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Georgia Bulldogs: Where they were 10 years ago

Mark Richt won 10-plus games in 10 of his 15 seasons as Georgia's coach. Frankie Creel/US Presswire

To know where you are in the present, sometimes you have to look into your past.

For some, that can be a fun, healthy endeavor. For others, well, not so much.

Still, we're paying homage to the past and how it's affected the present in the SEC this week by taking a look at where each program was 10 years ago and where it currently stands. Some programs have made big leaps, some have steadied the course, and others, well, they're yearning for the days of old.

We continue the series now with Georgia:

2006 record: 9-4

2006 coach: Mark Richt

Notable: Defending SEC champion Georgia hit the first true turbulence of the Richt era in his sixth season, losing to Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Florida and Kentucky during a midseason slump that dropped the Bulldogs to 6-4 in early November. After watching Kentucky fans tear down the goalposts following a 24-20 upset the previous week, virtually nobody expected Georgia to go to Auburn and beat the No. 5 team in the nation. However, that’s exactly what Richt’s team did, routing the Tigers 37-15 behind three interceptions by Tra Battle and an outstanding performance by freshman quarterback Matthew Stafford. The Auburn win was the first of a school-record three consecutive victories against ranked opposition by an unranked Georgia team. The Bulldogs wrapped up the regular season with a 15-12 win against No. 16 Georgia Tech and then rallied from a 21-3 halftime deficit to beat No. 14 Virginia Tech 31-24 in the Chick-fil-A Bowl. That young team’s momentum seemed to carry over into 2007 season, when the Bulldogs finished 11-2 and ranked second in the final Associated Press Top 25.

Trending: Georgia had been on a tear leading up to the 2006 season, posting a 44-9 record with two SEC titles, three SEC East titles and four top-10 finishes between 2002 and 2005. As it turned out, 2005 was the Bulldogs’ last conference championship in Richt’s 15-season tenure in Athens. He came close to playing for national titles in 2007 and 2012 -- when the Bulldogs’ last-second rally against Alabama died near the Crimson Tide’s goal line as time expired, allowing Nick Saban’s team to instead obliterate Notre Dame in the BCS championship game -- and won 10-plus games in 10 of his 15 seasons on campus. The general theme for Georgia teams was consistent throughout Richt’s tenure: Good -- sometimes even great -- teams that too often found a way to blow prime opportunities on the biggest stages. That series of disappointments eventually led to his dismissal late last season.

What’s happened since: Considering that eight Richt teams finished the season ranked in the top 10 by either the coaches, the AP or both, Georgia was clearly a consistent winner under his leadership. The Bulldogs enter their first season under new coach Kirby Smart having won double-digit games in four of the past five seasons. That said, UGA’s administration believes Smart’s leadership might help the Bulldogs reach an even higher level of competitiveness – something the UGA alum experienced first-hand as a longtime Saban assistant at Alabama. The state of Georgia is fertile recruiting ground, and Smart’s staff has already done a good job keeping key in-state prospects close to home. Doing that more consistently will be the first step in Smart potentially winning as often as his predecessor did. The first-time head coach has already learned the hard way that Richt is a tough act to follow off the field, but he has the resources and talent at his disposal to help Georgia rank among the conference’s heavyweights for years into the future.