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Tuesday, June 18, 2013
Georgia Bulldogs Future Power Rankings

By David Ching

Today we take a look at the nation’s top college football programs and project their relative stability over the next few seasons. After examining Georgia’s coaching, talent base, recruiting prowess, program clout and the treachery in the Bulldogs’ path toward playing for a national title, ESPN’s experts ranked Georgia ninth in their Future Power Rankings.

Here are a couple of factors that could cause the Bulldogs to either rise or fall in those rankings over the next few seasons:

The Bulldogs will rise if: The young defensive talent pans out. Georgia’s roster appears to be stocked for the next couple of seasons with premium talent at the offensive skill positions. The defensive players have a lot more to prove. Bulldogs fans are excited about youngsters like safeties Josh Harvey-Clemons and Tray Matthews, the big group of inside linebackers who signed in 2013 and some of the additions along the front line. If that group transforms into a dominant unit over the next two seasons, Georgia could rank among the contenders for division, conference and maybe even national titles.

It might be too much to ask Georgia’s defense to dominate this season -- particularly with three challenging games (at Clemson, vs. South Carolina, vs. LSU) on the schedule before the calendar turns to October -- but this group should continue to develop throughout this season and be prepared to excel in 2014.

The Bulldogs will fall if: Staff continuity falls apart. Numerous members of Georgia’s coaching staff attracted attention from potential employers during the offseason, including coordinators Todd Grantham and Mike Bobo. Mark Richt’s staff has remained mostly intact over the last two years, but that won’t last forever -- and what will be the aftereffects when some members of this successful collection of coaches (they’re 22-6 in the last two seasons) split? It took several years after Broyles Award-winning defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder’s departure for Richt to find an adequate replacement in Grantham. He and Bobo might garner some attention as candidates for head coaching positions if they remain on their current trajectories, and Georgia must replace them with suitable candidates if they go.

Further, what if Richt decides to hang up his whistle? Georgia went 20 years between winning SEC titles between the glory years under Vince Dooley and less successful tenures of Ray Goff and Jim Donnan before Richt’s hiring. Entering his 13th season at Georgia, Richt has 118 career wins, two SEC titles and five SEC East titles on his resume. It’s far from a certainty that 53-year-old Richt’s successor -- whenever this person comes aboard -- will enjoy the kind of success that marked the last decade in Athens.