ATHENS — Mark Richt heard of Greg McGarity’s heartfelt recollection of firing him at Georgia following the 2015 season on Wednesday night and made it clear he holds no grudge.
“In the end Greg was trying to do what he felt was in the best interest of the team and in the best interest of Georgia, so I got let go,” Richt told DawgNation on Tuesday night.
“I look back at my time at Georgia fondly, we enjoyed it and raised our children there,” Richt said. “The goal was to finish my career at Georgia. It didn’t happen, but we know what can happen, and we signed up for it.”
McGarity said during a Zoom call on Wednesday that he didn’t sleep the night before meeting with Richt to fire him and he dreaded it, concluding “the jury will be out forever on those type of things” when successful coaches are fired.
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Richt was 145-51 (83-37 SEC) at UGA during his 15-year tenure, winning the SEC East six times. Richt returned to his alma mater to finish his coaching career at Miami, winning national coach of the year honors in 2017 before retiring following the 2018 season.
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Richt, who serves as national spokesman for the North American Mission Board and is authoring a book when he’s not working as an ACC Network analyst, understands where McGarity is coming from.
“The bottom line, leadership is never an easy job, tough decisions have to be made no matter what position of leadership you are in, and you’re not always going to make the most popular decision,” Richt said.
“As a head coach I’ve let people go. When it comes to dealing with people deciding when you have to make a change is the hardest part of the job, by far.”
And yet Richt, even after being fired, appeared at a press conference with McGarity a week later to discuss his termination.
“I don’t remember how it came about, I was probably asked to do it and said, ‘Sure, I don’t have a problem with it,’ “ Richt said. “It was a chance to thank the Georgia people and finish on a good note.”
Indeed, Richt is still interwoven into the Georgia community, visiting several of his relatives who remain active and well-respected figures in the Athens area and surrounding communities.
“Everybody in my family moved to Athens when I was at Georgia; mom, dad, brother and two sisters,” Richt said. “We aim to spend one week out of every month with our grand daughters, who live near Athens.”
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Richt has said he remains a fan of Georgia football, having given Kirby Smart his first UGA coaching job in 2005 as a running backs coach.
Richt also hired one of the leading candidates for the soon-to-be vacant athletic director position McGarity is departing on Dec. 31.
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“Sure I think a lot of Josh (Brooks), I hired him 12 year ago (2008) as the director of football operations,” Richt said. “I know Josh is capable and I think he would be an awesome candidate and AD. He’s already been an AD, but I also think he is ready for this job.”
Mark Richt, May 14, 2020