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Was Friday Night Lights Coach Eric Taylor Based on Mark Richt? You’ll Have to Convince Me Otherwise

The GOAT of Hollywood football coaches bears striking similarities to our beloved Coach Richt

The 'Friday Night Lights' Tailgate And Pep Rally Reunion At The ATX Television Festival
The Stadium Mark Richt Built
Photo by Rick Kern/Getty Images for Entertainment Weekly

If you’ve never seen the television series Friday Night Lights, then close your browser, take a sick day, and go home to spend some much needed time with your neglected Netflix account. Also, if you’ve never seen it, be warned because there will be some spoilers here to follow. The show, though light in actual football, will hook you with its nonstop drama (steroids, pregnancy, and booze, oh my!) and incredible cast of characters (sup Lyla Garrity). One of the protagonists driving the show is the famed Coach Eric Taylor. He is a father, husband, mentor, and legendary ball coach from Dillon, Texas who wrestles with the petty politics of his fanatic west Texas town and teaches misguided boys to be responsible young men. Coach Taylor never seems to be at a loss for offering sage advice with his slight country drawl and basically acts as our surrogate TV dad.

Does that sound familiar? Even a little bit? Gosh dangit that sounds a heck of a lot like our own Mark Richt. I imagine the show creators are big S-E-C guys and caught some primetime Richt on CBS one afternoon. This is the conversation that ensued:

“Say, they want us to write a TV show about that movie that was originally a book just like everything else nowadays. But I don’t know how to write the coach character”

“Peep that dude Mark Richt. He seems the perfect mix of stern yet welcoming and is a handsome feller to boot”

“We must go to the writer’s room now! If they green lit that show about the Geico caveman they surely can’t refuse this!”

Yup, that’s exactly how it went down. If you don’t believe me, then let me indulge you with further evidence…

Championship Caliber Coaches

First things first, if you’re building a head coach from scratch then the guy has got to be a bonafide winner. Richt checks that box more than once: National Championship, SEC Championship, and multiple Sugar Bowl victories, no big deal. In his first year at Miami, Richt has already matched Miami’s highest win total in thirteen years, albeit that’s more sad than it is impressive.

Eric Taylor has a nearly identical career win percentage to Richt, .750 and .736 respectively. Coincidence? Doubtful. Apart from a disastrous first year at East Dillon High (they didn’t even have grass on the field for goodness sake), Taylor made the Texas state playoffs every single year. That has to be an ode to Mark Richt’s streak of never missing a bowl game. Both these guys just know how to get to the post season.

Ousted by a Gaggle of Petty Boosters

I will never understand why Georgia decided to fire Mark Richt. Hey UGA, how’s Kirby Smart working out for ya? It was a classic case of big time boosters being too greedy and taking for granted just how good they had it. Anyways, I’m not complaining because Richt dropped in Miami’s lap like a gift from above. The hero we needed. I can’t imagine how happy Blake James was when he found out Richt was available. Honestly, I’m not sure he knew who the heck he was going to hire otherwise.

That same political storm that forced Richt out of UGA rolled its way through Dillon, Texas a few years earlier too. Here’s the king of the castle Eric Taylor doing nothing but winning and filling the jewelry box. All of a sudden Joe McCoy, helicopter dad of the year, starts a coup to fire Taylor. Idiot! Despite big booster Buddy Garrity’s friendship with Coach Taylor, his fate is sealed and Taylor is banished to East Dillon (not quite Miami, but you get it). The show’s wardrobe department then had to scramble frantically to change all primary colors from blue to red.

Oh, what happens next you ask? Not much, just that Coach Taylor turns around and beats West Dillon that year as a nice ‘eff you’ and then wins the state title the next year. Following the parallel, since Miami clearly outplayed Georgia in 2016, that naturally means a National Championship is on its way shortly. Nice.

True Love and Concern For Their Players

Name a head coach with more integrity than Mark Richt. You can’t. Richt, a man of faith and good morals, is the epitome of who you want leading and teaching your child about not only football, but life. Countless numbers of his former players vouch for Richt as the righteous man we see him to be. He cares about his players so much that he recently implemented ‘The U Network’ through which he hopes to ensure that his players have the best chance to succeed in life after football.

Coach Taylor only had two biological daughters, but he treated every damn boy he coached as his own son. We’ve got to start at the top with the legend Tim Riggins. How many late nights did Coach Taylor spend making sure Tim was staying out of trouble? Too many. That kid was a handful, but Coach Taylor loved him and new that if he didn’t take care of him, no one would. Even with Matt Saracen, the kid who had the gall to date his daughter Julie, Coach Taylor’s true compassion for Matt shined through his tough exterior. Lastly, his relationship with Vince Howard got off to a rocky start but blossomed into something beautiful. Then it turned out that Vince was Apollo Creed’s son but that’s a different story.

Richt and Taylor are way more than coaches. They the role models, friends, advisers, and confidants that each of us would be lucky to have in our lives.

“Clear Eyes Full Hearts Can’t Lose”

I’m pretty sure the b-roll of Richt’s Miami introduction presser shows him saying this phrase. Even if there’s no proof of this, in my heart I know it to be true. He probably muttered it under his breath at least.

So there you have it. The conspiracy theory has been unearthed, and the myth is busted. Mark Richt is in fact the true life incarnation of Coach Eric Taylor. The real question is, can N’Kosi Perry be the true life version of Vince Howard?

Wait a minute, N’Kosi Perry and Vince Howard both wear number 5?! ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME THE WRITING IS ON THE WALL PEOPLE!