Monday, September 5, 2011

Mark Richt's Job In Danger This Season If He Doesn't Beat Georgia's Rivals

There are several extremely loud University of Georgia alumni/fans who have been highly critical of Head Coach Mark Richt for the past couple of years. I've not been one of those, but I can understand their frustration.  Mark Richt is most definitely skating on thin ice this year.

Richt was hired away from Florida State in 2001.  As offensive coordinator for the Seminoles, Richt engineered a dominant, dynamic offense that won two national championships during his seven-year tenure.  It also was in the top five of scoring offense in the nation five of those years.

When Richt first came to Georgia, a lot of that magic came with him.  He led the Bulldogs to SEC Championships in 2003 and 2005, and SEC East Division Championships in 2002, 2003, and 2005.

However, in the past six years, other SEC programs have hired coaches that have outshone Richt and, as a result, overshadowed Georgia.  Urban Meyer resurrected a struggling University of Florida in 2005, and led them to a national championship in 2006 and 2008.  Nick Saban joined the University of Alabama in 2007 and won the national championship in 2009.  Auburn won the National Championship in 2010 behind Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton.

With all this success occurring around the SEC, Georgia fans wonder "why not us?"  Georgia players are routinely drafted high in the NFL draft, and the program is well-regarded.  How is it that Georgia hasn't been able to keep up?

I like Richt as a head coach.  His overall record at Georgia is 96-35 with a 7-3 bowl record. In the 11 seasons prior to Richt's hiring, UGA was 86-53-1.

The true problem comes in the main rivalry games that UGA plays every year.  Florida, Tennessee, and Auburn are the main rivals, with games against Georgia Tech and South Carolina receiving only slightly less attention.  Here's how Richt's teams have fared against this competition in his tenure:

  • Florida: 2-8
  • Tennessee: 6-4
  • Auburn: 6-4
  • Georgia Tech: 9-1
  • South Carolina: 9-1
The real issue is the lack of signature wins in the Georgia program under Richt.  UGA has been dominated by Florida, and has split games against Tennessee and Auburn.  Georgia fans feel that they should be right up there competing for the SEC championships every year, and more often than not they have been out of the running by the second half of the SEC schedule.  

2010 was UGA's worst year under Richt.  The program was 6-7 overall, and 3-5 in the SEC.  UGA lost winnable games against Colorado, Arkansas, and Florida.  

Richt has to figure out a way to bring Georgia back to prominence in the SEC, or he could soon be out of a job.  I believe that it would be really hard to find someone that will do a better job than Richt has, but that won't matter to die-hard Bulldogs.

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