The pressure to win in the SEC is as thick as an Alabama offensive lineman.
If a coach in the SEC doesn’t win right away, they are shown the door before they can even get their belongings settled in their office.
Mark Richt has even felt the pressure, as the Bulldogs went 6-7 in 2010 and 0-2 to start the 2011 season.
But since the two losses to Boise State and South Carolina in 2011, Richt has gone on to win 22 of his next 26 games and two SEC East titles.
So talk of him being on the hot seat has cooled in a major way. In fact, Richt has done enough to permanently take himself off the hot seat.
It’s not so much about his body of work at Georgia. Even though he has an impressive resume for a coach who has not won a national title, he never gave in and always stuck to his plan when his team was struggling.
There is no question that the first half of his career at Georgia has been better than the second half. But he almost always has his team in the hunt for the SEC title, which is more than a lot of SEC coaches can say in the last decade.
Two of Georgia’s greatest coaches, Wally Butts and Vince Dooley, have two things that Richt doesn’t have and that’s a national title and a player that has won the Heisman under their watch.
But one can make the argument that Richt has been more consistent in an extended period of time than Butts or Dooley. Richt has recorded eight 10-win seasons in his 12-year career, which is almost half of the 10-win seasons in UGA history.
He also has many SEC titles than Dooley in his first 11 years (two) and one less than Butts.
So there is no question that Richt is one of the three best coaches in UGA history. But again, that’s not why he is permanently off the hot seat.
No matter what fans may think, there are going to be times where things don’t go a team’s way. Whether it’s injuries, the luck of the schedule or personnel changes, an elite college team is not going to win or be in the hunt for a national title every season.
The Bulldogs went through a two-year stretch in 2009-10 where they went 14-12 and finished unranked.
Because of the success of the Bulldogs from 2002-08, many people thought that it was the end for Richt. Fans, students and alumni were ready to get rid of the Miami alum and start fresh with a new coach.
But Richt made the necessary adjustments, starting with recruiting—and things turned around in a big way.
The Bulldogs went from not scoring a touchdown against Central Florida in the Liberty Bowl in 2010 to being five yards away from a shot at the BCS National Championship in 2012.
That shows that Richt still has what it takes to get the program back on track when things are going in the wrong direction. It also shows that Georgia is a team that will continue to get national respect in 2013 and beyond.
It’s clear that Richt needs to win a national title to erase doubts that he is one of the best college coaches in the country. But due to his attitude, preparation and ability to win, Richt will have plenty of opportunities to win a title in Athens because he will be there for a long time.