The pressure is on Felton now

ATHENS - Billy ball is done in Gainesville and that opens the door in Athens.

Dennis Felton should have a smile on his face this morning. Two of the top obstacles in his way - Billy Donovan, who has left Florida for the NBA and Tubby Smith, who left for Minnesota just after the NCAA Tournament earlier this season - are gone. That leaves those two programs, the top SEC programs in recent history, without their longtime head coaches.

Now the race is on.

Tennessee has Bruce Peal and his orange suits to guide them, and Kevin Stallings will continue to guide Vanderbilt. Both got to the NCAAs last season, but neither strike the fear Florida and Kentucky do. There is no longer a dominant program in the SEC East. That's good news for Georgia, and its perfect timing for Felton, who needs to make a splash.

Not too long ago Felton signed an extension of his contract, but the small raise he got didn't show the utmost confidence in him. The message? Start getting to the NCAAs. Overlooking the fact that Georgia has the worst arena in the SEC East, and that Felton was handed a program with problems from probation, Felton's turnaround of basketball in Athens has been slow, but steady. It's not fair to judge Felton for some of the time he's been in Athens because of the drama which preluded him. He has gotten the program back to respectability, but now, five years into it, questions will be raised if Georgia doesn't get into the NCAAs quickly.

Smith and Donovan being out at their schools means Georgia can now more easily get to where it needs to be: the NCAA Tournament. If that doesn't happen soon Felton will be out, too.

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