The Mark Richt hire at Miami was mostly hailed as a pretty-good hire, but a some have questioned whether new coach Mark Richt’s best days are behind him. At Georgia in his first 8 years, Richt produced 6 top 15 teams and 2 conference titles. In his last 7 years at Georgia, he had just 2 top 15 seasons.
The last half of his tenure at Georgia was marked by underachievement, an inability to beat ranked teams, and the realization that the Georgia program under Mark Richt had become stuck in neutral. Clearly he needed a fresh start. At 56 years old Richt is still young enough for one more extended coaching tenure. He’ll get that chance at a Miami program, that hasn’t been relevant since the early 2000s.
Now lets look at another coach that got a fresh start – Steve Spurrier, and here is the comparison I want to make. Miami fans bear with me here.
From 1990 to 2001, Steve Spurrier never had a Florida team he coached finish outside the top 15. He then coached the Washington Redskins for a couple of years. The stint was blow to Spurrier. The Redskins were a mess, and never made the playoffs under Spurrier. Like Richt, Spurrier needed a new start. He went to South Carolina in 2005.
It took some time, but Spurrier eventually brought the historically mediocre South Carolina program to heights it had never seen before. The Gamecocks had 3 consecutive 11 win seasons, and 3 straight top 10 seasons from 2011 to 2013. It was the best stretch of Gamecock football ever. While South Carolina never won a conference title, or appeared in a major bowl game, what Spurrier accomplished during that period was remarkable. Age 60 when he took over, Spurrier found new life at South Carolina.
I think Richt can do something similar at Miami. It may take a few years, and likely a recruiting cycle, but Richt didn’t forget how to coach. Like Spurrier, I can see Richt finding life with this new challenge, and elevating the Hurricanes program. I don’t think Miami gets back to a nationally elite level, but I believe he will put together a 4-5 year run that will be the best Miami has seen in over 15 years. There will eventually be a few wins over Florida State, and I believe Richt will win a division title, and possibly a conference title. I predict Miami will have multiple 10+ win seasons under Richt.
Who knows if Miami will ever again be a national power, but you have to be good before you are great. Much like Spurrier did, I feel like Richt can really have a solid final tenure to his coaching career.