How 2012 SEC Championship Loss Will Impact Mark Richt's Legacy at Georgia

Randy ChambersAnalyst IDecember 4, 2012

ATLANTA, GA - DECEMBER 01: Head coach Mark Richt of the Georgia Bulldogs motions from the sidelines against the Alabama Crimson Tide during the second quarter of the SEC Championship Game at the Georgia Dome on December 1, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Now that everybody has had a few days to get over the loss in the 2012 SEC Championship, it is time to talk about Mark Richt and his legacy.

He has been the coach of the Georgia Bulldogs since 2001, but has drawn mixed reactions throughout his career, particularly in the last couple of years.

Richt had a chance to silence those non-believers last weekend in a victory over Alabama, but wasn't quite able to get the job done. A last-second loss sent the Crimson Tide to another national championship and left those critics chatting more than before.

This led to a press conference that was rather interesting, to say the least:

Well, since Richt wouldn't answer the question, it is up to everybody to draw conclusions. What is the legacy of the current Georgia head coach with a second-consecutive loss in the SEC Championship?

It is still one that should be respected.

We can sit here and talk about everything that Richt hasn't done. He hasn't led the Bulldogs to a national championship victory. He now has a losing record in SEC Championship appearances (2-3). His team is also a horrible 4-13 against ranked teams since 2009.

But what he has done for Georgia is much greater than anything he hasn't done.

There have been nine seasons in which this program has won at least 11 games; Richt is responsible for four of them. In his 12 years as head coach, he has had double-digit winning seasons a total of eight times. He has won seven bowl games and has yet to miss the bowl season throughout his head-coaching career.

There isn't another Georgia head coach who can say he led his team to a bowl game every season during his time in Athens.

So he has yet to win a national championship; the last time I checked, unless you are Alabama, there is a good chance your school hasn't seen a crystal football recently, either.  

So Richt is supposed to be the one to pry away titles from Nick Saban? Well, if that's the prevailing opinion, I think it speaks volumes for the respect everybody has for him already. If the college football world is turning to the Georgia head coach to be the next great thing, he has already proven himself on the sidelines over the last decade.

The Bulldogs aren't used to winning titles. In fact, they have only claimed two national championships in program history, and the last one happened in 1980. Richt took over Georgia when Jim Donnan lost to Georgia Tech three years in a row and couldn't get over the eight-win mark for two consecutive years.

Georgia is 11-1 against the Yellow Jackets since then and has won more than eight games nine times.

So what do you want from the guy?

The recruiting is top-notch, as elite athletes are lining up outside the building to play for this program.

The team is also winning consistently and competing in the toughest conference in college football each and every season. 

Could the results against ranked opponents be better? Sure.

Is a national championship appearance needed to cement his legacy? Of course.

But coaches like Richt don't exactly grow on trees. Ask Auburn, Tennessee or Arkansas about how easy it is to find a coach with any type of consistency.

It may take time for him to win the big one, but not many coaches are even able to get you that far, especially on a consistent basis. 

In order for Richt to be considered in the elite category, he has to eventually win a national championship. But if that is the only thing missing from his resume, it seems we are being quite picky when it comes to Georgia's head coach.

His legacy is just fine, even if that loss to Alabama may sting for quite some time.