The 2015 Georgia Bulldogs will be remembered for a lot of things. This team finished 10-3, marking the 10th time in the last 15 years that Georgia has reached double digits in the win column. The outgoing senior class will graduate with 40 wins to its credit. That’s pretty good for a team that played in only one SEC Championship Game in the past four years. It’s not easy to average 10 wins a season in any conference, let alone the SEC.
This season also will also be remembered as the year Mark Richt was fired. That’s right, the head coach who led the Bulldogs to two SEC titles, six SEC East Division championships, 145 regular season wins and nine bowl victories, was let go after another disappointing 10-win season (although Richt didn’t coach Georgia in its TaxSlayer Bowl victory over Penn State).
I say that tongue-in-cheek but it bears a lot of truth. This Georgia team may go down as the most disappointing 10-win team in a long time. I mean how many teams begin the season ranked in the AP top 10, finish with 10 wins and are then left out of the last top 25 poll? That’s just as amazing as finishing undefeated in my opinion. Even AP college football writer Ralph D. Russo thinks so:
1996! Pre-BCS days for those too young to know your college football history. Steve Spurrier was still running the fun-and-gun at Florida, Bob Stoops was still a defensive coordinator (also at Florida) and Alabama was saying farewell to Gene Stallings and welcoming in Mike DuBose.
So in 20 years of voting, no other 10-win team has ever missed out on the top 25 at the end of the year. But if you look at the Bulldogs’ schedule and results, it’s pretty self-explanatory why few of the AP voters felt Georgia deserved a top-25 ranking. While the Bulldogs’ three losses all were against teams that finished in the top 25, Alabama (1), Tennessee (22) and Florida (25), not one of Georgia’s wins were against a top 25 opponent.
In fact, the Bulldogs’ best win is even an arguable fact. Georgia Southern finished the season with nine victories, but the Eagles are a Sun Belt team whose seniors can brag about starting their career as a FCS member and making the move to FBS. The Bulldogs also needed overtime to win that game, which was at home.
Auburn and Penn State both finished with seven wins so they count as “quality” victories over Power 5 conference teams for Georgia. But the Bulldogs’ other seven wins aren’t nearly as impressive, including those against a team that lost eight games, two that loss nine and one that went 2-11. Combined, Georgia’s 2015 opponents had a winning percentage of .414. I didn’t look it up but that may be the worst for a team that won 10 games.
The AP voters did at least give Georgia the most votes out of all of the teams that didn’t make the cut. Georgia finished with 109 votes, just 17 votes short of No. 25 Florida. The Coaches Poll was a bit kinder to Georgia, as the Bulldogs were actually ranked above the Gators, who defeated their SEC East rivals 27-3 during the season so that makes total sense. (Insert sarcasm here.)
Six other teams finished the 2015 season with double-digit wins but did not land in the final AP Top 25 poll – Marshall (10-3), Temple (10-4), San Diego State (11-3), Bowling Green ( 10-4), Toledo (10-2), and Appalachian State (11-2). Out of those teams, San Diego State finished with the most votes, receiving 44. But none of these teams are a part of a Power 5 conference like Georgia.
I will say this, no one does forgettable 10-win seasons quite like Richt but this one takes the cake. Here’s to you, 2015 Georgia Bulldogs, and your history-making season.
— Written by Justin Nails, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Follow him on Twitter @justinnails.