Godfrey said the game could put Miami in a position to run the table this regular season. If he turned Miami around like that, Godfrey said, “Richt can really change the last third or last quarter” of his career, with respect to how he is remembered as a coach.
He punctuated that with: “No pressure.”
At his old place, Richt had a reputation as one of the good guys in the game, a calm, serene coach beloved by players and fans. The only knock on him: as high as he raised the Bulldogs’ bar, as many times as he made them a contender, he didn’t bring home the big one.
“Generally, I think that was an overblown narrative,” said Atlanta Journal-Constitution writer Chip Towers, who covered Richt at UGA. “I think it became a meme after a while. It’s like anything else: there’s some truth to it. There were years they had really good teams and they did well. Early on in his career, it was all about his ability to win those big games, and road games in particular.”
After winning two SEC titles in his first five seasons, Richt couldn’t repeat the feat. Georgia was 25-13 against ranked opponents in Richt’s first seven seasons, and 14-23 after. He won plenty of games — 145 in 15 seasons, more than any Dawgs coach except Vince Dooley (201 in 25 years) — but the big-game performance, especially in the latter half of his career, was why UGA and the coach split in 2015.
“Richt’s problem the last few years at Georgia wasn’t really a big-game issue,” Sports Illustrated senior writer Andy Staples said in an email. “It was the fact that his teams underachieved for entire seasons. Losing by five to the eventual national champ (Alabama) in (the) 2012 (SEC title game) was nothing to be ashamed of. Not getting to the SEC title game after that was the issue.”
Stewart Mandel, editor-in-chief of The All-American, said in an email Richt “won a LOT of big games,” and while he “tailed off toward the end, and that’s why he lost his job, but I certainly don’t think of him that way.”
Sports Illustrated’s Bruce Feldman noted in an email that Richt “dominated the series against [Georgia Tech] at UGA (12-3) and did really well against Auburn (11-5). His record against UF (5-10) wasn’t very good but it was even worse against the Gators before he arrived.
… Richt’s rep as a big-game Charlie Brown, bolstered by blogs and message boards and elucidated by national writers, will be wafting around him until Miami’s contending for national titles again. A win Saturday would blow some of it away.
And it would draw a salute from some in Athens, where the same new-coach hope springs eternal.
“It just wasn’t meant to be for him here, for whatever reason,” Towers said. “He knocked on the door so many times. He was better than anybody they’ve ever had. Maybe Kirby Smart will take them over the top. He might.”
FSU appears down this season. Miami is currently ranked; the Seminoles aren’t. If Miami can’t finish the drill Saturday, expect more of this.