ATHENS – Five months ago, Georgia's players were insulted when many analysts called 2005 a rebuilding year for the Bulldogs. They better get used to it.
In seven months from now, when the 2006 season begins, they'll probably be hearing it again. Counting tight end Leonard Pope, who has announced his decision to leave school early and enter the NFL Draft, the Bulldogs will have to replace 12 starters from this year's SEC Championship team, including quarterback D.J. Shockley, two All-Americans and three other All-SEC first-teamers.
The Bulldogs' argument is that, in Mark Richt's five years, they have risen above the level of rebuilding.
"I hope that we've gotten to that point, but every year is a new challenge and our league is a very tough league," Richt said. "You could be a heck of a football team and lose three or four games by one or two points and people don't think too highly of you."