Georgia Football 2012: Can Mark Richt Win a BCS Championship?

Kevin King@kevin glen kingSenior Analyst IIJune 24, 2012

ATHENS, GA - NOVEMBER 21:  Head coach Mark Richt of the Georgia Bulldogs against the Kentucky Wildcats at Sanford Stadium on November 21, 2009 in Athens, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Georgia football seems light years removed from the Bulldog team that finished 2010 a disappointing 6-7. But has a perception been born that Mark Richt isn’t capable of leading this program to a national championship?

In a recent Bleacher Report article, a survey of 554 respondents indicated that 79 people—14.3%—felt that Georgia had the talent to win the SEC this year, but not the coaching. That number seems surprisingly high to me.

Richt has been the coach at Georgia since the 2001 season. In his 11 years, his teams have gone 106-38. That’s just four games shy of averaging 10-3 a season for that time. Les Miles, who has coached major college teams for the same 11 years—with the past eight years in the SEC—is 103-39.

Since 2001, the Bulldogs have won the SEC East Championship 4 times. Their record in the conference championship game is 2-2 with Richt as coach. Only LSU (five appearances) has played in the SEC title game more than Georgia since 2001.

According to ESPN, Richt is 8-12 versus top 10 teams, 30-26 versus top 25 teams and 22-6 versus BCS teams. That’s the kind of winning record against the best teams in the country most coaches not named Saban would be proud to own.

Richt’s teams have won ten or more games in eight of his eleven seasons. In 2002, his Bulldogs won a record 13 games and finished ranked No.3 in the country. Georgia and USC were the only two teams in the nation to finish in the top 10 in each season from ’02 through ’05.

Georgia has suffered only one season with a losing record (6-7 in 2010) since Richt became coach. Last season, the Bulldogs got back above the 10-win mark for the first time in three years. However, the recruiting has never slipped during his career at Georgia.

Richt has also surrounded himself with good assistants. Mike Bobo, the offensive coordinator, has the offense steadily improving in each of the past three years. Last year, they averaged 409 yards and 32 points a game per NCAA statistics.

Richt hired Todd Grantham to be his defensive coordinator in 2010 and the defense has improved steadily ever since.

Mark Richt is an elite college football coach. He is both capable of and likely to win a national championship at Georgia in the next three years. Provided, of course, he's not run out of Athens by 14.3% of the fan base.