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Mark Richt's total-debacle losses really are becoming annual things

UGA entered the field against Alabama as a two-point favorite and left with a 28-point loss. This kind of thing is happening more and more often.

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

In recent years, Georgia has looked at the crimson dynasty to the west and made efforts to emulate it. The Bulldogs hired a defensive coordinator (Jeremy Pruitt) who cut his teeth under Nick Saban. They have increased spending on the coaching staff to have a Bama-like apparatus. They committed to spending $30 million on an indoor practice facility so the Dawgs can impress recruits. And Mark Richt has taken to signing Nick Saban-sized recruiting classes.

But when Alabama arrived in Athens last week for a "how far have you come?" test, the Dawgs were barely able to get points for entering their name properly, let alone get answers right. Alabama never trailed, jumped out to a three-touchdown lead by halftime, and cruised to a 38-10 win.

The spectacle of Georgia soiling its silver britches in a big game has become a regular occurrence. A good way to measure the increasing frequency of this phenomenon is to look for instances in which Georgia entered a game as the favorite or narrow underdog and lost decisively. As such, the difference between the spread and the final score is at least 15 points.

Here is the complete list of such games for the entirety of Richt's 14-plus years in Athens:

Game Spread Georgia's losing margin Delta
2015 Alabama -2 28 30
2014 Georgia Tech -10.5 6 16.5
2014 Florida -10.5 18 28.5
2013 Missouri -7 15 22
2012 South Carolina +1.5 28 26.5
2009 Tennessee +1.5 26 24.5
2008 Alabama -6.5 11 17.5
2007 Tennessee -1.5 21 22.5
2006 Vanderbilt -14.5 2 16.5
2004 Tennessee -12.5 5 17.5
2003 LSU (SEC Championship) +3 21 18

And even though it was clear beforehand that Bama should've been a slight favorite anyway, this still would've counted as a letdown game. And there are plenty of other games to work with.

It's a veritable greatest hits album for the last 15 years of disappointment. The soul-crushing home loss to Tennessee in 2004 that cost Georgia a shot at the conference title, one week after the Dawgs had crushed defending national champion LSU? Check. The twin humiliations to Tennessee in 2007 and 2009, the latter to Lane Kiffin? Check. The 2012 debacle against Steve Spurrier in Columbia? Check. The inexplicable defeat to Florida last year? Check.

And the loss to Alabama on Saturday surpassed them all in its difference between spread and final result. Georgia has now had three bed-wettings in its last nine games against FBS opponents. This is the fourth straight season in which Georgia has had such a dispiriting loss, after Richt had only six in his first 11 seasons at the school.

But maybe all major teams fall on their faces every now and again. Let's look at two comparators.

The first is Les Miles.

He's a coach very similar to Richt because: he coaches a program with substantial natural advantages, he gets a surprising amount of hot seat talk for a guy with a great record and he's been at LSU for 10 years.

Game Spread LSU's losing margin Delta
2014 Arkansas -1 17 18
2011 Alabama +2.5 21 18.5
2008 Florida +6.5 30 23.5
2008 Ole Miss -3.5 18 21.5
2007 Kentucky -9.5 6 15.5
2007 Arkansas -13.5 2 15.5
2005 Georgia -1 20 21

Les has seven disasters in 11 seasons (.636 of a disaster per season), which is less frequent than Richt's 11 disasters in 15 seasons (.733). More importantly, Les has only had one disaster since the 2011 national title game, so his rate is going down while Richt's is going up.

That said, two of Les' disasters came in the season when he won his national title and a third came when his team went 13-0 and then had to rematch Alabama in the national title game.

You can also see Richt gave Miles one of LSU's own letdown losses, albeit before UGA's started happening every year. Richt also did the same to Saban, about a decade ago.

Nick Saban's chart might surprise, but there's a catch.

We should also take a peak at the guy who handed Richt his hide between the hedges on Saturday, as Saban has been coaching in the SEC for only one year fewer than Richt, if you combine his stints at LSU and Alabama.

Game Spread LSU/Bama's losing margin Delta
2014 Ohio State -8.5 7 15
2013 Auburn -10.5 6 16.5
2013 Oklahoma -15 14 29
2012 Texas A&M -13.5 5 18.5
2010 South Carolina -7 14 21
2008 Utah -9 14 23
2007 Louisiana-Monroe -24.5 7 31.5
2004 Georgia +2.5 29 26.5
2003 Florida -10 12 22
2002 Auburn -3.5 24 27.5
2002 Alabama +1.5 31 29.5
2001 Ole Miss -9.5 11 20.5
2000 UAB -16.5 3 19.5

Would you look at that! Saban's teams have face-planted at a slightly higher rate (13 in 14 seasons, or .928 per season) than Richt's and have just as frequently in recent years.

One caveat for Saban is that his chart includes two rebuilds, rather than just one each for Miles and Richt. Also, his teams are likely to have a large delta in just about any loss because they are (almost literally) always favored, often by double-digits. Saban hasn't lost a game by more than 14 points at Alabama, while Richt has had 10 such losses, six of which came when Georgia was either favored or a narrow underdog.

In other words, Saban has a number of games with substantial deltas (at least at Bama) because of high expectations, whereas Richt's teams have just gotten hammered.


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