|Since the start of his tenure, Richt's teams are|
the 2nd-most penalized in the entire SEC.
Glancing over the reviews of Georgia's disappointing performance at Clemson, a quote from Aaron Murray got my attention on Sunday: "Our biggest challenge was dealing with the crowd noise and penalties. We killed ourselves with penalties tonight."
I concur about the crowd noise; they might as well call that place Deaf Valley. Attending my first game at Memorial Stadium, sitting right smack in the middle of the orange-clad Tiger faithful, I don't think I've ever been to a louder venue in my life, and I'm including all the concerts I've seen. A few days later, I swear I still have a ringing in my ears.
As far as Georgia's penalties, our quarterback is right on – those, which totaled 9 for 84 yards, did "kill" the team and could be considered as perhaps the Bulldogs' biggest detriment Saturday night. Still, is an abundance of flags thrown on Georgia, particularly in a big game, really all that surprising to those of us who have followed this program for some time? Against Clemson, the penalties were definitely a "challenge," as Murray mentioned, but they're a challenge the Bulldogs have faced many times – too many times, in fact – during the Coach Richt regime.
Starting with the Vince Dooley era, I figured the per-game average number of penalties committed (for the number of yards) by Georgia during the tenures of each of the last four head coaches:
RICHT: 7.1 for 59.6
DONNAN: 5.8 for 44.9
GOFF: 6.6 for 55.1
DOOLEY: 5.0 for 44.4
Now, one could certainly argue that comparing penalty statistics, or any football statistic for that matter, from decades ago to today is like apples and oranges. However, from what I've observed in the past, penalty trends over the last 10, 20, and even 50 years have actually changed little in college football. In fact, there's some evidence that penalties were actually committed a little more frequently on the whole in the sport back in Dooley's day than since Richt has been at the helm.
What cannot be argued is that as soon as Richt took over following the Donnan years, Georgia started winning more – that's what's most important – but, in the process, the Dawgs promptly began committing more penalties than before. Regardless, what better way to compare Richt's teams than with their "peers" during the exact same period of time. Beginning with the 2001 season through the first week of 2013, the most penalized I-A/FBS teams:
1) FLORIDA: 7.9 for 61.4
2) OREGON STATE: 7.75 for 70.7
3) TEXAS TECH: 7.73 for 68.3
4) SOUTH FLORIDA: 7.71 for 64.6
5) FLORIDA STATE: 7.64 for 66.7
6) MIAMI (FL): 7.63 for 63.3
19) GEORGIA: 7.1 for 59.6
Over the past 12+ seasons, Georgia's 7.1 penalties per game are the 19th-most of all FBS teams, ranking approximately in the top 15 percentile in the nation. The 7.1 penalties are also the 2nd-highest of all current SEC members, trailing only the most-penalized Florida Gators, while Texas A&M (24th in FBS), LSU (27th), and Arkansas (41st) round out the most-penalized conference members. Interestingly, four of the top six most-penalized teams in the FBS are located in the state of Florida, while three of the top four least penalized teams are the military institutions – Navy, Air Force, and Army. The least penalized SEC team since the start of the 2001 season is Vanderbilt, which is the 10th-least penalized in the entire FBS.
After once being perceived as a disciplined program under Coach Dooley has Georgia actually become a program lacking discipline with Richt as head coach? Based on the number of flags that have been thrown on the Bulldogs the last dozen seasons, and this trend has evidently continued with the start of the 2013 campaign, to some degree, I would think so.