ATHENS – At the entrance to Georgia’s athletic building, look left and there’s a sculpted bust of Wally Butts. Look right and there’s one of Harry Mehre.
Just outside the building, but looming over it all metaphorically, is a statue of Vince Dooley.
Those are three of the four winningest football coaches in the history of Georgia football. The other one hasn’t been put in bronze yet, but it looks like it will happen someday.
Mark Richt, with his next victory, will tie Butts for the second-most wins in Georgia history, with 140. It will likely come Saturday, when Georgia hosts Southern, an FCS team.
Richt passed Mehre 80 wins ago. Next up will be Dooley, whose 201 victories would take until 2023 for Richt to surpass, assuming his current rate. (Winning 74 percent of his games).
Little has been made of Richt’s impending benchmark. There’s no overt mention of it in Georgia’s pregame notes, just a list of the SEC’s all-time winningest coaches. (Richt will tie Butts for ninth.) Richt himself didn’t know about it until he was told on Tuesday.
Georgia’s building is called the Butts-Mehre complex. So if Richt passes both …
“I think they won championships, if I’m not mistaken,” Richt said. “We had a couple SEC (championships). But you’ve gotta start winning national championships before they start naming stuff after you.”
Actually, while Butts did win a consensus national title in 1942, Mehre never won one. Dooley won the program’s other consensus national title, in 1980.
Under Richt, Georgia won SEC titles in 2002 and 2005. But that’s only one-third of the way to Dooley, who had six, and halfway to Butts’ four SEC titles.
Richt also downplayed his win number, saying Butts probably didn’t have as many games per season to rack up victories.
“I don’t know if it’s as significant. If we were only playing 10 games a year I wouldn’t be there yet,” Richt said. “But it’s nice to see your name next to a Wallace Butts.”
Maybe Richt’s right about not that. But his career winning percentage is better than Butts (.619), Mehre (.634) and Dooley (.723).
One of the people on campus who knows Richt the best is Mark Fox, Georgia’s head men’s basketball coach. Fox had a quick answer when asked if he thought the mark mattered to Richt.
“No. Not at all,” Fox said. “I think what matters to him is that the kids have the experience that they deserve, can change their course in life. And that our fans get the kind of team that he wants them to have.
“I don’t think he cares one iota about number of wins.”
Fox also laughed when it was pointed out that the namesakes of the Butts-Mehre building were soon to be passed by Richt. Fox had another idea.
“Those guys need to keep their naming rights,” Fox said. “We’ll name the indoor (facility) after coach Richt, how about that?”