Life is a game, and in Mark Richt’s case, the field is 100 yards long.
Richt, a devout Christian and a man of principles, has been a college head football coach for 18 years. He has won at Georgia. He has left his mark at the University of Miami, too.
Since 2001, Richt has had just one losing season. The man has a career winning percentage of 72. Richt has taken 18 teams to bowl games at Georgia and Miami. Not once has there ever been a hint of scandal when Richt coached the Bulldogs and Hurricanes.
Richt ruled by discipline and kindness. He was, is and forever will be a fair man. In no small way, Richt is authentic. He is real. He has never pretended to be somebody that he is not.
He is a fierce recruiter and is as honest as the grass is green. Richt is a community guy. He is down to earth. He is approachable. Richt is high on life, and he is blessed with integrity and morals.
He speaks regularly to recreation league football teams. The man is squeaky clean. Richt is the kind of coach that any parent would want their son to play for.
He is a coach of good judgment and common sense. Richt is one part preacher, one part coach and 100 percent loyal. Richt has been mentored by three football icons – Bobby Bowden, Earl Morrall and Howard Schnellenberger.
Richt was taught all the necessary life skills, on the football field and off. Richt is the kind of person that you can trust with your last bag of potato chips. Twice in his head coaching career, Richt was named the Southeastern Conference Coach of the Year while at Georgia (2002, 2005).
This coach of lofty morals and crafty game plans led the Georgia Bulldogs to a pair of SEC football championships, six Eastern Division titles and 15 bowl games. Richt also went bowling with the University of Miami three times. Just two years ago, Richt was chosen as the national Coach of the Year in the 2017 college football season. That was at Miami.
Between the Hurricanes and the Georgia Bulldogs, Richt earned respect and countless games. He compiled a record of 171-64 after almost two decades at Georgia and Miami. During his coaching reign, a total of 93 of Richt’s players were selected in the NFL Draft.
On the personal side, Richt was the Atlantic Coast Conference Coach of the Year in 2017. He also coached two Heisman Trophy winners (Charlie Ward and Chris Weinke) during his offensive coordinator days on Bowden’s Florida State football staff.
He learned well. From 2001-15, Richt led Georgia to seven Top 10 finishes. In his spare time, Richt coached the assistant coaches. While in Athens, Richt mentored Kirby Smart, Jeremy Pruitt and Mike Bobo. Richt gave them a college football education and some raw criticism.
That is what Mark Richt has done in his college football lifetime. It has been time well spent. Richt has coached in the Sugar Bowl, the Orange Bowl, Sanford Stadium and the game of life. Richt came out smelling like a petunia.
Richt retired from college coaching on Dec. 30. He has few regrets and lots of life-long friendships. The sacrifice was worth it every step of the way for the 58-year-old Richt.
The author of this article can be reached via email at info@troupcountynews. net.