It took a while, but Miami Hurricanes fans were able to exhale just before 1:30 p.m. Thursday when the University of Miami sent out a news release making it official that it had a new football coach.
The school declined to name the coach, but the whole world has a pretty good idea.
“The University of Miami will hold a press conference Friday morning at 10… at the Donna E. Shalala Center on the Coral Gables campus to introduce the 24th head football coach in school history,” the release began.
That man: former Georgia coach Mark Richt, one of the most successful coaches in college football history. Count on some green and orange in his outfit Friday.
The general public cannot attend the news conference. However, the conference will be streamed on HurricaneSports.com and televised by various local stations.
Here’s a little fact to ponder while you’re waiting for the news conference: Per ESPN Stats & Information, only three coaches in the history of the Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly called Division I-A) have won more games in their first 15 seasons as a head coach than Richt (145-51) did during his 15 seasons at Georgia:
▪ Bob Stoops, Oklahoma, 160 (1999-2013);
▪ Barry Switzer, Oklahoma, 148 (1973-1987);
▪ Tom Osborne, Nebraska, 147 (1973-1987).
Present at the news conference will be UM president Julio Frenk and members of the administration, board of trustee members, donors, coaches, select football players and you can bet a lot of former Hurricanes throwing up the U.
More than 100 are expected to attend.
On Thursday, Georgia announced that Bulldogs assistant coach Bryan McClendon, the wide receivers coach, would serve as the interim head coach for the bowl game.
At Monday’s Georgia news conference, one day after he was fired, Richt said he planned to coach the bowl game for the Bulldogs.
“My plan right now, quite frankly, is to get prepared for this bowl game,” Richt had said. “I’m really looking forward to coaching these boys one more time.”
But that was before he had agreed to become Miami’s coach on Wednesday, then went to Georgia to say goodbye to his Bulldogs on Thursday.
Georgia officials, per ESPN, were told by Richt on Thursday that he would not coach in the postseason game. He is expected to go out recruiting for the Hurricanes as early as Friday.
Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart reportedly will replace Richt as Georgia’s next coach. Georgia finished the regular season 9-3, third in the SEC East.
The Hurricanes are 8-4, third in the Atlantic Coast Conference’s Coastal Division.
Zach Klein, the sports director at WSB in Atlanta, reported late Thursday afternoon that when Richt said goodbye at UGA to his players Thursday, “per source, Richt became very emotional and told players he had all intentions of coaching them in a bowl game and then take a year off.”
Scout.com national recruiting analyst Chad Simmons confirmed to the Miami Herald that when Richt walked into the room with his Bulldogs on Thursday, they “held up the U’’ and “started yelling and celebrating with him.”
▪ Regarding Richt’s soon-to-be UM coaching staff, he is expected to bring his son, Jon, an offensive assistant with the Buffalo Bills and coach Rex Ryan, to work in some capacity — possibly as a quarterbacks coach — with the Hurricanes. He also is expected to bring his special teams coordinator/tight ends coach John Lilly, with whom he is close.
Richt played at UM with offensive line coach Art Kehoe, so his retention is also a possibility. It is not known if Richt has plans to retain UM tight ends coach/interim coach Larry Scott, but Scott has led the Canes to a 4-1 record the past several weeks and is overwhelmingly supported by his players to stay on the staff.
Former UM linebackers coach Micheal Barrow, now the linebackers coach with the Seattle Seahawks, is believed to be a possibility to join the UM staff as a defensive coach. Some have also mentioned former UM coach/defensive coordinator Randy Shannon as a possibility to be the defensive coordinator, though it’s anything but certain that Shannon, now the co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach at Florida, would return.
Also being mentioned by multiple sources is the possibility of offensive coordinator James Coley being retained on the staff to be the recruiting director and have his hand on the offensive side, while Richt calls the plays and serves as the offensive coordinator.
▪ Miami offensive lineman Hunter Knighton was named the recipient of the ACC’s 2015 Brian Piccolo Award on Thursday. The award has been given annually since 1970 in memory of the late Brian Piccolo to the “most courageous’’ football player in the ACC.
Knighton returned to the playing field for UM this season less than 19 months after suffering from heat stroke. He spent 12 days in a coma after his body temperature rose to 109 degrees
Miami Herald sportswriter Manny Navarro contributed to this report.
Mark Richt bio
Born: Feb. 18, 1960 in Omaha, Nebraska.
Background: Graduated from Boca Raton High in 1978 and served as the backup quarterback to Jim Kelly at the University of Miami from 1979 to 1982.
Personal: He and wife Katharyn Francis have four children: Jonathan (25), David (24), Zach (19) and Anya (18), whom they adopted from Ukraine.
Coaching: Had nine double-digit win seasons and went 145-51 in 15 seasons as the head coach at Georgia from 2001-2015. He won two SEC titles (2002, 2005) and was 9-5 in bowl games. He began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Florida State in 1985 before becoming the offensive coordinator at East Carolina in 1989. He then returned to Florida State in 1990 and served as the quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator where he coached two Heisman winning quarterbacks in Charlie Ward and Chris Weinke and won two national titles (1993, 1999).