Mark Richt Would Already Have National Championship If Playoffs Had Come Earlier


Mark Richt has the knock of not being able to win it all in his 14-plus years in Athens, but if the College Football Playoff had been instilled when everyone originally wanted it, he might already have more than one national title.

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The BCS was damaged goods right from the start, and everyone knew it, but the college football world was so ready to move on from the polls and split national champions, that the system eventually known as the BCS seemed like a workable alternative.

It wasn’t. Not even close.

Sure, the BCS gave us that undeniable No. 1 vs. No. 2 game, and in some cases it was a pretty good matchup. However, no one can deny that more often than not, the BCS got it wrong. Maybe by the end of the season things looked palatable, but based on how some teams started and finished the year, it was clear that we weren’t truly seeing the two best teams in the land.

The BCS also left some deserving teams out in the cold, teams who could have benefited from a playoff system or some sort of seeded tournament.

The 2004 Auburn Tigers are the best example of this computerized railroading by the BCS, finishing the season undefeated — including four wins over Top 10 opponents — but were left out of the national championship picture. Why, we’ll never understand.

Georgia, too, had it’s share of ram-rodding by the BCS, and for those who want to claim Mark Richt has never put together a national championship team you have to take into consideration that the championship system in place for 13 seasons of his tenure did not give due credit to at least two different Georgia teams.

Sep 27, 2014; Athens, GA, USA; Georgia Bulldogs head coach Mark Richt reacts to a penalty called against his team during the game against the Tennessee Volunteers during the second half at Sanford Stadium. Georgia defeated Tennessee 35-32. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

In 2002, the Bulldogs finished the regular season 11-1, winning the SEC East, and then demolishing the Arkansas Razorbacks 30-3 in the SEC Championship game, finally going on to beat the Florida State Seminoles in the Sugar Bowl, 26-13.

During that season Georgia faced four Top 25 teams, and worked their way from a No. 12 preseason ranking all the way to No. 4 by year end.

If there’s a college football playoff in place, there is no possible way the Bulldogs are left out. The other three teams in the current 4-team scenario? – the Miami Hurricanes, Ohio State Buckeyes, USC Trojans (or possibly even Iowa Hawkeyes).

The Canes played an extremely light schedule that year, and then were bested by Ohio State (who also played a much easier schedule than Georgia) in the BCS Championship game. While either team could have rightfully given the Bulldogs a good game, it’s hard to see either of them beating Georgia. USC or Iowa would simply have been the playoff window dressing.

The 2007 Bulldogs are another team that certainly would have made a case for the playoffs. Although early season losses to South Carolina and Tennessee were what ultimately kept them out of the SEC Championship game, their surge at the end of the season could have potentially catapulted them into a playoff spot, as they were the No. 4 team in the nation by Week 13.

The Ohio State Buckeyes were once again in that title game, after playing nearly nobody in the regular season (and losing to pititful unranked Illinois in the next to last regular season game). Certainly that loss coupled with a weak strength of schedule might have kept the tOSU out of the running. Regardless, Georgia would have had LSU, Oklahoma and more than likely Virginia Tech to tangle with in the playoffs.

It’s conceivable…if not probable…that either of those seasons could have easily turned into National Championships for Mark Richt.

But perhaps the greatest evidence of chicanery by the BCS game in 2012, when Georgia and Alabama played what was the defacto playoff game in the land for the right to face undefeated (and overmatched) Notre Dame in the BCS title game. Chances are that in a playoff scenario, Georgia lands either the Irish or Oregon in a playoff game, leading to national title game with Alabama or one of the previously mentioned schools.

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Would the Tide have still beaten Georgia in a national title game? Would they have even been there?

There’s just no way of knowing, because it was all decided by the computers and an inept system of deciding who the actual best teams in the nation were. Of course this is all speculation and what-ifs…nothing can be proved, but all true Georgia fans know what the truth really is.

We’ve had one year of playoff college football, and the results were already well beyond anything we experienced with the BCS. Perhaps now with the ability to become part of the post-season picture, Mark Richt can silence the critics and prove that he’s been the right coach for Georgia all along.

Next: 10 Biggest Recruiting Surprises of the Richt Era