Again, UGA and Mark Richt fall short. But what does that mean?

Guess which coach won. (Hyosub Shin/AJC photo)

Guess which coach won. (Hyosub Shin/AJC photo)

Guess which coach won. (Hyosub Shin/AJC photo)

Guess which coach won. (Hyosub Shin/AJC photo)

This is the five-year record of a Georgia coach — 40-19 overall (a winning percentage of .678) and an SEC record of 25-15 (.625).

This is also the five-year record of a Georgia coach — 45-21 overall (.682) and an SEC record record of 28-12 (.700).

The first represents the entirety of Jim Donnan’s tenure in Athens. The second represents the past five seasons of Mark Richt. As we know, Donnan was fired after losing to Georgia Tech in 2000. (He stuck around to coach — and win — the Oahu Bowl.) Richt remains firmly in place.

Disclaimer: Richt has been a better Georgia coach than Donnan. That’s beyond dispute. Richt has won two SEC titles to Donnan’s none, has taken five teams to the SEC championship game to Donnan’s zero, has led Georgia to three BCS bowls to Donnan’s zero. (He’s also 12-2 against Tech, as opposed to Donnan’s 2-3.)

This isn’t to suggest that Richt should be fired after these five seasons because Donnan was fired after his five. Richt has built up a reservoir of good will, whereas Donnan upraided Loran Smith for asking about cramps. Were I Jere Morehead and Greg McGarity, I would not — repeat, would not — consider firing Richt. That said …

Donnan’s five years came at a time when both Florida/Spurrier and Tennessee/Fulmer were winning not just the SEC East or even the SEC writ large but national championships. (They also came at a time when George O’Leary was coaching Tech.) Richt’s Bulldogs just finished second in a division that saw its third-best team (South Carolina or Florida or Tennessee, take your pick) win six games. By way of contrast, the worst team in the West won six games.

Last year Georgia missed a prime chance, but that loaded team was compromised by injury. This year a lesser Georgia missed an even better chance. Losing Todd Gurley for four games to suspension and then to a knee injury didn’t help, but Georgia was still the more talented team in all three of its strange/stranger/strangest losses.

Had the Bulldogs beaten Florida, they’d have won the SEC East. Had they won the SEC East and then beaten Tech, they’d be no worse than No. 4 in the College Football Playoff rankings. There was no excuse for not beating Florida, the same Florida that fired its coach 15 days later, just as there was no excuse for not winning a game in which they scored the go-ahead touchdown with 18 seconds remaining and the opponent out of timeouts.

According to ESPN Stats & Information, Georgia’s win probability after Malcolm Mitchell’s touchdown catch at 0:18 was 99.8 percent — “the highest win probability this season by a team that wound up losing the game,” ESPN S&I helpfully notes. In sum, you have to try really hard to mess that up. Georgia tried a squib kick that Richt would concede was about the worst call of his career. (Running the ball on the goal line against Auburn in 2001 has  been dropped to No. 2.)

Lovie’s Rule: You cannot squib the ball when one reasonable play can yield a reasonable field-goal try. Tech took the ball at its 43 with 13 seconds left. Kicking deep would have forced the Jackets to use more seconds returning it or to start from the 25 after a touchback, in which case Justin Thomas’ 21-yard scramble wouldn’t have gotten them to midfield.

Why is this Lovie’s Rule? In 2008, the Bears scored with 11 seconds remaining to take a one-point lead over the Falcons. Lovie Smith, then coaching the Bears, ordered a squib. Harry Douglas returned it 10 yards to the Falcons’ 44. Six seconds remained. Matt Ryan found Michael Jenkins on the sideline for 26 yards. One second. Jason Elam won it with a 48-yarder.

The Prayer At Jordan-Hare? For Georgia, that was bad luck. This was bad coaching. We can argue forever over whether a play-action pass on first-and-goal from the South Carolina 4 was a good call sabotaged by bad execution, but there’s no debate over kicking short. It was wrong. It gave Tech a chance it shouldn’t have had. (Which isn’t to say Tech didn’t deserve to win. It outplayed Georgia, who essentially did Saturday what the Falcons did against the Browns — lose a game they shouldn’t have won but also shouldn’t have lost.)

In the grand scheme, the Florida loss was more damaging. (It’s the worst loss under Richt.) But losing to Tech — losing after taking the lead at 0:18, losing after blocking a PAT in OT — was utterly apt: Georgia had a great shot to do great things even without Gurley, and it failed.

The kneejerk reaction is to say that next season will be harder, what with Hutson Mason and surely Gurley and probably Leonard Floyd gone, but who in the SEC East looks better than Georgia? South Carolina and Florida went a collective 18-17. Tennessee is getting better but isn’t there yet. Missouri can’t keep this up forever, can it? This season was a muffed chance, but the flip side of the Bulldogs never maximizing their potential is that, the way they recruit, the potential remains.

Which puts Georgia in a strange position. It’s never quite as good as it wants to be, but it’s never bad enough that you can say for certain that another coach would come here and be guaranteed of doing better. (Note: Gus Malzahn just went 8-4 in Year 2 at Auburn.) We can pick at Richt’s failures — heck, we can even compare his record to that of the man he replaced — but there’s always the possibility that next year might be Georgia’s year. And Richt’s.

Reader Comments 3

593 comments
bobbyross1990
bobbyross1990

I think there is a 51-49 vote that likes Richt because he's a good man and great representation of the school. I believe that one hundred percent. The problem is the fans want more from him and they are getting restless. The logic is that he such a great recruiter, surely one day he will win it all, right?

monty1
monty1

I have said for several years now that UGA is a finesse team. We generally win because we recruit high level skill players, the AJ Greens Mathew Stafford, even last years QB(whats his name?) Knowshon, now Gurley, Chubb Sony. We have had some great edge players, but we just aren't going to win the battle down in the trenches like the BAMAs and LSU's. I know LSU had a down year. But generally speaking ball on the 3 yard line those teams are going to run it in, and those teams on the defensive side are not going to let you run it in, or be a cake walk.  UGA gets beat in the trenches, when teams just run it up the gut, they don't even have to have a passing attack. 'It's what BAMA did to us the 2nd half in the playoff game.

OH-IO
OH-IO

Operative word in Bradley's headline?


Again

BobbyDawg
BobbyDawg

Jim Donnan was fired because he hired a family member to work on his staff not because UGA lost to Tech.

Dirtyb8
Dirtyb8

Where are those idiots, Ardawg and BigMacDawg? The cowards are nowhere to be found now. How long are they going to be hiding in their trailer trash for? I am guessing till next year again when UGA's pre season ranking comes out.

OH-IO
OH-IO

@Dirtyb8


Same for reaganite, dog in co, big wally, 418, the true dog formerly known as 350.......

Big Wally
Big Wally

@OH-IO @Dirtyb8 Wrong "crap for brains".  I've been here since the weekend posting .  Not my fault you can't read.

Big Wally
Big Wally

@Dirtyb8 Merely letting you tecksters have your joy.  You only get to beat UGA about once every seven years, so we are letting you guys have your fun with each other.  Normally you don't get this excited unless there is a new Star Wars movie coming out.

RonnieReagan
RonnieReagan

Maybe UGA should switch to the Southern Conference & improve their chances at winning a conference crown.

jackbmatt
jackbmatt

haha..."by the book".  I know that book.  It's got a bright yellow cover and is called "Coaching For Dummies".  Required reading for wannabe pee-wee football coaches.

Actually I'm being harsh.  Richt was a successful coach his first 5-6 years and I can appreciate that.  It does seem that his time has come now.  It would be a pity if it all gets ugly in the end given his overall good record and the fact he appears to be a decent guy.

ShootinTheHooch
ShootinTheHooch

Joe T II and CMR. Two very good men. Two men who are principle-centered. Two men who love their God. Two men who love their family. One man who is passionate about competing and winning. One man who is passionate about his perception of a higher calling and winning is optional. One man who doesn't fit the way things are being done in Athens. One man who is firmly entrenched.


CJP is the next square peg who doesn't fit the round hole in Athens. I also imagine that he made some enemies in the athletic department when he let his passion get the better of him when he made the comments about the IPF, bureaucratic hierarchy be damned. There are some things in Athens that are sacred.

Princess_Leia
Princess_Leia

What happens to all these Dream Teams that Richt recruits every year?

Bubba Earl
Bubba Earl

The Dawgs continue to do less with more talent than just about anybody in the SEC.  Ok I get the Fla loss (do what you can to save your friends job), but as much as I like Bobo the man, he is predictable and perhaps the worst play caller in the SEC.  Sorry Mike, but I wasn't the first one to say is and surely won't be the last.  Nobody is surprised by first and bomb or off tackle on 3rd and forever.  I know Hutson has his limitations, but you know what?  Let em load up and play the game, that's where the magic happens.  Let the boys play

Bubba Earl
Bubba Earl

The Dawgs continue to do less with more talent than just about anybody in the SEC.  Ok I get the Fla loss (do what you can to save your friends job), but as much as I like Bobo the man, he is predictable and perhaps the worst play caller in the SEC.  Sorry Mike, but I wasn't the first one to say is and surely won't be the last.  Nobody is surprised by first and bomb or off tackle on 3rd and forever.  I know Hutson has his limitations, but you know what?  Let em load up and play the game, that's where the magic happens.  Let the boys play

Infraredguy
Infraredguy

Hey Dawg Fans, what's the problem, UGA just fired or forced the resignation of the strength coach, your problem is over , they have taken decisive action. Go Dogs 

vallo
vallo

The frustration is we lost to three teams that we clearly should have defeated and for thee second year in a row we struggled with a UT team that we should have put away by halftime.  We have underperformed for several years now and keep making silly coaching mistakes late in the season. I am a UGA fan who remembers life before Herschel when we usually finished 8-3 and would have the occasional ten win season.  Except for that brief period of time that's what we've been for decades.  Richt has had enough success to warrant another year but it would make fans feel better if he spent the off season focusing on UGA football. UT now has a QB, we play Bama in the regular season next year, SC and FL (both of which beat us this year) will be better teams as will Auburn.  

trollkiller
trollkiller

every year with Richt is a study in mediocrity

SinceVince
SinceVince

We Fired our strength and conditioning coach.... DEMAND BETTAH!

Contractor1
Contractor1

It brings up a few points and just more questions.  Mark Richt is a great guy, no one in the country will deny that.  Mark Richt is loved by his players and fans.  Mark Richt is pretty consistent with his punishments.  NOW, it is proven he cannot win the big game and even some games he should.  Winning one game isn't going to wash away all the other big ones he's lost, it doesn't work that way.  It is proven that a lot of talent goes wasted at Georgia.  Georgia recruits just as good as anyone, but you would never know it by all the disciplinary problems and lack of production on the field.  I don't think you have to be a rocket scientist to figure out it's the coaching, and there is a head coach that is responsible for it all.  Yes, you've backdoored your way into a couple of SEC East Titles and an SEC Championship or two, but all of those held no National Championship implications due to let down losses and ones against rivals you should have beat those given years.  Georgia as a program packs a lot of bark, but very little bite on the field (pun intended).  Tennessee, Florida, Alabama, LSU, and Auburn have all won National Championships in a time where Georgia should have atleast won one and probably two with the teams it's had.  Anyone is welcome to prove me wrong, but as long as you're willing to accept "almost" getting there, then you're probably going to continue to have season like this one.  My entire family are Georgia fans, and I even grew up one before attending Alabama, so I would love for them to feel the happiness that comes with a National Championship as I have a few times, but when you settle instead of wanting more, you'll have to live with the results, and that is clearly 9-3, 8-4, and a 10-2 sprinkled in there.

TideDawg
TideDawg

@Contractor1  I agree with your summation of living with the results. Expecting a birthday cake and getting a cookie every year gets old. So, I've heard all of the complaints but no one has mentioned what coach can do better and whether he is available or not. You're not going to get Saban, Sumlin, Pinkel, Miles or any other championship caliber coach. They are coveted by their Universities. Another 7-4 season for Malzahn and he may be available but I wouldn't recommend him. So, I repeat, WHO! Richt is a good coach...not a great one. My opinion is he is far too easy going and let's his assistants have a free hand. You can't be afraid to get in an assistants face if you think he's doing the wrong thing(not Richt's style) Watch the great coaches....they are up and down the line checking with the DC or OC, they want to be informed and part of critical decisions. I'll bet there is a bare spot in the grass where Richt stands because he rarely moves. I like Richt. A few tweaks here and there and he can be a championship coach. I'd like to see more fire from Richt but I don't see that happening(it hasn't in 14 yrs.)

cmac22
cmac22

It's always next year for UGA under Richt!!!!  Just keep paying your $$ & be happy with mediocrity!!!

OH-IO
OH-IO

Is Richt that odd looking from the side?

Chuck_UGA
Chuck_UGA

Can you imagine already how badly Wisconsin is going to spank Ohio State this Saturday?!  Melvin Gordon will go off for at least 150 yards.  Will be fun to watch Urban Cryer lose again.

OH-IO
OH-IO

@Chuck_UGA


dogs suck, chuck


Lost to Tech


At home


Out of the conversation


Sucks to be you. 

Buschleaguer
Buschleaguer

@OH-IO @Chuck_UGA

Faux Buckeye

OH-IO State 

lost to TECH 

At home

VA.TECH ,that is

Out of playoffs

#5 Is really going to SUCK

lvg
lvg

Watched last years match up with Tech on You Tube. Biggest difference is Tech had no defense last year. This year the Tech defense overwhelmed UGA just like Florida did. Sorry if your precious hedges got clipped.

Long Memories
Long Memories

Richt will always cave in high pressure situations.  Nebraska wouldn't put up with it.  Auburn just canned a coordinator.  Mark the Mediocre always has a place at Georgia where he can explain the next day why his decision making ability didn't work out.  Whole bunch of high school coaches who perform better under pressure.  The game passed him by years ago.  I will still be a Dawg after Richt is gone.  That day can't come soon enough.

maryjga
maryjga

Just business as usual at Georgia.    One or two stupid losses every year. 

candlin14
candlin14

CMR is a complete and utter failure of a football coach. I guess thats why he is so loved at UGA. We are are a state of mediocrity and contempt when it comes to sports. CHAMPIONSHIPS mean NOTHING TO OUR FANBASE!!!

OH-IO
OH-IO

We're in the dogs annual State of Irrelevancy. 

Dantanna
Dantanna

What's you record against the SEC? Go burn another couch. Roll tide.

Buschleaguer
Buschleaguer

@OH-IO

Faux Buckeye

And you actually stole a NC from Miami ,thanks to a faux PI call.

But Against Florida ,not so much

But you did get their Coach

Chance of making playoff

NADA

It will suck to be #5.

But enjoy Miami ,ACC runner up vs Final Four 1st runner up

OH-IO
OH-IO

dogs ride the entire SEC! SEC!'s coattails

OH-IO
OH-IO

tampa rides Mizzou's coattails. 

50Concept
50Concept

mark will pick the dogs to win the SEC east in 2015---mark it down.

OH-IO
OH-IO

There are a lot of unnaccountable blowhard true dogs in hiding. 


Still cleaning their soiled pants, I presume. 

Buschleaguer
Buschleaguer

@OH-IO

Faux Buckeye

How about this scenario FSU wins the ACC CG game. OH-IO State left on sidelines in playoffs because you just can not quite make it to # 4. (It will really suck to be #5)

ORANGE BOWL

ACC RUNNER UP GA TECH

                      VS

FINAL FOUR ALSO RAN 


THE OH-IO STATE BUCKEYES

OH-IO
OH-IO

@Buschleaguer @OH-IO


Could well be. 


Tech would be a good match-up. We'd have to dust off the Navy game -plan against the triple O. 

Greentow
Greentow

Strange how little credit is given to Tech for executing the plays it needed at REAL crunch time -- the final 15 seconds or so.  Justin Thomas made a really nice run and the FG was simply a great kick.  Kudos to the Jackets who richly deserved this win.  The final outcome wass nowhere near the disparity displayed between these two teams

OH-IO
OH-IO

Let's review:


SC - check


FL - check


SEC SEC LEAST! - check


Tech ( at home) - check


Lots of drills to finish. 

50Concept
50Concept

Dear Georgia AD:

You can have will muschamp back. Please name him your coach in waiting with a big buyout.

Sincerely, 

Florida AD

Trackbacks

  1. […] part — the part that watched Georgia lose to South Carolina but especially to Florida and to Georgia Tech — that believes the 2014 Bulldogs underachieved even without Todd Gurley for half their […]

  2. […] part — the part that watched Georgia lose to South Carolina but especially to Florida and to Georgia Tech — that believes the 2014 Bulldogs underachieved even without Todd Gurley for half their […]

  3. […] mentioned my growing reservations about Richt as a tactician a time or two, and I’m fairly certain I will again. But today I’ll yield the floor to […]