Georgia Football Coach Mark Richt: Fair and Not So Fair Criticism


Dawn of the Dawg joins the age-old Georgia football argument, “Is Mark Richt good enough to coach the Bulldogs.”

Related: Georgia Football National Champions That Could have Been

I believe Mark Richt is a good coach and the right man to lead Georgia football. If you don’t, that’s fine – it’s totally up to you.

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Last week Barrett Sallee of Bleacher Report wrote a column about unfair criticism of Georgia football head coach Mark Richt. So incensed was Bill Shanks of the Macon Telegraph, he responded in three days with a column so snarky that a copy can likely be found next to sarcastic in Webster’s Dictionary.

Where have you gone, Harley Bowers?

In the original article, Sallee cites several statistics from Richt’s record to assert, “Richt has proven over time that he has the ability to lead his teams to near the top of the mountain and simply hasn’t received the luck that other ‘great’ SEC teams and coaches have benefited from.”

The enraged Shanks blended sarcasm and condescension in a water cooler diatribe to ridicule and mock the assertion that luck matters.

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Maybe luck matters, maybe it doesn’t, but Sallee offers, “[Richt has a] .739 career winning percentage, has had his team in the division-title conversation in mid-November in each of the last four years, won two of those titles and came within one tipped pass of playing for a national title.”

Shanks can assert that Richt’s .739 career winning rate and Eastern Division successes are not evidence that Richt, in fact, “over time . . . led his teams to near the top of the mountain.” But ridiculing the opinion while ignoring the supporting documentation won’t get one far in debate class.

Rightfully, I don’t have a dog in this fight. (Also, I don’t enjoy writers telling me what I “get” and “don’t get.”) You can read the articles and decide who’s the grown up. Let’s instead advance the discussion.

Shanks writes “Saban” thrice and “Alabama” twice in his column. If Nick Saban and Alabama are indeed the gold standard, let’s compare with Mark Richt. Dawn of the Dawg will let the reader will draw his own conclusions.

Wins and losses

Jan 1, 2015; New Orleans, LA, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban against the Ohio State Buckeyes during the second quarter in the 2015 Sugar Bowl at Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Mark Richt winning rate at Georgia: .739,

Nick Saban winning rate at Alabama: .831.

Mark Richt career winning rate: .739

Nick Saban career winning rate: .754.

Comparing apples to apples

Mark Richt winning rate compared to Georgia football’s historical record: .739 to .644, .095 percentage points better than Georgia historically.

Nick Saban’s winning rate compared to Alabama football‘s historical record: .831 to .707, .124 percentage points better than Alabama historically.

Mark Richt (.739,) Vince Dooley (.715) and H. J. Stegeman (.741) have winning rates at Georgia above .700. (Stegeman only coached three years and 29 games.)

Gene Stallings (.810), Frank Thomas (.812) and Wallace Wade (.812), and Bear Bryant (.824) all have greater than .800 winning rates at Alabama along with Nick Saban (.831)

Broadened comparison with other coaches

Against Top 25 teams, Nick Saban has won 58.8 percent of the time, Mark Richt 52.2 percent of the time, Les Miles 56 percent of the time and Steve Spurrier 54.4 percent of the time,

Mark Richt has won 64.3 percent of his bowl games, Miles 53.8 percent, Saban 50.0 percent. Bear Bryant 51.7 percent and Dooley 40.0 percent.

Mark Richt has won no National Championships – one less than Dooley, Miles, and Spurrier who each have one. Saban has won four National Championships and Bryant six.

Mark Richt required 141 games to reach 100 wins, Saban required 149, Vince Dooley 144, Steve Spurrier and Bear Bryant 154. Les Miles required only 138 games to reach 100 wins.

Richt is one of only four coaches to reach 132 wins in his first 14 seasons along with Bob Stoops, Tom Osborne, and Gary Patterson.

On the field

In head to head competition, Richt is 2-4 against Nick Saban including games with Saban serving as head coach at LSU. Richt is 1-2 against Saban at Alabama. Vince Dooley was 3-6 against Alabama, Wally Butts was 7 – 11 against Alabama.

If not for a little luck, just a little, Richt would be 2-1 against Saban at Alabama.

Next: Ten Biggest Recruiting Surprises of the Mark Richt Era