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The California Kid And The Heisman Winner Both Like The Hire of the Guy From Georgia

Brad Kaaya was front and center at the press conference announcing the hire of Mark Richt as the next head football coach at the University of Miami. You could see that he was grinning from ear to ear and he knows that if he plays his cards right, he could very well be the next star-studded quarterback that translates college success into a professional football career. Former UM signal-caller Vinny Testaverde knows that his old teammate will bring much success to the program that sorely lacked in leadership at the head coaching position.

Vinny Testaverde and Jonathan Vilma listen to new Canes coach Mark Richt
Vinny Testaverde and Jonathan Vilma listen to new Canes coach Mark Richt
Joe Skipper/Getty Images

Miami's superstar quarterback was downright giddy when he was told that the Hurricanes secured the services of Mark Richt to be the team's next head coach.

"It’s a great hire. I think he’s the best possible candidate that we could’ve gotten. He’s a good dude. The team really responds well to him, so I’m looking forward to working with him," Kaaya said. "Just talked about his background, his foundation, just what he expects from us. He expects guys to do the right things, guys to buy in, which I think our guys will. He just gave a lot of his background just what he’s done as a player and a coach."

Kaaya, who came to UM from California, knows that Richt too has a pedigree and that he coached many successful quarterbacks during his tenure at Georgia, and at Florida State before that.

"Of course, I watched them a lot when I was young, in middle school. I watched his teams. He had some really good teams at Georgia [with quarterbacks such as] Matt Stafford and Aaron Murray," Kaaya said. "I used to always watch Matt Stafford. So, [there are many] good quarterbacks who he’s developed. I’m just looking forward to talking ball with him, talking plays and concepts with him."

Kaaya knows that once Spring ball comes around, he will be able to put Richt's pro-style offense into motion and that he will be able to learn from the master of the offense.  Kaaya already got a sense of what Richt is going to do from the initial meeting that the coach had with the team this morning before the press conference.

"Yeah, he’s an offensive-minded guy. He told us this morning, he’s not trying to come in here and make it Georgia," Kaaya said. "He’s adapted to his players as well and his biggest thing is making sure the players can play fast. All the guys responded very well so far. It was real positive feedback from the guys. I’m just looking forward to getting to know him better."

It is easy to say that Kaaya and his contingency have been on Cloud 9 since the hiring was announced.

"A lot of guys were excited. I know all the running backs were. He’s had some good running backs at Georgia," Kaaya said. "I was excited, my parents were excited, my quarterback coach, Rudy Carpenter, was. It’s just great for everybody in the building."

This is a monumental hire for the Hurricanes who did things first class and acted with precision and zeal in getting their man.  This was not Jon Gruden five years ago where the Canes were chasing a pipe dream. Blake James saw that the man was available and he went right after him.  You have to give him credit for that.

"Today is a great day for the University of Miami, as we welcome home one of our own. Mark was raised in South Florida, played for Howard Schnellenberger at The U, honed his coaching skills under one of the greatest coaches of all time in that city up in North Florida, led Georgia to SEC titles and BCS bowl games, and did it with integrity, class, dignity and true appreciation for the student-athletes," James said. ""His accomplishments are well known, and his character even more so. But he is our coach today because I believe that Mark will put us win position to win ACC and national championships, he will have a lasting impact on our students, and he will be a tremendous mentor of young men. As all of you will soon learn, nothing is more important to Mark than his family....We are Building Champions at The U, and today we are a great deal closer to our goal."

One of Richt's former teammates at the University of Miami was very practical about the hire and knew that Miami got a great coach and a great competitor.

"It’s been a long process but at the end of the day we feel like we have the right coach," said former Heisman Trophy Winner and committee member Vinny Testaverde said. "It’s amazing how the timing of what has taken place with Mark leaving Georgia has benefited the University of Miami."

Testaverde said that his input was taken by the committee and that he welcomes Richt, his former teammate, with open arms.

"Well as a former player myself, we had our say. We listened to the board and the committee, and they listened to us and we all had some say in what was going to take place," Testaverde said. "When we went through the list on Mark Richt, it was hard to pass him up."

Testaverde said that the committee was firing on all cylinders and no stone was left unturned. However, when it came to getting the right man at the right time, they were all in agreement.

"I don’t want to get too into the process too much. But basically it was everybody gives their opinions and really I think at the end of the day, Blake James is the one that made the call," Testaverde said. "He was more interested in what we thought and had to say based on our opinions and experiences over the years. I think the more information that he had on each candidate the better, and easier the decision he would be able to make."