Mark Richt – Football Coach
Head Coach Mark Richt came toGeorgiawith the goal of taking the lid off a program that had not won an SEC title in 20 years. After 11 seasons between the hedges, he’s demonstrated what that means by winning two SEC Championships (2002, ’05), four SEC Eastern Division titles and tied for another, and his 106-38 record is fourth best in the country in winning percentage among active coaches (.736). And his emphasis on graduation has come to fruition as 221 Bulldog players have earned their degrees during his tenure.
Richt was named SEC Coach of the Year in both 2002 and 2005. His record against nonconference teams is 44-8 and his teams are 38-10 when playing in an opponent’s home stadium.
Richt is also one of only six coaches in history to win two SEC championships (2002, 2005) in his first five years, and one of only five head coaches in SEC history to record four straight 10-win seasons (2002-05). The respect he has nationally was demonstrated in 2010 when Richt was named to the American Football Coaches Association Board of Trustees.
The excitement produced by Richt’s teams on the field has been matched by many other aspects surrounding the program. Richt has generated an atmosphere of excitement and unity among theGeorgiapeople.Georgiasupporters and fans became impressed with his sincerity, openness, family values, and the casual and genuine way he carried himself. They liked his ideas on building a football program, his commitment to discipline, and the importance he placed on standards of excellence on and off the field.
And they liked the way he refused to set limitations on what would be a satisfactory season. “I like to set our goals high,” he said. “I never want to put a ceiling on what we can accomplish.”
Richt also had a reputation for developing quarterbacks at FSU and that has continued at UGA. David Greene was named SEC Freshman of the Year in 2001 and in ’02, Greene led the SEC in passing efficiency and was the consensus choice for All-SEC first team. By the end of his career, Greene had become the SEC’s all-time leading passer (11,528 yards) and set the NCAA Division 1-A record for career victories by a starting QB with 42. D.J. Shockley followed Greene in 2005 and led the SEC in passing efficiency. Matthew Stafford came next (2006-08) and set theGeorgiarecord for season total offense in 2008 (3,499 yards) and finished third in career passing yardage (7,731). In 2010, Aaron Murray finished second nationally in passing efficiency among freshman quarterbacks and in 2011 set the school record for most TD passes in a single season (35 breaking the old mark of 25 by Matthew Stafford).
The NFL is also lookingGeorgia’s way on a regular basis. Sixty-four of Richt’s players have been chosen in the NFL draft over the last eleven years including eight chosen in the 2002 NFL draft–the mostGeorgiaplayers ever selected in a single year.
Mark Richt Year by Year
2011:Georgia won ten or more games for the seventh time in Richt’s 11 years. The ‘Dogs defeated rivalsTennessee,Florida,Auburn, and Georgia Tech all in the same season for the first time since 1981.
2010: With the loss of several key players during the season, the Dogs had the first losing season in the Richt era but still managed victories over rivalsTennessee and Georgia Tech.
2009:Georgia upset #7 Georgia Tech in the regular season finale and then won its fourth straight bowl game to complete the season at 8-5.
2008:Georgia finished with a 10-3 mark and number ten final national ranking–the sixth time in seven years the Bulldogs won ten or more games and also finished among the nation’s top ten teams in the final national polls.
2007: One of the youngest teams in the country, was 4-2 after six games but won the last seven in a row including victories over rivals Florida, Auburn, and Georgia Tech to finish 11- 2. The ‘Dogs defeated 10th ranked Hawai’i in The Allstate Sugar Bowl and finished No. 2 in the final AP poll and No. 3 in the coaches poll.
2006: After starting out 5-0, his 2006 team struggled through the middle of the schedule, but rebounded to defeat three top 20 teams in a row: #5 Auburn, #16 Georgia Tech, and #14 Virginia Tech in the Chick-fil-A Bowl. He was chosen to coach the 2007 Hula Bowl game inHawaii.
2005: Picked to finish third in the SEC East, his 2005 team exceeded all expectations with a 10-2 regular season finish and SEC championship defeating third-ranked LSU in the title game. He was elected 2005 SEC Coach of the Year by the SEC Coaches.
2004: His 2004 team finished 10-2, won a third straight bowl game, and finished in the nation’s top six in the final national rankings for the third consecutive season. Along the way in ’04, the ‘Dogs defeated defending national champion LSU, Georgia Tech for the fourth straight time and upended Florida for the first time since 1997. DE David Pollack became the most decorated defensive player inGeorgia history with a third straight first tean All-America selection and was recipient of the Lombardi, Bednarik, Lott, and Hendricks Trophies.
2003: Richt led the ‘Dogs to the SEC title game for the second time in a row in ’03, defeated Purdue in the Capital One Bowl, and had the ‘Dogs in the top ten again with a final USA Today/ESPN Coaches ranking of 6th and a final AP ranking of 7th. Richt’s team ranked 2nd nationally in Scoring Defense (14.5 ppg), 4th in Total Defense (276.86 ypg), 6th in Passing Defense (174.5 ypg), and 14th nationally in Turnover Margin (+.79).
2002: ‘Dogs go 13-1, win first SEC championship in 20 years, defeatedFloridaState in the Nokia Sugar Bowl, and finished the season with a number three national ranking.Georgia’s championship run was a complete team effort, with the Dogs winning five games by a touchdown or less. Among Richt’s team were three first team All-Americans and eight first team All-SEC performers. Richt himself was a consensus choice as SEC Coach of the Year and was a finalist for the Bear Bryant National Coach of the Year Award. In addition, the ’02 Bulldogs led the SEC in both scoring offense (32.2 ppg) and scoring defense (15.1 ppg).
2001: By the time his inaugural season in 2001 came to a close (8-4), he had become the firstGeorgia coach since H.J. Stegeman in 1920 to win eight games in his inaugural season. He had also handedTennessee its only regular season defeat (inKnoxville on national television) and beaten arch rival Georgia Tech (for the first time since 1997)
The Road To Athens
Richt’s career as a Bulldog began as a Christmas present that actually came the day after most gifts had been opened. On Dec. 26, 2000, Richt was named head coach at theUniversityofGeorgiaafter serving on the staff atFloridaStatefor 15 years–the last seven as offensive coordinator.
Richt, a 1982 graduate of theUniversityofMiami, coached the quarterbacks for 14 seasons at FSU. As offensive coordinator, he developed offenses that were among the most prolific in college football history while becoming one of country’s most respected coaches.
Under Richt’s direction, the FSU offense had been a national leader. In this seven years as offensive coordinator, the Seminoles finished in the nation’s top five in scoring offense on five occasions, top 12 in total offense five times, and top 12 in passing offense five times. His 2000 offense finished the regular season ranked first nationally in total offense (549.0 ypg), first in passing offense (384.0 ypg), and third in scoring offense (42.4 ppg).
Richt sent six FSU quarterbacks into the NFL between 1987 and 2000. In addition to Weinke (Carolina Panthers), Washington Redskin Casey Weldon was the runner-up for the Heisman Trophy in 1991. His teammate at FSU, Brad Johnson (now Richt’s brother-inlaw), was a Pro Bowl selection forWashingtonin 2000 and led the Tampa Bay Bucs to the Super Bowl title in 2003. Other Richt pro proteges include Danny Kanell (New York Giants), Danny McManus (Kansas City Chiefs) and Peter Tom Willis (Chicago Bears).
A native ofOmaha,Nebraska, Richt played QB for the Miami Hurricanes under Howard Schnellenberger. Het spent most of his career atMiamias a backup to former Buffalo Bills star Jim Kelly. In one of Richt’s years atMiami, his QB teammates included Kelly, Vinny Testaverde, Bernie Kosar, and quarterbacks coach Earl Morral.
Richt is married to the former Katharyn Francis ofTallahassee. The couple have four children – Jonathan (3/11/90), a senior quarterback atMarsHillCollege, David (12/1/94), Zach (5/15/96), and Anya (2/13/97). Jon was married to the former Anna Cearley, in May 2010.
Only Coaches To Win Two SEC Titles In First Five Years
Frank Thomas, Alabama (1933, ’34)
Only SEC Coaches To Record Four Straight 10-Win Seasons
Paul “Bear” Bryant, Alabama (1971-74, 1977-80)