Gary Pinkel’s Record at Missouri

July 15, 2008

The last time I did a coach analysis, I threw it open for requests. It’s not so much that I was out of ideas, but I wanted to make sure I would be covering the people that folks are interested in.

The first request was for Gary Pinkel, which gave me pause. First of all, he wasn’t who I was expecting to see as the first request. Second, I really don’t know that much about Pinkel or Missouri football.

I spent over 22 years of my life in Florida with the rest in Charlotte, North Carolina and the entire time I have been a Florida fan and an SEC guy. Before 2007, I really only knew two things about Missouri football beyond its location and conference—Brad Smith was really good and a lot of people thought Pinkel was an underachieving coach.

I suspect the two of those were related. After all, Smith was an exceptionally talented player who has set all kinds of records for dual threat quarterbacks. He’s the all time quarterback rushing leader, the first ever to 8000 passing yards and 4000 rushing yards in a career, and first ever to 2000 passing yards and 1000 rushing yards in multiple seasons.

Smith began to get preseason hype for the Heisman in 2004 and his Tigers were ranked 17th in the preseason. Unfortunately, Mizzou would limp to a 5-6 record.

It was especially puzzling considering the Tigers defense gave up just 19.5 points per game, the lowest of Pinkel’s tenure up to that point. One would figure that with a defense that stout and Smith at quarterback, the team could have found a way to a winning record.

I think for the national audience, this was the year that really branded Pinkel with the underachiever label. His program actually had expectations, but it failed to live up to them. As a national observer, that’s all I can really speak to.

To get an insider’s opinion on Pinkel though, I asked the Bleacher Report Community Leader for Missouri Football, senior writer Peter Fleischer, for his thoughts on his head coach:

“Pinkel was pretty much hit or miss with Tigers fans. I personally liked him and felt like he got a bad rap for not producing as much at Mizzou as he could have.

The fact of the matter is that at the end of the Larry Smith era, Missouri football wasn’t exactly a perennial powerhouse, so it’s not like Pinkel ruined the program, ala Quin Snyder. I didn’t think that he underachieved with Brad Smith and felt like his teams had a knack for losing the games they should have won.

The most painful loss in my memory of Gary is the 2006 Sun Bowl against Oregon State, where the Tigers blew a huge lead and lost. I felt like Gary was a decent coach but never could really execute the big games. He couldn’t get over the hump.

I think he and his staff have finally done that. The spread offense is clicking on all cylinders, and he finally is starting to close the borders of Missouri, keeping in-state talent at home. If he keeps this up, he should be able to build something special at Missouri.”

Big thanks to Peter for the insight.

The 2007 season was a huge breakthrough, as everyone can tell. Missouri finished a top ten team, had a Heisman finalist in Chase Daniel, and won 10 games for the first time since 1960. The team scored 558 points, which wasn’t just the first time the Tigers had reached 500 points in a season. It was also the first time they reached 400 points in a season, with the previous high being 399 in 2003.

With all of the above in mind, let’s take a look at Pinkel’s record broken down by site:

Gary Pinkel at Missouri
Site Wins Losses Totals
Home 27 13 40
Away 12 21 33
Neutral 4 1 5
Bowls 2 2 4
Totals 45 37 82

The neutral site games are three games against Illinois in St. Louis, a game against Kansas in Kansas City, and a Big 12 championship game.

Given that Pinkel is 45-37 (.549) overall, none of these were going to look all that great. The .675 home record isn’t bad all things considered, but the 12-21 (.364) road record is dismal. Then again, I suppose that’s how you end up with three losing records and three seasons with five losses in your first six years.

Here is Pinkel’s record broken down by tier of opponent. As always, first-tier opponents are teams that had a winning percentage of .750 or better, second tier were .500 to .749, third tier opponents were .250 to .499, and fourth tier opponents were .249 and below.

Gary Pinkel at Missouri
Tier Wins Losses Pct. Avg. Scored Avg. Allowed
First 2 12 .143 20 36
Second 17 18 .486 28 26
Third 21 14 .600 35 23
Fourth 5 0 1.000 36 9

Pinkel clearly has been dreadful against the top tier. One win was against Nebraska in 2003, the Tigers first since 1978. The other was over Kansas this past season.

Five of the losses are to Oklahoma and three are to Texas. The remaining four came to Colorado and Nebraska in 2001, and Kansas State and Bowling Green in 2002. These results seem to confirm Peter’s perception of Pinkel being a coach who can’t get over the hump in big games.

Pinkel is still under .500 against second tier teams despite going 4-0 against them last season. His record against third tier teams isn’t very good, but at least he hasn’t lost to a fourth tier team. These results seem to confirm Peter’s perception of Pinkel being a coach who loses games he shouldn’t.

Gary Pinkel has delivered five of the eight highest scoring seasons in school history in terms of total points scored, and he has guided the team to four of its six bowl appearances since 1983. Players are now getting named to preseason awards lists, and Missouri captured the attention of the country with its short stint at No. 1 in 2007.

The team had a banner year last year and expectations are the highest they’ve been since 2004. Will Pinkel guide his talented team to lofty heights again or sink under expectations as he did three seasons ago? It’s just one of the many interesting subplots that will make the 2008 college football season great.


Pete Carroll’s Record at USC

July 13, 2008

There’s no sense in beating around the bush with this one. Pete Carroll has been both an ace recruiter and a prolific winner of games since he got to USC.

After going 7-6 in his first year, he has run off six consecutive seasons with two or fewer losses for a combined record of 69-8 (.896). Adding that first year on only brings him down to 76-14 (.844), still an outstanding mark.

There are those who keep meticulous details of the arrests, scandals, and other malfeasance that have gone on at USC this decade alongside all that winning. Through it all, Carroll has been the amazing Teflon coach, since very little seems to stick to him.

Plus, few have questioned the way he disciplines his players to the same degree that guys like Bobby Bowden and Bob Stoops have been scrutinized in the past.

Carroll has had a large built-in advantage when it comes to recruiting though: He coaches at USC, the only traditional national-title contender west of the Great Plains.

In 1984, BYU won the championship, in 1990, Colorado (AP and Coaches’ champs) split it with Georgia Tech (UPI poll champs), and in 1991, Washington (Coaches’ champ) split the title with Miami, FL (AP champ).

Before that, you have to go back to UCLA in 1954 to find a team other than USC located west of the Great Plains that won a national championship. Talented west-coast athletes that want to compete for a college championship without going too far from home have only one choice: USC.

Combine that with the fact that California is along with Texas and Florida one of the three best talent-producing states, and you have a formula for great success.

Anyway, let’s take a look at his record.

His one neutral site game against Virginia Tech in 2004 has been counted as a road game since it was played in FedEx Field, the home field of the Washington Redskins. That was done because it was Carroll’s one and only one neutral site game and singling it out would have served no purpose.

Pete Carroll at USC
Site Wins Losses Totals
Home 39 3 42
Away 32 9 41
Bowls 5 2 7
Totals 76 14 90

As you would expect, Carroll is excellent, no matter where he plays. The 39-3 (.929) home mark is certainly impressive. It is behind Stoops’ 53-2 (.963) home record, but from a winning percentage standpoint, it is on par with Steve Spurrier’s home mark while at Florida (68-5, .932).

It’s also worth noting that the home and away game totals are nearly identical. It reflects a greater willingness on Carroll’s part to go on the road in the non-conference schedule than other coaches who have a lot more total home games than road games.

Here is Carroll’s record broken down by tier of opponent. As always, first-tier opponents are teams that had a winning percentage of .750 or better, second tier were .500 to .749, third tier opponents were .250 to .499, and fourth tier opponents were .249 and below.

Pete Carroll at USC
Tier Wins Losses Pct. Avg. Scored Avg. Allowed
First 15 5 .750 36 20
Second 28 8 .800 32 18
Third 26 2 .929 39 17
Fourth 7 0 1.000 45 9

Carroll’s 15-5 mark against the top tier is the best of all of the coaches I’ve studied so far. If you take out his first season, it comes out to 15-3 with the losses being at Kansas State and at Washington State in 2002, and to Vince Young and Texas in the incredible 2005 BCS Championship Game.

The second tier mark of 28-7 (.800) puts him in line with or behind some other coaches like Jim Tressel (31-5, .861), Les Miles at LSU (12-2, .857), Urban Meyer at Florida (16-3, .842), Bob Stoops (36-9, .800), and Mark Richt (32-8, .800). If you take out Carroll’s first year, that 28-8 mark improves to a 27-4 (.870) record though.

Of those two third-tier losses, I know you can name one. It was of course the loss at home to 4-8 Stanford last year. The other was a road loss to 5-6 Notre Dame in 2001.

I mentioned earlier that USC has had two or fewer losses for six consecutive seasons. I don’t know how impressive that sounds to you, but you should be very impressed. As far as I can tell (and correct me if I’m wrong), only three schools have matched or surpassed that in the past 30 years.

Florida did it for six seasons in a row from 1993 to 1998. Miami, FL did it eight seasons in a row from 1985 to 1992. Florida State did it 14 seasons in a row from 1987 to 2000. That’s it and that’s all.

It should come as no surprise that those teams reside in a talent factory of a state like USC does. It’s especially impressive when you consider that FSU and Miami kept their streaks alive while playing each other in 1987-92, and Florida and FSU kept their streaks alive while playing each other every year in 1993-98.

What about other big programs, you ask? For purposes of historical comparison, I looked for seasons with two or fewer non-wins—non-wins being losses or ties. I also restricted it to the college football’s modern era: 1946 to the present.

Oklahoma had the longest such streak pre-1980, spanning 11 seasons from 1948 to 1958. The next longest was Alabama at six seasons, from 1961 to 1966. After that? No one.

Michigan, Ohio State, and Nebraska only got to five in a row. The best, Georgia, Notre Dame, Penn State and Texas, have done is four in a row. USC pre-Carroll didn’t even make it to four.

That means Carroll is one of only five coaches to have six consecutive seasons with two or fewer non-wins in the modern era, along with Bowden, Spurrier, Bear Bryant, and Bud Wilkinson. That’s some pretty good company right there.

It does bring up a question though: What does it say about a conference when one team can dominate it by so much for so long? Miami was independent for most of its run, so toss them out. Florida’s run was aided somewhat by some lean years out of LSU and Georgia.

FSU began its streak independent, but it clearly benefited from joining an ACC with suspect credentials in football.

The Pac-10 has only been able to deal USC more than two losses once. USC was nearly unbeatable for anyone in 2003-05, but that still leaves 2002, 2006, and 2007 where the conference couldn’t break the spell.

It hasn’t had two teams in the BCS since 2002. It has become Carroll’s private fiefdom, with everyone else playing for second place.

Some people question whether USC can keep up its level of success. Was the Stanford loss a crack in the armor, or did the Trojans just catch the upset bug that got nearly everyone else last year? Will Rick Neuheisel get UCLA caught up to its cross-town rival? Will all of the success make the program complacent?

Regardless of what everyone else does, USC will continue to bring in top-shelf talent as long as Pete Carroll is there. Given his track record so far, I have a hard time seeing USC falling off dramatically any time soon.


Spending Freely Can Maintain, but It Rarely Builds, Success

July 9, 2008

Off topic, but it was the Bleacher Report “open mic” topic of the week and it sounded interesting. Sue me. Sub in “boosters” for owners and T. Boone Pickens and Phil Knight for some of the names, and it still works for college football.

One of the things that makes Major League Baseball unique from the other four major North American sports leagues is its lack of a salary cap. It is the only sport left without one after the NHL adopted a cap in the aftermath of its lockout.

Because of that lack of a salary cap, it is frequently singled out as the league with the biggest problem of free-spending owners. The sentiment has been repeated many times: the big market teams keep the small market teams from competing. We hear that more and more despite some small market teams like Minnesota, Arizona, Florida, and Oakland making impacts in the pennant races over the last decade.

While baseball has the biggest image problem in relation to lavish owners, the other major sports are not immune. Mark Cuban and James Dolan are two owners who are not shy about stretching the NBA’s soft cap as far as it will go. Some NFL owners are perfectly willing to break the bank for $100 million free agents and $60 million first round draft picks.

However, handing out lots of money does not guarantee success. Only the New York Yankees have been able to maintain a high level by simply throwing money at big names. The Mets and Tigers both have payrolls in the neighborhood of $137 million in 2008, yet both are mired around a .500 record and are well behind the Tampa Bay Rays and their $44 million payroll.

The large sums of money certainly are impressive, and they no doubt intimidate some of the more fiscally conscious teams. That intimidation factor works into the hands of the owners of largess, who can change the landscape in the free agent and trade markets just by appearing interested in players. It is a strategy employed routinely by big companies as they can sometimes freeze competition out of a market by simply saying they are interested in it.

The 1997 Florida Marlins, who basically bought their championship, are the rare exception. If you look at the repeat champions of each of the major sports in recent years, from Michael Jordan’s Bulls to this decade’s Patriots, you’ll find that most of the key players were either drafted by or primarily developed by those teams.

Great parallels in this respect can be drawn between sports teams and the titans of America’s technology sector.

The New York Yankees and Microsoft have been the big bad bullies for a while. Both really took off in the mid 1990s – the Yankees with their 1996 championship and Microsoft with Windows ’95 – with players and products that were developed in-house.

This decade however, the Yankees have been unable to win another title and Microsoft’s stock has been basically flat. They each have been making large purchases, but those buys have yet to make much of a difference. Only recently has either shown interest in winning by using the method that got them on top in the first place.

Microsoft’s traditional foil, Apple, is more like this decade’s Oakland Athletics. They both place a premium on talented leadership and management, with Apple assembling an all-star senior management team and the A’s using guys like Bill James and Billy Beane.

Once they got their teams of visionaries in place, they focused almost entirely on in-house development. However, they each have a reputation for not getting over the hump that they can’t seem to shake. For Oakland, that challenge is winning a playoff series; for Apple, that challenge is greatly expanding its market share in computers.

What about Google, you say? That company is like the Atlanta Braves of the 1990s. Google has had a lot of interesting products come out and has made some splashy purchases like buying YouTube. Atlanta had a lot of position player cogs come and go too. However, each had and has only one real moneymaker that sustains the rest: for Atlanta, it was the Maddux/Smoltz/Glavine rotation and for Google it is its search advertising business.

What does this all mean? Big spending alone can keep a team or a company elite top once it becomes elite, but it seldom is the route to the top. Just ask Dolan or Daniel Snyder of the Washington Redskins about how well that works.

In the end, the depth of brainpower running an organization is far more important than the depth of the pockets financing it.


Coaching Analysis: Jim Tressel

July 7, 2008

He has accumulated many nicknames over the years, from the Senator to CheatyPants McSweaterVest. He has also accumulated many wins, conference titles, a national title, and two spectacular flameouts in the past two BCS title games.

He is Jim Tressel, head coach of Ohio State and one of the more controversial figures in the sport.

He would seem an unlikely candidate for the role of controversy. He wins a lot but seldom via embarrassing blowouts. He speaks out in public only on rare occasions. He projects an image of a conservative, almost introverted college professor who is more likely to give a lecture on economics than a pregame motivational speech.

He also has earned that second nickname listed above thanks to a string of off the field incidents that range from player arrests to guys taking money from boosters. They date back to his time at Youngstown State, and a New York Times article from the week before his game against Florida outlines the major stories if you’re interested.

One thing that can’t be denied regardless of affiliation is that the man wins a lot of games. Through seven seasons in Columbus, he has won a national title, four conference titles, and appeared in five BCS bowl games. He is one of only two coaches, along with Bob Stoops, to have made three BCS championship games; however, they are also the only two coaches to have lost two of them in a row.

Ohio State has won the Big Ten three years in a row, and it appears to have the best team going into 2008. That means Tressel is threatening to turn the Big Ten into what Pete Carroll has made the Pac-10: one team on top and everyone else playing for second place.

Here is Tressel’s record broken down by site. This table does not include games against I-AA teams.

Jim Tressel at Ohio State
Site Wins Losses Totals
Home 44 5 49
Away 24 8 32
Bowls 4 3 7
Totals 72 16 88

Overall, that’s pretty impressive. That’s a winning percentage of .818, which is about as good as anyone can do over an extended period of time. The bowl record obviously could use some work, but I’ll get into more of that later. The home record isn’t quite as good as I had expected, but two of those five losses came in Tressel’s first year.

Here is Tressel’s record broken down by site. As always, first tier opponents are teams that had a winning percentage of .750 or better, second tier were .500 to .749, third tier opponents were .250 to .499, and fourth tier opponents were .249 and below.

Jim Tressel at Ohio State
Tier Wins Losses Pct. Avg. Scored Avg. Allowed
First 9 9 .500 23 24
Second 31 5 .861 28 15
Third 28 2 .933 33 13
Fourth 4 0 1.000 31 6

The obvious: he wins a lot of games, beats the teams he should beat, but doesn’t win by gaudy scores. This much we knew. The two losses to third tier teams, if you were wondering, were to five-win teams in his first year on the job.

That said, the 9-9 record against the top tier surprised me.

Prior to the last two BCS title games, Tressel had a reputation for being one of the best big game coaches in America. He could be counted upon to win the big games, one of the few in the country who were trusted to do so. Yet toss out those two championship game fiascoes, and he’s a good but not great 9-7 against that top tier.

One of those seven other losses was to Vince Young in 2005, which is entirely understandable. Two more were to Illinois’ miracle 2001 squad and Lou Holtz’s one good South Carolina team in Tressel’s first year, which are also understandable.

He also had a loss to Joe Paterno’s last great Penn State team (the 11-1 team in 2005), Kirk Ferentz’s last great Iowa team (his 10-2 team in 2004), and the sole loss to Michigan in 2003 (which can’t be complained about given the outcome of every other Michigan game). Overall, it’s hard to blame him for those.

However, guys don’t get reputations for being a great coach on the biggest stages based on understandable losses. I have to conclude that his big game rep was built on beating Michigan year in and year out and his 4-1 bowl record through the 2005 season.

Perhaps that should be enough to qualify a coach for that status, but perhaps we shouldn’t have been so surprised to see the losses to Florida and LSU. Given that LSU was almost certainly the better team from the start of 2007 and the overwhelming talent on Florida’s defense, those losses were also understandable (though the final scores were not).

I mentioned Bob Stoops earlier, and now I want to bring him up again. He and Tressel have many similarities, most notably their winning the national title in their second years and then going on to lose two BCS title games in a row. I wanted to see though, just how similar their records are.

So, here are the records of Stoops in his first seven seasons and Tressel side by side.

Stoops and Tressel, through 7 Seasons
Stoops Tressel
Record 74-16 72-16
Bowl Record 4-3 4-3
BCSCG Record 1-2 1-2
vs. 1st Tier 14-7 9-9
vs. 2nd Tier 27-7 31-5
vs. 3rd Tier 26-2 28-2
vs. 4th Tier 7-0 4-0
Nat. Titles 1 1
Conf. Titles 3 4
vs. Rival 5-2 6-1
Heismans 1 (J. White) 1 (T. Smith)

BCSCG means BCS Championship Game. For Stoops, “Rival” means Texas; for Tressel, “Rival” means Michigan.

Their records aren’t just similar, they’re eerily close. Just about as close as Mack Brown and Phil Fulmer through ten years.

Stoops was better against the top tier, but Tressel was a little better against the second. Otherwise, everything is basically the same down to getting blown out in the national title game with their Heisman-winning quarterbacks.

It gets even spookier when you line up the year-by-year records of each from best to worst:

Records by Year
Stoops Tressel
13-0 14-0
12-1 12-1
12-2 11-2
12-2 11-2
11-2 10-2
8-4 8-4
7-5 7-5

It can’t get any closer than that, can it? Have a look at the year-by-year records for Oklahoma and Ohio State if you want to reconcile the differences in number of games for each season, though most have to do with Oklahoma playing in the Big 12 title game.

This second section was mainly for fun, since there’s not a lot that can be gleaned from it. It’s a remarkable coincidence that these two coaches in different conferences in different time periods with fairly different philosophies can do almost the exact same thing over such a long period of time.

It just goes to show that football success takes all types, and that even high levels of success can be matched elsewhere. Will Tressel go into as big a bowl tailspin as Stoops did? It’s just one of the many interesting subplots that will make the 2008 college football season great.


Happy Independence Day

July 4, 2008

Happy Independence Day, all. Back next week with more content.


Coach Analysis: Les Miles

July 2, 2008

Recently I did an analysis of Urban Meyer’s record at Florida, even though he’s only been here three years. It’s not long enough to make lasting conclusions, but it’s enough to get some general ideas about what has happened and where he’s going.

There is another coach, though, who joined the SEC at the same time yet is overshadowed by Meyer when it comes to discussions of the conference’s best coach. He has been to one more conference title game and has a national title too, but rather than be singled out for excellence he’s always grouped in with the five SEC coaches who have won a national title.

Life has certainly been interesting at LSU for Les Miles.

His hiring was widely questioned, and for good reason. His best record at Oklahoma State was 9-4, he came into Baton Rouge off of a 7-5 year, and his reputation was mainly built on two improbable upsets of Oklahoma.

Shortly before his debut, Hurricane Katrina struck and football became the least of anyone’s worries in Louisiana. Despite the adversity he led his 2005 squad to a 10-1 regular season, losing only in overtime to Tennessee in a game postponed by Hurricane Rita. After losing the SEC title game to Georgia, his Tigers hammered the Miami Hurricanes 40-3 in the Peach Bowl in a delicious bit of ironic symbolism.

Even after winning the 2007 national championship, some doubters still remain. The stars of that 2007 team – guys like Glenn Dorsey, Matt Flynn, Jacob Hester, and Early Doucet – were Nick Saban recruits. That 2007 team also lost two games, leading some to point out that, “You can’t spell Les Miles without two Ls.” On top of that, the architect of his fearsome Tiger defenses, Bo Pelini, has left to take over at Nebraska.

Whatever you think of his time before joining or his future at LSU, you can’t help but be impressed by the records he has posted there so far. His 2005 game against Appalachian State has been omitted in keeping with the policy of only analyzing I-A competition.

Here it is broken down by site:

Les Miles at LSU
Site Wins Losses Totals
Home 18 2 20
Away 11 3 14
Neutral 1 1 2
Bowls 3 0 3
Totals 33 6 39

The neutral site games are SEC title games.

A winning percentage of .850 over three years is impressive no matter how you slice it. The three bowl wins are more impressive when you consider they were by 37, 27, and 14 points. Both of the home losses came in overtime games, and the two road losses in 2006 were to Florida and Auburn teams that combined to go 24-3 on the year.

Here is Miles’ record broken down by tier. As always, first tier opponents are teams that had a winning percentage of .750 or better, second tier were .500 to .749, third tier opponents were .250 to .499, and fourth tier opponents were .249 and below.

Les Miles at LSU
Tier Wins Losses Pct. Avg. Scored Avg. Allowed
First 7 3 .700 25 16
Second 12 2 .857 37 21
Third 13 1 .929 37 12
Fourth 1 1 1.000 56 3

Miles has had a first tier team each year, so the three losses within that tier are understandable. They were to basically equal or better teams.

The other three losses were to 5-6 Tennessee in 2005, 8-5 Kentucky in 2007, and 8-5 Arkansas in 2007. The common thread that binds these games together, besides being losses to lesser teams, is that they all were overtime losses.

That means Miles is a few well-placed field goals away from being an eye-popping 36-3 over his first three years with perhaps a third BCS appearance in ’05. Given his struggles in overtime so far, it’s no surprise that Miles coined the “undefeated in regulation” doctrine last year.

It’s likely that the Miles/Meyer comparison will go on for quite some time since both appear to be at their current schools for the long haul and both have had so much early success. Miles has had a slight upper hand so far, mainly because while Ron Zook left the cupboards full at Florida, Saban left an embarrassment of riches for his successor when he bolted for the NFL.

Periodically, the argument will arise about the pecking order of coaches in the SEC. Before you instinctively put Urban Meyer over Les Miles, just think about his record so far because it’s really, really good. Then go ahead and put Meyer ahead anyway because he’d be celebrating ring number three if he had Saban’s players the past three years.


Coach Analysis: Mark Richt

July 1, 2008

Mark Richt is by any measure the Anti-Gator: a former Miami quarterback, former FSU offensive coordinator, and now Georgia head coach. All he’s missing is some sort of grad assistant tenure at Tennessee.

He also is by any measure the best head coach in Athens since Vince Dooley. Not that surpassing Ray “Goof” was going that difficult, and on close inspection Jim Donnan’s record isn’t quite as good as it looks. By the time he’s done, Richt may end up surpassing Dooley himself.

Since Richt arrived in 2001, it’s hard for any Bulldog fans to complain about his record there. Except, of course, that he hasn’t won a national title. And he’s 2-5 against Florida. And he lost to Vanderbilt. You know what? Let’s just move on to his record as a whole.

Here is the tale of the tape by venue for Mark Richt:

Mark Richt at Georgia
Site Wins Losses Totals
Home 34 7 41
Away 25 4 29
Neutral 4 6 10
Bowls 5 2 7
Totals 68 19 87

If you’re counting along at home, he actually has a better road record percentage-wise than his home record. He’s been good in bowls, with the West Virginia blitzkrieg and a loss to Boston College in his first year as his only blemishes. That neutral site record includes his 2-5 record against Florida and his 2-1 record in SEC title games.

That home record could stand to be shored up some, but two of the losses did come in 2001 with Jim Donnan’s players. The away record loses some of its sparkle if you include his record in Jacksonville, but with the crowd there being split 50-50, it truly is a neutral site game.

Here is his his record based on quality of opponent. As with before, first tier is any team that finished the year .750 and up, second tier is .500 to .749, third tier is .250 to .499, and fourth tier is .249 and below.

Mark Richt at Georgia
Tier Wins Losses Pct. Avg. Scored Avg. Allowed
First 9 10 .474 24 21
Second 32 8 .800 28 18
Third 18 1 .947 28 13
Fourth 9 0 1.000 37 14

Richt’s record against the first tier is pretty good, though nowhere near Bob Stoops’s 17-10 mark. The second tier record is good, showing that he wins four of every five against the group directly below him as Georgia has been a first tier team five of his seven years. The one loss to a third tier team was to Vanderbilt in 2006.

It is somewhat puzzling to see that his teams don’t average 30 points a game until you get to fourth tier opponents, considering how explosive his offenses at FSU were. It goes to show that as a head coach he’s been a bit more conservative on offense.

It’s also interesting to note that he averages a 24-21 win against the first tier if you look at points while he’s just 9-10 against it. Part of that is due to the fact that he has some large blowouts over first tier teams (Hawaii in 2007, Auburn in 2006, Tennessee in 2003 to name a few) and part is due to the fact that he generally doesn’t get blown out himself.

For you pattern watchers out there, he’s 0-2 against eventual national champions but 2-0 against defending national champions. That makes for two interesting weeks in a row when Georgia plays at LSU on October 25 and Florida on November 1, given what LSU did last year and the preseason magazines’ fawning all over the Gators this year.

Mark Richt has been good. He’s not been Bowden/Spurrier in the ’90s good or Bob Stoops at Oklahoma good, but not many are. He has two SEC championships, a 13-1 season (which wins a national title nearly every year except 2002 when he posted it), and for the most part he beats everyone he’s supposed to beat.

He’s also an all-around good guy and will have the Georgia job as long as he wants it. Putting partisanship aside, it’s good for college football to have him at a high-profile program like Georgia, and he likely will continue to be one of the game’s top coaches.


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