Georgia football: former Bulldog coach Mark Richt retires from Miami

(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

Former Georgia football head coach Mark Richt retired from his position as Miami’s head football coach. Richt had a career record of 171-64.

One of the greatest college football coaches without a National Championship retired Sunday. Former Georgia football, and current Miami Hurricane head coach Mark Richt resigned from his position with a letter.

Richt decided on retiring after ending the 2018 season with a 7-6 record and a loss in the Pinstripe Bowl. The ending to the 2018 season is a far cry from last year. Richt seemingly had “The U” trending back to the top of the college football world. The Canes ended the year 10-3. They lost their last three games of the year, including an upset loss to Pittsburgh, a blowout loss to Clemson in the ACC Championship Game, and a disappointing performance against Wisconsin in the Orange Bowl. But the 10 wins were the most Miami had in a season since 2003. Those 10 wins were part of a 15-game winning streak. That was the programs best winning streak since winning 34-straight games between 2000 and 2002.

Miami wasn’t the first program Richt brought back to prominence. In 2002, here in Athens, Richt ended Georgia’s 20-year SEC Championship drought. After missing out on the first 10 SEC Championship Games, Richt’s Dawgs won the SEC East three times in his first five years as head coach, winning the conference title twice. His teams never won the SEC Championship after that, but the 2007 and 2012 narrowly missed out on playing for National Championships.

The university controversially fired Mark Richt after defeating Georgia Tech in 2015. The team had a 9-3 record at the time of his firing and finished the season 10-3 after beating Penn State in the bowl game. Many at the time criticized the school’s decision to fire Richt since the 2015 season was supposed to be a rebuilding year.

Regardless, current head coach Kirby Smart has proven the school made the right choice in parting ways with Richt. Smart has Georgia firmly among the elite teams in the nation right now. His Dawgs have won the SEC East twice, played for a National Championship last season, and are signing top-notch recruiting classes every year.

Richt meanwhile, seemed to lack energy by the end of his time in Athens, and he may have gotten burnt out after losing three games to finish the 2017 season. Similar to Andy Lander’s and the 2012-13 Lady Dawgs basketball season or Steve Spurrier’s 2012 season at South Carolina. Sometimes, great but aging coaches put all their effort into one last great season. And when that season ends without a championship, that coach is all our of energy. I believe that’s what happened to Richt between these last two seasons.

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However you may feel about Richt as being one of the best coaches in the game, you have to appreciate his contribution to Georgia football during his 15 years on campus. In the 12 years between Vince Dooley’s retirement and Richt’s hiring, Georgia’s record was 86-53-1. They never won a championship, and had three losing seasons. In Richt’s 15 years, Georgia’s record was 154-51 with two SEC Championships and five SEC East Titles. He left Smart and solid program, and with Richt’s foundation, Smart turned Georgia into a powerhouse on the rise. You have to appreciate that.