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Missouri Football vs Georgia - October 11, 2014 (Photo by Ben Walton)

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FILE - In this Oct. 31, 2015, file photo, Georgia head coach Mark Richt watches his team warm up before an NCAA college football game against Florida, in Jacksonville, Fla. Losses in three of four games, including last week's ugly loss at Florida, have turned up the heat on Georgia coach Mark Richt, whose challenge entering this week's game against Kentucky is made more difficult by a growing crisis at quarterback. (AP Photo/John Raoux, File)

RICHT’S RECORD

How outgoing Georgia coach Mark Richt fared against the seven teams he faced annually:

Georgia Tech 13-2

Kentucky 13-2

Vanderbilt 13-2

Auburn 10-5

Tennessee 10-5

› South Carolina 9-6

Florida 5-10

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The University of Georgia football team went 9-3 last season and won a 10th game in the Belk Bowl, earning coach Mark Richt an $800,000 raise to $4 million annually.

Georgia went 9-3 again this season, earning Richt his walking papers.

Richt was fired Sunday morning following a meeting with athletic director Greg McGarity. In 15 years of guiding the Bulldogs, Richt has posted a 145-51 record, with his win percentage of .740 topping Vince Dooley's .715 clip to rank first all-time among Georgia coaches in the 83-year Southeastern Conference era.

"We mutually agreed that he would step down as head coach and would have the opportunity to accept other duties and responsibilities at UGA following the bowl game," McGarity said in a university release. "On behalf of the University of Georgia athletic association and Bulldogs everywhere, I want to thank Mark and Katharyn for 15 years of remarkable service to the UGA community, hundreds of our students and staff and to college football.

"Mark's record on the field was outstanding. However, his impact on college football goes well beyond the gridiron."

Only Oklahoma's Bob Stoops (160), former Oklahoma coach Barry Switzer (148) and former Nebraska coach Tom Osborne (147) won more games in his first 15 seasons than the 55-year-old Richt, who can get a 146th victory in the undetermined bowl site.

Richt had a 76-19 career record with the Bulldogs four games into the 2008 season, which included SEC championships in 2002 and '05 and a No. 2 finish in '07. The fifth game of the '08 season, however, resulted in a lopsided loss to Nick Saban's second Alabama team, and Richt's run in Athens has been viewed as good but not great ever since.

Georgia is 69-32 since that loss to Alabama, with no league titles, though the Bulldogs came close in 2012 when Saban's Tide eked out a 32-28 thriller in the SEC title game. Those two programs did not meet again until early last month, when Alabama blistered the Bulldogs 38-10 at Sanford Stadium.

"I don't know what the world is coming to in our profession," Saban said late Sunday afternoon. "Mark Richt has been a really good coach and a really positive person in our profession for a long, long time. When you win nine games, that's a pretty good season, especially with the body of work that he's been able to put together there.

"I hate to see people who have the character and quality and ability to affect young people in a positive way like Mark Richt not be a part of our profession. People don't realize the importance of some of the other things that go into college coaching."

Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart, who played defensive back for the Bulldogs in the late 1990s and was Georgia's running backs coach in 2005, is among the top potential replacement candidates. There are also possibilities with head-coaching experience, most notably Mississippi State's Dan Mullen, Houston's Tom Herman and Colorado State's Mike Bobo.

Saban said Sunday that Smart has done a fantastic job with the Tide and that he "will be an outstanding head coach."

The Crimson Tide are preparing to play Florida this Saturday for the SEC title. The Gators were projected before the season to finish fifth in the East — Georgia was a landslide pick to win it — but thumped the Bulldogs 27-3 on Halloween.

"This is a miserable time of year in this profession, because there are a lot of great coaches who have done great things at the different places they were at," Florida first-year coach Jim McElwain said Sunday. "Let's celebrate what he has done. He's had a great career there."

Georgia players met Sunday evening with Richt, with several telling reporters that they will miss him and senior outside linebacker Jordan Jenkins openly disagreeing with the decision. Junior outside linebacker Leonard Floyd used the opportunity to announce that he was forgoing his senior season.

Several Georgia assistant coaches were scheduled to go recruiting this week, but those plans have been scratched.

Richt's removal came less than 24 hours after his Bulldogs won 13-7 at Georgia Tech, his 13th victory over the Yellow Jackets in 15 opportunities. Georgia had lost three in a row to Tech before Richt was named Jim Donnan's successor on Dec. 26, 2000.

"I appreciate the opportunity of serving the university as well as considering any other options that may present themselves in the future," Richt said in a release.

Buying out Richt, whose future plans could be revealed at a news conference this morning, will come at a cost of $4.1 million.

"Mark Richt has been an outstanding coach and mentor to our student-athletes during his 15-year tenure, and we have developed a strong and enduring friendship during that time," university president Jere Morehead said. "I know all UGA alumni and supporters will look forward to celebrating the successful conclusion of his coaching career at UGA in a bowl game later this year."

Contact David Paschall at dpaschall@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6524.

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