithal. I've heard Jeff Dantzler talk about our lack of brilliant talent due to recruiting misses for the in-state elite. But, no matter what you say about our talent level, it should be (and I believe is) above State's at all times. What State can do, though, is make sure their athletes are well coached and that their effort is maximized. That's exactly what they exploited Saturday night. With inferior talent and resources, State beat a sinking Georgia program that appeared careless, undisciplined, and hopelessly unlucky. They did it with a well-coached, fired-up team that took advantage of its breaks and won a conference game. It was an effort in stark contrast with their opponents.
For the first time in a long while, I agree with every line of a Mark Bradley column. He makes most of the points that immediately ran through my mind on the long drive out of Starkville. It's not a happy agreement, but it's difficult to argue any point he makes. The issue is one of faith. We, as fans, have kept our faith in Richt for the most part. He's built a large stack of chits during his career in Athens. Last night's game, however, may have exhausted Richt's supply. Losing to Carolina and Arkansas isn't fun, but it's temporarily understandable. Losing to State isn't understandable.
To borrow a metaphor from nineteenth century European history, Georgia is the "sick man" of the SEC. A former power that has run into hard times due to repeated setbacks, relevant only because of its reputation, size and affiliation with other great powers. Georgia is withering before our eyes. When a team that has won championships in recent memory begins to lose battles with State, Kentucky, Arkansas, and South Carolina, none of whom have won a championship in longer than recent memory, the only conclusion is a degenerative, sustained illness. An illness consuming the patient, who is condemned to a slow and painful death.
The question for Greg McGarity is one of prescription, not diagnosis. We know the program is sick. The question is the cure.