In his four years at Georgia, Jim Donnan is 32-15, a record that would anoint football coaches as the messiah at most schools.
But it's well known that Georgia isn't most schools, and there's no doubt that its fans harbor hopes of being more than simply good.
So while three bowl victories and seemingly unlimited potential might cement a coach's status elsewhere, many Bulldogs fans are taking a wait-and-see approach when it comes to Donnan, who has gone 27-9 the past three seasons.
David Snelling came from his home in Greenwood, S.C., to attend the Augusta Bulldog & Alumni Club's annual meeting Tuesday at Sacred Heart Cultural Center.
While the 36-year-old claims to "love Donnan to death," he did add that the upcoming 2000 season will be critical.
"He's going to have to win nine or 10 ball games," said Snelling, who has missed all but one Georgia home game since 1979. "He's got to beat Tennessee or Florida and be in contention for the championship game."
The 55-year-old Donnan was the showman Tuesday night, performing impersonations, leading cheers and delivering punch lines to the packed building. It was a sharp contrast from the prickly and under-indulgent person he often is portrayed to be.
"He's not the greatest public-relations guy, and I think that does hurt," said Chip Massey, a Commerce, Ga., native who has lived in Augusta for the past four years. "You compare him to Vince Dooley, and Dooley is a great public-relations guy. But Donnan isn't paid to be a PR guy. He gets paid to win football games."
He's expected by many to do precisely that in 2000, when the Bulldogs will return 19 starters from last year's 8-4 campaign.
Georgia returns 99 percent of its passing yards, 92 percent of its pass receptions, 73 percent of its rushing yards and 80 percent of its tackles. To most fans, those numbers should add up to 10 wins -- at least.
Randy Metz is a die-hard Bulldogs fan from North Augusta who played baseball for Georgia from 1981-84. The 37-year-old said another eight-win season would be "about as mediocre as you can get."
"We've got to win 10 ball games and beat Florida or Tennessee," said Metz, who has seen his team post a combined 1-15 record against the Gators and Volunteers since 1992. "When you look at the size of the state and the athletes that we produce out of the state of Georgia, we ought to wear everyone out. It shouldn't even be close.
"We expect a lot."
Which isn't to say Donnan doesn't. Just last August, he bolstered expectations by suggesting Georgia had top-10 potential, only to see his team blown out by Tennessee, Florida and Auburn.
And the stunner at Georgia Tech, where the Bulldogs fell victim to a controversial fumble call late when a field goal would have sufficed, didn't help matters.
"He told the fans what they wanted to hear," Snelling said, "and he set himself up for a fall."
Donnan has been considerably more tight-lipped thus far, more prone to reflection about a season that admittedly was disappointing.
"In all of my years of coaching, most of my teams have gotten better as the season went on," Donnan told the crowd. "I really didn't feel that we did that last year."
Fred Noegel, a 75-year-old Augusta resident who has been attending Bulldogs home games since 1939, said he has no delusions of grandeur about this season.
"But," he added, "I am looking for things to be better."
Reach Larry Williams at (706) 823-3645.