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Mark Richt
Richt in May 2008
Title Head coach
College Georgia
Sport Football
Conference SEC
Team record 90–27
Born February 18, 1960 (1960-02-18) (age 50)
Place of birth Omaha, Nebraska
Career highlights
Overall 90–27
Bowls 7–2
Coaching stats
College Football DataWarehouse
Championships
2 SEC Championships (2002, 2005)
4 SEC Eastern Division Titles (2002, 2003, 2005, 2007)
Awards
2x SEC Coach of the Year (2002, 2005)
Playing career
1979-1982 Miami (FL)
Position QB
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
1985-1989
1989
1990-2000
2001-present
Florida State (GA)
East Carolina (OC)
Florida State (OC/QB)
Georgia

Mark Richt (born February 18, 1960 in Omaha, Nebraska) is the current head coach of the University of Georgia Bulldogs football team. His previous affiliations include fourteen years at Florida State University, where he served as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, and one year as offensive coordinator at East Carolina University. Currently in his ninth season at Georgia, Richt is the longest-tenured active head football coach in the Southeastern Conference, one year ahead of Vanderbilt head coach Bobby Johnson.

Contents

Playing career

Richt grew up a Nebraska Cornhuskers football fan, but was not recruited by the Huskers. He graduated in 1978 from Boca Raton High School in Boca Raton, Florida, where he was a star quarterback. He played for the University of Miami in the early 1980s, graduating in 1982. He served as backup quarterback to future Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly, although an injury to Kelly early in the 1982 season put Richt in the starting role for most of the season.

Coaching career

Mark Richt started his coaching career in 1985 as a volunteer quarterbacks coach for the Florida State Seminoles (FSU), serving under Bobby Bowden. Richt left the Seminoles to join East Carolina University as their offensive coordinator in 1989. After one year at East Carolina, Richt returned to Florida State to serve as the Seminoles' offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. Under Richt’s direction, Florida State had some of college football's most explosive offenses; in his seven years as offensive coordinator, the Seminoles ranked in the nation’s top five scoring offenses on five occasions, were top twelve in total offense five times, and top twelve in passing offense five times. The 2000 Seminoles offense finished the regular season ranked first nationally in total offense (549.0 yards per game), first in passing offense (384.0 ypg), and third in scoring offense (42.4 points per game).

While an assistant coach at Florida State, Richt coached two Heisman Trophy winners, quarterbacks Charlie Ward and Chris Weinke, and was part of two national championships (1993 and 1999).[1]

University of Georgia

Richt was hired as head coach of the Georgia Bulldogs before the 2001 season, replacing Jim Donnan. Richt recounted the moments leading up to being named UGA's head coach in an interview, saying:

In December 2000, [the University of Georgia's] President Michael Adams and then Athletic Director Coach Vince Dooley came to Tallahassee and interviewed me for the position of Head Coach of the UGA Bulldogs. After many hours of prayer, Coach Dooley called me and I accepted the position. We moved to Athens in January 2001 and have truly been blessed. We have a great church, an outstanding school for the children and a wonderful staff. Throughout all of life I try to live according to COLOSSIANS 3:23 – “And whatever you do, do heartily, as to the LORD and not to men.[2]

In his first seven seasons at Georgia, Richt's teams won two Southeastern Conference Championships (2002 and 2005), three SEC Eastern Division titles (2002, 2003 and 2005), represented the SEC in three BCS bowl appearances (with a record of 2-1), and finished their season ranked in the top ten of the AP Poll five times (2002-2005, 2007).

2001 season

Richt's first season was an up-and-down one for him as well as the team. After a disappointing early-season home loss to South Carolina, the Bulldogs would rebound a month later to shock Tennessee in Knoxville 26–24 on a touchdown pass from David Greene to Verron Haynes with only five seconds remaining in the fourth quarter. The play, known in Georgia lore as the "Hobnail Boot" (a phrase coined by legendary Georgia football announcer Larry Munson following the play), was one of the most memorable in school history, and the win established Georgia as a rising program under Richt's leadership. The team would go on to defeat in-state rival Georgia Tech for the first time since 1997, but close losses to Auburn and Boston College put a damper on Richt's rookie campaign. Some fans blamed the Auburn and Boston College losses on Richt, claiming that the coach's poor clock management had cost the Bulldogs opportunities to win both games. The Bulldogs finished the season with a record of 8-4.

2002 season

If Richt had skeptics after his first season, they began to disappear in 2002. After winning several close games early in the season, the Bulldogs steadily climbed towards the top of the SEC standings and national polls. Entering their annual showdown with SEC rival Florida, the Bulldogs were 8–0 and ranked No. 4 in the country, with a chance to clinch the SEC East title. Missed opportunities in the game's second half marred Georgia's chances, and they went on to suffer a devastating loss that essentially ended any chance of winning a national title. The Bulldogs would rebound the following week by easily defeating Ole Miss, setting up a matchup on the road against Auburn with the division championship on the line. Georgia trailed for most of the game, but pulled to within 21–17 late in the fourth quarter. After getting inside the Tigers' red-zone late in the game, Georgia's final drive stalled, and they were left with a 4th and 14 situation on Auburn's 19 yard-line and little more than a minute remaining. With their SEC championship hopes down to a flicker, Greene completed a miraculous touchdown pass to Michael Johnson, giving Georgia a 24–21 lead and the victory. With the SEC East title in hand, the Bulldogs played with new-found confidence to end the season. They drubbed Georgia Tech 51–7 in Athens, the second most lopsided win in the history of the series, and then crushed Arkansas 30–3 in the SEC Championship game, giving the school its first SEC crown since 1982. Richt would go on to defeat his mentor Bobby Bowden and Florida State 26-13 in the Sugar Bowl, giving Georgia a 13–1 record and No. 3 national ranking in both polls.

2003 season

Richt's team earned the chance to defend their SEC title in 2003 following a 10-2 regular season that included a 30–0 shutout win at Clemson, a 41–14 thrashing of Tennessee in Knoxville, as well as a third consecutive win over Georgia Tech. The SEC title game offered Georgia a rematch with LSU, which had defeated Georgia 17-10 in a memorable September showdown. The Tigers defeated Georgia 34-13 in that game, winning the SEC title and a berth in the 2004 Sugar Bowl. Richt and the Bulldogs rebounded and defeated Purdue in the Capital One Bowl 34–27 in overtime, despite surrendering a 24–0 first half lead. It was another solid season for Richt, as his team finished with an 11–3 record and a No. 7 finish in the AP Poll.

2004 season

The Bulldogs entered the 2004 season ranked No. 4 in the country, and were a consensus pick to win the SEC. After a come-from-behind road win over South Carolina and a 45-16 thumping of a top ten LSU team, Georgia appeared to be living up to preseason expectations. An upset 19–14 loss to Tennessee in early October, however, ended Georgia's hopes of a national title and put the Bulldogs behind the Volunteers in the SEC East. While they would go on to post a 10–2 record, which included the school's first win over Florida since 1997, many Bulldog fans considered the year a disappointment, as the team failed to reach the SEC title game for the first time in three years. Senior QB David Greene became the winningest QB in NCAA history with 42 wins and also the SEC's all-time leader in passing yards with 11,270. David Pollack and Thomas Davis were voted consensus All-Americans.

2005 season

Expectations were lower going into 2005, as the Bulldogs were picked by the media to finish just 3rd in the SEC East. Led by senior quarterback D.J. Shockley and a veteran defense, Georgia got off to a fast 7–0 start, including a 27–14 win over Tennessee that gave the Bulldog's control of the division. Georgia would lose two straight heartbreakers to Florida (without the services of Shockley, who was injured in the previous game versus Arkansas) and Auburn before clinching the SEC East with an easy win over Kentucky. Another win over Georgia Tech gave Georgia a 9–2 regular season finish. Playing in their third SEC Championship game in four years, the Bulldogs ambushed 3rd-ranked LSU, jumping out to a quick 14-0 lead and cruising to a 34–14 win, giving Richt his second SEC title at Georgia. However, the season ended on a sour note for Georgia, as they could not overcome a 28–0 deficit to West Virginia in the Sugar Bowl, falling 38–35.

2006 season

2006 was Richt's most trying season at the school. Although the team started 5–0, close wins over Colorado and Ole Miss raised cause for concern. Those concerns proved to be justified as Georgia, hampered by turnovers and uncharacteristically poor play from their defense, would go on to lose four of their next five games. The slide began with a 51–33 home loss to Tennessee, Richt's worst ever defeat at Sanford Stadium. The team would also lose to Vanderbilt and Kentucky in the same season for the first time since 1973. At 6–4, it appeared Georgia was on the verge of a meltdown; Richt and his team hung tough, however, going on to defeat three consecutive ranked opponents in Auburn, Georgia Tech, and Virginia Tech to close the season. While Georgia failed to reach ten wins or finish in the top-10 of the polls for the first time since 2001, the strong finish provided optimism heading into the 2007 season.

2007 season

2007 would prove to be one of Richt's best and most exciting years at Georgia. The Bulldogs' performance was inconsistent in the first half of the season, as they posted big wins over Oklahoma State and Alabama but suffered damaging losses to division rivals South Carolina and Tennessee. The team appeared to be in disarray following a close win at Vanderbilt, and the remainder of the season did not look promising. Then, Richt began going to his bag of tricks to galvanize his struggling team. At the coach's behest, Georgia received 30 yards of unsportsmanlike conduct penalties following a touchdown on their opening drive against Florida, as the entire Georgia football team ran on the field in jubilation. Perhaps energized by the celebration, the Bulldogs went on to defeat the Gators 42–30, setting the table for a big finish to the season. Richt's team would go on to defeat Auburn 45–20, the first time Georgia defeated the Gators and Tigers in the same season since 1982. During the game, Georgia wore black jerseys for the first time in the modern era. The team tied a school record with a 7th consecutive victory over Georgia Tech, and by ending the regular season with a six-game winning streak rose to 4th in both polls as well as the BCS. The Bulldogs, however, by virtue of their loss to Tennessee, did not earn the opportunity to appear in the SEC Championship Game. The Bulldogs represented the SEC in the Sugar Bowl against Hawaii, replacing SEC champion LSU, which was selected for the BCS National Championship Game. Georgia again donned black jerseys and routed the Warriors 41-10 to close the season 11–2 and ranked No. 2 in the AP poll, giving Richt his highest finish to date. It also marked Georgia's highest end-of-season ranking since winning the national championship in 1980. This win also gave Mark Richt the distinction of being the only head coach at Georgia to win the Sugar Bowl game more than once during his career.

Florida celebration incident

On October 27, 2007, during the Bulldogs' heated rivalry game against the Florida Gators, the entire Georgia football team rushed into the end zone to celebrate after Knowshon Moreno's one-yard touchdown run gave Georgia an early 7-0 lead. The celebration drew two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties that eventually forced the Bulldogs to kick off from their own eight yard line; during halftime, Richt told CBS sideline reporter Tracy Wolfson that he had told his offense to celebrate the first touchdown until they received a penalty. The entire team planned to rush the field themselves. Georgia went on to win 42-30. The victory gave Georgia their 47th win in the series with Florida, which Georgia leads 47-37-2. Georgia and Florida have split their last 4 games, 2–2.

Richt later apologized in writing to Southeastern Conference commissioner Mike Slive: "I apologize that I put everyone in that situation and specifically apologize to you, the Southeastern Conference, and the University of Florida. You can be assured I will not ask our team to do this type of thing again." The Southeastern Conference took no disciplinary action against Richt and the NCAA also did not impose sanctions.[3]

2008 season

On March 6, 2008 it was announced that Mark Richt had been granted a pay increase from $2.2 million per year to $2.8 million per year, making him the fifth-highest-paid coach in the SEC. His contract runs through the 2013 season. His team finished the season 10-3 after ranking No. 1 in the preseason, with losses to Alabama, Florida, and Georgia Tech. His two offensive stars, Matthew Stafford and Knowshon Moreno, declared for the NFL draft following the season and were both picked in the first round. [4]

Off-field

On September 12, 2006, General Mills began featuring Richt and the Bulldog football program on the cover of Wheaties cereal boxes. The side of the box states this:

Tradition is defined as "the handing down of beliefs, legends, and customs from generation to generation," and over the past century, Georgia has built a profound legacy around college football, putting its stake in the ground for generations to come. University of Georgia teams have been recognized as national champions five times (1927, 1942, 1946, 1968 and 1980) throughout history. In addition, the Bulldogs have earned the sixth-most bowl invitations in the history of college football and boast two Heisman Trophy winners.

Richt appeared in the movie Facing the Giants as the former coach of the movie's main character, Grant Taylor. It is unclear if Richt plays himself or a fictional character, but the credits list him as "Grant Taylor's Former Coach" played by Mark Richt which would indicate his character is fictional.[5]

Personal life

Richt is married to the former Katharyn Francis of Tallahassee, Florida. The couple have four children: Jonathan (born March 11, 1990), David (born December 1, 1994), and two children they adopted from the Ukraine in 1999, Zach (born May 15, 1996), and Anya (born February 13, 1997) who was born with a rare disorder known as proteus syndrome.

ESPN's College GameDay featured a documentary on October 25, 2008 entitled 'GameDay looks at the Richt family's adoption of a young boy and girl from Ukraine' detailing the Richts' personal story of the adoption of their two youngest children Zach and Anya. The Richts had declined on several occasions to publicly share their adoption story before deciding to proceed with the hope that it would encourage other families to explore the rewards of adoption. [6]

Richt's oldest son Jonathan "Jon" Richt verbally committed to play football for Clemson University in February 2007 before signing his letter of intent with the Tigers a year later.[7] He decided to transfer from Clemson following the 2008 season; he transferred to a smaller school, Mars Hill, where he is the starting quarterback[8]. Jon Richt threw for 1,600 yards during his junior year at Prince Avenue Christian School, a Class A school in Athens. [9]

Head coaching record

Year Team Overall Conference Standing Bowl Coaches# AP°
Georgia Bulldogs (SEC East) (2001–present)
2001 Georgia 8-4 5-3 T-3rd L Music City 25 22
2002 Georgia 13-1 7-1 1st W Sugar 3 3
2003 Georgia 11-3 6-2 T-1st W Capital One 6 7
2004 Georgia 10-2 6-2 2nd W Outback 6 7
2005 Georgia 10-3 6-2 1st L Sugar 10 10
2006 Georgia 9-4 4-4 T-3rd W Chick-Fil-A 23
2007 Georgia 11-2 6-2 T-1st W Sugar 3 2
2008 Georgia 10-3 6-2 2nd W Capital One 10 13
2009 Georgia 8-5 4-4 T-2nd W Independence
Georgia: 90-27 50-22
Total: 90-27
      National Championship         Conference Title         Conference Division Title
Indicates BCS bowl game. #Rankings from final Coaches Poll.
°Rankings from final AP Poll.

See also

References

Sources

External links

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