University of Miami

Heralded college football coach Mark Richt accepts job to lead Miami Hurricanes

Mark Richt speaks during a news conference to discuss his departure from Georgia Monday, Nov. 30, 2015, in Athens, Ga.
Mark Richt speaks during a news conference to discuss his departure from Georgia Monday, Nov. 30, 2015, in Athens, Ga. AP

The Hurricanes have their man, and he’s part of the family.

Outgoing Georgia coach and former University of Miami quarterback Mark Richt — one of the most accomplished football coaches in the nation — has told UM that he is accepting the job as coach, multiple sources said.

Richt, 55, who led Georgia to a 145-51 (.738) record in 15 seasons, will be the man to lead UM into the next era of Hurricanes football.

UM would not comment on the hire Wednesday, as Richt and the school were working out the contract details, according to sources. UM was preparing to pay him at least $4 million — about $1.5 million more than former coach Al Golden made. He made $4.12 million annually at Georgia and was the 12th-highest-paid coach in the nation, according to USA Today’s annual salary database for coaches.

Richt takes over for Larry Scott, who was named interim coach after Golden was fired in the middle of his fifth season. Golden finished 32-25. Scott won four of the five games he coached and is expected to coach UM (8-4) in a bowl game.

Mark Schlabach of ESPN posted on Twitter that Richt “could have had his choice’’ of about a half dozen jobs, “but Miami was the only one he considered and wanted.’’

The hire was somewhat surprising, as multiple websites reported that Richt was being urged by his family to take a year off and decompress before coaching again.

Some UM players took to Twitter to proclaim their joy.

“Excited about 2016 with Coach Richt,’’ said UM freshman running back Mark Walton, who the day before said: “I will love to see Mark Richt in [an] orange and green coaching uniform…’’

Cornerback Sheldrick Redwine showed two photos of UM players — the first of him and cornerback Corn Elder seemingly watching a play with their mouths open, and the second with Elder being hoisted in jubilation. The caption: “Waiting For A Coach Vs When You Get One.”

Running back Gus Edwards tweeted, “It’s really Lit boy!!”

And Buffalo Bills offensive tackle Seantrel Henderson, a former UM player, said: “Coach Richt was one play away from beating BAMA in the SEC Championship and they would have rolled over ND! …Mark Richt? Finally we get a winner!!”

 

Richt was Miami’s top choice of four finalists. The others included fan favorite and former Hurricanes coach Butch Davis, 64, who rebuilt the program from 1995 through 2000, handing Larry Coker a team that would win the national championship in 2001. Davis, now an ESPN college football analyst, openly coveted the job.

The other finalists were Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen, 43, the former Florida Gators offensive coordinator who coached Tim Tebow and resurrected MSU with a 54-35 record in seven seasons; and former UM defensive coordinator and former Rutgers coach Greg Schiano, 49.

Richt, who was born in Omaha, Nebraska, and graduated from Boca Raton High, was fired Sunday after one of the most successful coaching tenures in the SEC. He won league titles in 2002 and ’05 — four other times finishing first in the SEC East. He is very religious, and highly respected for his character, warm demeanor and for running a clean program.

He played at UM from 1978-82, redshirting in 1979 when Howard Schnellenberger became coach. He was mostly a backup to famed quarterback Jim Kelly but took over for him when Kelly sustained a college-career-ending shoulder separation during the third game of the ’82 season. Richt then completed 71 of 149 passes for 838 yards and four touchdowns, with nine interceptions.

He is still close to Don Bailey Jr., a UM radio analyst for 560-WQAM and a Hurricanes center when Richt played. Canes offensive line coach Art Kehoe also played with Richt.

Richt has proven to be a much better coach than player. He was well loved at Georgia, having taken the Bulldogs to bowl games in all 15 of his years coaching them, and has led them to at least nine victories in 11 of those years.

Between 2001-08, Richt had six top-10 finishes. He came one play from beating Alabama in the 2012 SEC title game, which would have put the Bulldogs in the national title game against Notre Dame.

But critics said he hadn’t won any SEC titles lately, and that he couldn’t get over the Alabama hump. His records since 2009: 8-5, 6-7, 10-4, 12-2, 8-5, 10-3 and 9-3 before this season’s bowl game, which he said on Monday that he wanted to coach.

Richt is known as an offensive guru. He served on the Florida State staff for 15 years, the last seven as offensive coordinator. With Richt as OC, the Seminoles finished in the nation’s top five in scoring five times, top 12 in total offense five times and top 12 in passing offense five times.

Richt no doubt is looking forward to coaching Brad Kaaya, who will be a junior next season. On Monday, Richt said during a news conference that he was “looking forward … to being more hands on. I miss coaching quarterbacks, I miss calling plays. … Whether it’s in the role of head coach, coordinator, quarterbacks coach, whatever it is.”

Richt is married to the former Katharyn Francis of Tallahassee, and has four grown children and a grandchild.

Miami Herald sportswriter Barry Jackson 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).

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