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One Last Retrospective on Mark Richt

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I wanted 2007 Mark Richt. I got an old man. 

NCAA Football: Pinstripe Bowl-Wisconsin vs Miami Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Mark Richt has not been the head coach of the Miami Hurricanes for nearly three full months. In that time Miami has revamped their coaching staff, owned the transfer portal, started a new hashtag and created a fresh enthusiasm in the program.

This article is not to beat up on Mark Richt. CMR did a number of great things with the program. He led them out of the dark clouds of the Al Golden, Nevin Shapiro era and showed Miami football wasn’t dead. He reconnected with the greatest alumni base in college football. He built a new football facility, an indoor training center that the school has needed for far too long. He oversaw the best season of Miami football in a long time, even if it was a mirage, sandwiched between two mediocre seasons.

And while Richt did a number of great things for Miami, one thing was clear by the time he said his goodbyes and entered retirement; he had gotten too old and perhaps too tired for college football.

When Richt was dismissed from Georgia, he spoke of the mutual need for change. When he joined the Hurricanes, he said he was rejuvenated, having more energy than he did in his final years in Athens. We believed it too, after a promising 2016 blossomed into a great 2017. Richt said how excited he was to be calling plays again. He struggled, and the fanbase hoped these issues came from rust and not an outright failure to adapt to a game that had changed since he last called plays.

By 2018, the magic was gone. The playcalling was abysmal. The QB decision making was even worse. Down the stretch of last season’s mess, it was clear that Richt had lost the magic that made him so great early in his UGA career and so promising in 2017.

There was plenty of criticisms and critiques of the Richt hiring after Miami named him the head coach in 2016. He couldn’t win the big games at UGA, especially late in his career. His program had went from great to good to just mediocre. And while Richt mostly did well in “big games” in Miami (beating ranked WVU in a bowl, 2017’s romps over VT and ND, 2-1 record against FSU), he couldn’t always take home the easy ones. Miami did fail on a big stage against Clemson and Wisconsin at the end of ‘17 and then to LSU at the beginning of ‘18. But the Canes also lost badly against average teams in all three years of Richt’s tenure.

Most disappointingly from Richt, we didn’t get to see the quiet fire he once had. One of the thing that had most excited me for Richt was what he did against the Gators in ‘07. As heavy underdogs Richt instructed his Georgia Bulldogs to storm the field in a massive group celebration after a first quarter touchdown. The move worked, setting the attitude for the Bulldogs who won 42-30 over no. 9 Florida. Miami didn’t see that Richt. He didn’t bring swagger back. He brought confidence back, at least in the beginning of his tenure. But it wasn’t the same. Manny Diaz, the defense and the turnover chain brought the swagger back. And CMD has kept it going since taking over for Richt.

The Mark Richt era is over, we recognize the faults, we thank him for the successes, and we move on to the promising future of the program under Manny Diaz. But while the Richt era is still fresh, one can’t help but feel disappointed that Richt couldn’t recapture the success and moxie he once had at Georgia.