Barry Jackson

Richt discusses retirement decision, says Miami ‘got better as a program’ with Diaz

Why did Mark Richt retire? ‘I felt like Miami would be in better hands’

Mark Richt is joining ESPN as an analyst for the ACC Network and the former Miami Hurricanes coach spoke publicly for the first time since his shocking retirement, explaining why he stepped down at UM.
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Mark Richt is joining ESPN as an analyst for the ACC Network and the former Miami Hurricanes coach spoke publicly for the first time since his shocking retirement, explaining why he stepped down at UM.

Mark Richt, speaking publicly for the first time since retiring as the Miami Hurricanes’ coach, said Saturday that he simply felt it was the right time to stop coaching but made clear he was neither asked nor ordered by UM to dismiss any offensive coaches.

Richt, who was hired Saturday as an analyst on the new ACC Network, said he does not expect to coach again and said with Manny Diaz replacing him, “Miami got better as a program and is in good position to continue to be great again.”

Richt, 59, declined to say how much the offensive struggles during his third season contributed to his decision to retire.

“I felt it was the right time to do it,” Richt said during a media availability at halftime of UM’s spring game inside Camping World Stadium.

“I felt like Miami would be in better hands. I did it because I thought it was the right time for me and I also thought it would be good for the university. Me knowing it wasn’t time to do it anymore, I didn’t want to fake it. I didn’t want to just do it for the money. For me to know it was time to stop coaching, it was obvious it would be good for everybody.”

Was there a loss of passion or energy that contributed to his decision?

“I don’t know how to describe it. Sometimes you just know. It wasn’t like I planned it, midseason or a year in advance. When the season was over, I was thinking about the possibility of it. By the time the bowl game was finished, between myself and God and my wife, it was the right thing to do. I am thankful and blessed to be asked to coach at my alma mater.”

Richt said that athletic director Blake James never “asked me to do anything” in terms of changing his coaching staff, including his son Jon Richt, who was the quarterbacks coach. “He had full faith and confidence in me to lead the team,” Richt said.

Diaz fired all of the offensive assistant coaches after he was hired.

Richt said he had dinner with Diaz in the past month, “more just as friends spending time together. We’ve been friends for a long time in the business. We really didn’t talk shop much. I know Manny is a really sharp guy and understands this place and loves this place. If I was the AD he would be the first guy I would talk to. He’s a great fit.”

ESPN, which owns ACC Network, was pleased with Richt’s work on its National Signing Day programming. Richt likely will be a studio analyst for ACC Network, which debuts Aug. 22.

“I want to continue to stay in the game and this is a way to stay in the game. I will hopefully bless people with insight that might be fun for them,” Richt said. “I love the game of football.”

Of choosing ESPN work over doing absolutely nothing, Richt said: “I tried that for a month. It was good for me to not do anything for a while. I’m enjoying life. I’m enjoying time with my wife. I’ve seen my grandchildren more.”

When Richt entered the Camping World Stadium press box Saturday, he whimsically asked: “Who do you all think should be the starting quarterback?”

Richt said he would consider joining the college football playoff selection committee if asked, if ESPN was OK with it.

Richt said he’s still living in Miami but isn’t sure where he and his wife will live longterm. He declined to say what his son, Jon Richt, is doing. Jon is not believed to be in coaching at the moment.

Richt was 26-13 in his three seasons at UM. A former Hurricanes backup quarterback to the legendary Jim Kelly, Richt came to Miami in December 2015 after compiling a 145-51 record in 15 years at Georgia. In 2016 his Canes were 9-4.

They won their first 10 games in 2017 and climbed to No. 2 in the rankings before dropping the last three games, including the Atlantic Coast Conference championship against Clemson and an Orange Bowl loss to Wisconsin.

UM regressed in his third season, finishing 7-6, including a 35-3 loss to Wisconsin in the Pinstripe Bowl. Richt retired four days later.

Richt – who previously gave UM $1 million to help build its indoor practice facility - was earning more than $4 million, with increases that would have moved closer to $5 million over the final years of his contract. According to a source with direct knowledge, Richt did not ask UM for any of the money left on his contract, which ran through 2023.

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