On Monday morning, Mark Richt sounded like a guy very much considering taking a year off from coaching – at least. On Friday morning, he was introduced at his next job as Miami’s head coach.
While maintaining he would listen to any and all offers that came his way, here’s what Richt said Monday when asked how he personally felt about his dismissal after 15 years as Georgia’s head coach:
“Like I said a minute ago, 33 years straight is a long time. It’s a very busy life, there’s not many breaks in the action. People have said the days are long but the seasons go fast. They really do. Before you know it, your life has flashed before your eyes. When you sit in the head coach’s chair, it might be times 10. You think you know, but you don’t know until you get there. Over time it can wear you down a little bit. The weight of a lot of the responsibility that I’ve had for a long time is gone. It’s not totally gone, I have a responsibility between now and the bowl. There’s certain things that I’m really not responsible for, for example the recruiting.
I was about to go 14 days straight. What happens in recruiting is you’ve got nine guys out there, and they’re just waiting to grab you. Somebody’s going to pick you up at 5 a.m. and keep you until 3 in the afternoon. Another guy’s going to grab you and wear you out until midnight. You get to the hotel maybe at 1 and at 5 a.m. you’re ready to go for the next guy to grab you. I’m being fascecious to a certain degree but you just go and go and go and go. That’s just one aspect of it. The responsibility for the student-athletes, all the academic responsibilities. All the decision that have to be made in strength and conditioning and that sort of thing. It’s just such a huge job that a lot of the weight that is with that job is not there right now.”
Ultimately, Richt said he’d leave the decision up to God’s will. The Lord, apparently, spoke in the form of Miami AD Blake James.
“I believe Mark will put us in position to win ACC and national championships, he will be a tremendous leader, and he will be an example for young men,” James said of his newest employee. “We are building champions at The U, and today we are a great deal closer to our goal.”
Richt said he took the Miami job because the opportunity boiled down to what so many in coaching do: timing and fit. The Hurricanes reached out a number of times through the years, as recently as October, to guage their former quarterback’s interest. Richt turned them down every time, saying he had a job. Until he didn’t have a job.
“After the mutual agreement,” Richt said, smiling, “we got asked again. I said, ‘I’ve been saying no for 15 years, it’s time to say I’m interested.'” Richt said he spoke to James, Miami board members and former Hurricanes.
He said the tug of his own former players helped him make the jump.
“Two things happened,” Richt said, “the outpouring of former players that wishing me well, that were thanking me for being a positive influence in their life. Text messages, phone calls. Guys I’d dismissed from the team thanking me for loving them to discipline them.
“The other thing that happened was the U. It’s my home. It’s my alma mater. When you coach you want to know you’ve got a chance to do big things. By virtue of the fact it’s been done here before, that’s a good indicator.”
Though he jumped on board quickly, Richt indicated the process of hiring his staff would take time.
I’m going to be deliberate, I’m going to take my time, I’m going to be careful,” he said. “My goal is to assess everything that I can possibly assess in trying to determine what is best for this football team and this university. I’ve not made promises to anybody. I’d rather be right than fast. Sometimes people want to win on the day you announce something, but in the end you’ve got to get in the trenches, go to work and get the job done. I want to hire men that are men of character because I want them to be the right example for our young men.
“There are a massive amount of people that want to come here,” Richt continued. “I’m averaging about 250 text messages a day and 50 phone calls, and half of them are people that want to work here or people trying to help them work here.”
Many questioned whether Richt would coach again simply because the entire Richt clan had put roots down in Athens. He even questioned that himself Monday, leaving open the opportunity to stay in their adopted home town. But Richt said Friday he intends for Miami, the program to brought him into college football 36 years ago, to be the program that sends him out — whenever that time comes.
“This is home for us,” he said.