MUSING WITH CECIL BUFFINGTON . . . Coach Mark Richt
MUSING WITH CECIL BUFFINGTON
COACH MARK RICHT
I think I was as shocked as anyone when I heard that Georgia football coach Mark Richt was leaving the program as head football coach. I always hate to see a coach lose a job where they have spent alot of years developing a program that makes the school consistantly successful and garners national respect. The Bulldogs under Coach Richt have year-in and year-out been that type of program.
I won't spend alot of time going into the things that brought about this parting of the ways between Coach Richt and UGA, but it was easy to see that it was going to be the ultimate outcome. It was just a matter of this year or sometime over the next few years. Coach Richt had just worn out his welcome as head man of the Bulldogs in the eyes of many major boosters.
The schools that have reached out to Coach Richt over the last 48 hours solidifies the fact that he is so very well respected as a coach and person on a national scope.
I, for one, do not have a problem with the University of Georgia releasing the coach from his coaching duties per se. In my 40 plus years as a manager I had to, on several occasions for various reasons, let go high quality associates that had been with the company for years. It was never easy, but was a part of the job. I was never able to soften the burden by telling those separating individuals I would be giving them millions of dollars as a result of the termination. Coach Richt will receive a reported 4.1M contract buy-out from the University of Georgia to part ways. I can't find it in my heart to feel sorry for the coach, especially now that five or more universities are seeking his services as head football coach. With as estimated wealth of over 10 million dollars and another job virtually assured if he indeed wants to continue in coaching, he will continue to live a great life and do great things for whatever community he winds up in. Now do I believe that Coach Richt was treated right by the University of Georgia? As far as replacing him, they certainly had that right as long as all his contractual obligations were adhered too. I personally do not think it was appropriate to terminate someone with great success simply for wanting a specific individual to take his place. This brings to mind the analogy of the everyday business manager that brings in a new secretary just because in his eyes she is prettier than anyone in the office, even though the on-premise associates are more qualified for the job. I don't deem this morally or ethically appropriate.
As I look around at the jobs Coach Richt is rumored to possibly have the opportunity to move into; Maryland, Virginia, Miami, South Carolina and Missouri, it leaps out to me as a no-brainer which job will be best suited for the coach. The Miami job far exceeds the others from a potential for immediate success. He is a Florida native that played quarterback for the Miami Hurricanes during the early 80s. He has lived and coached in the state. Florida is a state without a state tax with all the amentities that make it a great state to live in and ultimately retire in. The Miami football team just completed an 8 - 4 season with a bowl opportunity awaiting them. They have a potential all-america quarterback returning that will have two more years left at the school. The Miami history includes FIVE national championships since 1983. They play in the Atlantic Coast Conference where they can be a power every year with the recruitment skills of a coach like Mark Richt. Coach Richt can still recruit the number two and three high school football states in the country, Florida and Georgia, heavily with an expectation of great success due in part to his prior experience and contacts in these particular states. If Coach Richt gets the opportunity to coach at Miami and turns it down, he is not as bright as I have always given him credit for being. Oh yes, Miami currently has Jefferson's own Evan Sherriffs on their roster. While the jury is still out as to whether Evan will ever be a factor as a player for the 'canes, his character, attitude and academic prowess makes him a strong asset for the team.
I honestly believe that with Mark Richt as their head coach, the Miami Hurricanes would dominate the ACC Coastal division every year. This means wins over FSU, Clemson, and Georgia Tech with an almost every season regularity.
As for Athletic Director Greg McGarity, he has not been ultra successful in bringing success too his current school as far as championships in the various sports. The jury is still out on him as to his ability to bring in high caliber coaches that can make the bulldogs a championship contender on the national stage. He made the comment that he first decided to replace Richt after the Florida debacle. While I agree that Coach Richt's decision to play his third string quarterback and allow him to throw 33 passes with four interceptions was the most rediculous coaching decision I have ever witnessed, it was not the only mind boggling decision that created the termination of Coach Richt. The decisions to hire Grantham and Schottenheimer were terrible decisions from a personnel standpoint.
If Coach Richt decides to coach again, he will have learned much from his gaffs while at Georgia. He will have the second chance to remedy his bad decisions in an environment where the pressure will be high, but not at the level of the University of Georgia. There are many Georgia boosters with the unrealistic atitude that the Bulldogs should play for a national title ever year.
The University of Georgia made the decision to release Coach Mark Richt for one reason and one reason only. That reason was to bring Defensive Coordinator Kirby Smart of Alabama in as the head football coach at Georgia. He had made it clear he was available and the Georgia Athletic Director felt now was the time to act or lose the opportunity to bring in a potential coaching super-star with 20-25 years of prime coaching years left. Kirby Smart is only 39 years old as he assumes the reins of a potential college football dynasty at the University of Georgia. We can only hope he is the full package that can recruit, administrate and coach at the level that makes it a good decision to relieve Coach Mark Richt of his coaching duties after 15 very successful years.
We, of course wish the best of luck to Coach Richt. He is a GODLY man that served his university with dignity and grace over the last 15 years. He has been the epitome of class over that time and during the past week as he bowed out as the face of the Georgia Bulldogs.