Richt is coming off a 9-3 season, where UGA finished tied for second in the SEC East—something that would’ve worked itself out had Georgia knocked off perennial-thorn-in-side Florida head-to-head weeks back. Richt spent 15 years leading the Bulldogs, on the heels of a successful career leading Florida State’s offense under Bobby Bowden.
Soon as Richt’s tenure ended in Athens, conversations shifted towards his next stop—and with “The U” in need of a new leader, could this optimum timing play a role in Miami’s search for it’s next guy?
On the surface, it’s understandable why Hurricanes Nation would be amped up over the premise of Richt heading south. Old school UM ties, success at an SEC power, recruits well and all-around stand-up guy.
SEC coach of the year twice, two conference titles and six divisional crowns, for those keeping score. Richt is a coaching veteran with an impressive resume.
Richt would’ve been an ideal candidate for “The U” back in 2007 and again in 2011, but the timing wasn’t optimum on his end. Now he’s available, but five years later he simply isn’t the ultimate answer to Miami’s problems.
Not because he isn’t a great coach and even better man—it’s precisely because of his character that Richt isn’t an optimum fit for U; as coaching continues to slip down the priority list for the 55-year old head coach and the sport gets more cutthroat than ever.
FAITH BESTS FOOTBALL IN RICHT’S WORLD
While the earliest reports used the word “fired” in regards to Richt’s split with Georgia, newer versions are using phrases like “resigned” or “mutually agreed to part ways”—the latter seeming more inline with what shook down in Athens today.
9-3 this season, 10-3 last year and 8-5 in 2013, Richt’s program backslid, coming off of back-to-back SEC East crowns—including 12-2 in 2012, where a conference title win over Alabama would’ve put Georgia in the national championship game.
Richt is 145-51 over the past 15 seasons leading the Bulldogs. He’s put together a very solid program and has also recruited incredibly—though it’s leads to some understandable knocks for doing the least with the most—unable to knock off the big boys or most-hated rivals, at crucial times.
When you look at the overall body of work—this was most-likely the mutual parting of ways for two parties, or at most, Georgia pushing Richt out, knowing that his heart isn’t into it anymore and that the Bulldogs need someone with a bit more fire as college football is as competitive as ever.
Of course the lack-of-fire notion could immediately be dispelled should Richt throw his hat in the ring at Miami, or if he goes after another opening. Still, it feels like a formality at this point.
Should this sentiment be off-base regarding his desire to continue coaching and Richt want in at “The U”, he certainly shoots up the wishlist— below Butch Davis (yeah, I said it), while above a Rob Chudzinski, Mario Cristobal or any flavor-of-the-year up-and-comer type who might use UM as a pit-stop and stepping stone.
Hard not to feel like Richt is set on taking his talents outside of the coaching world—rooted in the personal Richt has shown the world the past few years. Faith remains first, then family—with all family-fueled decisions weighed up against a strong faith.
Outside his accolades and success roaming the sidelines, Richt is known for a beliefs system that he lives out. Moved by a scripture about what we’re individually doing to help the orphans, Richt and his wife Katharyn adopted two children from the Ukraine.
The Richt family already had two sons before growing their family to six deep—underscoring that faith-first, family-second and football-third mentality—family and faith continuing to take over as the years pile on.
Everything folks personally love and respect about Richt as man, husband and father—it’s precisely the reason to hope he shifts his focus and gets as far away from this insane coaching business as possible.
Miami’s rabid fan base wants to see this program dominate again and it doesn’t appear (on the surface) that Richt has that fire and passion left to give the Canes the overhaul and full-blown attention they need.
Again, a decade or half decade ago? Welcomed with open arms. Not now. Not with the stakes this high regarding another swing-and-miss hire. Not when there are other football-first candidates out there.
JOHNSON’S ALL-IN APPROACH MADE HIM A SUCCESS
For those who’ve followed the path of former Canes’ and Cowboys’ head coach Jimmy Johnson, this stance on Richt should hit home. When Johnson was at Oklahoma State, Miami and then Dallas—the man was all football, all the time. Johnson has since admitted that his single-minded desire to win football games damaged his relationship with his sons, ruined his marriage and forced him to miss the memorial service for a mother he was very close to.
Johnson opened up about all this in January 1999. By the end of that season, he was on the wrong end of a 62-7 Playoffs loss and he never coached another game again. His success was fueled by being all-in and that single-minded attitude regarding his career and passion for winning.
That was the reason he dominated with the Hurricanes, the reason he won two Super Bowls and how he rebuilt a Dallas franchise that went 1-15 his first season. It’s also the reason he’s living such a charmed life now; earning big time commentating money, laying low in the Florida Keys with his lady, sucking down “green lizards” and spending all his spare time on the back of an open fisherman—stress-free and no longer consumed with the game.
For Johnson it was all or nothing and looking at the fork in the road of Richt’s career, hard to believe he’s not about to choose “or nothing” when it comes to football.
After 15 years in Athens—a job he took as a 40-year old—Richt seems more likely to invest in his family, while living out his faith on a bigger level, than he does going all-in to rebuild a Hurricanes program that began its backslide as he was just finding his groove with the Bulldogs.
Looking back on that excessive celebration call back in 2007 against Florida—it’s hard to see that version of Richt from eight seasons ago.
Honestly, Richt has come off somewhat lifeless since December 2012—when AJ McCarron hit Amari Cooper for that 45-yard touchdown in the SEC Championship, putting Alabama up, 32-28—the Bulldogs stopped by the Crimson Tide; five yards from victory and a national title game berth.
That 22-6 run that ended in Atlanta three years back—it’s been followed-up with a 27-11 stretch that has felt a bit lifeless at times. True, Georgia had some setbacks this year—especially when losing running back Nick Chubb—but based on the talent Richt and the Dawgs have brought in as of late; hard to not feel a sense of underachievement and lethargy in big games.
DAWGS AND RICHT NOT THE SAME POST-2012 SEASON
According to Rivals.com, Georgia currently has the sixth-ranked class for 2016—matching this year’s sixth-ranked haul-in. Covering the span of this current roster, the Bulldogs were No. 7 (2014), No. 12 (2013), No. 12 (2012) and No. 5 (2011) recruiting-wise.
Georgia lost to Florida for a second-straight season. It was also blown out by Alabama in what was set to be a legit throw down between two Top 10 teams. Tennessee got the better of the Bulldogs, while Missouri, Auburn and Georgia Tech took UGA to the wire. Last week Georgia Southern forced overtime, though the Bulldogs escaped with the win.
There’s always a logical notion that Richt is simply burned out after a decade-and-a-half at Georgia and maybe a change would do him good. A chance to come home to coach up the alma mater and to ride out his late fifties and beyond in South Florida? Certainly a possibility if coaching is rebuilding is a priority to Richt. Without that, it’s simply a bad fit and worse timing.
It also continues to bolster the cause for Davis—especially as more solid gigs open up, the pickings get slimmer and the Canes in need of an ideal candidate.
Many a social media rant has been sparked regarding Davis. The way he left and misleading manner in which things ended last time around. His involvement with North Carolina’s scandal. Game day digs from two decades back are references by the anti-Davis crowd, with complete disregards for the run in 2000 and table it set for three more years of ultimate success.
Age is also a hot topic; Davis turning 64 weeks back. The most-obvious rebuttal; a cliche, albeit on-point sentiment that “age ain’t nothin’ but a number”.
DAVIS STILL CHECKS OFF MORE BOXES THAN THE REST
Recently rewatching Davis’ comments in “The U Part 2”, as well as his weekly game day efforts for ESPN and Monday morning media blitz where he’s laid out his passion for Miami, desire to make right on a wrong, a game plan to rebuild, a staff in place and that genuine love for football, where he wants to be a head coach again—that counts for more than some want to give credit for.
Especially in relation to Richt; nine years younger, but appearing more at the end of his career, while the elder Davis wants to gear up for one more spirited go at it.
All this Richt chatter remains fresh as Georgia’s intentions were just made clear Sunday morning, but the take on the Bulldogs’ former leader has been well-formed the past few years.
This is a man with his eyes on a different prize. The 15-year body of work at Georgia is more than impressive; but what do the next five coaching years of Richt’s life hold?
Nowhere near as much as they will for a second-chance Davis who has done it before and is clamoring for one more go-around.