NEW ORLEANS — Georgia coach Kirby Smart was among the first to send his well wishes to Mark Richt via Twitter after the former Bulldogs coach announced his retirement on Sunday.
Smart was the running backs coach under Richt with the Bulldogs in 2005 and inherited a program that was on solid footing in 2016 when he replaced him as Georgia’s head coach.
Several of Richt’s players, including 2017 SEC Defensive Player of the Year Roquan Smith and current NFL backs Nick Chubb and Sony Michele, were instrumental in Georgia’s march to the 2017 SEC title and College Football Playoff Championship Game.
Former UGA tight end Arthur Lynch also gave an emotional farewell to Richt.
The Bulldogs’ current class of seniors were all Richt recruits, and they have put together a 42-12 record with three bowl victories.
Richt, the 2017 ACC Coach of the Year in 2017 and Walter Camp Coach of the Year last season, released a retirement letter.
Richt coached three seasons for his alma mater with the Hurricanes, most recently finishing 7-6 in 2018 with a 35-3 loss to Wisconsin in the Pinstripe Bowl.
The 58-year-old Richt was 26-13 at Miami overall, including a 16-8 conference mark and a Coastal Division title.
Richt was 145-51 as the Bulldogs head coach from 2001-2015 with two SEC championships and SEC Coach of the Year honors (2002, 2005).
Several other Georgia fans and media weighed in via Twitter on Sunday:
Best of luck to @MarkRicht in retirement. Proud to have worked with a great coach and an even better man. Go Dawgs!!
— Coach Kirby Smart (@KirbySmartUGA) December 30, 2018
Just heard the news my former coach and good friend @MarkRicht is retiring. 1 of the best coaches I have ever had but even better man that showed not just me but many young men how to be a great MAN! Blessed to have been around him. Wishing you the best in retirement coach
— DjShockley (@DjShockley3) December 30, 2018
Mark Richt walks away. Eh, good for him. Hard program to win big at anymore, no real home field, everybody and their cat recruits the city. The U isn’t what it U-sed to be. Neither is Richt’s offense. Mid-2000s system trying to survive in 2019.
— Sam McKewon (@swmckewonOWH) December 30, 2018
Mark Richt was a very good head coach for a long time. The breakthrough for #UGA finally happened under Kirby Smart, but Richt had sustained success in Athens. And while 2018 was a disaster in Coral Gables, he helped Miami to an ACC title game that should’ve happened long ago.
— Dave Miller (@Miller_Dave) December 30, 2018
— Jon Linder (@LinderShowMiami) December 30, 2018
Mark Richt’s record as a head coach over 18 seasons was 171-64; his teams won 72% of their games, did things the right way, and it was never really good enough for a great many fans at Georgia and Miami. That’s sad, an indictment of what fandom has become for far too many.
— Dr. Tom Bennett (@TomBenn1985) December 30, 2018
I am really sad to hear about Mark Richt retiring. He was also one of the most honest, decent, kind coaches in college football. People might have thought that he was a ‘loser’ at football, but I would rather be that and be a winner at life. And he certainly was that. #CMR
— Alex Haddon Ferguson (@SECblog) December 30, 2018
— Grayson Stafford (@GStaffordQB) December 30, 2018
I’m sure glad I got the chance to meet you in person. You were very accommodating and very nice to talk to. I wish you the best of luck @MarkRicht in your future endeavors and I’m sorry to see you go. pic.twitter.com/IFYYecEr4X
— Tony Miles (@scrappymiles) December 30, 2018
Mark Richt retiring was bound to happen this year or next. He mentioned taking time off the year he was let go at UGA in the press conference. Miami needs a cutthroat coach to get them back where they used to be. Watch Lane Kiffin interview lol.
— Ellis Tolbert (@ETolbertSpeaks) December 30, 2018
I’m really really close to denouncing my Miami fanhood. Mark Richt deserves a better fan base than the ones currently wearing orange and green.
— Erich Ladwig (@Erich_Ladwig) December 30, 2018
Pat Narduzzi – Yes
Mark Richt – No
Justin Fuente – Yes
Larry Fedora – No
Paul Johnson – No
Wow. And all three left this season/after this season. https://t.co/sQgVRjTMbI
— David Cunningham (@therealdcunna) December 30, 2018
Mark Richt is a good man!
— John Hayes (@JohnHayes730) December 30, 2018
Mark Richt has produced more draft picks than any coach since 2002 (his 1st class at Georgia).
Mark Richt (99)
Nick Saban (96)
Les Miles (91)
Bob Stoops (80)
— Paul Hembekides (@PaulHembo) December 30, 2018
Mark Richt’s 26 wins in three years was the most successful three-year run by Miami since it joined the ACC.
— Pete Fiutak (@PeteFiutak) December 30, 2018
The first College Football coach I ever interviewed was @MarkRicht I will forever be grateful for how gracious he was and how he really made me believe I had a future in sports broadcasting. Enjoy retirement CMR…you deserve it! pic.twitter.com/Y6w8l4YHsX
— Maria Taylor (@MariaTaylor) December 30, 2018