Georgia Football: Is This Season Make or Break for Mark Richt in Athens?

Blake SilversAnalyst IIIFebruary 16, 2012

KNOXVILLE, TN - OCTOBER 06: Head coach Mark Richt of the Georgia Bulldogs watches on against the Tennessee Volunteers at Neyland Stadium on October 6, 2007 in Knoxville, Tennessee. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Coach Mark Richt has certainly had an impressive career at the University of Georgia, and has certainly done a lot for the football program since his arrival before the 2001 season.  

There have been ups and downs throughout Richt's 10-year career with the team, and at times Bulldogs fans were calling for his head. However, last season's return to Atlanta for the SEC Championship Game may have bought him the extra time needed to redeem himself and possibly remain in Athens for many more years to come.  

Six of Richt's seasons in Athens have seen them win 10 or more games, which has led to five trips to the SEC title game and resulted in two conference titles.  

While he's never earned a BCS title game berth, the Bulldogs have finished in the Top Three twice during Richt's time at Georgia, been to three BCS bowls (Sugar) and won twice.  

There is no doubt that Mark Richt is one of the most solid coaches in the history of UGA football. However, in an era when Florida, Alabama, LSU and Auburn have all found a way to win the grand prize, Bulldogs fans want their fair share of the spotlight.

Indeed, with their last title coming more than three decades ago—when they won the 1980 Sugar Bowl and a national title—the Georgia faithful have grown frustrated as they watch the rest of the big dogs in the SEC bask in the glow of their beloved crystal footballs.  

With a favorable schedule, mostly due to the expansion scramble, 2012 could be Mark Richt's last chance to make it to the top and help UGA fans put more than 30 years of frustration behind them.

If he doesn't at least make another trip to Atlanta for championship Saturday, could this be the end of the Mark Richt era? Time will tell.