ESPN college football analyst Kirk Herbstreit chatted with Seth Emerson of DawgNation on Tuesday. One of the nation’s foremost voices on all things college football mainly discussed the state of Georgia’s program, but Herbstreit also touched on former Bulldogs and current Miami coach Mark Richt.
Herbstreit said he has been amazed by the turnaround Richt has led at his alma mater, not just because of the on-field success, but because of how happy Richt appears.
Herbstreit said he sensed that things got “stale” between Richt and Georgia near the end of Richt’s 13-year tenure in Athens. When Richt was let go and Kirby Smart was brought in to lead the Bulldogs, who are currently 10-1 and ranked No. 7, Herbstreit said he wasn’t sure Richt would pursue another coaching job.
Instead, Richt returned to his alma mater and has led Miami to its first 10-win season since 2003 in his second year on the job. The undefeated Hurricanes wrap up their regular season Saturday at Pitt, then it’s on to the ACC Championship Game against Clemson.
Here is an edited version of Herbstreit’s thoughts on Richt’s move to Miami and his transformation.
Herbstreit: “I don’t want to speak for Mark, I’m just going by the way the [Georgia] program the last few years felt. It’s hard to stay in one place for that many years. I just feel like it just got kind of stale and uninspired. And I think as much as you could look at Mark Richt still having success on the field. …. But there was still something missing, especially the consistency in the big games. And so when they decided to make a move, even though you could look at his numbers and say how can you let this guy go, I understood. I totally understood it.
“The only thing that surprised me out of all this was that Mark Richt went from kind of a flat-liner … to all of a sudden getting to Miami — and I thought he was going to maybe go work on some mission trips and do things that were bigger than football with his wife. He’s such a strong Christian, I thought he might do other things for the church and that type of thing, maybe that was his calling. But instead he goes to Miami, where he played, much like Kirby, and it’s almost like there’s a new energy and a new attitude, and he looks like he’s having fun, and he’s smiling.
“I don’t know if it’s the familiarity, I don’t know if it’s just being back at his old school, I don’t know if it’s the new setting, but he looks very different. When you talk to him there’s a look in his eye that I haven’t seen either in his latter years at Florida State as a coordinator or the early years when he was the head coach at Georgia.
“I think it’s a win for Georgia and it’s definitely a win for Miami.”