Harrison Martin posted a very thorough article yesterday detailing why he thinks it's time for Mark Richt to be relieved from his position as head coach of the University of Georgia. I know it will absolutely shock all of you who know me to discover that I hold the exact opposite opinion. But let me tell you why!
As these lists frequently do, let's start the countdown from the bottom and work our way up to #1.
15) He ain't a member of the Tebow family
Look, I get it. Mark Richt's relatively outspoken faith and actions directed to call attention to that faith make people uncomfortable sometimes. That's ok, and I'm not saying you're a hateful or bad person for being uncomfortable that someone else is comfortable talking about their faith. Really. That's ok to feel that way.
What I do think, however, is that this colors those folks' opinions on what Richt's long term life strategy is. They tend to assume that because he has a strong personal faith that he's outspoken about, he's just going to up and quit one of these years and move somewhere and be a missionary. (Like Tim Tebow's family, who were/are missionaries in the Philippines, which is where the reference above comes from.) But, see, the thing is, Richt was asked about exactly that issue at last year's SEC Media Days, and this was his response:
People come to me and say: "Coach whenever you retire we think you're gonna go off and do mission work and stuff like that." But there's not a greater mission than college athletics and being the head coach at the University of Georgia. There's so many young men we get to touch their lives and influence. It's a mission in itself, really. (My wife) Kathryn and I were talking about it the other day.
See, that's the thing most people miss when they assume he's gonna go Jesus-y and scamper off to do missionary work. This is what he considers his mission work. (That is to say, coaching football.) This is his "position to which he's been called." He's not just going to drop it and head off to Honduras. If he gets to do it the way he wants to do it, it's far more likely that he'll be around as long as Tom Osborne, Bobby Bowden, and Vince Dooley were. If you don't like his work and want him to leave UGA, he's not going to do it for you. You're going to have to push him out the door.
14) Now is not the time to have this discussion
Again, I get it. Going into this season, it seemed like half the Bulldog fanbase expected us to blow everybody out and win the national championship, and when we lose two games in a row, you get mad as hell, and you're not gonna take it anymore. And in your anger and frustration, many people just lash out and say, "We always lose like this EVERY DANG YEAR. We need to make a change!"
But here's the thing: The time to discuss a head coach's job is not right after a devastating loss... or even two devastating losses back-to-back. There's a reason that, unless extenuating circumstances dictate otherwise, every Athletic Director waits until the end of the season to assess a coach's performance. I can assure you that nobody likes getting their doors blown off by Alabama and then beaten by Tennessee less than Greg McGarity and Mark Richt. But let's see how the season finishes out. If we lose out and end up 4-8, then we'll have a much different discussion than if we win out, finish 10-2, and make it to the SEC Championship Game. (And the result of that SEC Championship Game would have a significant bearing on the discussion, as well.)
The point is, everybody's emotional and on-edge right now, and that's the absolute worst time to be making a major decision like whether to fire your head coach.
13) Mark Richt has sustained the most success for the longest period of time in Georgia history
Mark Richt has a higher winning percentage over his first 190 games (73.68%) than any coach in Georgia history. After 190 games, Vince Dooley stood at 67.37% near the end of the 1980 season, and Wally Butts stood at 61.05% during the 1956 season.
"But Vineyarddawg, those coaches were coaching at a completely different time in college football," you say. "Today, we expect more from the University of Georgia. We expect to consistently be elite, not always losing games to friggin' teams we ought to beat every year." Well, let's just look at that. During his first 15 years in Athens, Vince Dooley finished in the bottom half of the SEC 3 times. He also finished right at the 50% line (that's 5th or worse in the 10-team league) an additional 5 times in his first 15 years. By contrast, Mark Richt has finished in the bottom 50% of the SEC... exactly zero times in his first 15 years. He has finished right at the 50% line (3rd in a 6-team SEC East) a total of 4 times. That means that out of his first 14 years (because the 15th isn't complete yet), he has finished in the top half of the SEC 11 times. Literally no coach in Georgia history has done that. (Wally Butts did it 10 times in his first 14 years, and in a significantly weaker 12-team SEC than the one we currently have.)
12) Mark Richt is still one of the most successful coaches in the entire country
Alright, y'all are going to give me some flak on this one, I'll bet. But to fairly compare Mark Richt to his peers, we have to compare him against peers of similar competition. That means that you have to compare him against coaches that have been coaching at Power 5 schools. It's wonderful that Chris Petersen has a career winning percentage of 83.6% in his 10 years at the Division I level, but 8 of those 10 years were at Boise State, when he had a maximum of 1 or 2 games a year against Power 5 competition.
So who are Mark Richt's peers? Well, let's take a look at the winningest active coaches in college football who have coached at least 36 games (3 seasons) at a Power 5 school. Why a 3 season minimum? Well, it's enough to establish a Power 5 track record, but even more simply, that's as far as anybody seems to look back anymore, if even that far. Anyway, here are the numbers, with their total number of seasons coaching at the Power 5 level in parentheses (and as a reminder, Mark Richt is at 73.68%):
- Urban Meyer (6 at Florida & in 4th at Ohio State): 85.83%
- Jimbo Fisher (in 6th at FSU): 85.14%
- Mark Helfrich (in 3rd at Oregon): 79.41%
- Bob Stoops (in 17th at Oklahoma): 79.26%
- David Shaw (in 5th at Stanford): 77.97%
- Brian Kelly (4 in the Big East at Cincy, 6th at Notre Dame): 75.68%
- Nick Saban (5 at MSU, 5 at LSU, and 9th at Bama): 75.11%
- Kevin Sumlin (in 4th at A&M, Houston doesn't count): 75%
- (MARK RICHT GOES HERE)
- Jim Mora (4th at UCLA): 73.33%
- Les Miles (4 at Ok St., in 11th at LSU): 73.12%
- Dabo Swinney (7th full season, 8th total at Clemson): 71.74%
- Bobby Petrino (2 Big East seasons at Louisville, 5 at Arkansas, and in his 2nd at Louisville again): 70.21%
- Mark Dantonio (2 Big East seasons at Cincy, in 9th at MSU): 68.15%
- Mike Gundy (in 11th at Ok. St.): 67.16%
- Gary Patterson (Only the last 3 seasons at TCU count, since that's how long they've been in a P5 conference): 65.91%
- Hugh Freeze (4th at Ole Miss, Arky St doesn't count): 64.44%
- Art Briles (8th at Baylor, Houston doesn't count): 63.83%
So, that's the top active head coaches list. And as you might have noticed, there are a couple of names favored by some fans to replace Mark Richt below him on that list. But let's look at a couple of other names some folks have tabbed as a potential Richt replacement on this blog and others:
- Chip Kelly: The best non-current-college-head-coach name on the list, with a 86.79% winning percentage in 4 years at Oregon, and he's proably going to be fired by the Philadelphia Eagles. Unfortunately, he has a NCAA "show-cause" on him until January, so he effectively can't be hired as a head coach until then. Yeah, Georgia's athletic department will jump at a guy with that kind of baggage. (/rolls eyes)
- Tom Herman: Most famous for being Urban Meyer's Mike Bobo at Ohio State. He's 5-0 in his first year at Houston, but what does that prove about... well, anything at all relative to his ability to recruit and coach in the SEC?
- Kirby Smart: No head coaching experience... and in fact, no offensive coaching experience at all other than a 1-year stint as UGA's running backs coach in 2005. Yeah, he's Nick Saban's right hand man, and if you want to go ahead and advocate that we hire what would be UGA's version of Will Muschamp... well, then go right ahead.
- Sonny Dykes: What? Didn't even have a great record at Louisiana Tech, and he's 11-19 so far at Cal.
- Bob Stitt: Stitt is famous for being a head coach at Division II Colorado School of Mines, where he ran a completely new, ingenious style of offense and blew everybody's doors off, dominating the entire division. (Counsel leans over, whispers.) Oh, wait, I'm sorry. I'm told that he only had a 63.53% winning percentage at the Division II level, and he's 3-2 at Montana in his first year at the Division I FCS level. But wait! Stitt is loved by other offensive geniuses like Dana Holgorsen! Surely he knows what he's talking about, right? Well...
- Dana Holgorsen (in 5th season at W.Va.): 55.36%
Look, this isn't a whole article about potential candidates to replace Richt. My point is that even after starting the 2015 season 4-2, Mark Richt is still one of the best coaches in the college ranks today. And nobody that currently has a better record than Richt is even available as a realistic replacement.
11) Even the "best" coaches frequently lose 2 games a year
The usual refrain is, "Mark Richt always loses at least 2 or 3 games a year, and the best coaches don't let their teams have that kind of lapse, so he can't win at the elite level." Well, let's just test that hypothesis.
So, we know that there are 8 currently active head coaches ahead of Mark Richt on the "all-time winning percentage" list above. How do those coaches... none of whom would be candidates for the head job at UGA, mind you... compare to Mark Richt in terms of "always losing 2-3 games a year?"
The 8 coaches ahead of Mark Richt on the active winning percentage list have combined for 51 seasons of 2 or more losses in a combined 74 seasons of coaching, for a total of 68.91% of the time. And that's giving these coaches the benefit of the doubt in 2015, since only one coach (Mark Helfrich) currently has at least 2 losses this season. But we're looking at this right now at this point in time, when everybody is talking about it, so we give them the benefit of the doubt.
Those numbers are skewed by 2 coaches in particular: Urban Meyer and Jimbo Fisher. Urban's only had 4 seasons with 2 or more losses in his 10 seasons coaching at the Power 5 level, and Jimbo has only had 3 out of 6 seasons reach that 2-loss mark (again, including 2015 to this point). When you take those two coaches out, the remaining 6 coaches have combined for 44 seasons of 2+ losses in 58 total seasons coached, for a total of 75.86%. That's compared to 14 out of 15 seasons for Mark Richt, or 93.33%. But if we only consider full seasons for the 2+ loss mark (so, only numbers through 2014), that number drops to 44 out of 52 seasons, or 84.62% for the coaches above Richt, and 13 out of 14 seasons, or 92.86% for Richt.
So no, Mark Richt is not keeping pace with the 8 coaches above him on the active winning percentage list. But that's why those coaches are above him on the list. The point is that it's not a huge outlier. Even the glorious god almighty Nick Saban has had 2 or more losses in 73.68% of all the seasons he's coached at the Division I FBS level (14 out of 19 seasons).
Every coach has teams that have disappointing losses and bonehead games. Mark Richt is not unique in this aspect, and whomever you would choose to replace him would not be able to avoid this statistic, either.
10) Mark Richt has never had any serious trouble with the NCAA
In spite of the "Mark Richt has lost control of..." meme that is so popular, the fact is that in 15 years, the NCAA has never even hinted at putting the University of Georgia on probation. Hell, the most serious trouble Mark Richt has gotten into with the NCAA was in 2011, when it was discovered that he paid raises to his assistants out of his own pocket when those raises were denied by the Athletic Department.
You can turn this argument around and say that Mark Richt has allowed our athletic department to be too aggressive in enforcing NCAA rules, especially with regards to the Todd Gurley and A.J. Green incidents, but what you're arguing there is that Mark Richt tries too hard to obey the rules. Think about that for a moment.
9) Mark Richt graduates his players
If your response to this point is, "I don't care about that, because I ain't come here to play school," then we're done talking. 90+% of all college football players will never go pro, and to simply exploit those players, many of whom come from disadvantaged backgrounds, simply to win football games is reprehensible and exploitative. Of course winning football games is the goal, and of course every college player thinks they're going to make it in the NFL.
The reality, however, is that the vast majority of these players are going to have to do something that's not on a football field when their days are done playing for UGA. And under Mark Richt's tenure, those players are getting an education and life experiences that will help them be successful when they graduate, as most of them do.
The 2015 Football media guide, like most media guides, has a "glossy photo" section in the middle, where a lot of promotional "stuff" highlights all of the things we really want recruits to see. NFL players, pictures of stuff like Uncle Verne and Gary in Sanford Stadium, etc. That section is 36 pages long. Along the bottom of every single page is a picture of every football player who has graduated from the university since Mark Richt. There are an average of 8-9 pictures per page. For 36 pages. (That averages out to about 19-20 players per year, which is a very good number when you consider transfers, dismissals, and guys who left early for the draft.)
8) Mark Richt's former players love him
Just watch any of the HBO "Hard Knocks" specials and see how many former Georgia players you see at some point wearing a "Coach Richt is my Dawg" t-shirt. To some extent, that's all you need to know right there.
These kids aren't stupid when they're in college. They can tell when they've got a coach that couldn't care less about their personal life as long as they're winning games. They can also tell when a coach genuinely cares for them and wants to see them succeed in both football and life, and the bonds coach Richt's players have with him even after their playing days says more for his relationship with those guys than I ever could.
"So what," you say? "Who cares?" Well, I'll tell you who cares about whether Mark Richt takes care of his players: the mommas and daddies of prospective recruits care. And so do (some of) the recruits themselves. Every single coach that steps into a recruit's living room is going to promise his momma that he would "take care of (recruit's name) like he was my own son." But Mark Richt has a 15-year track record of doing exactly that, both in the good times and the hard times. That's a valuable tool to have on the recruiting trail.
7) Mark Richt goes above and beyond his duties to take care of his players after their careers are over
Again, even if you just simply don't care about a player after he leaves UGA, recruits do. (And recruits' mommas do, too.) Mark Richt has been informally helping connect players with opportunities and networking experiences for pretty much all of his career, but he started the Paul Oliver Network in 2014 to formalize the network in memory of DGD Paul Oliver who took his own life and was posthumously diagnosed with CTE. Oliver's situation was heart-achingly chronicled by Jeremy Collins for SB Nation less than a month ago, and he correctly points out that Oliver's CTE probably played just as much a role as anything else in his death. But the fact is Mark Richt is committed to these helping these men succeed in life, not just in football. And even if you just don't care and only tally wins and losses, that still matters, because it matters to the recruits you want to see playing in the Red and Black.
6) Continuity makes for a more successful program
Mark Richt has said it before, and it's no less true today; when you have a staff in place, as long as they continue to adapt competitively to changes in the game, then that continuity can be a great competitive advantage for your program. Let's take a look at the 15 football programs with the most wins over the last 10 years (prior to 2015, with number of wins in parentheses):
- Boise State (113)
- Ohio State (110)
- Alabama (107)
- Oregon (106)
- LSU (103)
- Oklahoma (101)
- TCU (100)
- Southern Cal (99)
- Wisconsin (98)
- FSU (96)
- Virginia Tech (96)
- Georgia (94)
- Florida (94)
- Texas (94)
- Missouri (91)
- BYU (90)
What's the common thread for all 13 of these teams? The all had long periods of consistency on their coaching staffs for a large portion of those 10 years. Yes, UGA is just 12th on the list. But it's 3rd in the SEC.
Some people consider it a "tired adage" that if you keep putting a high-level product on the field, eventually you'll get the breaks (read: luck) you need to get to win a national championship. And clearly, Georgia hasn't gotten those breaks in the last 15 years. We've come close twice, maybe 3 times... but we haven't had the pieces fall into place yet. That doesn't mean it can't happen for Mark Richt. Which is a nice segue-way to my next point...
5) You don't need a newcomer to win a national championship
Look, I know all this essentially boils down to "Mark Richt hasn't won a national championship." That's the bottom line for virtually everyone that wants him gone. The conventional wisdom says that if Richt hasn't gotten it done by now, he ain't never gonna do it, so just pass him down the line and find another coach that might fit the bill. And the most damning evidence comes in the harsh numbers seen during Richt's own tenure.
During Mark Richt's 14 years in Athens, 9 different schools have won a national championship. Only 2 of those schools had a coach that had been at that school more than 4 years: Texas with Mack Brown, and Alabama with Nick Saban (though Saban also won a championship in just his 3rd year at the school). So, logically, you could argue that from a statistical standpoint that any school that harbors national championship expectations should fire their coach once he reaches the end of his 4th season (unless that coach's name is "Nick Saban.")
But that's an insipid argument. Ohio State is not going to fire Urban Meyer, TCU isn't going to fire Gary Patterson, Baylor is not going to fire Art Briles, Notre Dame's not going to fire Brian Kelly, and FSU isn't going to fire Jimbo Fisher. And that's because even though 14 years seems like practically forever, it's still a very tiny sample size for a game whose championship competitors are largely decided on the strokes of luck that occur between the 5 or 6 (or 7 or 8, in some years) elite teams in the country.
When you take a look back another 10 years, for example, you see that in the 1990's, 6 different schools won a total of 9 national championships with coaches that had been there longer than 3 years. And in the 1980's, 5 schools won championships with coaches who had been there longer than 4 years.
Four years is not some magic number, after which you forget how to coach football. You can legitimately argue that a program might start to get a little stale after 4 or 5 years, when the enthusiasm of the first recruiting classes start to wane and stagnation can set in. And to be fair, I think we saw this at Georgia in the 2008, '09, and 2010 seasons. But Mark Richt adapted and made changes, and rebounded in a big way in 2011 and especially 2012. And with a new OC and DC over the last 2 years, we certainly can't accuse him of "stagnating" at this point. If anything, we're just beginning a new cycle with new recruiting classes for Jeremy Pruitt and Brian Schottenheimer's first full class coming in over this coming offseason.
As long as you take active steps to prevent your program from becoming stale, history has shown us that long-term coaches can win national championships. And Mark Richt has shown us in the past 2 years that he's committed to ensuring the Georgia football program doesn't become stale.
4) Mark Richt can "win the big games," and already was won many "big games."
I almost didn't use this point, because I'm tired as hell of shooting down the "Mark Richt can't win the big games" trope. But when you hear people talk about why Mark Richt should be fired, this is something they say 99 out of 100 times. So I have to mention it, and how illogical of an argument it is.
First, what do you define as a "big game?" Most people who advocate for Mark Richt to be fired define a big game as "one that Georgia loses." And to be fair, we've given a maddening number of inferior teams (and coaches) the "signature win" of their seasons, or even their entire coaching careers. (I'm looking at Lane Kiffin, Derek Dooley, and 2014 Will Muschamp here, among others.) But a game doesn't become a "big game" just because an inferior team managed to upset Georgia.
If Georgia had defeated Tennessee last Saturday, would anybody in the entire world be calling it a "big game?" No, of course not, because it was a game UGA was supposed to win. It doesn't become a "big game" just because we lost. Now, the Alabama game, that was legitimately a big game, and we did lose it. But let's look at how some other "big games" have turned out over the last few years. (And again, I'm going to use a 3-year window, because nobody cares anymore about what you did in 2005 or 2007. Also, the reason I'm considering it a "big game" is listed in parentheses.)
- #12 Georgia 45, #16 Clemson 21 (Ranked matchup, and one of the premier games of the first week of the season. It was most definitely considered a "big game" at the time.)
- #24 South Carolina 38, #6 Georgia 35 (Ranked matchup, and to see if UGA could win in Columbia after a strong start vs. Clemson)
- #15 Georgia 34, #9 Auburn 7 (Top 15 matchup)
- #16 Georgia Tech 30, #9 Georgia 24, OT (Highly-ranked matchup against a rival)
- #8 Clemson 38, #5 Georgia 35 (Top 10 matchup)
- #11 Georgia 41, #6 South Carolina 30 (Highly-ranked matchup, Carolina finished the season at #4 in the polls with only 2 losses.)
- #9 Georgia 44, #6 LSU 41 (Top 10 matchup, Murray vs. Mettenberger)
- #7 Georgia 41, Missouri 20 (Debatable, perhaps, but it was certainly considered a big deal at the time, as it was Mizzou's first SEC game, and they were undefeated, with many "pundits" picking them to pull the upset.)
- #6 South Carolina 35, #5 Georgia 7 (Top 10 matchup)
- #10 Georgia 17, #2 Florida 9 (Top 10 matchup)
- #2 Alabama 32, #3 Georgia 28 (Top 5 matchup, and the SEC Championship Game is, by definition, a "big game.")
So Mark Richt's ledger in what I'd proclaim as "big games" over the previous 3 seasons is 6-5. Not a record to be shouting from the rooftops, to be sure, but it's not a data point proving that he "can't win the big games." Certainly, you could definitively say that he can't win all of the big games, but no coach in history was ever fired for failing to win every big game.
Mark Richt can win, and has won, "big games" at Georgia. We just feel the losses more significantly, so that's what we tend to focus on, especially immediately after a loss (which is the case right now).
3) The obligatory "make you scared of the unknown" point
Another common phrase that is used by some as a euphemism for "we haven't won a national championship yet" is "We need to find a coach who can take this program to the next level." Well, see, the funny thing about that is... we're the 3rd-winningest program in the SEC over the past decade. The next level above where we are is labeled "Alabama." And the only program in the country occupying that level is Alabama. (Though one could make an argument that Ohio State is approaching that level, as well.)
On the other hand, there are many, many levels of sorta-good mediocrity (and worse) that stand below where our program is currently situated. If you want to fire Mark Richt and get a coach that can "take us to the next level"... there are a lot more levels below us than above us, is what I'm saying. That "next level" is just as, if not more, likely to be a level down.
"But Vineyarddawg we could get John Gruden/Nick Saban/Jim Harbaugh/Bear Bryant/Pope Saint John Paul II to come in here and win us a national championship," I hear some of you saying. Well, yes, that's true. We could get a Nick Saban-quality hire like Alabama got in 2007, like Ohio State got in 2012, and like Nebraska got in 1973 (with Tom Osborne after their legendary coach Bob Devaney retired).
Or we could have about as much luck as some other historical powerhouses have recently had, like Southern Cal with Lane Kiffin and Steve Sarkisian. Or like Nebraska with Bill Callahan, Bo Pelini, and Mike Riley. Or like Tennessee with Lane Kiffin (again), Derek Dooley, and Butch Jones. Or like Alabama from 1983-2006. Or like Texas with Charlie Strong (who just celebrated like they won the national championship after they won a rivalry game that took them to 2-4 on the season). Or like Michigan with Rich Rodriguez and Brady Hoke. Or like Notre Dame with Bob Davie, Ty Willingham, and Charlie Weis.
In case you weren't keeping track, all of the schools I mentioned above are currently above Georgia on the "all time wins" list in college football. Ergo, every single one of them count as "top college football powerhouses," as does Georgia. (The only school above us in the list that I left out is Penn State, because they are an obvious exception for obvious reasons.) And even among these best programs in America, there are far fewer examples of getting a "home run hire" than there are examples of a new coach doing more damage to a program than he does benefit. Even a good coach, like I believe Rich Rodriguez to be, can be disastrous at a place where he is a horrible cultural fit, as he was at Michigan.
My point is not, "We should give Mark Richt a lifetime contract because we'll never do any better." Quite the opposite, in fact. We are one of the nation's premier football programs, so if and when the time comes to get a new coach, we need to make damn sure that not only has the current coach become a liability to the program, but we need to have a pretty good idea of who we're going to bring in to replace him, because history is replete with disastrous hires that occurred just because the fanbase got mad about losing a couple of games. At this point, I don't think either of those things are true, so I don't see a reasonable path to the conclusion that it's time to fire Mark Richt under this line of reasoning.
2) "Just getting tired of him" is not a valid reason to fire a coach
So, you've sorted through, or at least skimmed, nearly 5,000 words of text by now. And maybe you're thinking, "Vineyarddawg, this is all fine and good, but I just think it's time to move on. Richt has done his job, and we need to move on and get somebody else." So, in essence, you're saying you're frustrated and/or bored with Mark Richt, and you just want somebody else... anybody else. You need a change of scenery.
I barely know where to begin on this one. I definitely empathize with the frustration. I'm just as frustrated as anyone here. I mean, I've been to almost every single Georgia/Florida game since 1993. I was at the 2011 SEC Championship game, the 2012 SEC Championship Game, the 2006 Sugar Bowl, and the Alabama game this year. I know what intense anger and frustration after a loss feels like. Hell, I even wrote an article that nearly ended my tenure at Dawg Sports after the 2011 SECCG, in which I... uh, well, let's just say I was "less than complimentary" towards Isaiah Crowell's game performance. "Less than complimentary" in a very vulgar, disparaging, offensive way.
I understand being frustrated. I even understand being flustered and at your wits' end. But there is no really polite, easy way to say this: You can't simply get rid of Mark Richt because you're tired of having him around. "It's just time to move in another direction" is an argument that works for Jim Donnan after he loses to our rivals a collective 85% of the time under his watch. It's an argument that works for Ray Goff after he only registers more than 6 wins in a season twice in 7 years. It is simply not, however, a valid argument for a coach that has been to 2 SEC Championship Games in the previous 4 seasons and almost won the SEC and national championship in one of those seasons.
And finally, the #1 reason that Georgia should not even be thinking about firing Mark Richt right now:
1) If we fire Mark Richt in 2015, he'll be coaching at South Carolina in 2016.
Yes, you read that correctly. As you might have heard, Steve Spurrier just tossed the keys on the desk and walked out the door over in the SEC's "bad Columbia." Given all of the statistics and subjective points I've listed above, no athletic director worth a dime could ignore Mark Richt. Not only that... both of South Carolina's most recent head coaches have been men who had significant success at other schools before they were hired to lead the Palmetto State Poultry. As I said in a previous point, Mark Richt ain't retiring from the sport altogether, and he has no kids in school or anything to keep him anchored to the Athens area if he's let go. So, if you thought it was bad lining up against a Spurrier-coached team every year, wait until you get the opportunity to see your Bulldogs run out onto the field against a Mark Richt-coached South Carolina Gamecock squad. Now there's some nightmare fuel for you.