CORAL GABLES, Fla. — One would think Mark Richt brought on his son, Jon, to be his quarterbacks coach at Miami so he could show him the ropes and set him on a path to follow in his footsteps in the profession. Actually, the head coach said it was just a ploy to keep his only granddaughter, Jadyn, close at hand.
“That’s a big part of it,” Mark Richt said.
He was kidding. Sort of.
The reality is, Jon Richt is just one part of an intriguing four-headed brain trust that is running the Hurricanes’ offense this season. On paper, former Georgia running back Thomas Brown is the offensive coordinator, and he does a fair amount of coordinating while also coaching the running backs. But then there is also Ron Duggans, who coaches wideouts and has the title of passing game coordinator. Then there’s Jon, Richt’s 26-year-old son, who coaches quarterbacks.
Of course, there’s also Mark Richt. He’s head coach, first and foremost, but he has also made it abundantly clear in this second incarnation that he’s very much head of the Hurricanes’ offense, too.
In fact, Mark Richt is handling Miami’s offense the same way he handled Georgia’s when he came to Athens from Florida State 16 years ago. That is, he’s game-planning, scripting and calling the plays. Oh, and coaching the quarterbacks, too.
“The first thing he did when he brought me on, he said, ‘Look, here’s the deal: You’re going to coach quarterbacks, but I’m going to coach quarterbacks. All right?’”
Not exactly a hearty endorsement.
Brown left his job as Georgia’s running backs coach to accept the title and extra pay that comes with being an offensive coordinator. But he makes no bones about the fact that Richt is running the offensive show.
“We’re all involved when it comes to input,” Brown said. “From an organizational standpoint and how things are structured and how things are being installed, that falls into my plate. But obviously Coach is going to call the plays and is back to coaching quarterbacks, like he did when I was in school at Georgia. So I’m just trying to make the most of the opportunity and doing my part to get this offense rolling.”
That’s the way Richt was when he first came to Georgia as head coach in 2001. He was undoubtedly the head coach in every way, but his concentration was mainly on offense, while he left the responsibility of the defense and special teams to others. The Bulldogs had won an SEC championship by 2002, and another in 2005, and played for three in four seasons.
But Richt abruptly turned over the coordinating and play-calling duties to Mike Bobo late in the 2006 season.
“When he released the opportunity to be the OC and call the plays and take over the head coaching role only (at Georgia), it took some of the competition out of him,” Brown theorized. “Obviously he wants to be in the heat of it (again) and know exactly what’s going on. It’s definitely revived him to be coaching the quarterbacks and be in every single meeting every day and knowing exactly what’s going on from an offensive standpoint. He’s feeling young again.”
For now, Brown doesn’t mind not having total control.
“I’m obviously very thankful for the opportunity,” the former UGA tailback said. “Not many guys get that opportunity. I’m thankful to be around one of the greatest offensive minds in the game in Coach Richt. I’m blessed to be able to learn from him and be mentored by him. I’m looking forward to the challenge and the opportunity and just taking it one day at a time.”
Mark Richt may eventually relinquish control again. In the meantime, he’s getting particular enjoyment in training his son on coaching quarterbacks. He never really got to coach Jon on the field.
“We love all of our kids, but to have Jon working with me, in particular in the quarterback room, it’s good,” Richt said.
Being able to bring baby Jadyn and daughter-in-law Ann over to the house for dinner regularly doesn’t hurt either.
“I’ve got the best job security out of anybody,” Jon quipped.