The University of Georgia is the is the oldest SEC University. The Georgia Bulldogs were founded in 1892. They have four National Championships, and 16 conference Championships. In their 130-year-old history, they’ve been blessed with some brilliant tacticians and inspirational coaches.

Some former Bulldogs that are currently playing in the NFL include Matthew Stafford, Nick Chubb, Roquan Smith, James Cook, Quay Walker, Travon Walker, Jalen Carter, and Jordan Davis, but the list is much longer and goes on and on. They have a rich history of supplying the NFL was stars, but let’s take a look at some of the minds behind their success.

Who is the Georgia Bulldogs head coach in the College football 2023 season?

Kirby Smart is the current Georgia Bulldogs football head coach in 2023. Born in Alabama, Smart grew up in Georgia and went on to play college football at the University of Georgia. He became the coach of his alma mater in 2016 and led the Bulldogs to back-to-back National Championships.

History of Georgia Bulldogs Football Coaches

In the history of Georgia Bulldogs football coaches, the University of Georgia has had 26 head coaches since 1892. Six coaches have led the Bulldogs to the postseason. Five coaches have won conference championships, and four have been elected to the College Football Hall of Fame.

Ranking the 10 Greatest Head Coaches of Georgia Bulldogs Football History

  1. H.J Stegeman 1920-1922

Herman James Stegeman was a multi-sport college star. He went to the University of Chicago and played football and track and field. Stegeman was part of the 1913 Chicago National Championship squad.

The U.S. Army stationed Stegeman in Athens, Georgia to create PT courses for the University of Georgia Reserves Officers’ Training Corps. He was then hired to be Georgia’s assistant football coach. When the existing head coach, W.A. Cunningham returned to the army, Stegeman took over as Head Coach of Georgia Bulldogs football from 1920-1922.

The first two seasons under Stegeman were impressive, 8-0-1 and 7-2-1 consecutive seasons where they finished tied for first in the division. His last season, he went 5-4-1 and stepped down as the Football Head Coach but became the Athletics Director for the Bulldogs. Stegeman quadrupled up during his tenure, being the Head Coach of the football, basketball, baseball and track and field team. His total record with the Bulldogs was 20-6-3. For coaches that coached for more than a year, he has the best win percentage with .741.

  1. Ray Goff 1989 -1995

Ray Goff attended the University of Georgia. He played quarterback in 1974-1976 under former Georgia Bulldogs football coach, Vince Dooley where he led Georgia to the 1976 SEC Championship. He started his coaching career as the assistant coach for the South Carolina Gamecocks before returning to his alma mater in 1981 as an assistant. His roles included recruiter, tight ends coach and running back coach. When Dooley retired in 1988, Goff, nominated by Dooley, had the big task of replacing him.

Goff was the head coach of the Bulldogs for seven years before being fired in1995. He led the Bulldogs to a 46-34-1 record. The highlight of his tenure was in 1992 where Georgia finished with a 10-2 record. They were the SEC Eastern Division Co-champions and the Florida Citrus Bowl Champions. He’s fondly remembered as one of the best coaches for Georgia Bulldogs Football.

  1. Harry Mehre 1928 -1937

Born in 1901 in Indiana, Harry Mehre was only 23 when he joined the University of Georgia as an assistant coach under George Woodruff. Following Woodruff’s retirement, Mehre became the head coach.

Mehre coached the Bulldogs for ten years. He led them to a 59-34-6 record before leaving to coach Ole Miss. In his first two seasons, Georgia went a combined 10-11. In 1930 he led the Bulldogs to a 7-2-1 season and an 8-2 season the following year. 1933, marked his most successful season, in the first year of the SEC, Georgia finished 8-2 and 3-1 in conference play, where they finished third overall.

Mehre was inducted into the Georgia Hall of Fame in 1971. In 1986, the Butts-Mehre Heritage Hall was built in honor of Mehre and fellow former Bulldogs coach Wally Butts.

  1. Jim Donnan 1996 - 2000

A former North Carolina State quarterback, Jim Donnan jumped straight into coaching and served as an assistant for 15 years at various universities before becoming the offensive coordinator for Oklahoma in 1985. He got his first head coaching job at Marshall in 1990, then became head coach of the Bulldogs in 1996. His overall head coaching record is 104-10.

During his five-year tenure with Georgia, he led them to a 40-19 record. He was the first coach in Georgia history to win four consecutive bowls; they won the 1997 Outback Bowl, 1998 Peach Bowl, 1999 Outback Bowl and the 2000 O’ahu Bowl.

Donnan was fired after the 2000 season despite the win over Virginia in the O’ahu Bowl when the Bulldogs finished with an 8-4 record. His overall record wasn’t bad, but Donnan kept losing to the wrong teams. They had a 2-3 record against Georgia Tech and Auburn and a 1-4 record against Florida and Tennessee. In 2009, Donnan was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.

  1. W.A. Cunningham 1910-1919

William Alexander Cunningham was Georgia Bulldogs Head football coach for ten seasons. The team was disbanded between 1917 and 1918 due to World War I. In the eight seasons that were played, he led Georgia to seven winning seasons, finishing with a record of 43-18-9. Cunningham eventually stepped away from the role to return to the army but his seven winning seasons with the Bulldogs will go down in history as one of the most successful periods for the school.

  1. George Woodruff 1923 - 1927

A Georgia native, George ‘Kid’ Woofruff attended the University of Georgia in 1907 and played quarter back for the Bulldogs for four seasons. Called ‘Kid’ because of his small stature, he was the captain of W.A. Cunningham’s winning 1911 team.

He replaced Herman Stegeman as Georgia Bulldogs Football Head Coach. At the time, he was the third Bulldogs alumni to become Head Coach. During his five seasons, he never had a losing record, finishing with 32-16-1. He was the first coach to implement a new style as he introduced the ‘Box 4’ shift from Notre Dame. He hired Frank Thomas and Jim Crowley who would later go on to have distinguished coaching careers and be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame, and Harry Mehre who was inducted into the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame.

Woodruff worked for a salary of $1 a year, and the Bulldogs definitely got their money’s worth. In 1927, Woodruff’s ‘Dream and Wonder’ team won the Southern Conference Championship, only losing to Georgia Tech.

Woodruff Hall was named in honor of Woodruff and his older brother. It stood where the Henry W.Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication currently stands. Their current outdoor practice field is also named in honor of Woodruff.

  1. Wally Butts 1939-1960

James Wallace ‘Wally’ Butts is another Georgia native on the list. Butts has the second longest tenure in Bulldogs history, serving for 22 years. Prior to joining Georgia, Butts had lost just ten games in ten years of high school coaching. He initially joined the Bulldogs as an assistant. The Georgia Bulldogs football fans called him ‘Little Round Man’. Little did they know how good of a coach he would turn out to be.

He led the Bulldogs to their most successful period of that time. They had six bowl appearances, four SEC Championships and went undefeated in 1946. Butts is often credited with starting the passing era of football. His passing routes that he created were studied by other coaches, many referred to him as a ‘genius’.

Butts coached Heisman winner Frank Sinkwich, and Maxwell award winner Charley Trippi. Butts finished with a .615 winning percentage and a 140-86-9 record. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1997. His football mind was a major part of Georgia Bulldogs Football coaches’ history.

  1. Kirby Smart 2015-Present

As mentioned earlier, Smart is the current Bulldogs Head Coach. He started his coaching career with Georgia as an administrative assistant before spending time at Valdosta State, Florida State, LSU, Alabama and even the Miami Dolphins, all in various assistant roles.

He was announced as the 26th head coach in 2015 and led the Bulldogs to an 8-5 record and Liberty Bowl in his first season. Now his eighth season as head coach, he is yet to have a losing season and has taken the Bulldogs to a bowl/playoffs in every season. His most impressive period to date was his last two year's where the Bulldogs finished with a 14-1 record in the 2021 season and a 15-0 undefeated season in 2022. He led them to back-to-back National Championships and has started the 2023 campaign with the same intent.

He has a 84-15 overall record and the way Smart is going, he might become the best coach in Georgia Bulldogs Football history.  

  1. Mark Richt 2001-2015

A future NFL quarterback prospect, Richt spent a short spell behind John Elway at the Denver Broncos before focusing on coaching. Prior to joining Georgia, Richt spent over ten years at Florida State where he helped them win seven ACC titles and two national championships.

His success with FSU created a buzz of excitement when he was hired as the Bulldogs Head Coach. Richt spent 15 seasons with the Bulldogs. His 145-51-0 record and .740-win percentage leaves him third among all Georgia coaches.

Richt led Georgia to two SEC Championships and was named SEC Coach of the year in 2002 and 2005. He is one of the few coaches in history to win two SEC Championships. He had five consecutive ten plus winning seasons between ‘02 and ‘05. He took the Bulldogs to a bowl/playoffs in every season of his tenure.

Richt had a big impact off the field too, more than 300 players earned their academic degrees with his guidance. He also founded the Paul Oliver network, a program that supports players in their transition to life after football. Richt has a strong claim to be one of the best Georgia Bulldogs football coaches.

  1. Vince Dooley 1964-1988

Of all the past Georgia Football coaches, Vince Dooley has been the most successful. He coached the Bulldogs for 25 years and led them to over 200 wins. He finished his tenure with a 201-77-10 and a .715 record. He is the ninth coach in NCAA Division I history to win more than 200 games. He led the Bulldogs to a national championship in 1980 and six SEC championships. He took them to 20 bowl games, most in Bulldogs history.

He was named NCAA National Coach of the year in 1980, SEC Coach of the Year seven times, and NCAA District Coach of the Year six times. Dooley retired at the end of the 1988 season and at the time, he was the second-winningest coach in SEC history.

In addition to SEC Coach of the Year, Dooley won the Bobby Dodd Coach of the Year (1976), Georgia Sports Hall of Fame (1978), AFCA Coach of the Year (1980), Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year (1990) Sporting News College Football Coach of the Year (1980), Walter Camp Coach of the Year (1990), Alabama Sports Hall of Fame (1984), Amos Alonzo Stagg Award (2001), Carl Maddox Sport Management award (2004), University of Georgia Circle of Honor (2004), Homer Rice Award (2007), Bear Bryant Lifetime Achievement Award (2009). He is the most decorated coach in Bulldogs history and was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1994.

Parameters of Rankings

These all-time coaches for the Georgia Bulldogs have been ranked based on their achievements whilst in charge of the school’s football team. Records and accolades with other schools have not been factored in.


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