However, the stats do support Richt on this one. According to the Philadelphia Eagles:
The success rate of a surprise onside kick, one that happens prior to the fourth quarter, is 71 percent [in the NFL] from 1997 through 2006.Mathematically, it wasn't that bad of a gamble*. You're betting 71 percent chance that you'll make the play with the downside being that you surrender about 20-25 yards of field position versus our typical UGA half-ass kick coverage.
But this is college football where momentum matters more than stats on a page. Going for that kick and not converting it sent the message that we were scared of the Gators. It reeked of a team desperately looking for a gimmick to win the game. It reeked of something a Conference USA team would do to off set a gross talent disadvantage to its opponent.
Richt has been so consistently excellent in road games (outside of Jacksonville obviously) because his team plays smart field position football. That was Richt trying to be something we're not.
It's not the reason we lost. But it sure as heck didn't help.
Update = I'd rather fix the kick coverage and pass defense than rely on a gimmick onside kick to solve our problems. That's the sentence I left out of the above post.
*Full disclosure: I went into this post prepared to blast the coaching staff for that call. But 71% is a shockingly high percentage. So I toned down my tone dramatically. I still hate the call though.