Miami Hurricanes: Why Hiring Mark Richt Made the Most Sense
The Miami Hurricanes were worried about how they were going to fix their program for the entire season. Fans hung banners to fly during games. People were in attendance with a Michael Jordan crying face. Talk radio got set ablaze each week when it came to the Hurricanes. However, when athletic director Blake James fired Al Golden from his head coaching duties there was much to ponder on how this program would reach prominence again. Who would’ve known that all it would take was a press conference?
Yes. In a simple press conference held by the new head coach of the Hurricanes, Mark Richt, he declared that the school was on its way to achieving bigger goals.
In his first press conference, Richt said this...“I do understand what’s expected,” Richt said. “And really, I don’t want to make a lot of promises, other than I want to promise that we’re going to get to work and we’re going to earn the right for victory.”
In reality, Richt was already the type of hire Miami was looking for. The biggest thing that people wanted from the next head coach of the program was someone with ties to the program and the area. Richt himself is an alumni of the University of Miami. Back in 1982, Richt was the backup quarterback to future hall of fame Hurricane, Jim Kelly. More importantly, Richt hasn’t forgotten where his roots have come from either. In the South Florida area, he’s well known and well respected as a person because of the way that he’s helped mentor young men.
In an interview with the Miami Herald, Jonathan Vilma said this… “I was excited how he views these young men. He views them as more than just potential players that could take him to a championship. He viewed them as guys that do have that ability but also for…10 years from now….15 years from now when they graduate. He’s worried about that. He’s cautious about that. He wants to make sure he’s prepared them for (life) 15 years after they graduate.”
In South Florida, Richt’s been able to work the recruiting trail hard and a lot of high school coaches have admiration for the type of program that he runs. This is why we’ve seen a lot of players from South Florida commit to his former Georgia program such as Max Jean-Gilles, Geno Atkins, and Sony Michel.
People are going to love watching the program in the hands of Richt because he’s one of the veterans in college football that knows how to run a successful program. Before coming to Miami as their head coach, Richt was coaching in the rigid Southeastern Conference as the head coach of the Georgia Bulldogs. During his time at Georgia, he coached 15 seasons, won two SEC championships and he walked away with a handful of players becoming impact franchise type of players at the NFL level under his development such as most notably running back Todd Gurley. In addition, he’s also coached A.J. Green, Matthew Stafford, Justin Houston, Charles Johnson and Alec Ogletree.
The decision to hire Richt makes sense systematically too. At Georgia, Richt was known to run the football and pound away with his stable of backs including Gurley, Nick Chubb, and Sony Michell. Now that he’s working in Coral Gables, we’ll be able to see how well Richt will put running backs Joe Yearby and Mark Walton in a position to succeed. Each of these two backs has the potential to each eclipse 1,000 yards rushing in the same season so it’s not a stretch if they both do it under Richt next year.
Additionally, what Richt has also done that makes sense systematically is that he develops his quarterbacks. Richt was able to take Matthew Stafford and turn him into a monster. Under Richt’s guidance, Stafford became the No.1 pick in the 2009 NFL Draft. Furthermore with lesser talent, Richt took Aaron Murray, an afterthought to most college football teams and turned him into an All-American and an NFL pro-style quarterback before graduating.
Now that Richt will have Brad Kaaya beginning to hit his prime to dominate college football, one can only imagine the type of development that will occur in his junior season. Right now there are many mixed opinions when it comes to Kaaya. A lot of people feel that he’s a great quarterback who’s already elite. Where some feel that he’s average and needs to take the next step. Regardless of what opinion you feel Kaaya is at with his development, what you should know is that playing for Richt, Kaaya will take another step with his game.
For fans of the Miami Hurricanes, they should get ready to hold that “U” up once again loud and proud because this team has all of the potential in the world to win 10 games and play in a major college bowl game. Hell, if they finished with a 9-4 record with two different coaches and nothing but dysfunction, who can imagine what they’ll do under a seasoned head coach like Richt.
D’Joumbarey A. Moreau covers sports in Miami-Dade & Broward County. You can follow him on Twitter@DJoumbarey.