Christmas has come early for some Georgia fans with the Sunday morning resignation/firing of head coach Mark Richt
The official release said the two sides “mutually agreed” Richt would step down following a meeting with athletics director Greg McGarity Sunday. But make no mistake, Richt had spent the last month fighting to keep his job and coach in 2016.
After 15 years producing a 145-51 record (74%) and two SEC championships, 10 wins or more nine times with a possibility of a 10th with a win in a bowl game this year, a 9-5 record in bowl games, eight Top 10 finishes in the final polls, the Mark Richt era is over.
Unlike troubled LSU coach Les Myles (111-32, two SEC titles, one national championship), Richt couldn’t escape the long noose of staunch boosters who funnel large sums of money into the program. Richt also didn’t receive the backing of the governor (Nathan Deal) as Myles did with the Louisiana governor (Bobby Jindall).
I have my opinion, though.
When did not winning a national championship become the root of all evil? Everybody wants to be a national champion, but there is only going to be one at the end of the day.
Did legendary coach Vince Dooley (201 wins) get an extended stay by winning just one? If not for Herschel Walker and a “Hail Mary” of a play by Lindsey Scott against Florida, Georgia would not have won in 1980.
For all the integrity Richt brought to the program, minus the year of the criminals trying to keep up with the top echelon teams, it was not good enough.
It has been stated he, “understood football is more than winning. It’s about shaping and molding young lives.”
That’s not good enough in today’s society, though. Everyone thinks the grass is going to be greener with the next coach.
I’ll offer you Tennessee and Phillip Fulmer, Texas and Mack Brown, and Nebraska and Frank Solich for fodder.
In the seven years since Fulmer was run out of Knoxville, the Volunteers have been to two bowl games. Brown was forced out at Texas after a great run and two losing seasons have followed.
Solich followed legendary coach Tom Osborne and won 75% of his games. The four coaches since have won just 63% covering a span of 12 years and are only 5-5 in bowl games.
Be careful of what you’re asking for. The “wish list” is led by Alabama defensive coordinator and former UGA safety, Kirby Smart. Mississippi State’s Dan Mullen is on the list. First-year Houston head coach Tom Herman, who was part of Urban Myer’s national championship staff a year ago at Ohio State, says he’s interested.
Smart was a one-time member of Richt’s staff. Mullen has connections to McGarity while at Florida where Myer started flaming out after SEC teams starting catching up to his offensive scheme.
Richt could be a leading candidate at the University of Miami, where he was a quarterback playing behind Hall of Famer Jim Kelley, or he could be in line for the South Carolina post following in the footsteps of Hall of Famer Steve Spurrier.
All those “could be’s” is if he chooses to continue coaching. He could just ride off into the sunset.
Whatever he decides, he left his mark. Thanks, coach, for doing the job the right way.
• Rick Head is the editor of The Alma Times. He can be reached at email@example.com