By: Dayne Young Follow on Twitter @dayneyoung
The 2002 UGA team won the SEC title and was led by childhood friends David Pollack and David Greene.
The Georgia Bulldogs have hardly been an accurate model of consistency lately. But, they do have one possession that no other team in the SEC can claim: one head coach in the last ten years. Mark Richt has been the head coach at UGA for over a decade now. That sort of longevity in the conference is beginning to become a rarity. After all, names like Steve Spurrier, Phillip Fulmer, Urban Meyer, Nick Saban, and Houston Nutt have all changed jobs within the last ten years. And over that timeframe, Richt has had a great deal of success including a run where the Dawgs won at least ten games in six out of seven years.
Richt has had high moments like finishing number two in the country and being in the national championship discussion. He has also had low moments like last year in which the Dawgs had a losing season. That put Richt on the proverbial hot seat and provided much fodder to message board viewers and radio show listeners around the South. He has developed dominance over Georgia Tech and become inferior to Florida. Nevertheless, Mark Richt has used the last ten years to build a solid resume and garner respect the college football world.
Best Season: This was a tough decision because Georgia ended the year as one of the top teams in both 2002 and 2007. The team in 2007 was probably the better team and more feared by opponents. But, the team in 2002 lost one less game, so they get the nod here. That was only Coach Richt’s second season at Georgia. But, they ended up pummeling Arkansas in the SEC Championship by a score of 30-3. The miraculous moment of that season was at Auburn when David Green completed a corner endzone touchdown pass that gave the Dawgs the victory. The only blemish of the season was a loss against Florida. Georgia ended the season with a 26-13 defeat of Bobby Bowden and Florida State. The Dawgs ended the year ranked number three in the nation.
Worst Season: 2010. This is the only losing season Georgia has had under Coach Richt. They lost four straight games in the regular season. A loss to Florida and an embarrassment at the Liberty Bowl all culminated in these Bulldogs having their tails between their legs.
Best Season: 2002, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2007. Georgia went undefeated in non-conference play in all of these seasons. Much of this incredible non-conference record can be attributed to Georgia’s dominance over Georgia Tech during the Richt era. Mark Richt has only one loss to the Yellow Jackets. Probably the the most impressive season for out of conference play was 2007 when the Dawgs defeated Oklahoma State, Georgia Tech, and Hawaii among others in route to a Sugar Bowl trophy.
Worst Season: 2010. The loss to woeful Colorado and the bowl game loss to UCF left very sour tastes in the mouths of Georgia fans.
Best Season: 2002. Florida was the only team standing in the way of Georgia and an undefeated season. In fact, one-third of Georgia’s conference losses under Mark Richt are to the Florida Gators. Re-read that statistic. It is absolutely unfathomable the extent to which Florida has hampered Georgia’s chances at multiple SEC championships as well as more BCS hopes. Unfortunately, Richt is somewhat defined by his ineptitude against the Gators. And the one year that Georgia did beat Florida, the Dawgs lost to South Carolina and Tennessee in 2007.
Worst Season: 2006, 2009, 2010. Georgia lost four games in the SEC in each of these seasons. Unexpected losses to Kentucky and Vanderbilt are among these three campaigns.
Best Win: 2007 against Hawaii. Many prognosticators said that Hawaii had too much speed and offensive firepower for UGA to handle. The Dawgs played one of the best games a football team can play and destroyed the Warriors 41-10. Georgia’s defense repeatedly battered and bruised Hawaii’s Colt Brennan while putting on their own offensive show for the crowd in New Orleans.
Worst Loss: Unequivocally, Georgia’s worst bowl loss was last season in the Liberty Bowl against UCF. Georgia was already in the midst of a bad season. The sloppy, uneventful, and disappointing performance in Memphis was like having all four wheels fall off of your already rusty Ford Pinto.
BCS Bowl Game Appearances: 2-1
2002 season Sugar Bowl: Georgia beat Florida State 26-13 in a game that was completely turned upside-down when UGA cornerback Bruce Thornton recorded a pick six on a Fabian Washington pass. Four Billy Bennett field goals also gave Georgia a nice cushion.
2005 season Sugar Bowl: In one of the most frustrating losses under Coach Richt, West Virginia hung around and beat Georgia with the aid of a fake punt with under a minute and a half left on the clock. The then freshman Steve Slaton dominated the game by running for 204 yards and three touchdowns. This game was historic in the aspect that it fueled national discussion about whether or not lower-prestige teams belong in BCS bowl games.
2007 season Sugar Bowl: That discussion was somewhat squashed when Georgia completely manhandled Hawaii by a score of 41-10. Georgia defensive end Marcus Howard was a beast on this night and routinely threw Colt Brennan to the turf. He also got a fumble recovery and touchdown to aid the efforts of Matthew Stafford and Knowshon Moreno on the scoreboard.
Georgia got off to a bit of a rough start in 2001. They then went on a stretch of consistently stellar play that skyrocketed expectations for the Bulldogs. That success for Richt might be a reason for why his last few seasons have been so disappointing. There are no signs that Mark Richt is actually in trouble of losing his job. He is hoping the incoming recruiting class of Isaiah Crowell, John Jenkins, Ray Drew, and others will ensure that in ten years, articles can be written about Richt’s last twenty years at the helm of the University of Georgia.
Up Next: Kentucky
Previous Teams: Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Florida
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