Mark Richt has been Georgia’s head football coach since the 2001 season, and while he may not have reached legendary status yet, there are few that may realize the significance of what he’s accomplished.
There are many times when I’m asked how long will Mark Richt be at Georgia, or is he on his way out.
I have one standard response.
Mark Richt will be at Georgia as long as Mark Richt wants to be at Georgia.
Richt has made it clear that he wants Georgia to be his last coaching stop. He’s made a life for himself and his family here, and he absolutely loves the school.
He has a way of measuring his success that few coaches could live with, using his always inward looking spiritual side as the barometer for his achievements in his work.
He told Sports Illustrated earlier this year, “When I put my head on the pillow at night, can I have peace to know I did what I think is best, what I think is right?”
The national championship has eluded Richt during his time in Athens, and there is an equal split of supporters who say it’s just a matter of time and detractors who think his time has passed. But even without the national title (which I fall under the category of those who think it’s coming), his numbers and his legacy will speak for themselves.
In fact, many already do.
In a conference that has a reputation for short leashes and high expectations, Richt has been a calming, stable force. Coming into his 14th season at Georgia, his .737 winning percentage ranks fifth in the country among active coaches. If you remove Missouri’s Gary Pinkel from the equation (who spent the first 11 seasons at Missouri coaching in the Big 12), Mark Richt is the longest tenured coach in the SEC. (And Pinkel only beat him by a month).
If you want to see exactly how much Mark Richt has accomplished, here’s a graphic that will probably open your eyes. (This table uses a minimum of two full seasons as head coach for a qualifying benchmark). By comparison, the Georgia football program has had 25 different head coaches in its history.
Mark Richt at Georgia
|Seasons Coached||13||3rd||Vince Dooley (25)|
|Games Coached||125||3rd||Vince Dooley (288)|
|Wins||169||3rd||Vince Dooley (201)|
|Overall Win %||.737||2nd||Herman Stegeman (.741)|
|Conference Wins||72||2nd||Vince Dooley (104)|
|Conference Win %||.701||3rd||Herman Stegeman (.786)|
|Conference Titles||2||3rd||Vince Dooley (6)|
|Bowl Appearances||13||2nd||Vince Dooley (20)|
One thing not shown in that table is that Richt is the only coach to lead the Bulldogs to a Bowl game in every season he’s coached (so far). In every category where Richt sits 3rd, its almost always behind school legends Vince Dooley and Wally Butts, both of whom coached the Bulldogs for over 20 years, and both of whom brought national championships home.
In overall win percentage and conference win percentage, the deck is a little unfairly stacked in Stegeman’s favor, who only coached for three seasons.
And if you think the time has passed for Richt to get his national championship, keep in mind that it wasn’t until Vince Dooley’s 17th season as head coach that he finally won the title, and that was without having to play an SEC Championship game at the end of a grueling regular season.
No, barring some inexplicable and complete meltdown by the Georgia football program even more frightening than the Ray Goff era, Mark Richt isn’t going anywhere. And even if the national championship does elude him, it will not at all dilute his legacy and his importance to the Georgia football progam.