CORAL SPRINGS, Fla. — It was quite an introduction for Mark Richt on Friday at the University of Miami. The press credentials for the event had Richt’s face emblazoned on them. He was given a No. 24 jersey that signified his status as the 24th head football coach in program history.
The host of the introductory press conference was a Miami alum who also played when Richt was a reserve quarterback for the Hurricanes. Don Bailey, Jr., was the first to welcome Richt at the podium. He also serves as a color analyst for the program on the Miami radio network.
How happy was he to introduce Richt on Friday? How committed is Richt to his new team? Bailey shared a thought that addressed both of those things.
“I don’t know where the other stories came from about Mark Richt needing a recharge after Georgia,” Bailey said. “I never saw that. I saw and spoke to a focused head coach. I talked to a winner. I talked to a man that has a plan that wants to keep executing a plan until he gets to his goal.”
Bailey said there was also significant action behind those words over the last two days.
“When he left Athens last night he had two years and recruiting tape with him.” Bailey said. “So you tell me if he is motivated or if he is coming down to Miami to get a suntan.”
Bailey and Richt were together at Miami from 1979-1982.
Who was the most fired up about Richt? It had to be Bailey. Richt even mentioned during his remarks that he must have forgotten he had a live microphone at the podium and did not need to shout.
“He’s the same person today that I knew from back then,” Bailey said. “Aside from his faith, he’s the same caring person, he’s the same competitive person and he’s the same person who worries about other people. He’s the same person when it comes to leadership, but he’s just added a very big component in his life which is his fath.”
He was not surprised to see the guy he knew when he played center at Miami to go on to a productive coaching career at UGA highlighted by 145 wins in 15 seasons.
“No one who knew Mark back then is surprised about that,” Bailey said. “No one is surprised that Mark Richt became what he is now. What we are surprised — and even thankful about — is what Georgia did to allow him to come here. Georgia allowed Mark Richt to come back here and be a dream come true for the University of Miami.”
Bailey feels the hire sends a message to the rest of the college football about Miami. Richt is expected to command close to a $4 million annual salary to lead the ACC program.
“It sends the message loud and clear that the University of Miami is investing in its athletic program,” he said. “The day that people can say Miami bet belly-up. They did.”
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