ATHENS — While there is growing interest in Mark Richt as a head coaching candidate, it’s doubtful that Georgia’s recently-ousted leader will jump into one of the current openings or coach anywhere in the coming year.
Richt said on his weekly call-in show Monday night he’d been contacted by “about five” schools regarding their head coaching vacancies. He didn’t say which schools, but it’s not hard to figure out.
At the moment, there are 14 head coach openings in the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS). Maryland was the one creating the most buzz about Richt Monday. There are reports claiming that Maryland officials plan to meet with Richt in Athens later this week. Those reports also cited Damon Evans as an inside connection for the Terrapins. Now associate AD at Maryland, Evans was UGA’s athletics director from 2004-2010.
Other openings Richt could consider include Miami (his alma mater), Virginia, Missouri and South Carolina.
“It’s kind of crazy,” Richt said of the sudden attention he’s receiving as a free agent. “But I’m not sure, again, what I’m going to do yet. But it’s nice to have opportunities and options.”
To accept one of those schools’ openings, Richt would be going against the advice he’s getting at home. The 55-year-old father of four has been encouraged by family members to take a year off to decompress and then reassess the coaching landscape next year.
Richt has been working for 33 years straight in coaching, the last 15 as Georgia’s head coach. There’s no rush, he’s being told. Relax and enjoy some down time.
Richt and his wife Katharyn are now empty-nesters and grandparents. Katharyn will graduate in May with a nursing degree. Richt is being encouraged to take a wait-and-see approach.
Richt is also owed $4.1 million from UGA as part of his separation agreement with UGA. That salary would be prorated depending on how much he might be earn elsewhere.
“We’ll probably get to do some things we just haven’t been able to do in the past,” Richt said of him and Katharyn. “I’ve been coaching for 33 years straight, and that’s a long grind. It can wear a man out a little bit, especially sitting in the head coach’s chair. We’re very excited about our future. It very well may be that we stay in Athens. We may stay in Athens for good. I don’t know what’ll happen yet.”
In the meantime, none of the current openings are ideal. Richt doesn’t like the idea of remaining in the SEC and certainly not the Eastern Division, those close to him say. And while some in Maryland are lauding the Evans connection, that’s not necessarily a beneficial one.
Evans and Richt weren’t always on the best of terms during their six-year coexistence. In fact, Richt was hit with a secondary rules violation because he paid money to some assistants and support personnel after Evans would not approve bonuses for them. Evans later was fired from Georgia in 2010 after his arrest for DUI while accompanied by a woman who was not his wife.
But chiefly, those close to Richt say he wants to be somewhere that he can compete for championships again. That’s a reach at most of the open the programs.
Virginia seems like the most comfortable fit, between its academic reputation and campus community. But the Cavaliers appear to be deep in negotiations with Mike Sanford, a 33-year-old offensive coordinator at Notre Dame. Insiders say Richt is not interested in returning to Miami.
FBS HEAD COACH OPENINGS
- South Carolina
- Miami (Fla.)
- Central Florida
- North Texas