HOOVER, Ala. — He’s captured two SEC championships, holds the fourth-highest winning percentage (.789) of any coach in the country and is coming off a season in which his team finished No. 2 in the polls.
For many football followers, however, Georgia coach Mark Richt is known primarily for a dance.
Nearly nine months have passed since Richt’s team’s 42-30 victory over arch-rival Florida last October in Jacksonville, yet the unforgettable moment from that game — the Bulldogs’ massive, sideline-clearing end-zone celebration following their first touchdown — was the topic du jour during Georgia’s portion of SEC Media Days here on Thursday. For the umpteenth time, Richt found himself revisiting his now-famous motivational ploy that, by his own admission, went far beyond his original intention (“In my little pea brain, I’m thinking [the] 11 guys on the field”) and expressed contrition for “asking the team to do an unsportsmanlike act … In hindsight, I shouldn’t have done it.”)
The thing is, it worked.
It seems hard to believe now but, prior to that fateful Florida game, the Dawgs had won just five of their previous 11 SEC games, having barely survived Vanderbilt in their previous outing. Beginning with that emotionally charged victory — just the third in the past 18 meetings with the Gators — Georgia began a staggering second-half run culminating in a Sugar Bowl beatdown of undefeated Hawaii.