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Johnson will have Jackets back on top
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The regular season doesn’t get under way for a few months, but there’s never a bad time to discuss college football in the South.
With that in mind, here are a few topics that should keep message boards around the SEC, SOCON and ACC jumping until September.
Q: Is UGA coach Mark Richt on the hot seat or not?
A: That depends on a few variables — like time of day, phase of the moon and number of Bulldogs arrested the preceding weekend. Look, folks who like Richt really like him. People who don’t like him, really don’t.
In other words, there doesn’t seem to be much of a middle ground here, but so far, Richt’s 96-34 mark over 10 seasons has kept the haters at bay.
But if the Bulldogs have another subpar season like last year’s 6-7 effort, then Richt could be shown the door. And with opening contests against Boise State and South Carolina, Georgia could start the season 0-2. 
Q: Will Paul Johnson and Georgia Tech bounce back this season?
A: For my money, Johnson is the best college football coach in the country. He went 62-10 with two NCAA I-AA titles at Georgia Southern, then compiled a 45-29 record at Navy before taking the job at Georgia Tech in 2008. Last season’s 6-7 mark was only the second losing season in Johnson’s stellar 14-year career.
Some question Johnson’s triple-option offense because it’s rarely employed in college football — but hey, they’re clowns who have no idea what they’re talking about.
Nobody coaches the option like Johnson, and the question really isn’t whether the Yellow Jackets will bounce back in 2011.
Nope. It’s instead a matter of trying to figure out how high that bounce will be.
I say expect Tech to be in the thick of the race for the ACC title and a BCS bowl bid.
I won’t be surprised if the Jackets compete for a national title, either. Johnson is that good of a coach.
Q: Can GSU put together another run like last season?
A: Yes. The only thing missing from last year’s team is inexperience.
In his first year as a head coach, former Johnson assistant Jeff Monken brought the triple option back and wowed the hard-to-please crowd in Statesboro with a 10-5 mark and a trip all the way to the FCS semifinals.
The Eagles return 20 of 22 starters from that team, including quarterback Jaybo Shaw and defensive tackle Brent Russell, and should be set for another deep playoff run and possibly a shot at the school’s seventh national title since football was resurrected in 1981.
All of which means the bar is set high in the ’Boro — but then, it has been since football was restarted in 1981.
Jeff Whitten writes about sports for the Coastal
Courier and Bryan County News.

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