Read the opposing argument from Optimist Prime.
Mark Richt is no longer able to compete in the SEC.
Yes, he HAS led the Georgia Bulldogs to nine consecutive bowl appearances, and boasts a bowl record of 7-2 in those nine games. He has maintained exceptionally strong recruiting classes during his tenure, and has twice been named the SEC Coach of the Year. And if he were head coach of a Big East or ACC program, that would be considered a wildly successful performance, and Richt would be at the front of the line for the next “elite” coaching job in college football.
The only problem is he already HAS that elite coaching job in the nation’s top football conference. And when you look at his performance, specifically over the past four years as the SEC has completely dominated college football, Richt has actually UNDER-performed.
In the nine full seasons since Richt became head coach at Georgia, he has coached his squad to a 2-1 BCS record, with no national championship game appearances.
Now, let’s compare that to some of his SEC colleagues:
Les Miles is 2-0 in BCS games since 2005, including a national championship with LSU.
Nick Saban is 3-1 in BCS games, with two national championships for two different SEC programs (LSU and Alabama).
Urban Meyer is 3-0 in BCS games, with two national championships.
Pop quiz, what is Mark Richt lacking? That’s right! A national championship, DESPITE being at the head of one of the supposed powerhouses in the SEC.
As for those two BCS wins, one came in 2002, back before the SEC had really developed into the conference powerhouse it is today, and the other came in 2007 against a Hawaii team that had no business being in the BCS, DESPITE an undefeated regular season record (don’t forget that Hawaii earned their record by playing the WAC, two different FCS teams, and the only team they played from a BCS-caliber conference was the 4-8 Washington Huskies).
While the SEC has improved, Georgia has declined
There is clearly a gap in talent between Mark Richt and the other premier coaches of the SEC. And with each passing year the irrefutable evidence indicates that the gap is widening.
Since Georgia’s last BCS win in 2007, while the SEC has improved as a conference, the Bulldogs have been on a steady and sharp decline.
Entering into the 2008 season Georgia was ranked as the top team in the country. How did Richt respond to that ranking? By losing not once, but THREE times that season.
Again, a 10-3 record (with a win in the Capital One Bowl) is not bad, but as the pre-season favorite to win the national championship, three losses equals to a HUGE disappointment.
Then in 2009, Georgia (who still managed a top-ten recruiting class) was ranked in the pre-season as the 13th best team in the nation, and they played on to a record of only 8-5… falling COMPLETELY out of the top-25 by season’s end.
Somehow, despite that slide even deeper out of SEC relevance, Georgia managed ANOTHER solid recruiting class and found itself once more ranked in the 2010 pre-season as one of the 25 best teams in the country.
And once again, Richt has failed.
So far this season he has managed to win only one game (against Louisiana-Lafayette), and his three losses (all of which have come against SEC competition) have him sitting in dead last as the worst team in the conference.
It is time for Richt to go
During his tenure, Richt’s performance at the University of Georgia has been good, but as far as the University of Georgia’s expectations are concerned, “good” in the SEC simply isn’t good enough. This is a program that has recruited some of the top talent in the country, but has failed miserably on the field.
Since 2007, Mark Richt has had top-ten caliber talent coming into each season, and has progressively dropped further and further out of contention. He has lost 11 times in the SEC during that time (compared to only four losses each by Florida and Alabama during that same period). This season, he has the Bulldogs off to their worst start in 20 years (they also started at 1-3 during the 1993 season).
The SEC has progressed to a level at which Mark Richt can no longer compete.
Three different head coaches have won national championships in the SEC over the last four years. Each one has progressively improved their program’s stature, elevating the conference in the process. All the while Georgia fans have been left on the sidelines with nothing but disappointment.
Mark Richt has had all the tools, and every opportunity, to improve his program right alongside the likes of Saban, Miles, and Meyer. But unlike those three, Richt has failed to capitalize on his opportunities.
While the SEC has gotten better, Mark Richt has gotten worse. The only way that Georgia can progress as a football program is if they leave Richt behind.