Wednesday, August 7, 2013
Countdown to SEC kickoff: 22 days
By Chris Low
The head coaches come and go in the SEC like the latest reality show on television. One day, they're here. The next day, they're gone.
The exception has been Mark Richt, who's entering his 13th season at Georgia. He's the dean of SEC coaches who's coached in the league at one school, which leads us to today's number as we continue to count down the days to kickoff: 38.
Going back to 2001 when he was hired away from Bobby Bowden's staff at Florida State, Richt has been the face of Georgia football. He’s also been the ultimate survivor in a league that chews up and spits out its head coaches. Anybody got any guesses on how many head coaches have been on the payroll at the other 12 SEC schools (not counting Missouri and Texas A&M) since Richt entered the league in 2001? That figure is an eye-popping 38 head coaches. Seven of the schools have had four different head coaches during Richt’s tenure, and every school’s had at least three head coaches during Richt’s stay except for LSU and South Carolina. Just in the past six seasons, counting the four new head coaches in the league this season, there have been 27 different head coaches at the 12 existing SEC schools. Again, that doesn’t count Missouri and Texas A&M since they just joined the league last year. It hasn’t always been smooth sailing for Richt despite his rock-solid consistency. He’s won 10 or more games in eight of his 12 seasons and has been to the SEC championship game each of the past two seasons. However, the Dawgs followed up a ho-hum 8-5 season in 2009 with Richt’s only losing season of his tenure in 2010, prompting the loudest outcry yet among some in the Georgia fan base that it might be time for new blood in Athens. But, hey, that's just life in the SEC. Richt’s Bulldogs have gone 7-1 in the league each of the past two seasons and were a tipped pass away against Alabama last season in the SEC championship game from potentially playing for the national title. Georgia hasn’t won an SEC title since 2005. If some new faces can come through on defense, this could be the season that drought ends, and maybe then Richt would get the credit he truly deserves. He's been more than just a consistent winner. He's been a steady hand in guiding that program, and he's always done it with the utmost class.