You might remember me saying I no longer believed Mark Richt could win a championship. I meant at Georgia. He might just have a chance at Miami.
If you’re a 55-year-old football coach who has just been fired, you couldn’t have found a sweeter landing spot. Miami is in the ACC, as opposed to the SEC, and plays in the Coastal Division, as opposed to the Atlantic, where Clemson and Florida State reside. Heck, Duke won the Coastal back in 2013, and North Carolina, which lost to wretched South Carolina, won it this year.
Oh, and there’s also this: Miami is Richt’s alma mater.
And this: Miami plays every other year at Georgia Tech. Richt has never lost a game at Bobby Dodd Stadium. He’ll be back — assuming the many reports of his taking the U job are true — again next season. Maybe Georgia fans will buy up half the tickets for that one, too.
If ever Richt considered retiring, that notion surely took a hike when he was deposed by Georgia. The famously placid exterior has always hidden a much more competitive nature than those on the outside get to see. He’s a proud man and a proven head coach. From Sunday morning on, he had to be thinking, “I’ll find me a job and win a bunch of games and show y’all what you’re missing.”
There was thought he might take a year off to contemplate the meaning of life, but he’s at the perfect age to start again. He could coach five, 10 more years and call it a career, and such are the resources in the bountiful state of Florida that he doesn’t have to roam far to recruit well. And he does, as we know, recruit well. And he has, as we know, built up a ton of political capital in that state to Florida’s north.
Just because I thought Richt and Georgia needed to part never meant I disliked the man himself. He’s impossible to dislike. He’s a good guy — stop me if you’ve heard that one before — and he has a terrific overall record as a coach. This new challenge could bring out the Richt we saw over his first seven years in Athens, and I’d love to see it.
I will say, though, that nobody in coaching should know better than Richt the value of the right assistants. Brian VanGorder was the right guy; Willie Martinez wasn’t. Mike Bobo was the right guy; Brian Schottenheimer wasn’t. But you’ve heard that before, too. For now, let’s just leave it at this:
Georgia is getting Kirby Smart. Richt is getting a new job at a place he’ll be viewed as a rock star. Four different coaches — Schnellenberger, Johnson, Erickson and Coker — have won national championships at Miami. It can be done there. It will be fascinating to watch the new man try.
(Oh, and not to say I’m smart or anything — we all know better — but I did actually broach this very topic not so long ago.)