Richt has impressive company among coaches with no national title

Can Mark Richt be called a great football coach if he never wins a national title? (Jason Getz / AJC)

Can Mark Richt be called a great football coach if he never wins a national title? (Jason Getz / AJC)

USA Today’s Mike Lopresti had an interesting column this week discussing who is the best current college football coach without a national championship.

Naturally, Mark Richt’s name came up, with Lopresti noting that the coach “has survived the Southeastern Conference hothouse at Georgia for 11 years and won nearly 74 percent of his games.”

But Lopresti consigned Richt to the “resonable nominees” list along with Michigan State’s Mark Dantonio, Wisconsin’s Bret Bielema, Nevada’s Chris Ault (really!!??) and Notre Dame’s Brian Kelly (who has the best winning percentage among the top 10 active coaches in career victories).

His main candidates, though, included Kansas State’s Bill Snyder, Boise State’s Chris Petersen, Oregon’s Chip Kelly, TCU’s Gary Patterson and his ultimate choice of the best coach without a crystal football: Virginia Tech’s Frank Beamer, who has 251 career victories (the most of any active coach), has had 19 bowl teams and came closest to a national championship in 1999 with a certain dog-abusing quarterback.

Frank Beamer also doesn't have a national championship. (Associated Press)

Frank Beamer also doesn't have a national championship. (Associated Press)

Who the USA Today columnist picked as the best coach without a national title didn’t interest me as much as the fact that it’s a list of pretty impressive and successful coaching talent who are in the same boat as UGA’s Richt.

So, here’s my question: Just how important to a program is it to win a national championship? If Richt never gets one, will he forever rank behind the Nick Sabans and Urban Meyers, no matter how many successful seasons he coaches at Georgia? That’s been the major knock on Richt and it boggles my mind a little to realize that even if his Dawgs were to manage to win the SEC championship game this season and make it to the BCS game and didn’t win it … he’d still have that same millstone around his neck.

What do you think? Is it all about the national title? If so, does that really make Frank Beamer less of a coach than Urban Meyer?

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382 comments Add your comment

NC Dawg

August 22nd, 2012
10:48 am

First! Go Dawgs!!

The Honest Truth

August 22nd, 2012
10:49 am

Second, Dawgs to the promised land in 2012-13!

chicken neck

August 22nd, 2012
10:53 am

Yes. Richt would rank behind the Sabans, Miles, Myers, etc if he doesn’t win a NC. They’re all successful coaches but winning the crystal trophy puts you in the upper class.

Eddie

August 22nd, 2012
10:53 am

To me, the best coaches can sustain success. Look at Gene C at Auburn. He won a title, but most will argue in years to come that it was Cam Newton that delivered the title. Not his coaching. Richt has won 75% of this games in the SEC. The man can coach. Winning a title comes with a healthy dose of luck. As much as I want to see another National Title come to Athens, I’ll take the guy that wins most all the games on the schedule.

Jessie

August 22nd, 2012
10:56 am

Bill, saying Frank Beamer or Mark Richt are lesser coaches than Nick Saban or Les Miles, makes no sense because the situations are very different at different colleges. I believe that if Mark Richt were coaching at Alabama, he most likely would have won just as many national titles as Nick Saban. It’s like saying a Pro football player who goes to the pro bowl five or six years in his career, is not as good as another player who never makes the pro bowl, but plays on a different team and does have a super bowl ring on his finger, is a superior player. You can’t compare apples to oranges and make a valid comparison.

Charlie

August 22nd, 2012
10:57 am

The problem has been Richt’s timing. Other schools have won the mythical NC with one or two losses (just like UGA had in 2002 and heading into bowl game in 2005). LSU did it in ‘07, Fla in ‘08, etc.

It used to be that the main goal of any program was to win the SEC and let the rest sort itself out. I think with ESPN and all the talking heads, college fans now only care about NCs.

It can’t be debated that Georgia is clearly the best team of the last decade (from the SEC) to have not won it all.

GTBob

August 22nd, 2012
10:59 am

Richt has had far more talent than all of the other coaches you listed, including Frank Beamer. That will be the knock on him when he retires. He had top 5 talent every year and couldn’t do much with them.

mike addington

August 22nd, 2012
11:01 am

MR is an enigma to me. I’ve seen the team play magnificiently under his leadership in his early years only to look lik bad high school team at other times and his plethora of problems, firt with time management, bad defense, bad special teams makes me scratch my head. I love the guy personally but read the above so far as objectively. wishing the team and Richt the best though

Sam

August 22nd, 2012
11:04 am

Yes, it would put him behind others with similar records and titles. The same can be said for Vince Dooley. With 1980 he would not rank nearly so high.

Mr. Dawg

August 22nd, 2012
11:04 am

The Lopreski article details one of the points I have made in favor of Richt’s tenure. That is while he has yet to win National title, many of those who have in during his time at UGA did so scandolously.

GTBob

August 22nd, 2012
11:06 am

It can’t be debated that Georgia is clearly the best team of the last decade (from the SEC) to have not won it all.

That really isn’t that great of an accomplishment when the SEC wins the title every year.

dale

August 22nd, 2012
11:09 am

Always a bridesmaid.

Joe

August 22nd, 2012
11:10 am

Could you say the same about Vince Dooley since Herschel was a oncein a life time player that came along at the right time for Dooly. As far as Richts record. During his tenure at UGA the SEC has had 7 national championships. Talk about competition being the greatest for someone that has a 75% record. If UGa was in another league there is no telling how many conference championships he would have had by now. Well basically the SEC East is almost another league since you have to play a championship for the SEC. Before the Championships were added how many SEC national championships were there.

Fridawg

August 22nd, 2012
11:11 am

Gotta have the hardware to be considered on top. Plain and simple. I love Richt though and would be perfectly happy to have a consistent record like Beamer over the next 20 years or so.

MRcollectingchecksandlovingit

August 22nd, 2012
11:11 am

Hey Eddie, MR has not won 75% of his games in the SEC. In fact the last few years his SEC record is pretty terrible. He was at the right place at the right time. The last 5 years have been pretty average.

Scotty

August 22nd, 2012
11:14 am

Come on Bill is this a trick question. College football coaches and teams all have one ultimate goal…WIN A NATIONAL CHAMPONSHIP! As long a Richt does not get one for Georgia…second rate and should be behind ALL coaches who have won it.

MRcollectingchecksandlovingit

August 22nd, 2012
11:15 am

Hey Jessie, if MR and SABAN traded teams, UGA would win a NC and the people at Bama would be running MR out of town on a rail. MR does not work as hard as Saban, he’d collecting checks and just getting by.

Nothing Could Be Finer

August 22nd, 2012
11:16 am

See yall on October 6th for THREE-IN-A-ROW!

dangerranger6969

August 22nd, 2012
11:19 am

Look at his reord against top 25 teams before he gave up play calling and after do a story on this Mark Richt will never win a NC as long as Mike Bobo and Garner are still at UGA.

Jay in VA

August 22nd, 2012
11:22 am

It’s similar to golfers who win tournaments but never a major. Their resumes always seem a bit incomplete. Not fair really, because CFB national titles are a political crap shoot. The coming playoff will help get more guys in the mix at least.

Ron Roberts

August 22nd, 2012
11:25 am

In MOST leagues of play, it’s a coach’s job to get his/her team to play to the best of it’s potential, qualify for the playoffs, and have them clicking at the right time.

You could argue, at the end of three seasons, that Georgia was the “best” college football team in those three seasons under Richt’s tenure.

It’s not his fault polls and a deeply flawed BCS system has worked against Georgia each of those three years. Imagine the new four-team playoff existed those three years; we’d have one one or more times, I believe.

There’s not much Richt could have done as a head coach (in 2006) to have had DJ Shockley on the field for the Florida game (which we’d have won, handily, that season.

Georgia was clearly the best team in football at the end of the 2008 season, and while we can ALL agree that early season losses to SC and Tennessee were both disappointing, and in retrospect, huge losses, ask a New York Giants fan if Tom Coughlin’s looking back at any of his team’s seven losses last year and losing sleep over them. The “system” (or lack thereof) cost us that shot, then.

Back to 2002, UGA finished 3rd (to Ohio State and Miami, who both were undefeated going into the BCS championship Fiesta Bowl), so they’d have likely played in a four-team playoff that season, correct?

Hey, I, like any other ‘Dawg fan, would love my team to play for, and win, a national title, and I love Coach RIcht for running his program the right way, as best he can. I think, given the current coaching staff, we’re on the right path (again) towards prominence, but we, the fan base, have to do our part, too. Recruits read these things.

Moobs Johnson

August 22nd, 2012
11:26 am

As others have said, the ultimate goal should be to win the National Championship. If you are not shooting for that, then you accept mediocrity. Which is where I believe the administration, coaching staff, and a large portion of Georgia’s supporters reside.

THE Dixie Redcoat Band

August 22nd, 2012
11:31 am

Can we Just win a bowl game, any bowl game! We do agree however, UGA has a Top Ten recruiting class for years and years and nothing happens.

GTBob

August 22nd, 2012
11:32 am

Look at his reord against top 25 teams before he gave up play calling and after do a story on this Mark Richt will never win a NC as long as Mike Bobo and Garner are still at UGA.

Look at his record before Meyer, Miles and Petrino came to the SEC and before Saban and Spurrier came back to the SEC. Then look at it afterwards. The coaching in the SEC got substantially better and Richt did not. Its as simple as that.

Mike S.

August 22nd, 2012
11:38 am

Bill, the way CFB crowns a National Champ, I think its completely unfair to hang that on Richt. You dont have to just be good, you have to be lucky and have the poll voters on your side. Its not like Richt hasn’t been in the conversation. What is the difference between Richt’s 2002 squad and Meyer’s 2006 UF squad? Both had one loss, but Richt was behind undefeated Ohio St. and Miami, not Ohio St. and Michigan which opened the door for Meyer. Whats the difference between Richt’s 2007 team and Saban’s team last year? Both were regarded as one of the top two teams in the country without a division title, much less conference. UGA doesnt resonate in the polls, so they voted Richt down and voted Bama in.

Until UGA starts losing in a legit playoff, I will hang the NC on Richt. Meanwhile, he has stayed at UGA through thick and thin while Meyer and Saban bounce somewhere else when the going gets tough. Its easy to pile up good records when you dont stay long enough to see your coaching staff cycle over and the conference cycle around on you.

RKDog

August 22nd, 2012
11:40 am

mark this down–Richt has his best team in 10 years. This Dog D may be the best in the country and gurley is the next trent richardson. Dogs win the east easily and upset alabama in the SEC title game. Dogs—back on top!!!

ARdawg

August 22nd, 2012
11:41 am

“Richt has had far more talent than all of the other coaches you listed, including Frank Beamer.”

GTBoobie, That statement points to a good coach. Would you like to recant?

Chris

August 22nd, 2012
11:42 am

If Richt were to actually win the SEC championship this year against LSU or Bama, then it would give him more respect and recognition as a coach. Winning the National Championship would obviously shut everyone up, but winning against either of the two teams that have become the two most dominant teams in the country (according to ESPN), then Georgia would at least be mentioned with those two teams in the future.

Either way, it’s not going to happen. As long as Bobo is calling the plays, we will underachieve, and until Richt realizes that and get’s rid of that fool, he will not be considered among the elite coaches. We can only hope that our defense is so freaking good, that it makes up for our stupid O.C.

RxDawg

August 22nd, 2012
11:42 am

“Frank Beamer…. came closest to a national championship with a certain dog-abusing quarterback.”

At first I read that and thought, Mike Vick never played against UGA? hehe

RxDawg

August 22nd, 2012
11:46 am

As far as winning a national championship, it’s important but it’s only a piece of the legacy of a coach. I put winning the SEC just a hair below the national championship, and Richt has done that twice.

People that use a national title as the measuring stick are in the wrong. To many cogs in that wheel.

ARdawg

August 22nd, 2012
11:50 am

Bill,

To answer your question IMHO, a NC doesn’t make a great coach. Consistently in the hunt for a NC in an important ingredient to being one. I like Richt but, I wouldn’t consider him a great coach at this stage. Only once in those 11 years has he had the Dawgs in contention. He has won, true. That makes him a good coach, not a great one. The naysayers harp on his underacheiving and to a large degree, they are correct IMHO

Destin Dawg

August 22nd, 2012
11:52 am

THIS is our year !!! Grantham’s 3rd year in 3/4 defense.. S&C and diet & nutrition program.. Go dawgs SEC champs !!

Mike S.

August 22nd, 2012
11:52 am

@GTBob – So where is Meyer now? Meyer’s team goes on a down swing and he leaves. Where is Petrino now? Oh yeah, out again. You need to look up Richt’s record against these coaches. Saban and Meyer are the only coaches that have a winning record on him. He’s only down on Saban by 1 loss when Saban was at LSU. He split a home and home with Saban’s Tide.

GTBob

August 22nd, 2012
11:53 am

GTBoobie, That statement points to a good coach. Would you like to recant?

No, the point of the post was that Richt has incredible talent that most other coaches would have won a National Championship with.

RxDawg

August 22nd, 2012
11:53 am

“Georgia was clearly the best team in football at the end of the 2008 season,”

I think you mean 07. We got our buts whipped by Bama, Florida, and someone else in 08.

Ace

August 22nd, 2012
11:55 am

It’s all relative to how Richt compares to all time greats like Bear Bryant, Bowden, and Saban, in his first 11 years, to their first 11 years.

Richt’s had UGA in the top 10 6x in 11 years, 2x more than Saban, Bowden, Bryant had COMBINED in their first 11 years.

Richt’s also had 2 top 3 finishes, same as Saban, Bowden, Bryant had COMBINED in their first 11 years.

Anyone claiming Richt isn’t a great coach on the level of a Saban, Bowden or Bryant, isn’t to be taken seriously.

DogGone

August 22nd, 2012
11:56 am

Considering what he has to work with in the Mid-Atlantic states, Frank Beamer is not less of a coach than Urban Meyers for Beamer’s failure to win a natty.

Richt is a really good coach, but considering the talent he has to work with at Georgia, Mark will never be a great coach unless he wins it all at least once in his Georgia career.

Let’s hope the ball bounces well for him this year, a really good year for Georgia to win the crystal.

Ace

August 22nd, 2012
11:58 am

If winning a Natl Champ made you a great coach, what happened to Gene C after Cam left? Or Terry Bowden? Or Spurrier at South Carolina?

Anyone can have a great year if you have a great player, but it takes a great coach to finish in the top 10 6x in 11 seasons. Bowden, Bryant, or Saban couldn’t do it.

Ace

August 22nd, 2012
12:02 pm

Richt will get one if he keeps finishing in the top 10 6 out of 11 seasons, and giving himself a chance. Once he gets one, he’ll get on a roll and start to stockpile some trophies.

Mr. Dawg

August 22nd, 2012
12:05 pm

For what it’s worth, UGA has averaged 31.4 points per game in Bobo’s 5 years as OC. They averaged 28.2 points per game when Richt was calling the plays. The defense let down after Van Gorder left and any Bulldog fan knows the struggles they have has on special teams. It appears that Grantham has the defense going in the right direction. Improvement on the special teams remains to be seen. But Bobo is not the reason the Bulldogs haven’t won a National Championship.

Mike S.

August 22nd, 2012
12:05 pm

As for the articles choices for best coach without a title, those are just the current hot names. Honesly, Richt, Beamer, Snyder, and Bielema should be the top choices. To put any of them in a category with Kelly at ND and the others is insulting. Snyder turned around K St in a tough Big 12 as fast as they fell when he left. The long standing records of Richt, Beamer, and Bielema speak for themselves.

Most of his top choices are just the hot names right now. Kelly at Oregon has been winning a down Pac 10/12, but has not done well at all in high profile out of conference matchups. Peterson and Patterson have done will out of conference while maximizing talent, but have yet to prove they can coach a team through a major conference grind to get there.

GTBob

August 22nd, 2012
12:05 pm

You need to look up Richt’s record against these coaches. Saban and Meyer are the only coaches that have a winning record on him.

Meyer, Miles, and Spurrier joined the SEC in 2005. Saban and Petrino came shortly after that. So what is Richt’s record in the SEC before and after 2005?

2001-2005: 31-10 (75% win percentage)
2006-2011: 30-19 (61% win percentage)

If you want to call that some major coincidence then go ahead.

RxDawg

August 22nd, 2012
12:07 pm

“No, the point of the post was that Richt has incredible talent that most other coaches would have won a National Championship with.”

Well that’s not a subjective statement at all is it?

DawginLex

August 22nd, 2012
12:09 pm

Guys, don’t waste your time trying to talk to GTBob or argue with him.

He is an idiot of the highest order and his hatred for UGA and absolutely insane, comical comments make him someone to be pitied.

Your time would be better spent going down to the pound and adopting an animal and hanving a conversation with it.

You will get just as much in the way of an intelligent response and you will have a friend for life as opposed to trying to argue with someone who has the IQ of a banana

Ace

August 22nd, 2012
12:12 pm

Richt’s a top 10 recruiter every year.

Richt develops more guys into the NFL than Saban, Spurrier, or Meyer.

Richt has coached 2 Heisman trophy winners.

Richt has a better winning percentage than Saban, Miles or Spurrier.

Richt’s in his own league.

EDawg

August 22nd, 2012
12:13 pm

I would rather have Rich over Sabin, yes Sabin has won the NC but he cares only about Sabin and his ego, Rich on the other hand cares about guiding 18 year boys and creating productive young men in today’s society. Whether they go pro, (50) in the pro’s vs. Sabin’s (39), or succeed at other things in life. He cares about them succeeding as men rather than his own ego.

dawgfan

August 22nd, 2012
12:13 pm

Its a tough argument that a national championship is all about luck when Urban Meyer and Nick Saban have won FIVE national championships since Richt became UGA’s coach. That’s not luck. Its great coaching. Clearly they are doing something that Richt isn’t doing. Richt has been on the job for 11 years and has had plenty of time for the “bounces to go his way” for him to win it all. That is no longer a valid excuse. In my opinion Richt should have 2 national titles by now, 2002 and 2007. Boneheaded inexcusable “no show” losses in those seasons kept us from the big prize. Success is in the details and Richt has never demonstrated a mastery of the details. He often says something like “the goal is to get to the SECCG and whatever happens after that is gravy.” No coach, the goal should be to win each and every damn time UGA takes the field. The Richt apologists will say something like “dawgfan you’re an idiot. Do you really think Richt doesn’t care about winning every game?” YES, that is exactly what I think. I think his goal every year is to win the SEC East. He has said that himself. You do not have to win every game to win the SEC East. His goal should be to win a national title. You do have to win every game to win a national title. You can say what you want about Meyer and Saban (and when it comes to Meyer I would probably agree with you. He’s a punk), but those guys are workaholic maniacs that expect nothing but excellence out of their team. I don’t get that from Richt. I get more of a “well guys, lets just do the best we can, have fun, and let the chips fall where they may” kind of vibe. That’s great and it has its strengths, but so far it hasn’t gotten us a national championship and at this point you have to wonder if it ever will.

Thanks.

Mike S.

August 22nd, 2012
12:13 pm

@Mr. Dawg – I would agree with you. Although i dont like Bobo’s play calling, the defense is the reason UGA struggled in 08, 09, and 10. Now, the offense did struggle a lot last year, especially with killer mistakes and run blocking. I chalk Murray’s struggles up to being a Soph QB.

That said, Bobo is too predictable, and much of his success is due to massive talent in the backfield. The last few years, he cant wait to run up the gut and everyone knows it. His offenses often look ill prepared to start games. Even though the defense let them down, several games ended in losses with Bobo running up the gut instead of sticking with what worked. He doesnt toss to the FB much which has always been good for UGA. He doesnt use the TE over the middle which was a staple under Richt. In fact, he doesnt do many of the things UGA did very well when Richt was calling the shots. It took him a whole quarter to realize AJ Green was back from suspension and on the field.

ARdawg

August 22nd, 2012
12:14 pm

“No, the point of the post was that Richt has incredible talent that most other coaches would have won a National Championship with.”

That’s quite a leap and very subjective there GTBobby. The backhanded compliment in your statement is the fact that it takes a good coach to amass that kind of talent. A great coach IMHO, amasses and coaches it up to it’s full potential.

Roid Dawg

August 22nd, 2012
12:15 pm

Frank Beamer is in a mickey mouse conference which is the same place Mark richt should be. This clown will never win uga a national championship as long as he stays here.