University of Miami

Mark Richt draws crowd at ACC Football Kickoff, has message for Miami Hurricanes fans

Mark Richt still draws a crowd, is still talking about N’Kosi Perry and the UM quarterback situation and is back to being that affable, easy-going, slow-talking southerner who continues to gush about his wife, Katharyn.

But now he’s also telling folks in South Florida to “do what you gotta do’’ to plea to popular cable providers such as Comcast/Xfinity and AT&T U-verse that haven’t yet partnered with the soon-to-be-launched ACC Network, to get it done so thousands of University of Miami fans can watch their Hurricanes.

The day before UM football coach Manny Diaz was to make his grand entrance for the first time at the Atlantic Coast Conference Football Kickoff, former Canes coach Richt, who retired from coaching after a dismal 7-6 season, was introduced to the media Wednesday as an analyst for the soon-to-be-launched ACC Network.

Richt, 59, appeared fit and certainly more relaxed than he was before he released the prepared statement on Dec. 30 that said he was “stepping down as the Head Coach of UM Football... in the best interest of the program.’’

On Wednesday at the Westin Charlotte, Richt said he’s moving “in a month or two” from Coconut Grove to Destin in the Florida Panhandle, where “the beaches are pristine — white, sandy beaches’’ and the water is “crystal clear.”

“My wife has to do a little decorating on the front end,” Richt said. “She likes the fact that I’m not just doing nothing. We are still madly in love. Our kids are out of the house and we like spending time together. We’ve had a blast the last six months.’’

He said their house in Miami is “a head coach’s house — a big Mac Daddy right in the middle of Coconut Grove. I’m not a head coach anymore so I don’t need that big of a house. I needed to downsize for sure. We debated going to Georgia. We debated staying in South Florida or even six months apiece.... I promised my wife the beach sooner or later and now we’re on the beach and close enough to visit her family in Tallahassee and my family in Athens (Georgia).”

Richt said his health had taken a toll from the stress and pace of coaching at Miami and trying to make the Canes great again. “How I was treating my body wasn’t good, wasn’t healthy for me,’’ he said. “I just felt like I needed to stop.’’

He said that “life has been great’’ and “it’s not a whole lot different,’’ because he’s still answering questions but now as part of the media. Most Fridays during football season he’ll be at ESPN’s campus in Bristol, Connecticut, as a studio analyst from 7 to 9 p.m. heading a preview show for that weekend’s games. He’ll also do an hour-long show during game days on Saturday.

ESPN is partnering with the ACC to run the network, which will debut on Aug. 22. Unless they reach ACC Network carriage deals with Comcast/Xfinity and AT&T U-verse, which are South Florida’s major cable providers, many folks will be scrambling to watch the games broadcast solely on the new network. ACC Network previously announced it will carry UM’s Sept. 7 game at North Carolina at 8 p.m and the Sept. 14 home opener against Bethune Cookman at 4 p.m.

Miami opens the season Aug. 24 on national television against Florida at Camping World Stadium in Orlando.

DirectTV, Fios, Google Fiber, Optimum, Vue and Hulu TV have already struck deals with the ACC Network.

“Do what you gotta do. Let’s go! Get on the website and tell everybody you want it,’’ Richt said. “Tell your provider you want it.’’

Earlier Wednesday, ACC commissioner John Swofford addressed the same issue, saying, “You’ll be able to get the ACC Network anywhere in the nation one way or another, whether it’s DIRECTV, whether it’s Hulu that are already onboard. People will have an opportunity to change carriers if they’re not happy with their current one who is not carrying the ACC Network. That’s what I would say first.

“Secondly, what I’ve said over and over again, contact your carrier if they’re not carrying it and demand that you want it. It’s a consumer sort of thing. Be passionate when you do it.”

More of Richt’s take Wednesday:

On the Canes quarterback situation and if he believes coaches might expect the one who’s not whittled down among the final two, to transfer: “You don’t know that for sure. You don’t want to sit there and predict it. A lot of the kids think the grass is going to be greener somewhere else.. The quarterback position, you’ve still got to win a job. N’Kosi and Jarren [Williams] aren’t going to just give him, Tate [Martell], the job. He’s got to go earn it.

“...The skill set of N’Kosi Perry and Jarren Williams is excellent. I think there was a maturity issue, which is typical [for] first and second-year guys still trying to figure it out a little. But when they mature as people, their skill set is outstanding.’’

When they mature? Richt was asked.

“They’re in the process of it right now,’’ he said.

On Diaz leaving Temple as the newly named head coach to take the Miami job: “I know him leaving Temple was gut-wrenching, not comfortable for him to do. Sometimes you only get one shot at the job. And he took the shot. ...I’m sure it put a shock into his system of ‘What in the world do I do?’ Its never easy. You think it’s exciting to get job opportunities but sometimes it’s the most gut-wrenching time in your career.”

On if he will ever say ‘never’ to coaching again: “I’ve said I’ll never say never because people say never and life happens. So, I don’t know. If I felt No. 1, the Lord is saying to do it, I would do it... But right now I do consider this a career change, not a stop gap.’’

Miami Herald sports writer Susan Miller Degnan has been the Miami Hurricanes football beat writer since 2000, the season before the Canes won it all. She has won several APSE national writing awards and has covered everything from Canes baseball to the College Football Playoff to major marathons to the Olympics.