The most bizarre Internet rumor of the last few days finally has a mainstream news organization reporting at least the first part of the speculation. According to the San Antonio Express-News, Mark Richt is a candidate for the Texas A&M head coaching gig.
An A&M insider said Richt is in the mix to possibly replace Mike Sherman, who was fired last week after four seasons and a 25-25 record. And Richt certainly fits the bill of someone who knows the Southeastern Conference -- the Aggies' destination next season -- inside and out.
The small problem with that story is that Richt has no apparent knowledge of the state of Texas. His entire college football playing and coaching career has been spent on the East Coast, either in Florida, North Carolina or, of course, Georgia.
But even if we set all that aside for a moment, there are two aspects of this that warrant breaking down: Would A&M want Richt and would Richt actually leave Athens for College Station?
The first part of the question is pretty easy: Of course A&M would want to hire the Georgia head coach. They're moving into the SEC and would love to have a candidate who has proven he can win in the league. Richt has five division titles and two SEC championships to his name, along with three additional nine- or 10-win seasons. The last two years were disappointing, and Richt deserved most of the heat that he got, but this year proves that Richt is still a great head coach.
What I can't figure out is why Richt would go to Texas A&M. That isn't to knock the newest member of the SEC; their job is a great one with a lot of potential for the right coach. But Richt is established in Athens and likely to get a new contract extensions, having just won the SEC East and everything. I've long believed that the only job Richt might take is an open position at Florida State, and even that is something of a stretch.
And the SEC West would certainly be, at least short-term, a step up in competition. The SEC East next year will likely come down again to Georgia, South Carolina and whatever potential there is for a resurgence at Florida or Tennessee. That's less daunting than going up against the twin recruiting-and-development buzzsaws of Alabama and LSU (remember the SEC Championship Game?) and what's turning into a very good Arkansas team that would have been the favorite to win the East this year.
The one reason Richt might consider leaving is the temperature of his seat before the season. While it is understandable that some fans were restless, and Richt certainly has done enough now to get rid of that talk for a while, it would also be understandable for Richt to consider how much rope he might get next time. The only reason he might leave is if he was worried that the next down year might be his last.
Otherwise, the guess here is that Georgia gives Richt a nice extension and A&M gets another candidate for their position. But, if by some strange chance that ends up being wrong, the first time the Aggies head to Athens would certainly be a must-see.