Deserved or not, Mark Richt was let go by the University of Georgia after their last game. The coach was released from his duties despite a 145-41 record as a head coach in Athens, Georgia. The biggest criticism the fans of Georgia had of him was his propensity to not win big games and lose unexplainable wons. And eventually that cost him his job. As soon as he was released, many wondered what his next step would be. Would he sit out the year or take another head coaching job somewhere else? Well, that questioned was answered pretty quickly, as ESPN and various other outlets reported that Richt is now expected to be the new head coach at the University of Miami. Former Miami head coach Butch Davis, former Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano and Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen interviewed for the head coaching job along with Richt. But in the end, the Hurricanes felt most comfortable with the former University of Miami backup quarterback. And now the program has some direction as to where they will go. Golden may have brought in some talents, but he just could not get them to perform on the field. And with someone that understands the university and was a player when the program was on the rise and winning, Richt will definitely want to get them back to what he experienced there. He definitely brings a few things that the team needs.
For all the criticisms of Richt, you can never really criticize his development of quarterbacks. Over his time there, he has had solid quarterbacks that were talented and he made them even better. Of course not all of them played professionally, but all except for a few of his starters over time were very good in the Southeastern Conference. Heading to Miami, he is definitely walking in to a great situation at quarterback. Brad Kaaya has been the starting quarterback there since he was a freshman. Kaaya’s numbers took a step back this season, but under Richt he should see a resurgence. His freshman year, he had 26 touchdown passes and that is more reflective of his ability than the 15 he put up this year. Look for Richt to tap into his abilities and build the offense around what he does best. With wide receiver Stacy Coley and some talented tight ends, Kaaya will have some weapons at his disposal. And if the running game produces and the offensive line protects better next season, Kaaya and the Hurricanes will have an explosive offense under Richt.
Along with being a good offensive coach, Richt is also a pretty good recruiter. Time after time, he has had recruiting classes that have been very good. The state of Georgia has been great for Richt. And even though many talk about the states of Florida, California and Texas, Georgia has some talented football players there. With this connections there and the talent that he has pulled from Florida to Georgia, Richt should be able to swing some of that talent to Miami. And his reputation has grown even so, that he has been able to recruit a little more nationally since he was at Florida. For example, two of his star quarterbacks there were from Florida (Aaron Murray) and Texas (Matt Stafford) and one of his best running backs was from North Carolina (Todd Gurley). Look for him to recruit the Florida area hard, but also look for him to pull players from across the country due to his abilities as a coach combined with the status the name Miami has still to this day. Golden did not leave Richt with a ton of talent, but expect that to change under Richt and change in a hurry. Look for some of the top prospects from Georgia to start heading to Miami soon.
Richt can recruit and knows offense very well, but the biggest thing he does is bring the knowledge of the program. Many do not know this, but he was actually a backup quarterback at the University of Miami from 1979-1982. During that time, he was the backup quarterback to Jim Kelly and was a part of the team becoming relevant in college football. Richt was there at the beginning of the dominant era of Miami football and understands what it takes to get there. Look for him to install some of the same traditions he experienced there. And as a result, he will probably bring back some of the players of yesteryear to be around the team. That will have a positive effect on the team and help them understand what it means to win and be a member of the Miami Hurricanes football team. The family atmosphere was something that was missing under Golden. It will be hard to bring that back since the Orange Bowl is no longer around, but bringing Richt in is a step in the right direction.
There were many names out there that could have stepped into the Miami head coaching job. And even with the hire of Richt, some will not be satisfied. But with the level of success he has had compared to Miami over the last few years, the Hurricanes could not have gotten a better head coach. Look for Richt to be a part of returning Miami to the top of the college football world.