So how good a year has Richt had?

Mark Richt was asked a good question at his Tuesday presser:

On if Georgia can win the SEC Eastern Division, if it would be as satisfying as the other three SEC Eastern Division titles the Bulldogs have won under Richt…

“In 2002, that was pretty special and miraculous winning that Auburn game. The thing I remember most about 2005 has got to be D.J. Shockley and how he persevered. That was a special year without question. Of course, I skipped the one [overall SEC Championship] we lost. I don’t know why. I don’t even remember that year. Let’s try to win this week.”

He’s being overly modest there.  I’m still of the belief that 2003 stands as the best coaching job of his career.  Sure, the defense was stellar and special teams were good.  But that offense… no running game to speak of, wide receiver injuries all season and an offensive line that yielded a nightmarish 47 sacks left the two quarterbacks to get the crap beaten out of them all season.  Yeah, the Dawgs were soundly defeated in the SECCG, but people tend to forget that they had a legitimate shot at the upset in Baton Rouge had Billy Bennett been on his game that day.  Had they pulled it off, that season would have wound up very differently.

Anyway, that led me to wonder how this season would rank as a coaching accomplishment if Georgia ran the regular season table and finished 10-2 going into the SECCG.  This year’s team is more talented on offense than was the 2003 group, but it’s had a whole different bunch of demons to exorcise.  Coaching the first SEC team to start a season 0-2 and make it to the championship game is a noteworthy achievement.

The other part of what’s gone on is that Richt’s remade so much of the program in a very compressed amount of time.  You can certainly argue that he had little choice in that, but still, I can’t think of many recent examples at other programs of an extensive overhaul like Georgia’s that succeeded.

I’m not ready to put the final stamp on things, of course.  Georgia first has to get back to Atlanta before any final evaluation can be made.  But it’s food for thought.  What say you guys?

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64 Comments

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64 responses to “So how good a year has Richt had?

  1. timphd

    I agree this has been a remarkable season. I was ready to accept the need for a new coach after the Boise game. Now I can’t believe we are looking at one more hurdle to get to Atlanta. Richt deserves the credit for reinventing the team into one that competes for four quarters and plays smarter than teams of the recent past. Letting Willie go had to be hard but it showed a determination to return Georgia to prominence. Very happy and proud for him.

  2. mwo

    Every expert on the radio, tv, and in the fourth estate said there was no way Richt could right the ship after the 0-2 start. They cited a downward trend and used past failures at other programs to illustrate their point. It couldn’t be corrected without losing his job. I am proud of this team and this coaching staff. They have all done an admirable job in staying the course, and now they will get their rewards. It wouldn’t surprise me for Richt to retire after all the hot seat talk and grief he took all year.

    • King Jericho

      Speaking of which, I haven’t seen BuLLdawg, Thomas Brown, whomever in a deliciously long time.

      • Normaltown Mike

        He’s building spreadsheets of Washaun Ealey’s stats from Jax State to pummel the blogosphere the next time Georgia loses.

    • The Lone Stranger

      I have to believe CMR doesn’t so much as concern himself with the hot air “in the system” and he seems to have the outwardly low-key demeanor to sail over any media or fan criticisms.

      He sure has not lost his taste for recruiting, and with the type of squad that is returning in 2012 I don’t see him moving on in the short term.

  3. UGA Illuminati

    I’m excited about the 8 game streak but concerned about exactly how good this team really is. Let’s be honest, those 8 teams were not exactly murder’s row. A lot will be answered against Tech and LSU. Hopefully this team is every bit as good as we’ve seen.

    • Rob Mc

      People were saying the same thing before Auburn and you saw what happened. People forget that they had been a good team all year. I feel that if the game had been a 14 point win in a more typical UGA-AU style game people would be singing praises about the great win over a quality team but the fact that we completely demoralized them seems to actually somehow taken some luster off the win because now people think that they are another New Mexico State. Remember everyone that was Auburn same team beat USC, and played tight games against most everyone else. Not to mention Dyer is one of the top running backs in the nation and we completely shut him down. Their Defense had shut down the “unstoppable” lattimore earlier in the year yet we hung 300+ on them on the ground. Auburn is not a terrible team this year we just sure made them look like one! GO DAWGS

      • Bevo

        This is fair. Our defense has been good since the beginning and our offense has slowly been turning from bad to good.

        We had one miserable game this season. Boise dominated us and our offense looked completely unprepared. I was shocked and I admit wondering if our dismal performance showed that Richt wasn’t going to get the wheels back on. However, as I’ve insisted since then, the defense was outstanding against Boise until they were just put in too many impossible situations to overcome.

        We outplayed South Carolina in many phases of the game, but the offense and special teams made too many mistakes. Again the defense was good. Unfortunate loss. I think we would have beaten them 4 out of 5 times. Lucky for them, this was the 1 in 5.

        Since then, our defense has gone from good to even better and the offense (other than against Florida) is improving and making less mistakes. Limit mistakes on offense and special teams, and this football team is strong. We’ll find out what our true ceiling is soon enough…

        • Cojones

          If you can’t recognize how good this Offense is, your poor attempts at trying to be anti-Bobo without calling his name fall far short. Murray as O player of the year in college football plus the fine receivers and great offensive schemes seem to have been missed. Maybe you need a set-to with Ben Jones. I’m sure Harton could take care of your light butt.That means you don’t know cow manure about football even if your texas longhorn steer moniker means you plop it on the ground.

          • Bevo

            This is just awesome. Thank you, Cojones, for the funniest GTP post I’ve read in a while.

            I especially love the internet threats — that’s the sign of a great mind and a strong argument.

            • Cojones

              It’s a learnt thing. I learnt it from you.

              • Bevo

                [paraphrasing]

                Bevo: “Man, at first just our defense was playing good. Now, that both units are playing have improved, our team is solid. If we can limit mistakes on O/ST, we’ll be a force.”

                Cojones: “Why do you hate Bobo so much? One of the players on the football team should beat you up!! I’m going to insult your handle now!”

                You sure you didn’t go to Tech?

      • The Lone Stranger

        And hey, NMSU knocked off Minnesota on the road, so there is that. The Dawgs could have stuck 84 on the Aggies if they had cared, and 66 on Abuurn too.

  4. baltimore dawg

    a 10-2 season in which we beat florida and make the seccg is a huge success, so it has to rank up there with the best seaasons of richt’s tenure. now an sec title. . . . well, that’s a rare and precious thing.

  5. BCDawg97

    http://blutarsky.wordpress.com/2011/08/30/not-your-regular-sec-preseason-predictions/#comment-109238

    I’m just sayin’…

    Figured Boise was a better coached team, USC had more experience while we normally take a bit to see what we have. The schedule was front loaded, we got our shit together as the schedule lightened up (well everyone except special teams) in time for Florida. And here we are…

    • Hogbody Spradlin

      Hey BC, help me pick some stocks.

    • Brandon

      While we non-energy vampires are patting ourselves on the back, how about this post of mine from September 19 of last year for prognostication (post-Arkansas loss):

      ” Brandon
      September 19, 2010 at 10:05 AM
      Yesterday’s loss was disappointing no question but honestly ask yourself whether we should be expected to win the game win you have the No. 12 team in the country quarterbacked by a 6’7” future pro wheel in to face your unranked squad with a freshman quarterback playing his third game. We could have won sure, but the line between winning and losing in our conference is razor thin. Again we played a tough team that is going to win a lot of games this year and were in it until the end. I’m not that down on this team. They showed a lot of guts to rally back and tie the game. We are going to be okay, here are my reasons for optimism:
      1. Aaron Murray is going to be a player, the kid is tough, talented, and appears to have the intangibles the coaches said he did. You give this some more experience and a good defense and we will be damn tough to beat. All this jumping on Bobo is ridiculous, we gained almost 400 yards yesterday, that’s not bad offense. Watch some tape of nearly any Chicago Bears game from 1986-1999 or Alabama under Mike Shula and you will see some bad offense. Anytime a play does not work you can complain about the play call, given 20/20 hindsight every one would do something different if they knew what they were going to do would fail, you win some you lose some, no one scores on every possession unless you hopelessly outclass your opponent talent wise (which was not the case yesterday). Even then you are always subject to human error stuffing out a play that would have worked if executed as called.

      2. I see some signs of improvement in the defense. We bowed up and stopped Arkansas’s excellent offense multiple times yesterday. We had some breakdowns but we knew that would happen changing to a new scheme and honestly these players on defense have not been coached worth a damn their whole careers until this year so you can’t get rid of years worth of bad habits in spring practice, fall camp, and a couple of games. I caught hell for saying this a few weeks ago but if we are still doing this kind of thing on defense at the end of next year we should fire Grantham but for now I’m pleased I’m seeing improvement. As I said in # 1 you give Aaron Murray a defense after he has some experience and we’ll go far.

      3. I don’t think people are giving South Carolina and Arkansas enough credit, we have had two tough outs so far in the conference. With the exception of Alabama (who no one is likely to beat absent multiple turnovers and special teams and defensive touchdowns), I think USCe and Arkansas are as good or better than any of the other traditional conference powers. Florida may get it on track and be better than them by the end of the year but I’m not so sure Florida would have beaten both, or even one of these teams if they had played them when we had to play them.

      4. Not having A.J hurt us bad in both of these games, face it we would have lost to both of these teams last year (and ASU too without him), would he have been the difference in one or both of these games this year? Possibly, getting him back will be huge.

      Finally, I agree with the Senator about the offensive line, it is a puzzle to me that they aren’t better than they are. I don’t buy into bad coaching, I still remember Searles stringing together a pretty good offensive line that year when he had four scholarship players and a midget who were eligible to play. The guy can coach fine, these defenses are really stacking the box against our line daring the freshman qb to beat them, it’s a smart move. Murray’s going to be good but he can’t quite carry the team all by himself, again having A.J. would have helped here. Also let no one ever again say that they don’t understand why Richt puts so much emphasis on his backs being able to block, you got a clear demonstration of why that was important on that last play yesterday. I really wish we had that kid who used to sleep in his car that played with David Greene back, what was his name? Tony Melton or something like that? That kid could block. Our team needs to keep their head up and keep working, our coaches just need to keep coaching and not listen to the naysayers and we are going to be fine. If you thought we were going to win the conference this year you were smoking something anyway. Ain’t nobody beatin’ Alabama this year. Again players keep working, coaches keep coaching, remember beating Florida covereth up a multitude of sins and THAT my friends is something to play for. It’s great to be a Georgia Bulldog!”

      I’ll admit though I briefly lost faith that our defense had been corrected (and that we therefore had any chance of success) after we went 0-2 and gave up combined 80 points in those two games.

      • Cojones

        Brandon, yours and BCDawg97 self congratulatory postings are well deserved of our plaudits. Astoundingly accurate and prescient in toto. Brandon, you placed a great deal of analysis out there that could have been easily picked over. Wow! NostroDawgus!

        • Bevo

          Cojones, your sniveling and meaningless postings are well deserved of our plaudits. Astoundingly accurate and prescient in toto. You placed a great deal of analysis out there that could have been easily picked over. Wow! Cojonedawgus!

    • Bevo

      Well done, BC.

      Looking back at that post, I saw in the S Car prediction:

      “If Garcia doesn’t implode…”

      Next time I get a chance, I’m raising some tequila to the memory of Stephen Garcia. And maybe keying his number into my car door.

  6. Irishdawg

    He’s done a hell of a coaching job. All the pressure after the first 2 games, when everyone was calling for his head, injuries to key starters and an offensive line with no depth. And he’s made the team into a bruising, physical force, one that won’t quit.

  7. JRod1229

    Not that I think we would.. but can we please not overlook tech. Working almost exclusively with Tech grads is unbearable on a good day…

  8. AthensHomerDawg

    It’s been a year that Coach Richt and the Dawg Nation sorely needed. Having separated ourselves into Disney Dawgs and Eeyore Dawgs camps. Richtophobe vs. Richtophile, it’s nice to have some peace between us all. A favorite activity among football fans is being that armchair quarterback or chat room coach. We all love it and we all do it. The criticism is primarily directed at athletes’ performances and decisions. Lose too many and that criticism
    blossoms and the head coach finds himself “on the hot seat.” What started out real bumpy has mellowed out into one sweet ride. Right now I’m on the bus enjoying the dream. We don’t know exactly where it may take us but we’re on it for the entire RIDE.
    “Oh it’s great to be a Georgia Bulldog!”………once again!

    • Cojones

      Athens Homer Dawg- Never noticed that you got off. You have been just as defensive as anyone has on here concerning the remarks aimed at coaches and players. Alaways considered they were foremost in your heart even when you criticized my “diplomatic” posts.

      • AthensHomerDawg

        Never meant my comment toward you as a crit. Check my posts I’ve generally had your back. Let me remove all doubt…. Bevo can kma. I don’t remember you(Bevo) here before. Cojones is here thick and thin. Initially you castigate Cojones about the content of his post and then you duplicate the same meme. Poor form!

  9. paul

    I was downright depressed after the 0-2 start. It seemed like only a matter of time before Richt lost his job, a tragedy of Shakespearean proportions, in my opinion. Now we’re talking about extensions. I am unbelievably happy for the entire team and coaching staff. Great job all around. The coaches never quit and the players put it on the field. It’s been a while since we’ve seen this kind of resilience in the Classic City.

  10. Socrates

    Well said Senator…..all we have to do is look back to the last years of Tubberville at Auburn and all the changes that failed miserably to save his job. That to me is what so satisfying as a fan, is to see these changes work. Grantham and the defensive staff, the overhaul of S&C and finally Friend comes in with incredible odds against him, and molds the top SEC East offensive line . To me seeing such wholesale changes for the good, just amazingly rare feat.

    • Rob Mc

      Great Point on Tubberville! I am so glad that we finally are seeing positive posts about the coaching staff as a whole! I remember not long ago posting on your blog about the defense and how dominate they would become when they were healthy and people were all over them. It feels good to look at our DAWGS and see a team that plays for their coaches(rare in these days of huge player egos) and now not only playing for them but winning for them! I also just want to say that not much has been written about the success of the offense as a whole. Murray has gotten a lot of press but I just love the fact that Bobo has stuck to his gameplan and proved everyone wrong in fact that his no huddle was correct and also they old school run it right at you until you stop me approach is back at UGA(also rare in the Spread Offense Era). Lets keep the ball rolling, keep the positive vibes, and push this team on into the SECCG!! and you never know what may happen then and after….The weather channel/espn predicts about a 20% change of sugar falling out of the sky! GO DAWGS

      • Cojones

        You have shamed me to apologize for taking shots at the dipshits who chased off a few good recruits and made excuses to keep doing it. I should have had the sensitivity to know the numgnuts couldn’t help themselves. Will all you aholes forgive me? C’mon, lets sing “Dickheads and Dawgs Together’ by linking arms, gritting our teeth and swaying back and forth to the music of “Blacks and Whites Together”. Hell, you interlopers join in because we can’t tell the difference anyway. You shouldn’t have any animosity anyways because I never said “sideways” when I asked you to “Jam it!”

  11. It’s impressive because of how seriously Coach Richt flirted with disaster before getting here. But we’ve still got Georgia tech to beat. And the favorable schedule makes it difficult to brand this season as anything more than it probably should have been.

    • BCDawg97

      The schedule was a fortunate break. But as the Senator has pointed out, it didn’t stop us from losing last year to teams like Colorado. Last year’s team loses to Miss, Miss St and Vandy this year, but this team has learned to win. Credit to the coaching staff for pushing the right buttons.

  12. Go Dawgs!

    The first man in at linebacker after ‘Tree went down against Boise was walk-on Jeremy Sulek. Nobody else had enough knowledge of the defense to go in. Grantham’s defensive coaching staff got a LOT of young players ready to go in a very short amount of time. Factor in the development of some very promising young receivers in the offense, the renaissance of Carlton Thomas (on display in the Auburn game, but apparent for most of the season), the cobbling together of a formidable rush attack when we all thought we only had one running back going into the year (a freshman at that), and spectacular offensive line play and you’ve got a coaching staff that did a great job this year. If they’re the SEC East champion on Saturday night, I’d say that it’s well deserved. As Coach Spurrier pointed out, we could very, very easily be looking at a football team that is 9-1. Of course, we could also be looking at a 7-3 team that lost at Vanderbilt. But they didn’t let that happen. They’ve all risen to the occasion. I’m proud to be a Georgia Bulldog.

  13. Raleigh St. Clair

    Coach Rict has done a damn good job this season. Consider: 1) a new OL coach who is overseeing a line with two guards playing tackle; 2) no experienced running backs; 3) several past contributors gone; 4) a new S&C coach; 5) a defensive coordinator who was still unproven (not anymore); and 5) a horrendous start that included a loss to USC that was so unlucky that it would have been so easy for the team to just give up. Yet, this team has persevered and consistently improved.

    Coach Richt has stood up to all of his detractors and steadfastly pressed on in a manner that is nothing short of admirable. Maybe some changes should have been made earlier, but none of that matters now. He has proven himself a true leader, and, in light of the things going on in college football today, I could not be prouder to have a man like Mark Richt leading our football team.

    This has become one of the most fun UGA to root for in many years.

    Beat the Cats. Beat the Gnats. Head for the Dome.

    GATA

    • James Stephenson

      Beat the Cats, beat the Gnats, grab that tiger by the tail and head to NO, heck yes. A fan can dream right.

    • Macallanlover

      Outstanding post Mr St. Clair, well said. Let’s keep the mo building and have an even better 2012. We have a lot of experience for a great staff to work with, and they have gotten that taste of blood this year. 2011 has been special regardless of December 3’s outcome, but 2012 is something to make us all tingle throughout the off season.

  14. Irwin Fletcher

    Let’s see….Tennessee, Florida, Auburn, and a chance at Tech and the SECCG in the same season? That’s fine work right there.

    I think it’s also important to point out that most fans, while facing what seemed to be the inevitable after week 2, still didn’t get caught up into the venom that some in the fan base have been spouting. Patience is a virtue and sometimes it is rewarded.

    Oh, and for every person that said the ‘program has drifted and that is all on Richt’s shoulders,’ if they can complete the turnaround, my hope is that those same folks will be consistent and say the program is back on track and that’s all on Richt’s shoulders.

    • MT

      If you took a poll of the national media and compared it to the readership after the USCe game, the temperature was night and day. I would say minimum 3/4ths of the post here were positive overall, not a lot of dripping pessimism at all.

  15. UGA has indeed a NEW COACH, named Mark Richt. How the transgressions in the team was handled, how the recruitment of the dream team came on, how he seem to have gotten out of his comfort zone during games, how there is less of sideline dancing which seem to be more of a distraction to the task at hand (you go to the game to play not to dance anyway), the 4th down calls (which he himself admitted gives more confidence to your team), use of multiple receivers even rushers and changes in the assistant coaches—- looks like a New Coach indeed.

    • Cojones

      Hot dang! Now everyone reach for your wallet/checkbook and show the foundation how we feel. Since many of you who were down on the Dawgs said you weren’t contributing any more, it’s the least to be expected of you. Throw in three “Hail Murray!”s while you’re at it. And tell’um it’s for the Team and Richt!

  16. Cousin Eddie

    To me the difference between the 02 and 03 years and 11 is then I expected UGA to win, now I just hope they don’t lose. The team had that “it” factor at times back then that just gave the confidence that everything was going to be alright. I believe it is slowly coming back around though.

  17. ugalaw06

    There is absolutely no question in my mind that ’03 was Richt’s finest coaching job. Not only were we replacing a ton of talent, but we were ravaged by injuries (Will Thompson was lost for the year in the preseason, Kentrell Curry saw virtually no meaningful snaps due to a preseason injury, Greg Blue missed a good chunk of the year, Kedric Golston was knocked out midseason) and had a ton of suspensions to start the year. Not only were we replacing our entire offensive line, but by midseason, two of our three best offensive linemen (Miller and Brock) were injured. We were also replacing our starting runningback and top receiver.

    If I had to point to one individual game as Richt’s finest coaching job, it might be the ’03 opener at Clemson.

  18. Coach Hewitt...

    I can live with what ever happens in the SECCG, we’ll be going against a better team in all probability…. I’ll consider this a very good year if we can totally shut down the nerds running game in Atl… I’m so tired of “yea, y’all won again but we rushed for 400yds”. A 10-2 reg. season with UGA improving week by week, and shutting down & shutting up the nerds will be great.

    The SECCG will be a one game season & anything can happen in one game (see UGA vs uscjr)…..

  19. Dave

    Wasn’t the 2003 team a 2 loss only team — with the only losses coming to the national champions (twice)?

  20. Beating the Vols, Gators, & Tigers in the same Year IS DadGUM Wonderful.
    Beating the Nerds would make It a season to Remember. Richt S/B the SEC Coach Of The Year.

    • Bevo

      If all the IFs come together, Richt will have earned a place in SEC COTY discussions. I would not call him a shoe-in only because of the awesome job Miles is doing at LSU. With everything his team has been through this season, like losing their best players for the Oregon, all they do is win games.

      I think Miles’ coaching ability gets overshadowed by some of the dumb stuff he’s done with clock managment and his freewheeling/laid back persona. To be fair, Richt and Miles have both done a good job with their teams this season.

      Now let’s finish by waxing Kentucky and GaTech and let them settle it on the field.

  21. timphd

    All this happy talk, including my own, is making me really nervous. Hope we don’t forget there are still two games left on the schedule, one of which is the key to the championship and the other which involves the Biggest Genius of Our Time’s triple option team. Beat the Cats and the Gnats and THEN start to talk LSU.

    • Cojones

      Cats first and if they have figured how to cut loose their running back, it will not be so easy. Good time to post caution, Dr Tim.

  22. The one thing that perplexes me about the 2003 season was that Kregg Lumpkin sat on the bench until the UT game. Had he played in that LSU game it could have made a difference. Then again, he did play in that year’s SECCG and he did make a painful drop on a perfect call up the seam. Shoulda, coulda, woulda. Cool thing is that he is on an NFL roster and I see him make plays for TB from time to time.

  23. Class A

    First of all, tomorrow my daughter finds out if she’s been accepted to UGA. Please keep your fingers crossed, she has worked extremely hard for this. Second, I can’t help but think about the situation at Tennessee. What a mess. I think about Fulmer and realize how close we came to making the same mistake. It is amazing how much leadership and attitude can influence our guys and now we realize how effective last year’s personnel changes actually were.

  24. Dawg19

    Senator…

    One thing a lot of people forget is that had Georgia defeated LSU at LSU in 2003, we would have played Ole Miss in the SECCG. LSU had lost at home to Florida that year and finished 7-1 in the West. Ole Miss also finished 7-1 but lost to LSU. Georgia defeated Ole Miss and Eli Manning in 2002, so we had a blueprint for beating them. Who knows what would have happened had UGA and Ole Miss played that year but I think Georgia would have matched up better. Anyway…just wanted to point that out.