DGD. Every Georgia football fan knows what those three letters stand for. Sometimes we’re a little cavalier when we throw them around, but there are always several key names we agree on.
Hershel Walker. Vince Dooley. Garrison Hearst. Hines Ward. David Pollack and David Greene. Aaron Murray. Nick Chubb. And so many others.
UGA announced a few weeks ago that one such DGD, Mark Richt, would be honored during halftime of the Missouri/Georgia game in November. And it’s about time.
Richt has had a profound impact on Georgia, forever altering the course and future of the program. Richt won two SEC championships during his fifteen-year tenure, almost won a third, and five SEC Eastern division titles.
His teams also won nine bowl games and helped UGA maintain the longest active bowl game streak in college football. Richt’s teams had seven AP Top 10 finishes, and he was also named SEC Coach of the Year twice.
The 2002 team under Richt was UGA’s first SEC championship appearance since divisions were introduced and their first conference championship won since 1982.
Richt ended his time at Georgia 145-51. This record makes him the second-winningest coach in UGA history, only behind the great Vince Dooley, and gives him the highest winning percentage of any UGA coach who has coached more than twenty-nine games.
However, despite all of this, some Georgia fans claimed that Richt was not deserving of this honor when this news was announced. But stats and history show that while Richt never crossed the line to elite, he was a great coach.
Even though he never won a national title, he came so close on more than one occasion.
If we lived in a world where Nick Saban never became a football coach, Richt would have at least one title. But just like the horse in 1973 who could have won the first Triple Crown in 25 years if Secretariat wasn’t there, sometimes you have to settle for second best. Sometimes great careers coincide with the Greatest of All Time.
And while Georgia fans still feel the sting of that national championship that could have been, I think the guy who probably deserved it the most would say that it’s okay. Football is a game, and at the end of the day, it’s just a ball of glass. Richt is much more concerned with the game of life and making sure his players succeed on the field and even more success outside the stadium.
While I wasn’t alive to see that 1980 national championship team, a lot of Georgia fans were. They remember that team and the rough years in the decade to follow before Mark Richt arrived and breathed life into a dying program.
It’s easy to forget the hard times after so many good years. And for those of us who didn’t live through them, it’s even easier to discount the difference Richt made.
In my experience as a fan, Mark Richt was the only head coach I knew at UGA before Kirby Smart. Richt was and still is synonymous with Georgia Football to me. And his actions paved the way for the success Georgia football has today.
The class and culture people expect from the football program are part of Mark Richt’s legacy at Georgia, and his actions paved the way for the success Georgia football has today. Even if he never won a national championship, Mark Richt’s contributions to the program are invaluable. And for that, we’re thankful.
You’ll always be able to find a better coach. But I doubt you’ll find a better man and Damn Good Dawg.