Mark Richt Proves Patience Pays, Even in the SEC

By Bryan Zarpentine
Daniel Shirey – USATODAY Sports

Remember all the way back in 2010 when Georgia Bulldogs head coach Mark Richt was actually on the hot seat.  Richt followed up an 8-5 record in 2009 with a 6-7 season and a bowl loss in 2010.  After that, many were calling for Richt to be fired, despite averaging better than 10 wins per season between 2002 and 2008, with six bowl wins and two SEC championships in that time.

But Georgia stuck with Richt, showing both loyalty and patience.  Most other SEC schools, especially the ones that are used to being on top, would have fired Richt after three consecutive years without so much as an appearance in the SEC Championship Game.  But Georgia stuck by him, believing that the 2009 and 2010 seasons were just a bump in the road.

Keeping Richt around was certainly an unorthodox move by SEC standards, and at first it appeared to be the wrong decision, as Georgia started the 2011 season with two straight losses.  But then, with the seat under Richt as hot as it had ever been, the Bulldogs rattled off 10 consecutive wins to reach the SEC Championship Game for the first time since 2007.  Despite losing the final two games of the 2011 season, Richt and the Bulldogs picked up right where they left off in 2012, winning 12 games, Georgia’s highest win total in a decade, and returning to the SEC Championship Game.

If not for a timeout that went uncalled and a tipped pass, the Bulldogs could have found themselves playing in the national championship game, a game they likely would have won.  Cynics will blame Richt for the clock management issues that cost the Bulldogs a shot at a BCS title, but it was actually Georgia choosing to retain Richt after a rough patch that put the Bulldogs in that position.

In the most impatient conference in the country, Richt rewarded Georgia for their patience by quickly bouncing back from a couple rough years and making Georgia a national power again.  In doing so, Richt proved that sometimes patience pays off, even in the SEC.  Now, Richt is signed on to stay at Georgia for the long term, and he should have the Bulldogs in the hunt for an SEC title in 2013 and for years to come; and all it took was a little patience.

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