Why would Mark Richt resign as the head coach of the University of Miami?
Richt was making $4M as the head coach of the U and the Hurricanes had just completed a $34M indoor facility.
On top of that, South Florida has arguably the best football talent in the country.
Richt was living the dream.
He seemed like the perfect coach for the Canes.
Richt grew up in South Florida and played quarterback for Boca Raton High School. After high school, he was recruited to the University of Miami and was a backup quarterback behind Vinny Testaverde, Bernie Kosar and Jim Kelly.
After college, Richt soon found his niche as a college football coach. Fast forward twenty years and he is the head coach for the Georgia Bulldogs. During his time, Richt led the Bulldogs to two SEC Championships and had a .740 winning percentage. However, after their 2012 SEC Eastern Division title, the Bulldogs never seemed to recover; and as it turns out, Richt didn’t recover either.
Despite all of the “winning” the Bulldogs had done, he just could not seem to win the big games. Even with all the great talent getting drafted to the NFL from Athens, the Bulldogs could not breakthrough to the level of Alabama.
In 2015, Richt was abruptly dismissed from his head coaching job because Georgia had their sights on defensive coordinator Kirby Smart from Alabama to get the job done.
Immediately following his dismissal, the University of Miami quickly offered him a job in what seemed like a match made in heaven for both parties. The decorated hometown coach and quarterback was returning to revitalize one of the best college football programs in the country.
However, after just three seasons with the Hurricanes football program, Richt “retired” at the age of 57. This was a dream job and a golden opportunity for the Miami native. His retirement announcement left coaches, players, and fans wondering what happened?
Blue 57 built an entire company based around the psychology of football recruiting because “the why” matters.
Blue 57 sports psychologist Kaela Harmon stated in her analysis, “Although he has an impressive resume on the surface, the letter brought to light the insecurities Richt has as a coach due to his past failures. He claimed that he wants the program to return to greatness. However, he lacks the confidence in his coaching abilities to be the one to do it,” said Harmon. “Why? Because he’s never been able to see out an entire successful season with a program in the past at the level of the highest tier coaches like Saban, Spurrier & Meyer. Those ‘almost’ successful endings left him scarred and unsure of himself within the coaching realm. Therefore, Richt knew he couldn’t transform the Hurricanes’ football program with that apprehensive mindset. In addition, the disappointing losses pulled at his heartstrings a little extra because it was his hometown team suffering; the organization that he was supposed to be leading back to the glory days. Due to all these factors, his flight or fight response was telling him to fly his way into retirement rather than fight for his beloved Hurricanes.”
Richt’s confidence took another hit in 2018: Miami had an embarrassing loss to LSU in the season opener, suffered offensively all season and was humiliated by Wisconsin in the Pinstripe Bowl game.
On the recruiting front, Miami had seven late de-commitments and dropped to #33 nationally with their 2019 class. Not exactly the rebuild to greatness they needed.
Blue 57 scout Kevin Hemmings said, “Mark Richt is considered one of the top recruiters in America and has been a positive role model for young men. He has the third highest winning percentage among active FBS Division 1 coaches primarily because of his recruitment of top players. However, going back to his times at Georgia, Mark Richt has a history of getting top recruiting classes, tons of pre-season hype by fans and having disappointing finishes.”
Within the Blue 57 college football recruiting database, 40% of the top players in Florida come from the South Florida and Miami region.
Blue 57 scout Kevin Hemmings said, “There is a huge talent pool in South Florida. Miami fans know they are surrounded by America’s best talent and they expect a lot more than a 7-6 record from the Canes.”
The fans want a bigger focus on the recruitment of Southern Florida players. In 2018, Miami made offers to players from 24 states. Then in 2019, only 46% of the players offered were from the state of Florida. In addition, Miami only signed 15 players during the 2018 early signing period.
During the 2018 pre-season, the Canes were ranked 8th in the country, but finished the season 7-6. Blue 57 analyst Jay Holgate who scouts throughout Florida said, “Rough season for Richt, high expectations, under performance for Saturdays. Miami opened up with high hopes ranked pre-season #8, then had a big loss to LSU in their season opener. Then Miami went 5-1 and hit a 4 game losing streak in October. The offense struggled all season with QB issues so the bowl game loss by 32 points was just too much. Fans and players were frustrated. Richt had no answers. ”
Under his leadership, the University of Miami football program had every reason to succeed. The Hurricanes spent millions on upgrading facilities, were surrounded by best talent in the country, and had the right coaching staff to be one of the best programs in college football.
However, the Hurricanes did not look like a program that was headed back to the top. This had less to do with the football and more to do with Richt’s mindset.
In the end, winning solves all problems. He didn’t believe he could win big, so it was time for him to move on.
Michael Mannen is a contributor for The Subway Alum and sports writer for the Blue 57 Scouting Network. He follows college football recruiting and the impact of psychology on football in Florida & Georgia.