ATHENS, Ga. — When Mark Richt’s coaching future looked bleakest, he relied on his religious faith to carry him through.
Meanwhile, his Georgia players took care of business on the field.
The No. 14 Bulldogs have won seven in a row, their longest streak within a season since 2002. The surge has carried Georgia to the brink of the Southeastern Conference championship game and calmed all the talk between the hedges about an imminent coaching change.
“We’ve had dreams and aspirations ever since January to make it to Atlanta for the SEC championship game,” said quarterback Aaron Murray, who is closing in on the school record for touchdown passes in a season. “Right now, we have that opportunity. We’re definitely stoked about that.”
Georgia (7-2, 5-1 SEC) can clinch its first division title in six years with wins today over No. 24 Auburn and the following week against Kentucky – quite a comeback from the first losing record of Richt’s 11-year coaching tenure and an 0-2 start to this season.
When the Bulldogs seemed headed for more disappointment, the heat on Richt nearly boiled over.
They turned the criticism into a rallying cry.
“We always want to play for coach Richt,” tight end Aron White said. “This past year, the way everybody was so hard on him in the offseason, and especially after we started off 0-2. Nobody wanted to be that team that ended the Mark Richt era. That was not the legacy we wanted to leave at all. We’re definitely playing our hearts out for him this season, and he’s coaching his heart out for us.”