By Whitney Rivers Vaught
While the weather is beginning to cool, the SEC East Division race is starting to heat up. Georgia and defending division champion South Carolina are tied for first in the race and Florida is just a game behind. The favorite to win the race may have changed when South Carolina’s starting quarterback, senior Steven Garcia, was dismissed from the team earlier this week. Last season, Garcia led the Gamecocks to the SEC East division title, and was a Second Team Pre-season All SEC Selection at quarterback.
The favorite to win the division is now Georgia, according to Emmy Award winning ESPN analyst, Kirk Herbstreit. Prior to the season, Herbstreit had picked South Carolina to win the SEC East and play for the SEC Championship.
Georgia head football coach Mark Richt reflected upon the importance of winning a conference title in an article on ESPN.com.
“The first SEC championship is as gratifying as anything I’ve been associated with as a coach, and especially as a head coach,” Richt said. The importance of the title is magnified by the fact that Richt’s Bulldogs had just defeated Tennessee in Knoxville for his 100th victory as head football coach.
While UGA might still be on a high from a major SEC win last weekend, the players, coaches and fans cannot let that interfere with preparation for their game this weekend at Vanderbilt, another SEC East rival. In order to win another SEC Championship, UGA needs to first win the SEC East Division, and then return to Atlanta and beat the winner of the SEC West Division that would most likely be the top-rated team in the nation at that time.
“It’s just as hard to win in this league, and I’m glad we’re in the race,” said Richt. “If we continue to improve and get to a point to where we’re not making it easy on the opponents, we’ll be a hard team to beat.”